The phrase, “brown is the new green” was buzzing around the golf industry earlier this year. Jim Moore, USGA Agronomist, published an article in the GCBAA Earth Shaping News with this title. Controversy arose as some folks thought this meant that they were being encouraged to let turf turn brown and die.

However, Dr. Moore clarified his article’s intentions at a recent Golf Course Builders Association meeting. He emphasized the trend toward more sustainable approaches to maintaining golf courses, resulting in firm and fast playing conditions.

These maintenance approaches focus on:

  • Cutting back on water
  • Reducing maintained areas
  • Reducing turfgrass growth which will reduce mowing and labor costs
  • Improving playability, not just achieving lush green conditions

The editors of Golf Digest magazine have even changed their language for rating course conditions.  They too are adopting dry, fast and firm qualities. “We abandoned the idea that courses should have lush green, perfectly uniform grass and adopted the position that dry, firm turf provides the best conditions for playing golf”.

Players’ expectations will be the primary hurdle faced by clubs. However, we can all participate in educating and promoting more sustainable approaches to golf maintenance practices in our own communities and clubs.