The Scientifically-Grown Grass Making Its Debut In Rio

The Scientifically-Grown Grass Making Its Debut In Rio

After 112 years, the sport of golf returns to the Olympics on state-of-the-art turf sprouted over a four-year period

Macala Wright
  • 12 august 2016

Golf returns as an Olympic sport in 2016 at the Rio Games after an 112-year absence. The Olympic Golf Course, compete with 18 holes, was constructed specifically for the event by Bladerunner Farms. The grassing of the course was completed in 2014, but, as with all golf courses, the grass needed time to grow in and mature before it was ready for play. Nearly 90 percent of the 88-acre course will feature Zeon Zoysia, including on the fairways, the roughs and the tee boxes.

Zeon Zoysia is a durable, warm-weather grass developed specifically to meet the environmental conditions found in Rio during the 2016 Olympic Games. It requires less water and fertilizer than most other types of golf turf which is a major factor given Rio’s poor soil and water quality.

The grass is environmentally sound and meets the needs for a sustainable, environmentally friendly 2016 Games. Zeon Zoysia requires:

  • Less water: a savings of 30 – 50 percent in water use over bermuda grass
  • Less fertilizer: a savings of at least half in fertilizer over bermuda grass
  • Fewer, infrequent mowing: mowing frequency reduced by 25 – 50 percent
    Aerial at Test Event.jpeg

The grass is also fairly salt tolerant, so there is no loss of turf quality up to 15,000 pmm. It has been bred and developed over the past 20 years by Bladerunner Farms, a turf nursery 40 miles outside of San Antonio, Texas. End to end, the entire project took four years to complete in time for the games and is yet another example of the long lead time required to meet sustainability goals and ensure successful execution during the active game periods.

Bladerunner Farms


PSFK is your source for innovation news from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, from VR programming and machine-designed shoes to crowdsourced health apps and surveillance balloons. Check back daily for updates and read more here about the services and technologies that are shaping this year’s games.

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