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This Grass Could Save Us... Okay, A Few Of Us

Randy Wilson


Bermuda grass, more commonly known by the scientific Latin designation "muda", (pronounced mooda) is my favorite grass.  After years of the "Walking Dead" lifestyle of BBA, (bent below Atlanta) experimenting with various fescues, poa triv, perennial ryes and zoysias, returning to muda was like a homecoming.


It was Tif Eagle that brought me back.  On the advice of Milton Abel, former GCS and current CEO of Classic Golf, I chose Tif Eagle for the giant greens at Rockbottum CC and it has been great for 16 years with minimal--really minimal--maintenance.


Oh, I have been tempted by the other UDs, especially when I saw the Champion greens Ken Mangum and Kasey Kauff prepared for the 2011 PGA.  They putted true, but were 5' too fast--gave me the yips.  The cup changer took five tries to find a placement on #16 where the ball would stay on the green.


In '98, I mentally gave up on bent, when due to the drought, I was ordered by a county official to stop watering my Crenshaw.  I explained we pumped out of the South River, downstream of ATL and it wasn't really water, but he remained unconvinced.


Two days later, he found me on a green with a hose in my hand and I was forced to initiate the Python Parrot Defense:

Official:  I ordered you to stop watering!

Me:        I'm not.

Official:  Yes you are!  I can see you!  You're watering!

Me:         No I'm not.  I'm just . . . resting.


That confrontation taught me just how irrational bureaucrats could be when armed with a royal decree, so I planned to return to muda greens.  Knowing the demand on water sources in urban areas could only increase, I prepared to out-stratergerize the next senseless bureaucrat.


With the release of the new muda, DT-1 or its spiffy marketing name, Tif Tuff, (which when inserted into The Google will get you some cartoon characters named Tif and Tuff)  I believe we can seriously reduce our fairway, rough and surrounds water usage in warm-season areas.  It's also very shade tolerant, resists sting nematodes and has a shorter dormancy period.0a556a0d8be93bfce1b709b8681dac64-.png


Before you get all outraged at me for suggesting muda after you have carefully selected the latest zoysia for your fairways, please remember, I'm just trying to help the bottom 50% of golf courses prepare for the next economic/regulatory/weather cycle.  


I do this because my golf origins are the bottom 20% of the bottom 50% courses, where we mowed fairways--always after lunch for max dryness--from path to tree line with a 5-gang at 5/8".  We would have laughed like madmen if somebody had suggested dragging nets or dew-whipping a fairway.  


We mowed tees, surrounds, and everything else with that same 5-gang, pausing to tighten down that one reel that kept spinning after we stopped.  Two ancient Toro walk mowers set somewhere near 3/16" took care of the greens.  A version of this could return.  (Mock all you want, but you might want to read up on Derivatives, Negative Interest Rates and QE.)


Golf will still be played, it just won't be for $195 a round.


Upper-crusty members will still demand The Look, so a great many courses will stick with the new zoysias.   If your members are afflicted with The Syndrome, maintain the irrigation system at peak efficiency and keep the best spray rigs available ready on the tarmac.


I suspect DT-1 might be happier at 5/8" than 1/2", but I also believe the average golfer would be happier at 5/8" so they can sweep the ball.  (Just tell them it's at 1/2".)  Only low handicappers will be able to tell the difference, but not many of them pay for golf.


For more on DT-1, here is the full interview with Dr. Brian Schwartz, the key DT-1 turf breeder, at the Rivermont Field Day:



Note:  I have not been paid by anyone involved in growing or selling DT-1.  I am merely trying to help warm-season golf courses prepare for the future. 


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It's going to become adapt or die and sometimes adapting means going back to what we were doing right in yesteryear. At the end of the day most golfers just want to play a fun, maintained golf course, whether its maintained at 5/8, 9/16, or 1/2" is less important than the fact that its actually mowed out. And those handful who don't like it can drive an hour up the road and join the high dollar club, because by golly this is America and that's capitalism. I'm not anti-Top 100 or $2million+ budget, heck I'm envious of some the toys they get to use, but there are 14,000 other courses that sit in flyover states and golfers live there too.

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Hey Steven, thanks for the comment.


"Adapt or die" is a difficult concept to consider when times are good. The cycles of history can be sudden or drawn out over a long period, but they will cycle whether we are ready or not.

I remember being advised on a stock investment in '97--just before the tech stock crash--by a teenaged lifeguard who said, "Just buy low-sell high" It never occurred to him that things also went down.

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