From Bangkok we moved on to Ho Chi Minh City and upon arrival met golf course superintendents and friends from Jebsen & Jessen, the Toro Co distributor in Vietnam. The seminar was held at the new Twin Doves Golf Club, planted wall-to-wall with the Platinum TE variety of seashore paspalum. Except for the superb mountain course at Dalat, with a lot of kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum) on the fairways and creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) greens, all courses at Vietnam have been planted to seashore paspalum or bermudagrass. This is a mistake.
Southern Vietnam has a climate very similar to Central Thailand, where manilagrass thrives; Northern Vietnam has a climate similar to South China, were manilagrass also thrives. It seems strange that bermudagrass and seashore paspalum have been used so much at Vietnam when they do not perform as well in this climate as does the native manilagrass.
Turfgrass managers in Vietnam must deal with weeds that invade bermudagrass and seashore paspalum, and there are also many diseases that can infect these grasses in Vietnam, as I have documented in this earlier post.
We moved on to the Philippines, our fourth country in less than 72 hours since we had left from Singapore. The Philippines of course is home to San Miguel Brewery and their superb Cerveza Negra, over which Dr. Kaminski and I discussed lighting and turfgrass.
Continuing the discussion about light at our seminar in Manila, I explained that manilagrass (Zoysia matrella) can provide acceptable turfgrass quality with more than 50% reduction in light, but seashore paspalum and bermudagrass do not. Considering the relatively low sunshine hours in both Vietnam and the Philippines, it is no wonder that manilagrass consistently outperforms seashore paspalum and bermudagrass. In fact, our host venue for the Philippine Turfgrass Association seminar was Wack Wack Golf & Country Club, where the greens are a fine-bladed zoysia that produces a consistently good year-round putting surface.