Singapore: Synonymous with quality, Sentosa Golf Club approaches every initiative with the highest goals. When the decision was made to renovate the Tanjong Course, the same expectations applied.
Before selecting the new turfgrass for the fairways, Sentosa General Manager and Director of Agronomy Andy Johnston researched the options extensively, and his efforts led him to Zorro Zoysia.
Johnston, whose career in the golf industry spans course maintenance, construction, design and club management, did not rely solely on his own experience when embarking on the Tanjong renovation. Serving as the turfgrass consultant was John Holmes, President of Atlas Turf International, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
With Johnston already leaning toward a zoysia selection, Holmes arranged a visit to South-eastern United States where the United States Golf Association was conducting zoysia trials at the Atlanta Athletic Club. There, Johnston was able to compare some 20 zoysia varieties side-by-side.
“It was readily apparent that the Zorro outperformed the other varieties in terms of colour, durability, and leaf texture,” said Johnston. “With 46,000 to 56,000 rounds of play on Tanjong each year, wear tolerance and durability are essential.”
While seeing the comparisons in person solidified Johnston’s selection, data and statistics were also important. Zorro has ranked as the number one turfgrass in the last two completed zoysia trials conducted by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Programme (NTEP). In addition to its overall top rankings, Zorro earned leading performance ratings in leaf texture, density and insect resistance.
Upon completion of the renovation, Johnston remains satisfied with the selection. “We’re very happy with Zorro’s performance – extremely happy,” said Johnston. “So many people come out to visit, and many don’t realise it’s zoysia. With texture, colour and thickness not necessarily indicative of zoysia, most think it is some other turfgrass.”
Zorro’s tighter density sets it apart from other zoysia varieties, in Johnston’s opinion. “It tolerates lower heights of cut and intensive levels of play without suffering mechanical stress.”
The list of other characteristics that stand out to Johnston includes drought tolerance, resistance to pests, and salt tolerance. At a course known for its sustainability initiatives, Zorro’s ability to thrive with less water and fewer inputs supports their over-arching goals.
Another important consideration to Johnston is the level of championship play Tanjong experiences. Since the renovation, The New Tanjong has hosted the March 2017 HSBC Women’s Champions with Park In-bee claiming the title, the 2018 inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship (where the 15-year-old Thai winner Atthaya Thitikul earned an invitation to the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur), and the 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship won by Michelle Wie.
“Reaction from the professional players – similar to our members and guests – has been incredibly positive,” said Johnston. “While many of the pros probably do not know that the variety is Zorro, they are in awe of the condition of the turfgrass and the shape it’s in.”
Asked what advice he would offer to other golf clubs in the selection of a new turfgrass, Johnston said: “Take your time and visit locations that have the grasses you are considering. Seeing, touching and experiencing the varieties, in addition to doing the research, is all part of necessary due diligence. Each species of turfgrass has its own unique characteristics. Knowing these not only guides the selection process but is key to an effective maintenance programme as well.”
In addition to The New Tanjong, several other projects have recently selected Zorro Zoysia including Lido Lakes Golf and Country Club and Gunung Geulis Golf Club, both in Indonesia, Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Sri Lanka, and the Abaco Club driving range in the Bahamas.
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