Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Sheryl Caldwell, Auburn University
A new variety of grass developed at Auburn University’s College of Agriculture has recently taken root on some exclusive golf courses following a rights acquisition by an USA-based seed grower and wholesale supplier. Oregon.
The bentgrass variety, called AU Victory, was forged from the adversity of historic drought conditions that decimated golf courses across the state in 1999 and 2000. AU Victory was developed by Edzard van Santen, Professor in the Department of Culture, Soil and Environmental Sciences. He recognized the potential of a weed that survived a devastating drought, then began years of research that ultimately produced AU Victory in 2015.
Fast forward to today and the recent acquisition of the rights to AU Victory by Oregon-based Mountain View Seeds. Adam Russelvice president of Mountain View Performance Genetics, a subsidiary of Mountain View Seeds, said the company expects great things for its partnership with Auburn and the seed.
Already, MVS has sold AU Victory to golf courses across the country, including as an exclusive variety for the greens of scenic McLemore in northwest Georgia. AU Victory is part of a new route in South Africa and has also been chosen for fall sowing by the Lookout Mountain Club in Georgia.
The next step for the seed, Auburn and MVS hope to see her featured nationally and internationally on top golf courses.
“Of course, our focus must include placing AU Victory on the best golf courses in the country,” Russell said. “But really, the sky is the limit with such durable, heat-tolerant grass that has been considered a superior surface by golfers around the world.”
AU Victory is considered by many to be a solution for golf course superintendents looking for a putting surface that will thrive in high humidity and heat. Russell is excited about the partnership between Auburn and the seed.
“AU Victory had been in the making for over a decade,” he said. “Research and development takes all this time, and then when it finally came out, people heard about it – and wanted it – but there was never enough supply to meet the demand. It became almost an urban legend. And that’s what got us hooked.”
Innovative research, rooted in a commitment to fueling industry growth, drives those involved at Auburn College of Agriculture.
“Auburn scientists should always keep the needs of a specific industry in mind when conducting research,” said John Beasley, professor and head of the Department of Culture, Soil and Environmental Sciences. “Dr. van Santen realized the need for an improved creeping bentgrass cultivar for golf courses, especially one that responds well to stressful climates. If AU Victory continues to perform as we initially saw, we we expect it to become a turf cultivar that will be widely used on golf courses around the world.
With one of the largest research facilities in the nation, MVS has established relationships with universities such as Rutgers and NC State. AU Victory is creating a natural partnership with Auburn that researchers hope will lead to further collaborations.
“In the past, we had a plant breeding program in developing turfgrass cultivars, and that’s the program AU Victory evolved from,” Beasley said. “Mountain View Seeds could certainly be a very important partner in bringing the cultivar versions of our forage and grass breeding program to market.”