Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Golf Courses and Melting Snow
Name: Harry
Status: student
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

Why does snow melt faster in a golf fairway as opposed to the green? On any hole fairway, snow melts at a much faster rate than on the surrounding fairway.

Hi Harry,

I am speculating here, but are you sure snow is melting faster? Is it possible that there is less snow on the greens to begin with, and therefore the ground becomes visible sooner on greens (even if the snow melts at the same rate)? My first thought was that most greens are elevated, and so would typically just have less snow cover than fairways. This would be more pronounced on more elevated or more exposed greens. It is possible that the green, due to its elevation, could have more (direct) sun exposure both due to a more direct angle, and also perhaps trees may be closer to fairways -- depending on conditions, these factors may speed snow melting compared with fairways. I imagine snow might persist the longest in bunkers or low, protected areas.

In terms of the land, greens are typically built of sand, and have very good drainage. Fairways may be sand or may be other kinds of earth, and have limited drainage, typically just to address problem/wet areas. I only mention these differences to be thorough -- I am not sure how or why they would matter to this question. As the snow melts, the water would move away faster than on fairways, so perhaps that helps them melt faster. Depending on the quality of the course, this drainage may vary in effectiveness.

Hope this helps,

Burr Zimmerman

As a volunteer Bluebird trail observer at a local golf course, I de-winterize my Bluebird houses during February through March. This year I started with the course having over 30 cm of snow cover and I observed no differences as the snow melted over the course (27 holes). Snow decline was a function of location, not greens vs fairways. Sun exposure, tree and brush locations were all a factor.

Steve Sample

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory