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What’s the secret to keeping Quail Hollow green? Two types of grass

Melissa McBride of Raleigh, center, smiles as she stops Rickie Fowler, right, for a photograph during a Pro-Am at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. McBride is a student at N.C. State and has been a fan of Fowler’s since she was eight years old.
Melissa McBride of Raleigh, center, smiles as she stops Rickie Fowler, right, for a photograph during a Pro-Am at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. McBride is a student at N.C. State and has been a fan of Fowler’s since she was eight years old. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Any spectator at the Wells Fargo Championship this week can see that the intermittent rain has made a bit of a mess of the grassy watching areas at Quail Hollow Club.

Thousands of attendees traversing the turf also give it a further beating.

It might seem like the course would need major repairs after the tournament ends Sunday, but that’s not the case, says Keith Wood, the course’s superintendent. Quail Hollow grows two different types of grass, and the changeover from one to the other occurs right after the Wells Fargo Championship.

The tournament likely will sell out again this year, bringing about 35,000 attendees per day, says Lee Patterson, the tournament’s director of communications. With all those feet tromping around, it’s sure to cause lots of wear and tear.

Luckily, the grass change takes care of most of the mess, Wood says. Here’s how the process works: Groundskeepers seed the course with Bermuda, a warm-weather grass, and with rye, a grass meant for colder seasons in the fall, Wood says.

Right after the Wells Fargo Championship, an herbicide is put down to kill the rye grass and let the Bermuda grow for the summer, Wood says. The transition takes four to six weeks.

Given the expense, not many courses go through this effort, Wood says. That’s why lots of other courses, which only use Bermuda, turn brown during the winter. (Another Charlotte course that follows the same method as Quail Hollow is Larkhaven.)

Although the grass changeover is a big help, groundskeepers still put in extra work this week, including improving water drainage and putting down gravel in some areas, Wood said.

Next year, the Wells Fargo Championship won’t be played at Quail Hollow. It’s moving to Wilmington for a year because the 2017 PGA Championship will he held at the South Charlotte course in August.

Because of that change, the course won’t be seeded with rye grass this fall. That means golfers at Quail Hollow next spring may perceive small differences when they play, Wood says. The grass may not be as tall or as thick, he said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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