Photo Quiz: Scratches on green, ‘ghost’ footprints

Can you tell what produced these two strange on-course sights? Test your turf-trouble radar in this month’s Photo Quiz.


Filed to: Photo Quiz

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

STEC Equipment

Problem A: Mysterious brown footprints leading up to green

Ghost golf course footprints
Location: Jesup, Iowa
Turfgrass area: Approach and collar
Turfgrass variety: Penncross bentgrass

Problem B: Scratch marks on green

Golf green scratches
Location: Southwestern Ohio
Turfgrass variety: Penncross bentgrass/Poa annua

Scroll down for answers.












Problem A: Mysterious brown footprints leading up to green

Considering the month, I was going to go with an April Fool’s Day story about an alien abduction, as these footprints seem to appear out of nowhere, cross the collar and then disappear again.

The previous day, the superintendent had been using a backpack sprayer with glyphosate to spot-treat several small areas. He wore the sprayer as he drove between a few locations, letting the spray tip rest on the floorboard. Apparently, it leaked a bit, but the floorboard dried quickly in the heat of the day. The following morning, he was changing cups after the greens had been mowed about an hour earlier and the turf on the greens’ surfaces had dried. However, the collars had not been mowed and were still covered in heavy dew. After his shoes became wet from walking through the collar on an earlier green, it reactivated the glyphosate on the floorboard, and these footprints on the next collar he walked through were the result.

Because the greens were dry, they were not damaged, and the footprints were replaced with plugs from the practice green collar. I asked the superintendent how he determined what had caused the prints. “It took a couple minutes to figure out what happened,” he said. “Obviously, I assumed a golfer did something at first glance, but when I realized it was me, I checked the shoe size and confirmed it.”

Photo submitted by Scott Rohlfsen, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Jesup (Iowa) Golf & Country Club and an 18-year member of the association.

Problem B: Scratch marks on green

When I saw this photo, I thought the damage might have been caused by an angry bear. In reality, these marks were caused by two bucks during a rut.

Golf course rutting
Rutting behavior includes sparring among bucks, sometimes of equal stature and sometimes between a dominant and subordinate buck. It involves pushing and shoving matches as well as, in this instance, antler clashing and the tearing up of some putting green turf. In this part of southwestern Ohio, deer can weigh 150 pounds or more.

The damage to this green took place in the early evening. To repair it, divots were replaced, and divot repair tools were used in the areas with hoof marks. Topdressing sand and bentgrass seed were applied to the low areas.

Photo submitted by Rick Donley, a retired golf course mechanic and 24-year GCSAA member.

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.