August 18, 2011

University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture
Turfgrass Science Program (http://turf.uark.edu) – Turf Tips

Be careful not to jump off the cliff with Ian Baker-Finch !!

It is hard to remember a televised golf tournament where the turf conditions were given such great reviews by the TV commentators as was done this past weekend at Atlanta Athletic Club, host of the PGA Championship. Ken Mangum and his staff at AAC did a great job of preparing the facility for the championship and it certainly had some unique grasses for the event. Although the pros regularly play on ultradwarf bermudagrass greens such as Champion during regular tour stops like the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, this was likely the first time that any of them had ever played on ‘Diamond’ zoysiagrass fairways. Diamond zoysiagrass is a Zoysia matrella cultivar that was released by Texas A&M in 1996 and is a very dwarf cultivar that is best adapted to very closely-mowed conditions. Diamond has even been used as a putting green turf (see work by former UA grad student, John Kauffman, during his doctoral program at Tennessee (http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/811/) . Mangum and his staff were reported to be mowing the Diamond at 0.300 inches for the championship.

The purpose of this turf note is to just remind everyone that Arkansas is not Atlanta and what works well in Atlanta could have problems in the natural state. We have tested Diamond zoysiagrass in Fayetteville for many years and we have not found it to possess enough winter hardiness to survive in the northern half of Arkansas. In both of the last two winters, we have seen up to 80% winterkill on Diamond in Fayetteville (see figure and photos) and we saw significant winter injury on this cultivar back a decade ago when we first tested it. There are other Z. matrella cultivars such as Cavalier and Zorro that have had great winter survival in Fayetteville, can be managed well below 0.5 inch, and will produce a surface every bit as good as Diamond. If you don’t believe us, check out these grasses at Chenal’s Bear Den in Little Rock, Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, the Blessings in Johnson, the Country Club of Little Rock, or at the Alotian Club just west of Little Rock. Diamond is likely more adapted to south Arkansas and may have merit in that region, but we have not tested it there.

It is great when the turf and the turf managers get such rave reviews by guys such as Ian Baker-Finch, but we want to make sure that everyone does not believe that these grasses are miracles for all situations. If you have any questions about the performance of zoysiagrass cultivars or any of the major turfgrass species used in Arkansas, be sure to either visit the website (http://turf.uark.edu) or give us a call.

Mike Richardson and Doug Karcher



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