To the passing observer, grass more or less all looks the same. But when it comes to a golf course, there’s more than just colour to consider. Grass is to a golf course what a foundation is to a house.
Seed developers have firsthand experience with the challenges and conditions specific to their region, providing valuable insights. By leveraging their expertise, I can make tailored decisions that suit the unique characteristics of each golf course we develop in different regions of the U.S. Currently I assist as a Reef Private Equity agronomist at Black Desert Resort in Utah and Cutalong Golf Course in Virginia. Our next project in Heber City, Utah has already broke ground and will provide a new set of challenges for our chosen turf varieties.
When collaborating with turf developers like DLF, we discuss our specific concerns and issues. So what are those unique needs?
- Choosing the right species/variety. Whether it’s combating summer diseases in a hot region or addressing winter diseases in a colder climate, their experience with different grass varieties is crucial in identifying the best options. Their recommendations ensure that we select turfgrass varieties with a proven track record in similar conditions, effectively defending against prevalent diseases, and provide seed variety recommendations that will be sustainable for the chosen region. For example, DLF’s Scott DeBolt’s vast knowledge and experience in the field of seed propagation has been a great help in selecting varieties.
- Paying attention to detail. We have in-depth discussions about soil composition, site-specific conditions, and salinity levels with seed companies. This meticulous approach allows us to narrow down our choices and choose turfgrass varieties that thrive in the unique environmental factors of each golf course. Their guidance minimizes potential issues and maximizes turf performance.
There are numerous factors involved in the selection process, and it’s challenging to pinpoint a single right or wrong decision due to the many external variables at play.
In the past, we experimented with combining different varieties, and we could visibly see the differences between them. This experience made me value consistency in golf course conditions, as it is a crucial measure of quality.
Looking back, the variety mixing scenario made me realize that there are numerous external factors, such as maintenance practices, watering, soil types, and more, that can affect the outcome. By reducing the number of varieties used, I aim to minimize potential issues and ensure a higher level of consistency.
Additionally, when working with bentgrass greens in the southwestern region, we initially focused heavily on drought and heat tolerance. However, we overlooked the importance of maintaining winter activity in those climates.
This realization has now become an integral part of the selection process, ensuring that we consider a grass’s ability to remain active during the winter months alongside its tolerance to drought and heat.