Photo Quiz: Clear objects on turf, strange slime on turf

Round, clear objects covering a fairway and mysterious slime on a putting green make up this month's challenges.


Filed to: Photo Quiz, Nevada

GCM’s Photo Quiz is presented in partnership with STEC Equipment.

STEC Equipment

Problem A: Round, clear objects on turf

strange brown marks on golf course
Location: Mesquite, Nev.
Turfgrass area: Fairway
Turfgrass variety: Dormant common bermudagrass

Problem B: Strange slime on turf

strange brown marks on golf course
Location: Northwest Czech Republic
Turfgrass area: Putting green
Turfgrass variety: Bentgrass

Scroll down for answers.












golf course divided green

Problem A: Round, clear objects on turf

When the superintendent arrived at this golf course one cold morning in the desert, he called the irrigation tech on the radio to see if there had been any problems with the irrigation system. He reported back that the only issue was the new ice sculpture on the sixth hole. Later, after the sun had come up, the superintendent made his normal rounds and saw strange round ice balls the size of golf balls on the turf, the result of a sprinkler in the rough that had been stuck on for several hours when the temperature dipped below freezing. He was curious how the balls were formed instead of one flat sheet of ice. As it turns out, ice crystals form in different shapes according to many factors such as water and air temperature, humidity levels and wind. Strange shapes like this are sometimes called frost flowers; however, in this case, I think they should be called crystal golf balls. As the turf was dormant, no damage occurred.

Photo submitted by Matt Hewitt, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite, Nev., and 34-year member of the association.


SeaDwarf paspalum putting green

Problem B: Strange slime on turf

The strange slime on this golf green was a mystery to the consultant who observed it. He noted that the green was heavily shaded with no air circulation. After some research, it was determined that the slime was most likely an organism called Nostoc. This is a genus of cyanobacteria, formerly classified as blue-green algae. Nostoc has many colorful names, including mare’s eggs, witch’s butter, and, in the past, star jelly, based on the belief that it was a remnant of shooting stars fallen to earth. It typically does not cause turf decline; it colonizes an area where it has favorable conditions to grow, which can also include excessive phosphorous. From its gelatinous green form, it dries to a black crust that comes back to life when there is sufficient moisture. To discourage its growth, improving sunlight and air circulation and reducing excessive phosphorus can remedy the situation.

Photo submitted by Mel Lucas, CGCS, an international turfgrass consultant who is a 61-year member of GCSAA and served as association president in 1980.

Editor’s note: Have a photo of an on-course anomaly? GCM would love to have a look! Email it to Photo Quiz author John Mascaro.

John Mascaro is the president of Turf-Tec International.