The International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), which was named 2016 Florida Sports Venue of the Year by The Florida Sports Foundation, has started major renovations and upgrades to polo fields 1, 3, 4, 5, and Outback, ahead of the highly anticipated 2018 polo season. Each of the fields have been sprigged with TifTuf Bermuda grass, a one-of-a-kind strain of durable Bermuda grass, which will lengthen the longevity and durability of the fields at IPC.
Raymond Mooney, Head Agronomist at IPC who brings more than two decades of grass and field management experience to IPC, has overseen the entirety of the planting and sprigging process and is impressed with the rapid development of the TifTuf grass in only just a few days.
Fields 1,3,4,5 and Outback have been renovated with TifTuf, a durable and impressive strain of quality Bermuda grass.
“TifTuf has been the most impressive Bermuda grass I have seen to date,” said Mooney. “I expect this to be a very good grass for us and a big improvement over Tifway 419. In South Florida, common Bermuda grass will eventually overtake Tifway 419 and I believe that this TifTuf grass will outcompete any of the common Bermuda grasses.”
An extensive amount of research and testing was conducted before the planting and sprigging of the TifTuf Bermuda grass on the IPC fields, which Mooney said clearly outperformed the other strains of grass formerly used at the venue in every trial category. He elaborated, “TifTuf has the playability and look of Tifway 419 but significantly out performs Tifway 419 in drought tolerance, winter-growth and color and nematode tolerance. We play the bulk of our polo in the winter months when Tifway 419 is not growing. Switching to TifTuf will help insure we have the best turf quality during the most difficult time of year for Bermuda grass growth.”
Latitude 36 Bermuda grass (left) is tested against TifTuf Bermuda grass (right) under same drought conditions in the spring of 2017 on the Outback Field at IPC.
The longevity and durability of field grass is crucial when hosting high goal polo for a prolonged season and the IPC management team is confident that the conversion from Tifway 419 to TifTuf will be beneficial for both players and the venue looking ahead to the approaching 2018 season.
“The fields did not play to our standards this past season,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP). “The challenge is that over the years the fields were overrun with common Bermuda grass. After two years of working with this grass, we decided to make a significant investment in the ensuring that these are the polo fields in the world by replanting five of our primary fields with the best grass technology in the world.”
Raymond Mooney, Head Agronomist at IPC, shows off the deep roots of the already growing TifTuf Bermuda grass only a few days after seeding the fields at IPC.
“We’ve used TifTuf at some of our other venues in North America and have been blown away by the rapid growth and sustainability of this type of Bermuda grass,” he continued. “This strain of grass has a much more significant drought tolerance and uses less water, fertilizer, and pesticide maintenance than other formulas of grass we’ve used in the past. The footing and playability for players will greatly increase with the addition of this new grass. We’re very eager to see the final results and are pleased with the progress we’ve experienced so far.”
In evaluations conducted by The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP), TifTuf Bermuda grass ranked above popular strains of grass in the following categories: Turf Grass Quality, Turf Grass Quality Under Drought Stress, Leaf Texture Ratings, Winter Color Ratings, and Spring Color Ratings. Mooney noted that the performance of TifTuf in each of these categories will improve the overall permanence of field quality at IPC.
“I have never seen sprigs green up and root down as quickly as the TifTuf has on our fields. I expect the grown-in of the fields to go very quickly and be ready for polo way before polo season. I’m always slow to jump on the band wagon of new grasses but the research behind TifTuf is very convincing that it is a turf grass of the future. I’m very excited to get our fields grown in with TifTuf and start next polo season.”
The 2018 IPC season will begin on Sunday, December 31, and continue through Sunday, April 22, featuring three months of the world’s best high goal polo. For more information on the International Polo Club (IPC), please visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.
Field rentals for the 2018 post-season are still available and can be reserved by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit ©MaxCohen.