For the past 20 years, BladeRunner Farms has been breeding thousands of new Zoysia Grass varieties and handpicking a select few that have survived rigorous and lengthy selection processes. Some turf varieties take over 5 years of trials and several more years to register patents and trademarks before being brought to the market. The selection process involves a set of criteria for eliminating weak varieties.
After the breeding process, the seedlings are planted in various fields and greenhouses, where they undergo trials to test their tolerance levels for drought, disease and insect susceptibility, growth habits, nutrient requirements, shade tolerance, and wear tolerance. The weak varieties that fail any category are eliminated from the trials, leaving only the strongest to undergo further performance and playability testing.
In recent years, Sports Turf Solutions has purchased licenses for several BladeRunner varieties, such as Trinity Zoysia (L1F) and Primo Zoysia (M-85). These varieties have proven to be a major success throughout Asia, with more than 12 golf courses in over 5 countries adopting them.
Golf courses like the Singapore Island Country Club, Thana City Country Club (Thailand), Mimosa Plus Golf Club (Philippines), and Royal GC, Thanh Lanh GC, and PGA Novaland in Vietnam, to name a few, have expressed satisfaction with the performance of these new varieties. Some high-profile architects, including Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, and Kyle Philips, have also endorsed them.
We recently caught up with James Shippey, Managing Director of Absolute Golf Services who manages Thana City Country Club, James said in the past, they faced issues in managing seasonal changes, both dry and wet, which posed challenges for maintaining coverage, smoothness, and speed with the previous Bermuda Greens. As a result, we were unable to deliver the desired member and guest experience consistently.
To address these issues, Absolute Golf Services strategically mapped out renovations, aiming to install high-performance turf that could yield consistent results in our high-traffic environment, where we see over 70,000 rounds per year. Additionally, we wanted to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and better manage expenses related to turf inputs, chemicals, and fertilisers, while also reducing cultural practices.
The decision to choose Primo Zoysia exceeded our expectations, earning praise from members, guests, and industry professionals for the rebuilding of our greens. This strategy presented an operational challenge for Absolute Golf Services, as it required renovation without closing the golf course and “re sodded” the greens with in a one month period. However, we recognized the need for long-term operational and financial success, showcasing AGS’s strategic expertise and focus on delivering the best performance for golf club owners.
Overall, we are extremely satisfied with the results of using Primo Zoysia at Thana City compared to other clubs with Bermuda and Paspalum that require much more work to produce great surfaces. We now enjoy smooth and fast surfaces with excellent coverage, making it easier to manage through our challenging seasonal changes. As a result, our domestic and international rounds are increasing, and we are seeing improved market positioning and reputation for Thana City. It is a win-win situation for Thana City and Absolute Golf Services.
During the Qualifying School held at Thana City in January, Andrew Pitts, Director of Special Events. The greens were exceptional upon enduring approximately 7000 rounds in December. The surfaces were receptive, smooth and were delivered at our desired green speed of between 10'6" and 11' for the Qualifying School event.
Chris Gray, Head of Sustainable Golf & Agronomy – Asia Pacific also passed on his thoughts regarding Primo Zoysia in Singapore. Selecting the right turfgrass is crucial when designing or revamping a golf course, and the Primo Zoysia Greens have proven to be an excellent choice for Singapore Island Country Club's New course, host of the 2023 Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship. These greens have impressed the R&A team with their exceptional performance, featuring a firm and smooth surface with championship green speeds that challenge even the most elite players.
The use of Zoysia grass varieties for putting surfaces offers a more sustainable and suitable option, particularly in regions with low light intensity and extended rainy periods, where it can be challenging to maintain high-quality greens. Additionally, these new Zoysia grasses are an excellent alternative to Bentgrass in northern Asian climates that experience extremely hot and humid summers and cold winters.
By selecting Zoysia grass, the Singapore Island Country Club's New course is taking a step towards improving the overall quality of their golf course while also demonstrating their commitment to sustainability. The decision to use this type of grass shows that the club has carefully considered the environmental impact of their course, which is an essential factor for golf courses to consider in today's world.
Primo Zoysia is grown exclusively by Sports Turf Solutions in South East Asia at the Sustainable Turf Farms in Vietnam and Thailand. Sustainable Turf Farms are the largest producer of Certified Turf Grasses in Asia.