Lessons Learned from Winter Painting of Fairways

By Patrick O’Brien and Chris Hartwiger, agronomists, Southeast Region
March 19, 2013

High above the Bowden golf course in Macon, Ga., the fairway painting program provides a unique and distinct look for winter golf.

As spring temperatures finally arrive in the southeast, now is a good time to look back at the emerging trend of fairway painting in winter as an alternative to overseeding. Numerous golf courses have used this technique to:

  • reduce inputs such as water, fertilizer, and fuel
  • save money compared to traditional overseeding
  • provide golfers with a green color they enjoy when bermudagrass on golf courses is dormant and brown. 

Below is a brief snapshot of lessons learned this past winter. 

  1. Fairway painting does make an impression on golfers.  While playing in the annual Cherry Blossom Four Ball tournament at Bowden Golf Course in Macon, GA, I was able to see how golfers marveled at the “green grass” that appeared after the superintendent painted the fairways. Bowden historically has not overseeded, but the enthusiastic reaction of the golfers and the increased number of entries this year affirms that there is another third option in the overseeding or no overseeding debate. 
  2. Painting fairways is a money saver compared to overseeding. Based on our experience, fairway painting can be done for about 70 to 80 percent less than overseeding. 
  3. The paint application works best if applied to wet turf. The paint adheres and coats the turf leaves and stems much better versus dry turf.
  4. Nozzles are vitally important to the success of the application. New dual nozzle technology exists that provides excellent coverage with one pass of the sprayer over the turf area.
  5. Painting the turf at the beginning of the winter season when the bermudagrass still has green leaf color works the best compared to waiting until the turf is totally brown and dormant. Less paint is needed overall including two to three follow-up treatments at 45 to 60 day intervals.

If anyone would like to learn more about painting fairways, more information is available from this recent article entitled, Instant Overseeding: Coming to a Fairway Near You. Also, a live webinar will be done soon on this topic. Stay tuned for more information on the time and date.

Source: Patrick O'Brien 770.229.8125 or patobrien@usga.org  and Chris Hartwiger 205.444.5079 or chartwiger@usga.org 

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