We are on our way to the beautiful muni of Miami Beach Golf Course and one of my buddies praises how great it is to play Paspalum grass over Bermuda or any other turfgrass. Apparently, since the introduction of the new turf “Paspalum” (Pas – pall – um) here in South Florida a few years back, we have become the overnight experts in the field. Years ago it was just “grass” Bermuda, to be exact; but what really is Paspalum and why the sudden love for it?
Paspalum is the newest golf and sports turfgrass to hit the industry in many years; incredibly, it was first found and nurtured here in the west coast of Florida. Hugh Whiting discovered and developed the species in the early 1970’s and patented it soon after. This is the cultivar that was planted at Alden Pines Country Club (just north of Naples) in 1980. From this cultivar, many ecotypes of Paspalum were propagated with influence through maintenance practices. As new ecotypes where bred and evolved through sexual reproduction, Alden Pines became a 55 acre, outdoor breeding lab for Paspalum, while at the same time getting 40,000 rounds of golf per year. Though it is not difficult to cultivate, Paspalum requires different maintenance guidelines from other turfgrass species-especially Bermudagrass.
Paspalum has many favorable attributes and as a result many loyal fans, especially golfers who love to see the many hues and shades of green produced all year around by this tough turf. Paspalum best characteristic is being tougher than our presently well-known turfgrasses. Paspalum loves heat, does not need to be watered daily but if it get watered daily is fine too. Paspalum will survive any challenged environment where other turfgrasses will die. Challenged environment is best described as; water other than “fresh” which would include: effluent, river, marine, brackish, or any water with any amount of salinity levels above 500 PPM, TDS.
In my opinion one of the best attributes of Paspalum is its dense root system; a mesh-like surface so tight and strong it will not let other grasses or even weed grow and of course golf course owners just love this. Golf course maintenance is very expensive and must be done every day. Having a beautiful and manicured golf course is the dream of all owners and Superintendents; but a golf course described as such comes with a price tag. The arrival of Paspalum has been a blessing to many of us but not all.
Golf purists complain that it is very difficult to hit balls down to put extra spin; True, but also you will not see too many divots on a golf course turfed with Paspalum. Others complain how difficult it is to putt but in recent years they have been able to develop different types of Paspalum for different areas and the SeaDwarf Paspalum used in today’s greens is just excellent.
The turf was highly praised by those who know during this year’s PGA Championship (Kiawah Island) and that will make some skeptical golfers turn their heads around. I have personally noticed that as time progresses the turf becomes more playable, softer.. I feel we must give it at least 2-3 years for perfection. I will be honest to tell you that I played opening week at Plantation Preserve and totally hate it. I have learned to appreciate this new turf and my views have turned 180* degrees.
Some of the great golf courses in South Fla where you can experience Paspalum
- Normandy Shores (Miami Beach, Fla)
- Miami Beach Golf Club (Miami Beach, Fla)
- Pembroke Lakes Golf (Pembroke Pines, Fla)
- Lago Mar Country Club (Plantation, Fla)
- Plantation Preserve (Plantation, Fla)
- Osprey Point (Boca Raton, Fla)