Two Takes on Evaluating Warm-Season Grasses In California

By Pat Gross, director, Southwest Region
April 16, 2014

The warm-season grass trial at Tamarisk Country Club will provide valuable information on how various grasses perform under a reduced maintenance regime.

There is an increased emphasis in California to establish and maintain warm-season grasses as a method to reduce water use. With so many species, varieties and cultivars available, the question becomes which grass to choose? Two courses in California provide good examples of how to decide.

NTEP warm-season putting green trials – The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) established a new warm-season grass putting green trial in 2013 focused on evaluating new varieties that perform well under reduced maintenance. Different varieties of hybrid bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and seashore paspalum were established last summer at 12 locations throughout country and will be evaluated based on their ability to provide acceptable green speed (9 to 10 feet Stimpmeter readings) and good traffic tolerance throughout the study. One of the 12 locations is at Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Ben Vann, superintendent at Tamarisk, and Dr. Jim Baird of UC Riverside will be rating and evaluating the performance of these grasses over the next five years. The data and information generated from the study will help local and national superintendents zero in on the performance characteristics of these various grasses. To monitor the results throughout the study, link to the following website:

2013 USGA/NTEP Warm-Season Putting Green  

Turf trials at El Caballero Country Club – Another method for deciding which turf variety performs best under your specific conditions and microclimate is to establish several varieties on a test area and monitor the results. This is precisely what El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. is doing. El Caballero is evaluating four different varieties of bermudagrass and one variety of kikuyugrass under fairway conditions. Factors being evaluated include winter dormancy, spring green-up, divot recovery, disease and insect tolerance, performance at fairway and rough height, and reaction to growth regulator treatments. The interesting part of this study is that it spans both sunny and shaded areas on the same fairway under normal play and traffic conditions. This provides golfers with the opportunity to see, feel, touch, play and evaluate the different grasses throughout the year.

Source: Pat Gross (

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