Cold-tolerant, warm-season grasses recently have become a more common, viable alternative to Poa annua and perennial ryegrass fairways and tees in southern areas of the Northeast region. Unfortunately, two unusually harsh winters caused moderate winter injury of bermudagrass. Furthermore, bermudagrass areas have been slower than expected to green up during spring.
Latitude 36 and Patriot bermudagrass are very exciting alternatives to cool-season turfgrasses that can provide excellent playing conditions during the summer. However, winter survival has been a primary concern for many considering making the transition to bermudagrass in northern climates. Fortunately, bermudagrasses like Latitude 36, Patriot and others show great promise for surviving “typical” transition-zone winters. However, the last two winters have been atypical and unusually severe winter weather injured bermudagrass throughout the region, causing some facilities to question establishing bermudagrass.
If you are questioning the transition to bermudagrass, remember why the transition was made in the first place. For many, maintaining Poa annua and perennial ryegrass turf during summer simply was too costly. Moreover, even with expensive, resource-intensive management practices to promote Poa annua or perennial ryegrass, the results often were unfavorable. Aesthetics and playing conditions frequently suffered for many courses maintaining Poa annua or perennial ryegrass playing surfaces and both golfers and golf course maintenance personnel were unhappy.