Zoysiagrass Putting Green Observations April 19, 2019 By John Daniels, agronomist, Central Region

This photo, taken in February, demonstrates the excellent green color retention of new zoysiagrass cultivars in comparison to dormant ultradwarf bermudagrass. 

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.

So far, the new zoysiagrasses have performed exceptionally well. They remained green when the bermudagrass was brown for several weeks. Not only did the zoysiagrasses look good, they also provided an excellent putting surface. The green is mowed at 0.125 inch and Stimpmeter® readings are typically around 10 feet for the new grasses. In the coming weeks, Manning plans to gradually lower the height of cut and implement other surface management practices to test them further. The use of plant growth regulators and rolling will undoubtedly lead to even faster surfaces.

This story shows not only the potential of these new turfgrasses, but also the value onsite test plots have in helping to guide agronomic decisions.


Central Region Agronomists:

Bob Vavrek, regional director –

John Daniels, agronomist –

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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