Case Study for Golf Courses
Golf Course Greens, Fairways and Tees Use of New Zoysiagrass Selections Dramatically Save Maintenance Costs and Improve the Environment
by Frank Whitbeck, March 15, 2015
Golf Course Greens
On the front end golf courses, like homeowners and commercial businesses, have a difficult time justifying the purchase of slow growing grasses like Zoysiagrass for use on their golf course greens, fairways and tees. The primary difficulty is COST.
By definition Zoysiagrass is a slow growing grass that takes longer to grow in as sod by a grass farm supplier. It also takes longer to grow in from sprigging or plugging on a golf course creating unhappy golfing customers. Consequently golf courses typically purchase sod from a sod farm.
In the long run Winrock Grass Farm has discovered that the higher front end cost for Zoysiagrass is not only justifiable due to future savings in lower maintenance costs at the golf course, but the environmental benefits of Zoysiagrass use on golf courses far outweigh alternative grasses. This allows each investor golf course to communicate to their members, their communities and the world at large their high level commitment to environmental stewardship.
Initial Cost vs Annual Maintenance Costs
Consider the cost of planting and maintaining a golf green. A Bentgrass golf green is seeded, typically in the Fall. A Bermudagrass golf green is sprig planted in the Spring at a much higher cost than seeding Bent. A Zoysiagrass golf green is sprig planted or solid sodded at a slightly higher cost to planting Bermudagrass. But the annual maintenance cost of Bentgrass and Bermudagrass golf greens far exceeds the annual maintenance cost of Zoysiagrass golf greens. This is because Bentgrass and Bermudagrass golf greens require higher amounts of fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, irrigation water, mowings, aerification coring removal, seasonal tarping and more labor. Mowings on Bentgrass and Bermudagrass greens must occur daily and virtually year round.
Reduced Maintenance Costs with Winrock Zoysiagrass
In contrast a newer Zoysiagrass ultra dwarf selection by Winrock Grass Farm, RollMaster® Zoysiagrass, saves as much as 50% of the annual maintenance cost associated with Bentgrass and Bermudagrass championship golf greens including lower amounts of water for irrigation, reduced use of fertilizers, virtually no fungicides, less of all other herbicides, dramatically less mowing and less tarping in wintertime. Typically golfers simply desire a consistent ball roll whatever the grass type. Thus the name, RollMaster® Zoysiagrass, discovered by Frank Whitbeck, President of Winrock Grass Farm, Inc. on a mountain top outside of Hiroshima, Japan.
As an example, Meyer Z-52 Zoysiagrass fairways used for years in Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Tulsa,Memphis, Oklahoma City and Little Rock have existed without significant weather injury for over 30 years, and in some cases over 40 years at lower mowing heights. The golf course that invested in Zoysiagrass fairways and tees during the boom golf course construction years of the 1980’s and 1990’s have yielded an unanticipated dividend. These Zoysiagrass fairways have lived almost effortlessly and without any recorded disastrous turf losses for over a quarter of a century and at lower mowing heights, usually near ½ inch. Can Zoysiagrass golf greens do the same on the high cost dance floors of every golf course, the 19 disease cultures we know as Bentgrass and Bermudagrass golf greens?
Environmental Benefits of Winrock Zoysiagrass
But the best news is yet to come. As the golf course industry continues to convert to Zoysiagrass, the big winner is the improvement in environmental quality where each of these golf courses exist. The drastic reduction in the use of mowing equipment as Zoysiagrass is put into service brings the prospect of fewer man hours on each golf course, lower use of fossil fuel powered golf course equipment, virtually the elimination of fungicides (with the right Zoysiagrass selections), and the lowered usage of irrigation water and herbicides. Why? Most golf courses are out in the open with good air flow and sunlight.
Ratcheting down the use of all growth inputs will generate not only a huge monetary savings over time, the environment will benefit from less motor exhaust from the myriad of motorized equipment on each golf course. Zoysiagrasses are slower growing than the Bentgrasses and Bermudagrasses by a factor of 30% or more. Management of slower growth Zoysiagrasses brings about the ability for each golf course manager to find a lower Zoysiagrass growth rate management which will further distance the maintenance cost of Zoysiagrass use from the higher maintenance costs associated with Bentgrass and Bermudagrass use.
Golf Courses Need Winrock Zoysiagrass
What if the future luxury championship golf course using Zoysiagrass fairways and greens avoided mowing for four days or longer? What if Zoysiagrass golf greens were mowed every other day or every third day? What if Zoysiagrass was painted green in the wintertime and the golf maintenance crew took the months of January and February off? What if municipal golf courses were saved from extinction and were reborn as a community asset and neighbor at a reduced cost of maintenance? As an industry, golf needs Zoysiagrass more today than ever. And the environment will be better off… exponentially better off. It will be the equivalent of making electric vehicles verses fossil fuel vehicles. And with the dawn of robotic golf course equipment, it will complete the American golf course as a true environmental steward surpassing present day norms.
Frank Whitbeck, proprietor of Winrock Grass Farm, Inc. constructed the largest USGA spec “golf green” in the State of Arkansas (4 acres) in the year 2000. For 19 years, it has never needed any repair or replacement of turf, has never been diseased under various managers and has never been covered with a tarp. Whitbeck also discovered ShadeKing® Zoysiagrass for lower light conditions and RollMaster® Zoysiagrass for all weather untarped golf greens and athletic fields. In addition, Whitbeck introduced EZOY™ Zoysiagrass in 2019 for ultra premium home lawns.
About the Author
Frank Whitbeck, President of Winrock Grass Farm for 40 years as of May, 2019, has worked with the largest developers in housing, industry and golf in America to bring about a better environment.