A Morning Drive To Put Your Mind At Ease June 2, 2017 By Zach Nicoludis, agronomist, Central Region

Adding high-intensity LED lights to a utility vehicle can increase visibility and make it easier to identify turf issues during a pre-dawn tour of the golf course.

A pre-dawn tour of a golf course can yield valuable information to help plan the day's maintenance schedule. Utility vehicles can be easily modified with high-intensity LED lights that transform night into day, making it much safer to navigate a golf course before sunrise. Here are just a few of the valuable observations that can be made during an early morning scouting session:

  • As average nighttime temperatures and humidity increase, so does the potential for disease activity. The mycelium of fungal diseases like dollar spot and Pythium blight are fairly easy to see early in the morning when there is dew on the turf.
  • There is cause for concern if you hear water splashing under your vehicle tires and it did not rain the previous night. The most likely source is an irrigation system malfunction, such as a leaky pipe or a sprinkler that failed to rotate or turn off.
  • A patchy dew pattern across a green or fairway is easy to see at dawn because of the low sun angle. Inconsistent dew is often associated with the early development of localized dry spots.
  • A drive at dawn after a windy or stormy night is especially helpful at heavily wooded courses to assess how much debris cleanup is necessary before mowing operations and play can commence.     


Most scouting sessions will be fairly routine, but some may yield a few surprises that will significantly impact the day’s maintenance plan. For example, turning a corner to find a family of skunks foraging for grubs can have a major impact on your day.


Central Region Agronomists:

Bob Vavrek, regional director –

John Daniels, agronomist –

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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