Come autumn, many Bermuda-grass courses go brown and are overseeded with ryegrass. If you're heading south for vacation this winter, here's what you need to know.
• When and where
Overseeding is a six-week process that takes place from mid-September through November, usually in resort areas in the Southwest and Southeast. During overseeding, fees are often reduced by 10 to 20 percent.
• How conditions change
Two weeks before overseeding, courses dry out the Bermuda, creating firmer and faster, if bumpier, conditions. Most courses close when the ryegrass seed is put down, and upon reopening have slow, heavily sanded greens. The ryegrass then gets drenched with water, so expect slower greens and damp fairways.
• Tips from tee to green
"For hitting off thin Bermuda or ryegrass that hasn't taken hold yet, try to use irons especially wedges that have less bounce," says Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Malaska. "The thick bounces on game-improvement irons won't work as well because there's less of a cushion underneath the ball. After overseeding, the lush fairways permit very little roll, so go with a driver that'll give you as much carry as you can get."
• How to putt it
"Switch to a putter with more loft to make it easier to get the ball rolling," Malaska says. "If you don't switch, then at least move the ball forward in your stance and remember that there won't be as much break."
• Forgive and try to forget
If you can't make the proper equipment adjustments, expect to lose two to three shots if you're a 0-5 handicap golfer; five shots if you're a 6-10 handicap; seven to eight shots if you're 11-20 and at least 10 shots if you're a 20 handicap or higher.