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Does Shade Tolerant Bermuda Exist?

Randy Wilson


As a GCS, I dealt with many of the same challenges that the modern superintendent handles on a daily basis:  Disease pressure, irrigation breaks on Friday afternoon, other courses stealing my equipment tech and members suffering from Augusta Syndrome well into October.


But the one thing that beat me was shade.


I could grow bent in the shade, and fescue and St. Augustine and Centipede, but I was never able to grow good bermuda in shade.  I removed a great deal of golf course shade, often in a non-ethical manner, but sometimes, there was shade that just couldn't be removed.


That's why, when I heard about the rumored existence of shade tolerant bermuda, I moaned and whined about not having shade tolerant grass available when I was a superintendent, then waited until someone in my area had tested the grass for a couple of years.  


(This is the same approach I took with any new product, especially anything tagged as game-changing and miraculous.)


After a reasonable period of time, I went over to Flat Creek Golf Club in Peachtree City, Georgia, where Harold Ammons has been testing TifGrand and Celebration.


Harold's results look very good.  


But, I would add this word of caution.  Some of the negative reviews I heard concerning shade tolerant bermudas seemed to come mostly from homeowners and not professional turf managers.


This would indicate that shade tolerant bermuda, like other fine turf types, requires more attention than the drop-it-and-forget-it management style some homeowners employ.  (I'm one of those.)


Here's a short film we shot at Flat Creek for a little visual reference.



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