A team of some of the largest names in the golf turf business is collaborating to develop better grasses for the industry’s future. Turf Research of Ultrafine Zoysia (TRUZ) is a new partnership between turfgrass research entities, universities and golf grass experts to develop zoysia varieties aimed specifically at the golf market. The partners in the project include turfgrass development company Sod Solutions of South Carolina, golf grass producers Modern Turf of South Carolina and JW Turf of Florida, and worldwide golf grass distributor Atlas Turf International. Research partners include the agronomy programs at the University of Florida, Texas A&M, along with other plant breeders.
“First and foremost, we are looking for exceptional playing surfaces, said John Holmes, president of Atlas Turf International. “The zoysias in the TRUZ program have proven to be more drought tolerant, disease resistant, and salt tolerant, outperforming zoysias currently available. The research also shows the TRUZ zoysias to be faster growing and more wear tolerant.”
The bullseye for the TRUZ program is to develop a line of fine-bladed zoysias that can be used throughout a golf course; on putting greens, fairways, tees, and roughs. While there are some varieties on the market currently, most were developed first with a home lawn in mind. This is one of the reasons this program sticks out.
“Most zoysias in the golf market today are slow growing and lack the traffic tolerance and injury recovery needed by golf courses,” said Hank Kerfoot, president of Modern Turf. “As golf turf professionals that not only play golf but sell turfgrass into the golf arena, we want to identify specific zoysia varieties that will excel most importantly on the course. The breeders we have engaged in this program are the best individuals to find those grasses.”
Dr. Kevin Kenworthy believes the benefits that zoysias can provide will transform golf as we know it. “Things to understand about zoysiagrass putting greens, in relation to bermuda greens, is that zoysias are extremely dense and provide a very stiff and firm surface. That will affect the playability and also the management from a superintendent’s perspective. We have new lines that show better disease resistance and have finer leaf texture; attributes that are critical for success moving forward.”
Dr. Kenworthy estimates the first line of grasses from the TRUZ project will hit the commercial market in approximately three to four years.
Sod Solutions, Modern Turf, and Atlas Turf International will partner to debut the program at this year’s Golf Industry Show, February 2 – 7 in San Diego.
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