The University of Georgia Turfgrass Team held its inaugural two-day Turfgrass Summit for golf course architects on June 22, 2010 in Griffin, Georgia, and June 23 at their Tifton, Georgia campus.

According to Terry Hollifield, acting director of the Georgia Seed Development Commission, one of the event’s sponsors, “We’ve been thinking about this for several years and finally pulled the team together to make it happen. Nothing can take the place of talking to folks face to face. We had an opportunity to put our program’s best foot forward, and more importantly, we got to listen. We got to hear what these successful architects and designers are facing out there in the trenches and where they think we need to be headed with our turfgrass breeding programs. ”

Five architects and designers attended this first Summit. Paul Raymer, who heads up the Seashore Paspalum breeding program in Griffin explains, “We wanted everybody to feel like they could speak their minds, which you sometimes don’t get with a larger group. We had a lot of one-on-one time with each other, got a lot of excellent suggestions, and some valid criticisms. I think we built some good relationships and that usually leads to good lines of communication. That’s what we were hoping for.”

Headlining the Griffin portion of the program for TeamUGA were paspalum breeder Dr. Paul Raymer; Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist; Dr. Alfredo Martinez, Extension Plant Pathologist, Dr. Kris Braman, Turfgrass Entomologist and Dr. Patrick McCullough, Extension Weed Scientist.

The main focus of the Griffin portion of the Summit was seashore paspalums, and what’s in the pipeline that looks promising. Dr. Raymer explained how his breeding program functions from initial cultivar selections all the way through the replicated testing evaluations he conducts on his advanced experimental lines. Raymer ended the day with a tour of his breeding plots, which contain over 2,000 lines including a promising new paspalum that he hopes to release in the spring of 2011. According to Dr. Raymer, “This grass will be the most thoroughly evaluated seashore paspalum cultivar ever released and will outperform anything on the market today. It has great salt and drought tolerance, exceptional turf quality, and excellent color.”

According to ASGCA member Jeff Lucovsky, the program was wonderful.

“Sometimes we visit turf farms, but we don’t really see what’s going on with a program like this, a program that’s super organized with a super staff. It’s impressive! This experience gives us a little insight into what they’re thinking, and from an architect’s perspective it’s nice to be able to share with them what we think the future’s going to bring. They can put that in the back of their minds as they move forward. It’s been a great networking opportunity,” he said.

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