Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why do we have creeping bentgrass fairways?

Most of the golf courses in the Kansas City metro area have zoysiagrass fairways.  Over the years, I have been asked many times, "wouldn't you rather have zoysia instead of bentgrass fairways?"  Much of the time, I think that I would.  Zoysia is much more heat and drought tolerant than bentgrass.  The disease pressure on zoysia is pretty much limited to just one disease, and only during the fall to spring time-frame.  Weed control is much easier on zoysia, just spray it with Round-up when it is dormant, and you control all of the winter annual weeds.  With a timely application of pre-emergent herbicide, zoysia should stay pretty clean all year.  It really sounds like the perfect grass for tees and fairways in this region.

I have been growing creeping bentgrass on tees and fairways for 19 of my 23 years as a Golf Course Superintendent now.  I am really comfortable with it.  It has its strengths and its weaknesses.  I am really struggling with some of those weaknesses these days, but that is a story for another blog post. 

The fairways here at Sycamore Ridge, are in really great shape today.  They are green, and lush.  Many of the zoysia courses on the other hand, are realizing how much of their zoysia was killed this winter.  With the excess moisture and prolonged cold temperatures, the zoysia is simply dead in many wet areas.  I have not personally seen any of this turf loss, but have heard that most courses will be replacing a lot of areas with sod.  The zoysia in this area is Meyer Zoysia, a variety that is very slow to spread, and impossible to seed.  Sod is really the only viable way to establish it. 

My purpose is not to make light of the situation faced by my fellow superintendents. 
There is not a single thing that they could have done to prevent this from happening.  However, with the challenges faced when growing bentgrass, it is important to remember that the grass on the other side of the fence is not always greener.