2013 USGA Fairway Turf Colorant Workshop

By Patrick O’Brien, director, Southeast Region
December 11, 2013

On Dec. 11, a group of USGA Turf Advisory Service subscribers gathered for a morning of education in the emerging field of turf colorant use on golf courses. Mr. Tony Mancuso, director of golf course operations at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Ga., served as host. We were honored to have Brunswick Plantation and Golf Resort superintendent (Calabash, N.C.) Mr. Rob Vaughn as a presenter. Rob has been the leader in turf colorant use in the Myrtle Beach area. We began this chilly December day with presentations by speakers on topics ranging from the chemistry of turf colorants to suggested application protocols to regional trends in the Southeast and Southwest. We then moved to the golf course to view turf treated previously with colorants and observed a live demonstration area. 

The use of fairway turf colorants began in 2010 in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area as an alternative to overseeding. Golfers noted the firmer and drier fall playing conditions because there was no need to irrigate ryegrass seedlings in the fairways and, as a result, there were fewer cart restrictions. The fun factor improved for sure at these golf facilities. Without having to manage actively growing ryegrass, golf facilities conserved water, fuel, fertilizer and herbicides. This contributed directly to their bottom line. These success stories have caused many others to consider turf colorants not only as a means to replace overseeding, but to provide green color in the winter at a reasonable cost. 

If you are a homeowner, you might have experienced the joy of painting the inside of your home. It is not too complicated. Pick out your color at the home improvement store, prepare the room and apply one or two coats of paint. The process of selecting and applying turf colorants is more complex because of the dynamic nature of the outdoor environment. Grass color, leaf moisture, sunlight levels, water volume, colorant volume and nozzle selection all factor into the quality and longevity of the finished product. We spent much of our education time on product selection, sprayer setup, nozzle configuration and dilution rates. Because the optimization of these items continues to evolve and improve rapidly, learning about this topic was best suited for an on-site workshop. 

An on-course workshop is a great way to learn more about new topics and trends. Superintendents and assistant superintendents who attended came away with valuable new information and developed a network of contacts in this emerging field. Plans are to conduct this field trip annually. Invitations are sent to Turf Advisory Service subscribers and there is no charge to attend. If you would like to attend this workshop next year, please sign up for a Turfgrass Advisory Service visit in 2014. 

For more information on turf colorant use, links to several helpful resources are included below. 

Painting Fairways - A Better Option than Ever Before  

Lessons Learned from Winter Painting of Fairways  

Instant Overseeding: Coming to a Fairway Near You  

Let’s Make a Deal: Overseed or No Overseed  

Source: Patrick O'Brien (patobrien@usga.org) and Chris Hartwiger (chartwiger@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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