Seated in a golf car overlooking the first tee of Streamsong Resort’s Black Course, Rusty Mercer paused when thinking back on the past two years of growing in the new Mach 1 bermudagrass on the resort’s Red and Blue courses.
“It’s been quite a learning experience,’’ said Mercer, Streamsong’s highly-respected director of agronomy. “It (Mach 1) doesn’t behave like the MiniVerde on the Black does. We made some mistakes that we didn’t know we were making at the time. We were trying to treat (Mach 1) like mini verde and it doesn’t necessarily like it.’’
This past Oct. 1 was the first anniversary of the conversions of the Central Florida resort’s highly acclaimed Red (Coore & Crenshaw) and Blue (Tom Doak) courses to Mach 1.
Developed by renowned golf course superintendent Rodney Lingle, Mach 1 has been recognized as one of the cleanest and purest turfs in the industry, with a fine texture and smoothness that creates a high-quality putting surface. Rounds on each of the Red and Blue courses will tell you that Mach 1 lives up to its promise to provide smoother ball rolls – there barely is a hint of grain – more uniformed growth patterns in warm weather climates, and more stability and longevity.
But while here is no doubt that Mach 1 lives to its reputation on the greens of Red and Blue, again, the transition didn’t come without some complications. For example, Mercer said, while he and his team can be more aggressive in maintaining the MiniVerde on the greens of the Gil Hanse-designed Black course, Mach 1 “wants to be handled with kid gloves.’’
“But we didn’t know that until we had taken off down that path. The growth-regulator rates are about half of what they are for MiniVerde. But we had to learn that, so that we could maintain the same level of growth.’’
In addition, Mercer said, Mach 1 doesn’t stand up as well to heavy verti-cutting, a technique that better allows turfgrass to absorb nutrients and moisture.
“It just wants to be tickled. And for top-dressing, you don’t have the same brushing because it irritates the crown a little bit. You have to use a hose and water it in.’’
Mercer said all those things lead to this conclusion: “Just don’t be too aggressive’’ with Mach 1.
“Everything we do with the grass needs to be gentle.’’
Despite all of its challenges, Mercer said, the upside to Mach 1 “is still greater than anything else we have in the market.’’
“Generally speaking, I think we’ll be really happy with it once we learn what not to do. I’m anxious to see what happens this winter when the greens really begin to tighten up and speed up. We’ll see if they settle into a pattern that’s a little easier to deal with. So, in that regard, I think this year has been very valuable.’’