The recent redesign of Baylands Golf Links, formerly the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, by Forrest Richardson was conceived as part of a larger flood control project of the San Francisquito Creek. However, the thoughtful renovation created an opportunity to improve the eco-system and long-term viability of the golf course. Most non-native trees were removed to create a rolling contoured course using Seashore Paspalum grass as the main turf (tees and fairways). In-stream marsh areas (wetlands) and native fescue grasslands were included to enhance the eco-system important to the Bay Area.
Why chose Seashore Paspalum turfgrass?
Course Designer Forrest Richardson explains “Our decision to use Paspalum turfgrass at Baylands was based on in-depth analysis,” commented Forrest Richardson. “Not only does the variety do well with treated effluent water, but our experience in Northern Mexico many years ago helped us understand better how this turf behaves and how we can manage it in sensitive areas. It’s not only is drought tolerant, but highly resistant to disease that we often encounter in the Bay Area. There is sort of a tug-of-war between cool season and warn season grasses along San Francisco Bay — the Paspalum, when managed properly, gives us the best playing surface without as much water or fertilization.”
Versatility of Paspalum
Paspalum is the most versatile species of warm season turfgrass available. Tolerant of a wide range of mowing heights, paspalum performs well on golf courses from tee to green. With an upright growth habit, paspalum allows golf balls to sit up in roughs and fairways. Like other warm season turfgrass (i.e. Bermuda), paspalum will go dormant in the colder winter months turning a light brown or golden color. It remains a very playable surface when dormant.
Paspalum is the Salt Tolerance King
Paspalum is the most salt-tolerant of the warm season turfgrasses. By selecting paspalum turfgrass for the tees and fairways, Baylands Golf Links was able to irrigate with effluent water thereby reducing potable water consumption by more than 35%, a key environmental achievement.
Unlike other warm season grasses, Paspalum can be pristinely striped for fairways or tees. With a fine leaf texture and a deep, blue-green color, sometimes compared to Kentucky bluegrass, paspalum’s cosmetic appearance is a stunning feature.
Wear Tolerance and Quick Recovery
In addition to beauty, paspalum has strength. Exceptional wear tolerance allows paspalum to endure extreme levels of use whether through rounds of golf or athletic field activity. Rapid growth also enables paspalum to recover quickly from damage caused by wear, divots, and pest challenges.
Shade and Low Light Intensity Tolerance
Certain paspalum cultivars exhibit excellent low light tolerance. Healthy color and growth performance are not compromised in shade-prone areas, but perhaps more impressive is paspalum’s tolerance of low light intensity. Regions with heavy and persistent cloud coverage (or fog) and extended periods of rain will see consistent quality in paspalum as well as faster recovery in these conditions than with other warm season species.
Lower Input Requirements of Paspalum
Input requirements for paspalum when the turfgrass is properly managed are minimal except possibly in conditions with constant rain or areas with low air movement. Fertilizer requirements are moderate compared to other warm season turfgrasses, and nitrogen requirements are minimal, with paspalum typically requiring fifty percent less nitrogen (i.e. fertilizer) than bermudagrass.
Paspalum is no more susceptible to disease than any other turf species; but when disease does occur, paspalum’s rapid growth allows quicker recovery than slower growing warm season turf species.
Not a Highly Invasive Turfgrass
Of the warm season grasses, paspalum is probably the least invasive, certainly compared to Bermuda, Kikuyu and Zoysia.
Marshland & Native Habitat Areas
Course Designer Forrest Richardson enhanced the golf experience by separating golf holes with low-lying marshland (wetlands) areas and native grassland mounds which provide an incredible habitat for birds and wildlife. The marshland areas contain halophyte planting such as salt grass, fleshy jaumea, salt bush and pickleweed. Golfers should avoid disturbing this fragile eco-system by staying out of these areas. The native grassland areas feature fescues and ryegrasses turning golden brown in the summer. These native areas provide a habitat for a variety of birds and wildlife that add so much to the beauty of Baylands Golf Links. On any given day you will see rabbits, squirrels, hawks, butterflies, egrets and so much more.
The Baylands greens are a mixture of 50% Tyee and 50% 007 Bentgrass. These two bentgrass varietals are within the “Super Bent” class which include 007, 777, 007XL, MacKenzie, Flagstick and Tyee. These advanced generation bentgrasses have the greatest opportunity for success as they are widely adaptable in both warm summers and cool winters and has very good cool weather color retention. These “Super Bents” produce a tuft showing disease resistance/lower fungicide use, finer leaves, and a denser turf that is more tolerant to close mowing. The selection of Tyee and 007 bentgrass on the greens has allowed Baylands to mow the greens at low heights (.1”) providing fast and true high quality putting surfaces.