Our renovated greens are being seeded with a 50/50 mix of two
creeping bentgrass varieties that are intriguingly named 007 and 777. Why bentgrass, how are they developed, and
why these names?
Bentgrass is an ideal grass for greens if your local
environment can support it. It can withstand
foot traffic even if closely mown (down to 1/10 of an inch). Bent, by nature,
is a cool season grass which is why they have been uncommon in the South. Granite Bay’s cool nighttime temperatures
allow bentgrass, especially the newer varieties, to flourish.
007 and 777 are part of a new generation of “Super Bents”
that are more disease and heat resistant than their predecessors.
|#1 Green bentgrass seed germinating and visible 7 days after initial seeding. 12 to 14 days after seeding we will start to lightly roll and mow the new greens.|
How New Varieties Are Developed
How bentgrass varieties are developed is fascinating. If you guessed mad scientists in a lab, you’d
be partially correct. They were
developed by scientists in an outside lab but they aren’t mad, they are
New varieties are
grown from samples collected actual golf courses. This has been going on at Rutgers University
for over 70 years. Some quotes from www.bentgrassdoctor.com (the website
of Dr. R.H. Hurley, the world’s premier expert on bentgrass).
Over the past forty years turfgrass breeders at Rutgers
have visited hundreds of old well established golf courses throughout the
United States. During a site visit small patches of putting green turf are
collected. The only plants identified for collecting are ones that appear to be
attractive, fine textured, dense, upright growing and free of disease.
Some of the older putting greens observed are over eighty-five
(85) years old, dating back to the 1920’s, and we feel that some plants
collected have been growing and surviving, under the wear and tear, on actual
greens, for generations.
The goal has always been to find the idealistic 'one in a
million' rare bentgrass plant -- those unique plants that display improved
qualities with special adaptive traits that have allowed these plants to
survive on a golf green, under extensive foot traffic and low mowing, for many,
These promising wild varieties of bentgrass are brought back
to the laboratory (turf farm) and observed for a few years. Perhaps only two-percent of the promising
varieties will be kept for further study with up to 98 percent of the samples
discarded. These two-percent are propagated, studied, and grown to produce breeder
seed. And yes, this takes time:
Having patience is most important, as it typically takes
an investment in time of approximately 12 to 15 years to collect germplasm,
evaluate, breed, and commercially release one new variety.
|Every architect and golf course builder has their own style of seeding greens. Basically the process is add pre plant fertility to the newly shaped and compacted sand mix surface, seed at the specified rate, and incorporate the fertility and seed into top 1/8" of mix. Then you start to irrigate very lightly on the hour during the day to prevent the young seedlings from drying out.|
So now that you have 007 and 777 varieties, what are their major
advantages over previous generations of bent?
Improved disease tolerance
Improved drought and heat tolerance (777 is
being planted in Texas)
Denser growth that limits poa annua establishment
So, what about those unique names?
Dr. Hurley’s first improved
creeping bentgrass variety was named L-93 after the year it was first
commercialized in 1993.
For his next bentgrass
variety, the experimental designation was DSB (Dollar Spot Resistant Bentgrass)
and the year it was to be commercially released was 2007. Following
Hurley’s earlier precedence of naming a bentgrass variety by the year it was to
be released, the commercial name for DSB bentgrass was identified as 007.
Now, with Hurley's latest
creeping bentgrass the commercial name will be 777 after October 2017
when this new “super bent” variety will be commercially released for sale to
Thanks to Ed Reeder for researching and writing this update while I was in a irrigation ditch.