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Modernizing golf turf with creeping bentgrass: decades of development

By |  September 2, 2021 0 Comments
Oakland Hills CC in Bloomfield, Mich. The new greens feature 007/777 and fairways and tees seeded to 007/Flagstick bentgrasses. (Photo Courtesy: Richard Hurley)

Oakland Hills CC in Bloomfield, Mich. The new greens feature 007/777 and fairways and tees seeded to 007/Flagstick bentgrasses. (Photo Courtesy: Richard Hurley)

Richard Hurley, Ph.D., has spent 50 years looking for the perfect golf turfgrass at old courses in the U.S. and abroad. The results: Super Bents, a term trademarked to refer to creeping bentgrass varieties selected and bred to modernize golf course turf quality.

The following is the story about research and what it could mean for the industry in Hurley’s words, as told to the Golfdom Staff.

Starting out

This story begins in 1982 when my mentor, the late C. R. Funk, Ph.D., at Rutgers University agreed to work with me to initiate a creeping bentgrass program. Dr. Funk is widely acclaimed to have been the world’s most respected and productive cool-season turfgrass breeder.

For the next decade, we brought germplasm to Rutgers’ Horticultural Research Farm II for space plant evaluations. Collecting primarily from older golf courses, we gathered more than 1,000 creeping bentgrass clones — mostly 1-by-2-inch cutouts from putting greens — from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Arizona and California.

We hunted for one-of-a-kind selections from greens. These segregated patches had been thriving and were subjected to close mowing, summer and winter stresses and significant disease pressure for more than 50 years.

Rutgers’ creeping bentgrass germplasm diversity gave us the opportunity to identify a few rare and unique plants. Out of the thousands of plants selected, only a few consistently produced enhanced turf qualities for a long-term creeping bentgrass breeding program.



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