Turf Selected for 2016 Rio Olympics Course

Green Grass Sod Farms of Brazil has been selected as the Zeon Zoysia turf grower for the new course under construction for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The 2016 Games marks golf's return as an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904.

Marcelo Matte, owner of Green Grass, said the environmentally friendly, drought-tolerant Zeon Zoysia to be used for the roughs, fairways and tees will have positive repercussions in both the world of golf, and in the turf industry in South America.

"This is the first time golf is in the Olympics after 100 years and we'll have the whole world watching the best players for weeks in Rio. I can imagine it will be the most important golf course in the year of 2016," Matte said.

Green Grass is a licensed producer of Zeon Zoysia grass through the product's developer, Bladerunner Farms, the world's largest privately owned zoysiagrass research and breeding facility, headquartered in Poteet, Texas.

Matte said he began the process of Green Grass becoming a licensed producer of Zeon Zoysia in November 2011, after he visited Bladerunner Farms to talk with David Doguet, a respected turfgrass breeder who owns Bladerunner Farms, and Don Roberts, an expert in international turfgrass operations and a Bladerunner consultant.

In his many visits to the United States since 1997, Matte said he researched the latest methods for turfgrass production, and sought to license the highest quality turfgrasses available to bring back to Brazil. Green Grass was "the first sod farm to have big rolls in South America and the first also to sprig jobs," Matte said.

"We licensed Zeon Zoysia as a part of this search for the best varieties. It is a turfgrass that already has a solid position in the market and is considered the number one landscaping preference. Now that the best golf courses are going to lower maintenance and environment friendly grasses, Zeon is the perfect choice."

With nearly 1,750 acres under sod production, Green Grass has four sod farm locations: one in the south of Brazil, two near Sao Paulo city, and another near Rio de Janeiro.

According to Matte, the operation is unique in the Brazilian turf industry as it is the only sod farm that uses all imported equipment, (harvesters, mowers, central pivot irrigation, installers, sprig planters, etc.), and employs the latest sod-production techniques, including making sure that all proprietary sod varieties are certified for quality and genetic purity.

"Brazil is a developing country that has grown a lot in the last 15 years," Matte said. "It is the seventh economy in the world based on the local industry, agricultural and mining, and also will host the 2014 soccer World Cup. The Olympics in Rio will shine a spotlight on Brazil, Green Grass and Zeon Zoysia."