Team Zoysia hosted the Zoysia & The Future of Golf Tour at Bladerunner Farms, located just south of San Antonio in Poteet, Texas, before tradeshow portion of the Golf Industry Show.
The focus of the tour was the scientific breakthrough in zoysiagrass breeding and research that promises to change the way golf courses are grassed. Zoysia, a sustainable family of grasses, (low water, low inputs, lower maintenance costs) has been touted in recent years for its beauty and playability on fairways and tees. But now, new varieties bred especially for golf greens are ready for use in the golf market—something virtually unheard of until now.
A presentation by Texas A&M University’s Dr. Ambika Chandra unveiled the first hybrid zoysiagrass bred for use on golf greens. This zoysia, tested as DALZ 1308 and named TamGreen, also represents a scientific breakthrough in its standing as the first hybrid developed specifically for putting greens by crossing two different turfgrass species, zoysia minima and zoysia matrella.
“The problem with putting green zoysias historically is that they’re known to roll too slow for tournament play,” Chandra said. “DALZ 1308 solves that.”
Tour attendees also saw the results of decades of research on drought tolerance, shade tolerance, salinity tolerance, playability and turf quality.
The tour included eight stations with presentations from Ken Mangum, CGCS, on why zoysia is suited for golf; Brad Burgess and Jim Prusa on international perspective of zoysia use; Dr. Brian Schwartz from the University of Georgia on new breeding advances; Dr. Marla Binzel debuted new research findings on the salt tolerance of zoysiagrass; David Doguet of Bladerunner Farms discussed planting zoysia from tee to green; Dr. Jack Fry of Kansas State University presented information on cold tolerance; Dr. Milt Engelke instructed on zoysia maintenance and equipment; and Chandra talked further about her zoysia breeding program at Texas A&M.
Following a tour of Bladerunner Farms, the tour moved to Oak Hill Country Club in San Antonio for a session led by architect Tripp Davis and superintendent Riley Maxey. The course was recently grassed with several varieties of zoysia. “Once it’s established the playing surface is much, much better with zoysia versus bermuda, in my opinion,” Maxey said.
Tees are Trinity Zoysia; fairways are Zeon Zoysia; and roughs are grassed witht JaMur Zoysia with Cutlass Zoysia accents. Maxey said he’s noticed his zoysia turf requires less fertilizer, less maintenance and recovers faster from drought conditions than other grasses.
“From a maintenance standpoint we’ve seen a lot of ability to maintain more consistent conditions with less inputs, whether that’s labor, fertility, water. It’s just a little bit easier on zoysia grass to have the same conditions day in and day out,” Maxey said. “If you’re going to spend that amount of money to truly be happy with your product, that zoysiagrass is definitely the way to go.”
Heard during the tour …
President of Bladerunner Farms
“Our goal is to give you grasses that are much cheaper to manage.”
Dr. Milt Engelke
Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University
“We can bring the cost of maintenance down without sacrificing quality with zoysiagrass.”
Dr. Marla Binzel
Former turfgrass scientist at Texas A&M, current owner of Ziatec, an independent research lab
“The big deal with the salinity with zoysia is twofold. One, is that inherent with this grass is how it deals with the salt is it takes it up and excretes the salt. If you mow and collect your clippings, you have a way to remove salt from your site. The other big factor is because of the way that it handles salt, compared to paspalum you don’t have as much excessive growth. Paspalum grows extra volume to deal with salt, that volume is expensive in terms of water and nitrogen. Zoysia doesn’t put on all that extra growth, so you’re not using so much extra water and nitrogen.”
Ken Mangum, CGCS
Retired golf course superintendent
“I never lost any zoysiagrass to cold in Atlanta. Zoysia is very cold tolerant. This new grass, Prizm, is extremely cold tolerant.”