Editor’s note: Like snowflakes, no two golf courses are alike. But through nature, quirks of design, previous land use and necessity, some golf courses are more “unalike” than others. Over the next several months, Superintendent magazine takes a look at a few of the game’s playing fields that have more than their fair share of quirks and distinct characteristics:

Nestled in the scenic Flint Hills of north-central Kansas, Colbert Hills Golf Course offers some incredibly breathtaking views of our nation’s heartland. Located on the outskirts of Manhattan, Kansas, home of Kansas State University, the course serves as a living laboratory for students in turfgrass management and other academic programs. As such, there is a pervasive presence of the university’s primary color (purple) and mascot (the wildcat) on display.

In fact, as golfers tee it up on the par-3 fifth hole, they will notice the right side of the green is protected by a series of bunkers that form the “paw” of a wildcat. And, in staying with the theme, the sand in that array of bunkers is purple. According to Certified Golf Course Superintendent Matt Gourlay, sand is shipped from Arkansas to a vendor in Kansas that bakes the purple pigment on the sand particles.

“The only bad part is the sand on top fades to blue (the primary color of Kansas State’s chief rival the University of Kansas),” Gourlay says. “We bring the sand underneath to the top when that happens, but we also keep a supply of purple sand on hand. We can’t have any blue on this course.”

While the course is drenched in purple, Gourlay still looks for opportunities to keep the locals happy. He has found a supplier who produces “purple” cups for his greens. As they say, it is all about the presentation.


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