Brown is Beautiful!: An Open Topic

Picture 8

It’s pretty simple. If this photo, taken by Trevor Ray Hart on the seventeenth hole at Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club, speaks to you, then this is an open topic for you.

I could live in this image. The rich texture of the grasses in the foreground, the scruffy ridges, the mixed palette of vivid and mottled color–I can practically feel every step this Wellie’d golfer takes on his way to the green.

A couple of days ago, in his address at the USGA’s annual meeting, new president Jim Hyler said, “I believe that our definition of playability should include concepts of firm, fast, and yes, even brown.” If I may be so bold as to edit that commendable statement, I’d have it read: “Especially brown.” Brown isn’t something merely to be grudgingly accepted. It should be celebrated as beautiful in its own right, as something that, in its interplay with green grass, draws out the natural contours and unique character of the landscape. Brown grass makes for a richer visual environment, and frequently contributes to a more compelling playing surface.

In this topic, I hope to build a case of visual and textual evidence to support the statement: Brown is beautiful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section on what this subject means to you, or any ideas on how to raise awareness of the benefits of brown. If you have any favorite photos that show this most-pleasing environmental condition, please send them along, with the course name and any other relevant info you see fit to include, to [email protected], and I will post them as we go. Thanks!

Update: I noticed on geoffshackelford.com that Ron Sirak’s Golf Digest column this week, entitled “Back to Basics”, deals with Hyler’s speech and some of the benefits of brown-is-the-new-green. A quick read and well worthwhile.

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#15, Prestwick. Submitted by Yannick Pilon.

Picture 19

#11, Tain. Submitted by Gary Daughters.

Picture 18

#15, Enville GC (Highgate). Submitted by Sean Arble.

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#18, Lossiemouth. Submitted by Ian Andrew, via Brian Ewen (?).

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#12, Hoylake (#14 in 2006 Open routing). Submitted by Ryan Crago.

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#6, Old Macdonald GL. View of "Hell" Bunker. Submitted by Rob Rigg.

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#5, Rustic Canyon. Submitted by Geoff Shackelford. "This view from the 5th tee shows what out of play areas could look like on the right soil."

Picture 1

#9, Swinley Forest. Submitted by John Mayhugh.



#4, Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club. Submitted by Jim Colton.


#3, Duke's Course, St. Andrews. Submitted by Tim Liddy.


9 comments for “Brown is Beautiful!: An Open Topic”

  1. Gorgeous. One important thing to note here is that the areas where you’d want to hit it are quite green (with the possible exception of the little path cutting diagonally across). The “off-color” areas help define the target area in a way that’s not possible on a course where mounds and rough are the same color as fairways and greens.

    Posted by Steve | February 9, 2010, 7:01 am
  2. Well the odd one out , is definitely The Dukes Course pic.

    It beggars belief its even there !

    Posted by Brian Ewen | February 9, 2010, 6:20 pm
  3. Brown is a significant part of the range of colors one should see on any course. People should also understand that brown grass isn’t necessarily dead.

    Sometimes brown everywhere is fun. Nothing like standing on the tee of a browned out links wondering just where the hell do I aim!

    Posted by John Mayhugh | February 10, 2010, 6:02 am
  4. Brown is one the earth’s most common naturally occurring colours because it covers an incredibly wide range of the spectrum. It is odd that the fields of play for an outdoor game would be maintained in a way which strives to eliminate the hues of brown; it just ain’t natural!

    Posted by Sean Arble | February 11, 2010, 3:07 am
  5. The restrictions of water, resources, and money make this movement easy to understand for superintendents but it is difficult for the golfing public to grasp. Rather than brown the drive should be for sustainable playing conditions. The equation of resources+money=green has to be spelled out for golfers

    Posted by doug saunders | March 18, 2010, 11:36 am
  6. Doug Saunders,

    What this thread is about is a celebration of brown grass in its own right. Maybe you disagree, but I think some of the photos this site’s readers have sent in are beautiful.

    It’s true that you can have optimal, firm and fast playing surfaces and green grass–the two are not mutually exclusive. But I disagree with your equation that resources+money=green. That’s precisely what produced the stigma in the first place. One of the photos above depicts one of the wealthiest and most prestigious clubs in England in a mottled-brown condition. Its membership clearly feels no need to emulate Augusta National’s aesthetic.

    Posted by td | March 18, 2010, 1:06 pm
  7. That picture of the 9th at Swinley is wonderful. I can’t imagine how much fun Swinley would be in those conditions.

    I had the pleasure of playing Hoylake on the Wednesday after the Open in 2006, it was much browner than that photo of 12 suggests.

    Sadly, even here in the UK there’s a move to green. My son just read this page over my shoulder and commented that the best colour is the colour Elie used to be. It’s greener now, as they water it to help attract the dollar.

    Posted by Mark Pearce | April 5, 2010, 1:12 pm
  8. Posted by td | May 7, 2010, 6:33 pm
  9. [...] Course Up Date – The East Berkshire Stag Posted on July 11, 2011 by eastberkshiregreens| Leave a comment Prep work for the Stag The golf course performed well and provided a good test of golf for our biggest tournament of the year; The Stag. Conditions were good with surfaces providing a descent challenge, with many positive comments received about the course and bunker work. With the golf course closed on Tuesday afternoon this allowed the greenstaff to complete the final preparations and set the golf course up for Wednesday: mowing greens, tees, fairways, setting pin positions and adding the final details to bunkers. It was disappointing that players teed off from the backs of the tees during the courtesy rounds despite the tee markers being forward. It is possible that we may need to look at placing wire/netting to prevent damage in the future. Greens received a light folia feed the week before the Stag in order to maintain a healthy sward as we increased levels of stress – drying the greens out and increasing the frequency of mowing/rolling. Heights of cut were lowered by 0.25mm bringing the overall height down to 2.75mm for the Stag, which saw speeds hit 11.2ft on Wednesday morning after double cutting and rolling – despite 4 mm of rain on Tuesday evening. It is interesting to note that green speeds on Monday morning following a single cut (without rolling) were around 10ft, rising to 10.7ft on Tuesday morning (following a single cut and roll) and hit 11f.3t Tuesday afternoon with a further cut (without rolling). Possibly the biggest factor in relation to speed was the weather  (as was seen at the U.S. Open). Had it not rained then we would have expected green speeds to be higher still. Most importantly surfaces remained smooth and consistent, which highlights the importance of the work carried out over the season to date enhanced by top-dressing every couple of weeks. Following a hectic and successful week on the golf course the pressure continues as our focus now turns to the Ladies Invitational, Seniors Open and Club Championships this week. The greens have been ‘pushed’ forward and the challenge will be to maintain consistency as we approach the Club Championships this coming weekend. The greens have been sarel rolled this morning (Monday) which punches a small hole around 1 inch deep to help keep the surface open as we look to step up levels of rolling and mowing once more. Ironing greens East Berkshire has been selected to host the County Championships finals in August 2012. This will be another fantastic opportunity to show case the course and provide a great test of golf. The forecast looks set to remain warm and dry as we head into the weekend which will aid preparations for the Club Championship. As temps increase areas of the golf course are starting to dry out once more. Below is an interesting link which deals with summer playing conditions. This link can also be found via the R&A website. http://www.out-and-back.net/?p=1709 [...]

    Posted by Course Up Date – The East Berkshire Stag | East Berkshire Greens Blog | July 11, 2011, 5:16 pm

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