Curaçao Golf Course Uses Gradual Conversion Process for Complete Turf Upgrade

Has there ever been a time when an island golf getaway sounded more appealing? With the pandemic hopefully drawing to an end in the near future, an explosion of golf tourism could be on the horizon. Blue Bay Curaçao Golf and Beach Resort has used the downtime of 2020 to make progress on a gradual renovation featuring Pure Dynasty Seeded Paspalum. When the world reopens, they will be ready – and better than ever.

Ranked at the Best Golf Course in Curaçao

Blue Bay, an 18-hole, par 72 resort course designed by Rocky Roquemore, lies on Curaçao’s southern coast along the Caribbean Sea in Sint-Michiel, just northwest of the country’s capital Willemstad. Ranked by Golf Digest in 2020 as Curaçao’s best golf course, Blue Bay offers golfers challenge and beauty with elevation changes, rolling landscapes including rock formations and cliffs, and stunning water holes along the coast, lakes, and lagoons.

Upgrading to a more sustainable turfgrass

In 2016, real estate development at the resort required the shifting and rebuilding of two complete holes of the golf course. When the grass selection for the new holes was being made, the superintendent took the opportunity to upgrade to an improved variety with sustainability features ideal for the climate and conditions.

“In Curaçao, our biggest turf challenge comes from the weather,” said Golf Course Superintendent Alfredo Gonzalez who served as designer for the two new holes. “Here, it is really hot and dry. We need a turfgrass that is more drought and salt tolerant.”

Weighing the options, Gonzalez first thought of using another bermudagrass to replace the TifEagle previously planted on the greens. After further research, paspalum was recommended. With import restrictions on vegetative sprigs, Gonzalez looked to Pure Dynasty Seeded Paspalum.

When considering the hot, semi-arid climate of Curaçao, along with the course’s proximity to the ocean, the quality of their water, and the need for a seeded product, Pure Dynasty provided the turfgrass solution that made perfect sense.

John Holmes

“When considering the hot, semi-arid climate of Curaçao, along with the course’s proximity to the ocean, the quality of their water, and the need for a seeded product, Pure Dynasty provided the turfgrass solution that made perfect sense,” said Atlas Turf International President John Holmes.

The results validated the choice. The two new holes, numbers 14 and 17 planted wall-to-wall with Pure Dynasty, germinated quickly and exceeded Gonzalez’s expectations.

“In the fairways seeding into topsoil, we saw germination in three to four days,” said Gonzalez. “For the greens with USGA sand mix, germination took eight to 10 days. It was great.”

Gradual turf conversion through interseeding

Following the construction of the two new holes, Gonzalez embarked on the renovation currently in progress to re-grass the entire course with Pure Dynasty through interseeding. This process of introducing seed into existing turf stands allows for gradual turf conversion where the new, improved turf variety takes over the older, less resilient variety without the added expense and labor of traditional re-sodding or re-seeding and requires less interruption of play.

Since 2016, Gonzalez has re-grassed the greens of nine additional holes. This year, the plans are to re-grass the greens of four more holes and the practice area. Next year, Gonzalez will begin re-grassing tee boxes working toward the course’s eventual complete conversion to Pure Dynasty.

The pandemic, as well as non-golf renovation and development projects at the resort, have made it difficult to pinpoint an exact completion date.

“Before the pandemic, several other projects were going on, including the real estate, hotel, restaurant, and beach,” said Gonzalez. “It is difficult to do everything together at the same time.”

Then Covid-19 happened.

The color is very intense. It is fantastic. And playability is excellent for us.

Alfredo Gonzalez

“For us, it was a hard time without tourists,” said Gonzalez. “We closed the golf course for a month. We were able to do regular maintenance, but we had to stop all renovation projects, including the seeding.”

As a veteran superintendent with a golf course maintenance degree from the Ohio State University turf program and work experience in the United States, Spain, Germany, and Scotland, Gonzalez has weathered many storms. As life slowly returns to normal, he is prepared to carry on with the renovation and is pleased with the progress thus far.

What sets Pure Dynasty apart

When asked which characteristics of the Pure Dynasty stand out most, the list is not short. In addition to quick germination, Gonzalez has also been impressed with the texture, color, and playability.

“The color is very intense. It is fantastic,” said Gonzalez. “And playability is excellent for us. Everyone is very happy, including our members.”

In this dry weather, Pure Dynasty is much better than the bermuda. It can tolerate extra days of drought… the Pure Dynasty stays green longer.

Alfredo Gonzalez

Regarding performance, Pure Dynasty has provided a durable turf capable of meeting the original challenges considered during the selection process.

“In this dry weather, Pure Dynasty is much better than the bermuda,” said Gonzalez. “It can tolerate extra days of drought. Before, the bermuda would go brown, but now the Pure Dynasty stays green longer.

“Also, the salt tolerance of Pure Dynasty is really high. In the past, with the bermuda, there would be complete burnout from the sea spray during some periods. With the Pure Dynasty on our beautiful green next to the sea, we have no problems at all.”

Word had already gotten out about the success of the new turf at Blue Bay before the pandemic lockdown, sparking visitors to come to the course.

“Earlier, some people who are considering using Pure Dynasty on another course in the Caribbean came to see ours,” said Gonzalez. “They were very impressed. Everyone who sees it is impressed.”

Atlas Turf International