A Salt — With Intent! September 20, 2019 By Larry Gilhuly, agronomist, West Region

Applying salt on the margins of seashore paspalum areas has helped prevent the encroachment of goosegrass, bermudagrass and other undesirable weeds. 

Using salt to remove weeds and unwanted grasses from seashore paspalum offers an alternative to herbicides. On one Hawaiian island, this technique may become one of the only ways to address weed issues on golf course turf.

Seashore paspalum continues to grow in popularity as an alternative grass for many golf courses in Hawaii. Although this grass is far from perfect, it has shown an ability to naturally compete with many weeds when used on greens, tees and fairways. Specifically, the ability to outcompete goosegrass makes seashore paspalum very desirable for courses with poor water quality. It also can prove beneficial for those with better water quality, as was noted recently at the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course.

Waiehu is a beautiful 18-hole public golf course that sits hard on the Pacific Ocean. It has struggled with goosegrass for decades. Under the direction of golf course administrator and superintendent Todd Allen, the golf course started turning the corner on this weed with ongoing tee conversions to seashore paspalum. However, the real change started last year with the complete conversion of the back nine greens and surrounds to seashore paspalum. The front nine greens and surrounds were converted this summer and are scheduled for opening this fall. So, why has this conversion been so timely?

At the same time this conversion has occurred, those responsible for parks and recreation on the island of Maui are considering the complete elimination of pesticides from all parks and the golf course. Converting greens, tees and surrounds to seashore paspalum has allowed Allen to use salt to eliminate encroachment by bermudagrass, goosegrass and other undesirable plants with poor salt tolerance. The players at Waiehu are now enjoying vastly improved playing surfaces with very few weed issues, and they can be assured that these conditions will continue in the future should there be a pesticide ban. This is a clear case of a salt with intent.


West Region Agronomists:

Patrick J. Gross, regional director –

Larry W. Gilhuly, agronomist –

Brian S. Whitlark, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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