A ‘Banner’ Year for Turfgrass Varieties
There is something special about natural turf—the way the ball rolls, the way it stripes and patterns, the way you know an athlete has put his/her heart and soul into the game when grass stains show on their uniform. In the past year, we have witnessed much success with natural turfgrasses: HGT® Kentucky Bluegrass, Latitude 36®, NorthBridge® and Celebration® Bermudagrasses.
This year HGT came strong out of the gates in the north and midwest. In the 2017 MLB season, HGT was found in four stadiums. These stadiums reach from Philadelphia to Chicago, and up to Detroit. Golf properties are also turning to HGT, including Bloomington County Country Club, Wilmette Country Club and Deerpath Golf Course.
Latitude 36 Bermudagrass
Latitude 36 continues to grow and amaze every sports turf manager and golf course superintendent that uses it. One of the most exciting successes this year has been with Kenan Memorial Stadium at UNC. The grounds crew was presented with a proposal to go artificial for one year while their entire practice facilities underwent renovation. The crew was so passionate about natural turf and the superior benefits of Latitude 36, they knew they could hold all practices and football games on their stadium with a few in-season renovations. After 65+ practices, seven walk-throughs, seven home games and three renovations using 225,000 sq. ft. of sod on plastic, they proved exactly what Latitude was bred to do. Kudos to Casey Carrick, his crew and Carolina Green for proving that natural turf can handle the wear and provide huge cost savings.
UNC Chapel Hill wasn’t the only addition in North Carolina this year. A Bermuda triangle was formed inside North Carolina’s own Triangle when Durham Bulls Athletic Park also joined the Latitude 36 train with UNC and Wallace Wade Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils. The Charlotte Knights joined as well. Georgia Tech provided another success story with the addition of the Atlanta United games in Bobby Dodd Stadium. As the university sites continue to grow, we added Mississippi State Dudy Noble Field to the list.
Heading south, Orlando City Soccer had the grand opening of their stadium in March. The soccer club will not be the only one utilizing Latitude 36 in Orlando—Orlando Pride and Orlando City B will as well. With MLS expanding into new cities, Latitude 36 will be on the west coast. The new Los Angeles FC will be playing on the dense turfgrass once Banc of California Stadium is complete.
Latitude is rolling right into golf. In Florida Banyan Cay Resort and Golf, Boca Rio Golf Club, Broken Sound New Course and Red Stick Golf Club join the ranks of Old Marsh Golf Club and the Loxahatchee Club.
NorthBridge came strong out of Spring 2017. Just like Latitude, NorthBridge found its way into the MLS. Sporting Kansas City’s athletes practice on the cold tolerant, dense bermudagrass all season long. It also found a new home at Northwood Club this past year as they finished their renovation. NorthBridge continues to have the eye of NFL teams with the success at Kansas City, and teams in DC and Philadelphia using it for the first half of the season.
Celebration continues to impress in aggressiveness and recovery speed. The Clubs at Houston Oaks will now play on the dark blue/green bermuda, as well as Jupiter Island Club, Frenchmen’s Reserve and the Country Club at Mirasol. Celebration can also be found under the feet of baseball athletes at spring training facilities across Florida from east to west.
This year has been very successful for these improved turfgrass varieties, which have pushed the limits for grass performance We are all excited to see what 2018 brings!