What grasses are growing on golf courses in Thailand?

In 2006, ATC conducted a survey of the grass types on golf courses in Thailand. Surveys were sent to the more than 200 courses in Thailand, and 41 of the surveys were completed and returned. Data from that survey are shown in this table:

From January 1 to June 8, 2011, I visited or played golf at 24 different golf courses in Thailand. I thought it would be interesting to summarize the different grass types that were being grown on these courses. Of the 24 courses, 79% have hybrid bermudagrass on the greens, 4% seashore paspalum, and 17% use Zoysia matrella. On fairways, 38% of the courses I visited had seashore paspalum, bermudagrass and Zoysia matrella were each on 29% of the courses, and a native grass mixture was on 4%.

I like the native grasses on the fairways because of reduced fertilizer and water requirements and the paucity of pests on Zoysia or Axonopus in Thailand. Not only do these fairways have great color (as at Laguna Phuket in the photo above from 2011), they also have great playability.

There has been rapid adoption of new bermudagrass cultivars in Thailand. Nineteen of the courses I visited had bermudagrass on the greens, and of those there were two with Miniverde, four with Novotek, five with Tifdwarf, and eight with TifEagle.

Many of the older courses in Thailand such as Royal Hua Hin (pictured below) and Royal Bangkok Sports Club use a fine-bladed Zoysia on the greens. This grass requires little maintenance and produces a fine playing surface for year-round play. One thing I don’t see much of on zoysia greens is algae — the grass leaves provide such a dense cover of the ground and the irrigation requirements are such that algae never has a chance to gain a foothold.

No matter what grasses are used at the courses in Thailand, I think you will find that the playing conditions across the country are consistently among the best in Southeast Asia. With an active golf course superintendents association (the Thai GCSA), regular educational events such as the Sustainable Turfgrass Management in Asia conference, and a steady stream of new golf courses being built and older courses being renovated, Thailand is an exciting place to study grass.

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