When it comes to turfgrass, green often is synonymous with quality. A dormant brown putting surface, no matter how well it rolls, is always going to be viewed as inferior to one that has some green color. In fact, many misguided golfers might even place more value on turf color than other important attributes like consistent speed and a smooth roll.
Across the transition zone, there have been historically two options when it comes to putting green turf: bermudagrass and creeping bentgrass. Lately, there’s been a shift toward using more ultradwarf bermudagrasses in areas such as Dallas, Texas, given its ability to tolerate high summer temperatures and poor-quality water. However, creeping bentgrass is still a popular option because it remains green all year and has far greater cold tolerance than its warm-season turf alternative.
Now there appears to be a third viable option to consider: zoysiagrass. Pat Manning, superintendent at Hurricane Creek Country Club in Anna, Texas, decided to evaluate zoysiagrass putting surfaces firsthand. He planted three new low-mow zoysiagrass cultivars – 'DALZ 1308’, ‘Primo (M85)’ and ‘Prizm (M66)’ – during May of 2018. He also planted the ultradwarf bermudagrass cultivar ‘Tifeagle’ on the same green as a comparison. All four of the grasses were sprigged at the same time on a new USGA putting green.
The above photo, taken on February 15, 2019, shows a stark color contrast between the three zoysiagrasses and the bermudagrass. For reference, there are two creeping bentgrass putting greens in the background and the surrounds are ‘Tifway 419’ bermudagrass. The test putting green was not covered at any point this winter and no significant winter injury occurred on any of the grasses, despite a rather cold winter as indicated in the weather station data from nearby McKinney, Texas.