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Turfgrass Research at Mauritius

Paradis_plots

I was at Mauritius last month and visited most of the golf courses on the island. Mauritius has some of the most visually striking golf courses I have ever seen. I was surprised (and impressed) to see beautiful evaluation plots of grass at Paradis Golf Club, where course superintendent Ajaye Ladsawut is maintaining a nursery with different varieties of bermudagrass, seashore paspalum, and even some zoysiagrass. This is an amazing site for turf research plots, right at the base of a World Heritage Site, the rugged Le Morne Cultural Landscape (see below) which served as a shelter for runaway slaves. The grasses are being grown on two different rootzones, a dark rock sand (foreground above) and a calcareous coral sand (background above); the purpose of the grass evaluation nursery at Paradis Golf Club is to determine which grasses perform the best, and in what soil, for a new course in planning stages now and for possible course improvements at Paradis.

Le_morne

The Paradis Golf Club has seashore paspalum (originally from Durban CC) on the greens, a local bermudagrass is the primary species on tees and fairways, and there are also areas of blue couch (Digitaria didactyla), St. Augustine or Buffalo grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), Zoysia matrella, and Sporobulus. The irrigation water is rather high in salt as the course sits right on a lagoon, but all these grasses manage to grow well.

Belombre_pas

The grass evaluation plots at Paradis are very well-maintained and are given nearly the same maintenance treatments as the grass on the golf course. The Bel Ombre paspalum is from a nearby golf course and has a slightly different growth habit and stolon color compared with the Durban CC paspalum on the greens at Paradis.

Pas_ber

This is a seashore paspalum fairway (with patches of bermudagrass at right) on Ile aux Cerfs, also at Mauritius. One of the most challenging things in the management of seashore paspalum is to keep other grasses out. The native bermudagrass here is quite salt tolerant and grows vigorously. Rock salt is used here to control most weeds in the seashore paspalum, and the use of salt is a good strategy for weed control in seashore paspalum when soil conditions allow it. Seashore paspalum is beautiful but it can also be a high maintenance grass and will tend to be overtaken by other grasses when grown without intensive and expensive maintenance.

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