Back To Bermuda
By Lee Pace
What goes around, comes around.
All of the early golf courses in the Sandhills featured greens made of a sand-and-clay base until architect and green keeper Donald Ross developed a strain of bermuda grass in the 1930s that could survive the heavy play the area received during its prime fall-through-spring season.
Then bermuda gave way to bent in the 1970s as bent didn’t need the transition season, and advances in technology had enabled this traditional cool-weather, northern-climate grass to withstand the summer heat as the area golf season expanded to a year-around basis further south.
Now the industry is coming full circle. Many superintendents in the “transition zone” of the Mid- Atlantic are finding the new hybrid bermuda grasses the ideal surface for year-round playability and maintenance. With the resurfacing of the greens at Pine Needles in the summer of 2016, both Mid Pines and Pine Needles feature MiniVerde, the ultimate warm season turfgrass for putting greens. It features a rich green color and is disease and heat tolerant.
“We’ve been living hour by hour with bent greens in July and August when it’s 90-degrees plus,” says Dave Fruchte, course superintendent at the sister resorts. “It takes a lot of manpower to go around and keep the greens cool and alive. It’s pretty stressful. It’s stressful on golfers, too, because we’re interrupting them.”
Fruchte and his staff haven’t had that issue at Mid Pines since it reopened in 2013 with MiniVerde.
“We do a little hand-watering on the bermuda, mostly in the morning, and they’re good for the day. We’ve got good, consistent, smooth, playable and healthy greens,” he says. “We’ll have that now at Pine Needles.”