Today at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego, Dr. Frank Rossi, of Cornell University, talked about his involvement as consulting agronomist in the selection of turf varieties for the first golf course to be built as the venue for the return of golf as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Games in Rio. Rossi confirms that the fairways, roughs and tees on the golf course will be a fine-textured variety of zoysiagrass called Zeon Zoysia.
“Everything approaching the greens, 88 percent of the grassed area, will be Zeon Zoysia,” Rossi says.
The greens grass selection has been delayed, Rossi says, because the salinity and quality of the water to be used for irrigation remains unknown.
“The decision on the greens and green surrounds hinges on the quality of the water,” Rossi says. “If the water is good, the greens will be an ultradwarf bermudagrass. The surrounds will be another type of bermudagrass. If the water is not good, the greens and surrounds will be some type of paspalum because the bermudagrass may not hold up to poor quality water.”
The water quality will not be a factor for the zoysiagrass, however.
“Zoysiagrasses have highly functional salt glands on their leaves that allows the plant to remove salt from the soil and transport it through the stems to the leaves. Salt crystals develop on the leaf surface where it can be removed with simple mowing,” according to Dr. Milt Engelke, professor emeritus at Texas A&M University who has studied zoysiagrass for 32 years,
Golf has not been a sport at the Olympics since 1904. To accommodate the Olympic-sized galleries and international attention sure to follow the event, the new golf course is being built just five kilometers from the Olympic Athletes Village. The course will be built from a design by Gil Hanse of Hanse Golf Course Design based in Malvern, PA.
“As it marks the return of golf to the Olympic Games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport,” says President of Rio 2016 Carlos Arthur Nuzman. “It will enable Rio to host important events in the international calendar and it will be an example of sustainability and preservation of an environmentally protected area.”
— Stacie Zinn Roberts, freelance GCM contributor