Golf course using Auburn drought resistant grass

By TRICE BROWN, Opelika-Auburn News

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) – Following an Oregon-based company acquiring the rights to a weed developed at Auburn University’s College of Agriculture, a variety of bentgrass known as AU Victory is taking root on golf courses.

AU Victory was developed by Edzard van Santen, a professor in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences. Following the historic droughts of 1999 and 2000, which decimated golf courses across the state, van Santen began researching grasses that could withstand extreme droughts. He produced AU Victory in 2015.

The company that acquired the rights to AU Victory, Mountain View Seeds, has already sold the weed to golf courses including McLemore and Lookout Mountain Club, both in northwest Georgia, and a new course. in South Africa. Auburn and MVS hope to see the grass used internationally at major golf courses.

“Of course, our goal must include placing AU Victory on the best golf courses in the country,” said Adam Russell, vice president of Mountain View Performance Genetics, a subsidiary of Mountain View Seeds, in a press release. “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.”

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After more than a decade of research and development, AU Victory was launched to more demand than was available, making it “almost an urban legend”, Russell said.

“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 Crop, 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 the acquisition of AU Victory by Mountain View Seeds, researchers hope this will lead to future collaborations with the university.

“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.”

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Michael C. Ford