Golf Course Management

SEP 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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30 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 09.18 e 2018 World Cup took place over a period of 33 days and featured a total of 169 goals scored by 122 players from 32 national teams during 64 matches in 12 stadiums in 11 cities. In addition, countless players — who may or may not have been injured — ended up writhing on the playing field. e games were clearly hard on the players, but think of the repeated punishment inflicted on the soc - cer pitches. e true star of the 2018 World Cup may have been the turf, much of which was the product of seed bred and produced in the United States. e story of how Oregon seed made its way to the World Cup games in Russia began in 2011, when Leah Brilman, Ph.D., then director of research for Seed Re - search of Oregon, went overseas to explore the possibility of supplying grass seed for the soccer pitches. Seed Research had previously provided grasses for the World Cup venue in South Africa and was working for the bid in Brazil. e company also already had a seed distributor in Russia, which would facilitate importation of the products from the U.S. Seed Research expected to provide a tradi - tional soccer pitch mixture of 20% Kentucky bluegrass (Poa praetensis) and 80% perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) along with addi - tional ryegrass for overseeding. However, in 2013, DLF-Trifolium, a Danish company with subsidiaries in numerous countries, in - cluding Russia, acquired the Pickseed group of companies (Seed Research of Oregon, Pick - seed USA and Pickseed of Canada). At that point, it was generally assumed that DLF would move forward without American as - sistance. In 2014, DLF Pickseed supplied the primary overseeded ryegrasses for the World Cup in Brazil, including tetraploid Replicator (named Double in Europe). Never underestimate the allure of Oregon turfgrass. By August 2017, Brilman was back in Russia consulting with venue managers regarding the grow-in of DLF's diploid and tetraploid perennial ryegrasses. For previous World Cup games, the grasses for all the ven - ues had been selected by the Sport Turf Re- search Institute (STRI) in England, but the Russians preferred that subcontractors and turf managers from each of the 12 venues — many of which are regularly used for profes - sional soccer — select the grasses for their sites. Ultimately, eight of the 12 venues se - lected DLF varieties, which had been recom- mended by STRI and the Local Organizing Committee for the World Cup in Russia. e remaining venues selected grass seed from other European companies and from Jacklin Seed in Washington state. Jacklin's Russian distributor reported that, as was the case for DLF, a blend of the company's Ken - tucky bluegrass seed was used to grow sod in Russia for the pitches, and a blend of their pe - rennial ryegrass was used for overseeding. From DLF, the Russians selected Fiesta 4, a diploid (2n) perennial ryegrass that was already on a list of grasses approved by the Russian government for import, and the tetra - ploid (4n) turf-type perennial ryegrasses 4turf, Fabian and Double. e tetraploid perennial ryegrasses have twice as many genes as diploid perennial ryegrasses, are cold- and wear-toler - ant and have larger seeds, which allow them to germinate under colder soil temperatures (as low as 37.4 F [3 C]). Compared to traditional perennial ryegrasses, the tetraploids germinate faster, are more drought-tolerant and recover from wear more quickly (a definite plus in Making a pitch (turf) Teresa Carson Twitter: @GCM_Magazine Peeking under the protective covers to assess the growth of the new turf at the stadium at Kazan, which was renovated December 2017 and seeded with a regular diploid perennial ryegrass + 4turf + Kentucky bluegrass blend on Jan. 20, 2018. Photo courtesy of DLF World Cup play). e U.S. varieties, includ- ing Fiesta 4, also have a darker green color that the Russians preferred for their pitches. In Sochi, a resort on the Black Sea, the pitches were a bermudagrass base with peren - nial ryegrass overseed. e more northern lo- cations used a Kentucky bluegrass base with perennial ryegrass overseed. However, many of the pitches for competition and practice were "hybrid" fields — a combination of arti - ficial turf overseeded with perennial ryegrass, but with no Kentucky bluegrass. All practice pitches were constructed and maintained exactly like their neighboring competition pitches so that players could prac - tice under conditions that were nearly identi- cal to those in the actual games. A veteran of two World Cups, Brilman was still somewhat surprised by her experience in Russia. In a situation where the rules are usu - ally hard and fast, the Russians selected their own cultivars, presenting themselves as inde - pendent thinkers who relied on their own pro- fessional expertise. Brilman's takeaway: "You have to be re - spectful of other cultures. You may think you know how things should be done, but you can't instill your way of doing things in their country because you don't necessarily know the constraints they work under and the regu - lations and customs they are expected to fol- low." Teresa Carson is GCM 's science editor.

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