Brown is Back in the Southeast Region – and It’s Good for the Game

By Patrick O'Brien & Chris Hartwiger, agronomists, Southeast Region
January 27, 2012

Golfers in the Southeast Region are familiar with the growth cycle of warm season turfgrasses.  When it’s warm, they are green, and after a frost or two they turn brown. Once they turn brown, Green Section agronomists begin fielding questions from golfers and course officials about overseeding tees, fairways, and roughs. While some courses continue to overseed, many more have recognized that brown fairways have a lot going for them. Consider the following advantages of forgoing overseeding.

  1. Excellent lie - The lie of the golf ball is not affected by young ryegrass seedlings.
  2. Fast and firm - Dormant bermudagrass can be kept dry and firm, which increases ball roll. In contrast, with overseeding, frequent watering during establishment is necessary resulting in very wet playing conditions. 
  3. Mowing equipment lasts longer - Overseeded fairways must be mowed all winter. Eliminating these mowings extends equipment life.
  4. Fewer resources used – Fuel and water consumption are reduced resulting in a significant savings in maintenance expenses.
  5. Weed control simplified - Weed control in dormant bermudagrass is much easier and less expensive than in ryegrass overseeding.    
  6. Faster spring greenup - With no competition from overseeded ryegrass, the bermudagrass will return to summer playing conditions much faster.   


Like many aspects of golf course maintenance, often there is more to the story than meets the eye.  If your winter golf is on brown fairways and roughs, support your golf course superintendent and keep in mind the significant agronomic, economic, and playability benefits they provide.   

Source: Patrick O'Brien 770-229-8125 or  and Chris Hartwiger 205-444-5079 or 


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