By Ken MacLeod
No visit to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando is complete without driving 90 miles into a nearly deserted area of central Florida only to suddenly emerge at Streamsong Resort, where magnificent links-style courses by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, Tom Doak and Gil Hanse await.
One day after battling the elements (25 mph north winds) on Streamsong Red, the Crenshaw-Coore course that opened in 2012, we sat down back in Orlando with Streamsong Director of Agronomy Rusty Mercer to discuss a project that could have major implications in the near future for many courses in Oklahoma..
Streamsong will be closing the Blue Course in April to begin preparations to install a new ultradwarf Bermuda called Mach 1. Mercer is convinced the new grass will greatly outperform the most common ultradwarfs currently in use including Champion, Tif-Eagle and Mini-Verde, which was the grass used to seed all the greens at Streamsong.
Mach 1 is a natural selection originally discovered on a green in Memphis by superintendent Rodney Lingle, who now works at Escondido Country Club near Austin, Texas. Lingle kept it in a pot at his home for years, eventually planting it on a practice green in Memphis.
“It’s tighter, the ball rolls better, it requires less nitrogen,” Mercer said. “It’s almost like you could describe it as an ultra, ultradwarf.”
The life cycle of Bermuda greens in Florida is quicker than in Oklahoma, Mercer said.
“This is a jungle environment,” Mercer said. “You have a winter and a dormant season. Here we grow grass year round and that will shorten the life cycle of all grasses.”
The Mach 1 has been installed successfully on some practice greens at Trump National in Charlotte, N.C., and other places, but this will be its first use at such a high profile resort as Streamsong.
As Oklahoma has transitioned from having just a few courses with Bermuda greens to a much higher percentage, Mach 1 may be a consideration for the future either for courses considering changing from bent grass to Bermuda or for those whose Bermuda greens are worn out.
Mach 1 is distributed by Modern Turf and company president Hank Kerfoot was also at the meeting to tout the new grass.
“The bar is set very high here but this is going to raise it even a bit higher,” Mercer said.
Norman’s Natural Native breaks into golf market
One Oklahoma company that had a very successful show was Norman-based CBD product manufacturer and distributor Natural Native.
Natural Native is well known in the industry and has been working on partnerships with Hearst Media and others that CEO Woody Bannister said should soon have the company’s products available in big box stores such as Walgreens, Target and others.
The Merchandise Show was the company’s first foray into the golf market and it went well. Golfers have plenty of aches and pains (tell me about it) and are always looking for relief. Bannister said many PGA professionals and golf groups expressed an interest to carry the company’s line of topical ointments and ingestibles.
“We didn’t know what to expect going in but it turned out really well,” Bannister said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
The four-year-old company does its own manufacturing in Norman and employs around 30. For more information, go to www.NaturalNative.com.
Walking in Style
Each year there is a section of the Show devoted to inventors and innovators with new products. One we particularly liked was a new push cart with a classic look designed by an Austin company. The Walker Trolley is intended to making walking cool again, and we’re all for that.
“The game is so pure when you’re walking, you take the time to really see the golf course from tee to green and appreciate the architecture and strategy behind it,” says Walker Trolleys founder and CEO Brad Payne. “And then there’s the health and wellness aspect. Walking with a push cart can burn more than 700 calories over 18 holes and lead to better scores versus carrying or riding.”
Premium materials – including aluminum, waxed canvas and handcrafted leather – create a unique, elegant appearance that wouldn’t be out of place on the great links courses of Scotland during the time of Old and Young Tom Morris. A convenient one-fold handle makes collapsing and unfolding the trolley easy
Payne says a non-folding line of Walker Trolleys made with the same materials will be offered directly to courses, clubs and resorts as a rental option. Walker Trolleys Cape model will be available this spring, and a limited number of push carts will be available for preorder for $399 at www.walkertrolleys.com.
It it’s hip to be square, the new Sqariz line of square-toed shoes may be a winner. The shoes have a wide base designed to provide greater stability and they felt comfortable and stable. The company is going with a direct-to-consumer strategy that would have been unthinkable until Amazon changed the culture to where many folks are comfortable ordering online items they would have insisted on trying on not long ago. See more at www.sqariz.com.