In a region known for its jaw-dropping panoramic landscapes, Turkey is still relatively new to its role as golf course hosts. The area's newest course, Lykia Links, opened in 2008 and is only the eleventh in the country, but it is already ranked among the top in the world.
Designed by Perry Dye, Lykia Links is nestled between the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Taurus Mountains to the north. It's the first classic links-style course in the area, spanning 7,536 yards from the black tees and featuring 67 links-style American pot bunkers.
Among the other firsts is Lykia Links' turf seed choice. The climate throughout the Antalya region is ideal for warm-season grasses, but while other courses in the country have chosen Bermudagrass, Lykia Links is the first to rely solely on seashore paspalum for all playing surfaces. The course is located next to a river with mountains in the background and, as summer run-off deteriorates, the irrigation supply goes from fresh water to one with high salinity. After water quality tests confirmed the need for a turfgrass that could withstand salt water, the next decision was which type – sprigs, sod, or seed – to choose.
Perry Dye explained the decision, "Having done a lot of work internationally, we had a lot of people convinced they could import different types of paspalum to Turkey, but I was convinced that wasn't the case – and it proved to not be the case – so our decision was to go to [Sea Spray] seed."
Although the seed made it through customs without issue, other golf course necessities, including the irrigation system, proved problematic. As a result, the Sea Spray seed sat in a warehouse for close to 18 months.
"Even though we were delayed for so long and the seed had to be stored for an unusual amount of time, I was really surprised that after the storage and the harassment your poor seed went through, when we planted it, it actually grew."
Dye also mentioned that numerous irrigation challenges were experienced during germination including how wet they could keep the seed and fertigation practices. Despite the setbacks, Sea Spray grew remarkably well and remained strong. "Scotts® provided a material [Sea Spray] that can be shipped internationally, that seems to grow against all odds, and it uses very little chemicals."
During germination and grow-in, superintendent Atilla Demirsoy controlled nitrogen rates to about 2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. After germination was complete and turf growth slowed, Demirsoy did extreme verticutting to push turf strength and control irrigation. In addition, he kept on top of mowing never letting it exceed a one-inch height.
By pushing Sea Spray, the turf established an excellent root system. After a recent visit to the course, Dye remarked that we "recently dug a trench eight feet deep and the roots are down 6-8 feet – it's really a phenomenal grass."
Having transitioned into the maintenance stage, Demirsoy is pleased with the many advantages of Sea Spray seashore paspalum over other varieties. He explained that while the variety achieves the speed and consistency of bentgrass, "Sea Spray is more resistant to disease and drought." In addition, "we'll use 50% less nitrogen than Bermudagrass."
Among the numerous advantages of Sea Spray is its ability to maintain color and vigor even with low input rates. Considering Lykia Links' close proximity to the ocean, the fact that Sea Spray is environmentally sound and sustainable is great for Turkey's local fishing industry and marine mammals such as egg-laying sea turtles. "No doubt that Sea Spray has advances in the environmental issues 100% forward," said Dye.
Of course, the turf still has to look good and play great. Dye closed by saying that Sea Spray provides "a great playing surface as far as hitting the club and the ball and the way the ball sits on the turf." In addition, the color is great for striping, yet it's a very low-maintenance turf.