Special Photo. The Legends at Chateau Elan's practice green, as well as the entire course, recently replaced all the putting surfaces with Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda, a more heat- and drought-resistant grass. The course reopens for play this weekend.
Scorching heat and advancements in grass development have led to a handful of Atlanta area golf courses changing their greens, and The Legends at Chateau Elan is the latest to make the switch.
The Braselton club opens up its new Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda greens this weekend -- the greens were closed nearly 10 weeks -- after an extensive process to change the surface from its former Bentgrass to the more heat- and drought-resistant grass.
The switch follows a pattern in the area of late as other courses like the Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands Course, (home of the PGA Championship next week), Duluth's Berkeley Hills Country Club and East Lake Golf Club (home of the PGA's Tour Championship) have all changed their greens to Bermuda.
"These hot summers, and it doesn't look like it's letting up any time soon, are so stressful to greens," said Mike Bishop, vice president of The Legends. "Last year was a terrible summer for Bentgrass greens and we made the decision last January. We just got tired of fighting the fight with Bentgrass greens."
The Atlanta area courses wouldn't have made the change if not the improved Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda, which offers a slick putting surface similar to Bentgrass. It's much different from the coarse, grainy Bermuda that golfers see on courses in Florida.
"It's great, absolutely beautiful," Bishop said of the grass. "Our members are going to love it."
The Legends management and staff also have been told by industry experts that switching the greens to the new Bermuda should dramatically improve the course rating. The course didn't alter the greens tremendously, but did change the slopes in a few spots, most notably on No. 8 and No. 16.
The new grass also doesn't require aerification as frequently as Bentgrass, so The Legends golfers will gain approximately nine extra weeks of play between March and November -- when they don't have to deal with holes in the putting surface.
The Legends' project began by killing the existing Bentgrass and verti-cutting to remove the old surface, which was followed by core aerification and sanding. A few days later, Champion trucked in the grass to be hand planted. For the first two weeks after planting, the greens were watered every 30 minutes for four minutes at a time.
"It definitely took some TLC," Bishop said. "But it was worth it."