We have talked with Brad Burgess – Managing Director of Sports Turf Solutions Pte Ltd about technology advances in grass and maintenance.
What are the technology advances in grass for golf courses in the recent years?
Choosing the correct turf grasses for any new golf course development is the key for the long term success of that property. Realizing after the course is open that the grass is not suitable to the water quality, the soil type and other factors can be costly to rectify and disruptive to members and guests. A golf course should be built to last 30 years or more before any major renovations are required.
What are the types of grass that are the most suitable to golf courses in Vietnam?
About 95% of golf courses have pure clean fresh water and therefore the most suitable turf grasses for this are the Zoysia Grasses and Bermuda Grasses, which are also native to Vietnam and have been here for thousands of years. Most of these grasses have undergone various cross breeding programs in order to develop more suitable strains that require less water, less fertilizer and are more resistant to diseases and insects.
We have chosen a Zoysia grass called Zeon Zoysia, which is by far the easiest to maintain and most suitable for long term sustainability. It is virtually disease and insect free and requires much less maintenance. Not to mention, its best feature is the playability. It is great to play off.
Why should the developers need to know about quality of grass?
I’ve worked for many developers in many different countries and many different situations as a builder and Superintendent. I’ve seen new courses deteriorate rapidly in less than 5 years because the wrong turf grass varieties were chosen. These courses now need to accept that they have lost the war on certain weed problems they will never be able to control, or will be forced to close their doors for months on end to convert to a more suitable turf grass variety. This has a major impact on revenue and the return on investment.
How is going the business of STS in Vietnam?
Since we started STS back in 2006 we have learned which grasses were not suitable, and we learned about other varieties of Zoysia Grasses on the market. We focused our direction on investing in the licenses for these other grasses and building our own Turf Farms and are now able to take full responsibility for the grasses we offer. These grasses have stood the test of time and are proving to be the most sustainable turf grasses on the market. The owners of these golf courses don’t need to worry about the constant fight against insects, diseases and weeds. They can also lower their inputs, meaning they use less water and fertilizers, not to mention less mowing which means the machinery lasts longer. It all adds up and at the end of the day a golf course is a business and every business needs the best bottom line.
STS also supplies a range of other products for the golf industry, from fertilizers and inputs, to the machines needed to keep a golf course in great shape, to the golf carts that golfers move around the course in. There are few markets in the world where the growth of golf can match Vietnam at present.
What if the future of golf in Vietnam?
Golf in Vietnam is booming and it’s great to see so many locals taking up the game. I am impressed to see the Els Performance Academy at Eco Park full of kids out pulling their clubs around the course and enjoying the game, instead of being at home on their lap tops and computer games. I haven’t seen a facility anything like the Els Performance Academy anywhere else in South East Asia. How can we get more facilities like this? Every city needs one. This is our future.
This is all good and amazing, but it is the responsibility of the developers to build these courses with sustainability in mind. If they don’t, then it all breaks down. Courses that aren’t built well degrade fast, golfers stop coming, green fees drop, course conditions drop and the golf course fails. We are seeing this in other parts of Asia, in particular Malaysia. Developers must also be conscious of the environment. No one wants to use more water than they have to, or chemicals, or excess fertilizers and fuel. These resources are becoming scarcer and more expensive.
I believe all of us at Sports Turf Solutions are doing our part for the industry by bringing more suitable turf grasses to the industry so that golf has a future.
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The article "HI-TECH APPROACH TO GRASS" was originally published on https://vietnamgolfmagazine.net/en/hi-tech-approach-to-grass/