Augusta National’s greens look (slightly) different this year. Here’s why.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The most remarkable thing about walking around Augusta National in the fall is how remarkably similar it looks to the spring. Sure, there’s the odd yellow-and-orange tree here or there, but on the whole the course looks extremely green.

But there’s one part of the course that doesn’t look as green as you might expect: The greens themselves.

Surveying the course on Monday, it doesn’t take long to spot patches of purple-ish grass on many of the greens. They’re more prevalent on some — the 9th and 16th in particular — than others. But in all, the greens look like you might expect them to after a warm week with firm, fast conditions.

“Some of the greens have a little bit of browning, where it’s starting to firm up already,” Jordan Spieth said on Monday. “I haven’t ever seen that kind of color on these greens other than 2014 and 2016.”

But before you start ringing the alarm bells: No, there’s nothing wrong nor anything worth worrying about. Since 1980 Augusta’s greens have been carpeted with bent grass, a strain which thrives in milder temperatures that makes it more common in the northeast than the warmer south. When temperatures climb, bentgrass begins to heat up and come under stress. And what it does that, the purple-ish color follows.

And that, Spieth suggests, is what’s happening at Augusta this week.

“It’s starting to firm up already, maybe just preparing for potentially some water coming in Wednesday and Thursday,” he says. “It makes a big difference on how precise you have to be in not only the ball flight that you use as far as the curve on it, but how high you hit it too.  

And water is, indeed, coming. We’re expecting a few inches of it between Tuesday and Thursday — with the potential for more this weekend.

And that’s why you may flip on the coverage and notice some browner-than-usual spots on some greens. The course is getting dried out earlier to prepare for the deluge of rain to come. The rain may soften the fairways, but Augusta’s powers-that-be won’t want the greens to turn into dartboards. They’re preparing accordingly.

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