Suffolk converts greens to bermudagrass


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The Dick Wilson-designed Suffolk Golf Course, in Portsmouth, Virginia, has undergone a green renovation, seeing a conversion from bentgrass to bermudagrass.

Carried out by George Golf Design, the conversion makes Suffolk Golf Course one of the first in Virginia to convert its greens to bermudagrass.

“I am a big fan of Dick Wilson's work,” said Lester George, the architect that designed the green renovations. “It is always a treat to work on one of his courses. This is the second of his I’ve had the pleasure to renovate. We made sure the greens conformed to their original size, shape and contour – and this allowed for the restoration of the internal contour to the greens.”

Bermudagrass has aggressive lateral growth and is very dense, providing for better playing conditions all year round. The course’s superintendent, Joseph Riddick, was instrumental in the decision, and created a test case in 2012 to weigh up the benefits of a green conversion.

Following a visit and concurrence with Riddick’s decision from the United States Golf Association, the conversion work began. The course is in a watershed, and the new grass will reduce runoff and mean fewer chemical and pesticide applications will be necessary, bringing about environmental benefits.

“These newer Bermuda grasses are turning out to be just as good as Bentgrass in warmer climates. They are much more disease resistant and heat tolerant. We will likely see more golf courses converting to Bermuda grass greens. This is a trend-setting move for golf courses to consider as they look to the future of environmental sustainability,” said George. “They are a great turf solution in the transition zone, where the weather is too hot for cool season grass and too cool for warm season grass. We expect the demand for these turf conditions will return Suffolk Golf Course to one of the favourites in the region.”