The Best Grass for Sports
In recent months, collegiate and professional sports have resumed play after much of 2020 was spent waiting on the sidelines due to the Covid-19 pandemic postponing or cancelling seasons. As players and coaches get back on the field to compete, it’s important to make sure they step back onto high-quality sports fields. Finding what variety is the ”best” for a particular application depends on a number of factors, including location, frequency of use and climate. One thing that has been shown in research and real-world use studies is that natural grass is safer than artificial turf (plastic grass). To that end, here are some of the candidates for the best grass for use in the sports world.
Best Sports Grass Varieties
Celebration® Bermudagrass is a standard in sports and golf and is known for its wear tolerance and recovery, drought resistance and bermudagrass shade tolerance. This grass was developed in the dry and harsh climate of Australia and has become a standard bermudagrass across the globe. “Drought tough” is Celebration’s middle name thanks to its massive root system which encourages quick repair from damage. Some high profile facilities using Celebration include LSU’s Tiger Stadium and FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, FL.
Latitude 36® Bermudagrass is being widely used on college and professional sports fields across the country due to its proven cold tolerance, exceptional visual appeal, and wear tolerance and recovery. Latitude 36 has spring dead spot resistance which helps in the months coming out of dormancy, which due to Latitude’s cold tolerance, is reduced. Some high-profile college football facilities using Latitude 36 include the University of Tennessee, University of Alabama, Texas A&M, Duke University, University of Virginia and Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres.
NorthBridge® Bermudagrass is used across college and professional sports fields due to its tensile strength, aggressive rooting and its early green-up. That early green-up eliminates the need for overseeding in the winter for a number of locations. The tensile strength of NorthBridge makes it an extremely tough cultivar that withstands the abuse of athletes around the world. Some high profile facilities using NorthBridge include the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and FedEx Field in Landover, MD.
The Future of Sports Grass
There are two high profile research programs nearing completion to look for the next great bermudagrass. These two programs have narrowed their searches down to a few experimental grasses remaining that will take sports into the next two decades.
The Celebration X Program
The Celebration X project is a cooperative venture between Mississippi State University and Sod Solutions. The project seeks to develop a bermudagrass off of Celebration progeny that has reduced seed heads, less thatch and is more cold hardy. The first progenies were generated in 2014. Today the program has over 86 experimental lines with the standouts showcased below entered into the current National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) trials.
- MSB 1017 – Dark green, fast-growing and good tensile strength
- MSB 1026 – Dark green, fewer seed heads but low tensile strength
- MSB 1042 – Light green, very fast-growing, fine texture and dense canopy
- MSB 1048 – Light green, fast-growing but is slower to green-up following winter
- MSB 1050 – Dark green, slow growth rate but is possibly a dwarf type bermuda. It is entered in both the NTEP bermuda trial and the NTEP greens type trial.
Turf Research Bermuda California
The TRBC project is being headed by Oklahoma State University and Sod Solutions. The project seeks to find a bermudagrass with a perfect blend for the California market; one that showcases excellent winter color and/or early green-up, improved drought tolerance for the western climate and good blocking ability. Some of the characteristics we have seen in our more promising lines are drought hardiness, wear tolerance, improved winter color and fine texture.
Sod Solutions Pro
Working closely with all tiers of the turfgrass industry, Sod Solutions ensures all grasses are properly grown and maintained. This helps make sports field managers’ lives a little easier when they are using a variety they can trust and rely on. Not only does our team help select the right grass, source quality sod or sprigs and line up installation with reliable crews – but we also provide a team of professionals to help throughout the life of your field.
Finding the best grass for your sports field is simple with the assistance of Sod Solutions Pro. Our team can help you find the specific variety with traits that can endure the wear while remaining vibrant over time. Sod Solutions Pro can also provide BMPs for your team to follow and make recommendations to ensure your field looks and plays the best all season long.
It is important to invest in turfgrass that can take the excessive wear from cleats and athletes constantly sprinting or landing on the ground during a practice or game. Sports field managers should also consider their location when determining a grass type that will tolerate the surrounding environmental conditions.
To read more about our sports varieties click here.
This Turf Talk was written by Cecilia Brown.