Golf Courses Return to Bermuda
Ultradwarf Bermuda grasses are employed for their wear tolerance, and new strains produces deep, aggressive roots, rhizomes and stolons compared to other greens, making them ideal for golf courses and putting areas.
A sea change is rolling through the southeastern U.S., as golf courses are converting from bent grass courses to Bermuda.
For years, courses in areas like Georgia and the Carolinas have struggled to keep bent grass courses alive through the summer heat in June, July and August, often leading to slower, softer greens. Bent grass can thrive on mountain courses that remain cool, but groundskeepers have had to struggle to keep greens alive over the last two hotter-than-average summers.
Bent-grass surfaces need hand watering during the heat of the day to keep them alive, in addition to multiple aerations, which requires punching deep holes in the putting surface to allow air and water in before covering them with a sandy mixture. Aerating three or four times a year has become the norm, including spring and fall when demand to play is high, and each aeration requires three to four weeks of recovery time.
The new Bermuda greens, in contrast, require one aeration in the summer, and the putting surfaces typically recover in two weeks. Champion and MiniVerde ultra dwarf grasses have become the most popular, due to short rhizomes that improve putting surfaces.
The Verdict Ridge course, outside Charlotte, North Carolina, will to be all but shut down for two months starting at the end of June to replace its grass, losing approximately $350,000 in revenue, although nine temporary holes will be open for members to use.
Before bent grass took over the links about 30 years ago, Bermuda greens were the norm, but that grass was typically thick, spongy and full of grain. New Bermudas produce faster, firmer putting surfaces that can be adjusted to fit what each course wants for its golfers.