Golf Courses Using Drought-Resistant Grass From Auburn

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

AU Victory was developed by Edzard van Santen, a professor in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences. Following historic droughts in 1999 and 2000, which decimated golf courses across the state, van Santen began researching grass 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 grass 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 in the most prominent golf courses.

“Of course, our goal has to include placing AU Victory at the best golf courses in the nation,” Adam Russell, vice president of Mountain View Performance Genetics, a subsidiary of Mountain View Seeds, said in a news release. “But really, the sky is the limit with such a durable, heat-tolerant grass that has been rated as a superior surface by golfers around the world.”

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

“Auburn scientists always need to 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 have initially seen, we expect it to become a turf cultivar that will be widely used on golf courses around the globe.”

With AU Victory’s acquisition by Mountain View Seeds, researchers hope it will lead to future collaborations with the university.

“In the past, we had a plant breeding program in turfgrass cultivar development, and that is the program from which AU Victory evolved,” Beasley said. “Mountain View Seeds could certainly be a very important partner for commercializing cultivar releases from our forage and grass breeding program.”