NG Turf is in the Olympic Spotlight for the Second Time While Playing a Role in Golf’s Highly Anticipated Return at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro

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In 1996, NG Turf provided sod for the Olympic Softball Complex in Columbus, GA for the summer games in Atlanta. This year, Aaron McWhorter, owner of NG Turf and co-founder of The Turfgrass Group, is providing licensing for the premium Zeon® Zoysia sod used on the Rio de Janeiro Olympic golf course.

Over 88 acres of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic golf course will be Zeon® Zoysia licensed by The Turfgrass Group.

Golf is returning to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence. Aaron McWhorter, president of Whitesburg, Georgia-based turfgrass grower NG Turf, couldn’t be happier.

In the 2016 games, golfers from 30 countries will compete in a 72-hole stroke-play tournament on rich, green Zeon® Zoysiagrass fairways grown from a proprietary varietal licensed by McWhorter through the Turfgrass Group. Co-founded by McWhorter and Ken Morrow of Sod Atlanta, The Turfgrass Group works to identify advancements in turfgrass breeding to bring the next generation of genetically pure, high performance turfgrasses to the market.

“Zeon® Zoysia is ideal for the conditions in Rio de Janeiro,” says McWhorter, “Its fine texture creates a firm, fast playing surface for fairways. In the tee boxes, it stands up to heavy foot traffic. Its low water needs also make Zeon® a good choice for the roughs.”

Overall, approximately 88 acres of the grassed areas on the Olympic golf course at Reserva de Marapendi will be Zeon® Zoysia. “Zeon® is the most sustainable option for long term, low maintenance use,” explains David Doguet, president of Poteet, Texas-based Bladerunner Farms, developer and breeder of the Zeon® Zoysia variety. “Zeon® requires very little water and very low nitrogen supplementation. It will provide an easy-maintenance, world-class playing surface for years to come.”

Green Grass Sod Farms of Brazil was chosen to produce and install the genetically pure Zeon Zoysia. Hanse Golf Course Design, headquartered in Malvern, PA, designed the Rio Olympic course. Neil Cleverly, known for heading up golf course projects in locales as challenging as Egypt, Mexico, and The Dominican Republic, is course superintendent.    

After the Olympics, the course at Reserva de Marapendi will become a public course, supporting Brazil’s commanding golf population. Brazil is now the second largest South American golfing nation, outplayed only by Argentina.
NG Turf’s first experience in the Olympic spotlight was during the 1996 games in Atlanta. The South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, GA was constructed by NG Turf’s sister firm Sports Turf Company, Inc. Sports Turf specializes in the construction and rehabilitation of sports fields, running tracks, and sporting venue amenities. NG Turf supplied Tifway Bermudagrass for the 8-field complex.

“Tifway Bermuda has been the most popular variety of bermudagrass for over 40 years,” says McWhorter. “It boasts a rich, green hue that contrasts beautifully with infield mix. The dense growth handles high traffic exceedingly well and recovers quickly from injury. Tifway thrives in full sun but also tolerates shade very well. It is simply the most ideal choice for sports fields.”

To create practice facilities of the same caliber as the competition venue, Sports Turf Company and NG Turf teamed up again to renovate the nearby Golden Park baseball complex. Originally built in 1906, this ball park was completely renovated and resurfaced with Tifway Bermuda. The field was converted to a softball field for Olympic warm up sessions and then returned to a baseball field after the Olympic Games ended.

Today, the multi-field South Commons Softball Complex hosts hundreds of local events each year as well as hosting state, national, and international teams from Japan, China, Australia, Brazil, and others. Over the years, Golden Park has been home to several minor league baseball teams including the Catfish (Tampa Bay Rays) and the Redstixx (Cleveland Indians).

About NG Turf
NG Turf is a family-owned and operated turfgrass grower with over 2,500 acres at six locations across Georgia. Members of the Urban Ag Council, the Georgia Green Industry Association, and certified by GCIA (the Georgia Crop Improvement Association), their 10 proprietary varieties of sod include Zeon Zoysia, TifGrand and TifWay Bermuda, Rebel Supreme Fescue, and TifBlair Centipede. Founded in 1985, NG Turf has become Georgia’s premier sod grower and supplier for landscape professionals, golf course developers and superintendents, athletic field managers, municipalities, and homeowners.

About Sports Turf
Sports Turf received the 2014 Field Builder of the Year Award from SportsField Management Magazine. They have completed more than 600 renovations and construction projects over their 20 year history, including projects at Mississippi State, Auburn University, University of Alabama’s Bryant Denny Stadium, the 1996 Olympic Softball Fields in Columbus, GA, and the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility in Flowery Branch, GA. They are licensed in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

About The Turfgrass Group
The Turfgrass Group, founded in 1997 by Aaron McWhorter (NG Turf) and Ken Morrow (Sod Atlanta), is a Georgia-based turfgrass licensing company committed to identifying advancements in turfgrass breeding technologies, natural resource management, and environmental stewardship. The Turfgrass Group's licensed cultivars include: TifBlair Centipede, Zeon Zoysia, Jamur Zoysia, and T-10 Bermuda.

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