Rio_Zeon 2016_vectorGolf returns as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Rio Games this August after a 112-year absence. The Olympic Golf Course in Brazil was built especially to host the Games. The course is a model of environment
al stewardship. It was grassed using varieties that require less water and less fertilizer. Zeon Zoysia, developed by Bladerunner Farms and grown in Brazil by Green Grass Brasil, creates a highly-playable, lush surface. In the fairway, the ball tends to sit up as if on a tee. All the while, Zeon Zoysia stands up to varying water quality, reduced amounts of fertilizer and water for irrigation, and tends to choke out weeds—a major factor considering herbicides cannot be used on this site. All weeds are pulled by hand. This PRESS ROOM offers you the resources you need to tell the story of the Olympic Golf Course, the significance of the project, how it was designed & built, how sustainability figured into the planning & construction of the course, and information about the people who made it happen.



• Golf as an Olympic Sport, returns after 112 years.

• Olympic Golf Course built to host the 2016 Rio Games.

• Prior to his selection as the sod producer for the Olympic Golf Course, Marcelo Matte of Green Grass Brasil had less than one acre of Zeon Zoysia in country. His farm was 1,000 miles away in southern BraZil. The story of how He expanded the grass material, trucked it 1,000 miles north and created a sod farm closer to Rio is one of overcoming obstacles and demonstrating sheer will to accomplish the job.

• Sustainability Critical to the Success of the golf course: NO herbicides for weed control. Grasses use less water, less fertilizer

• The Olympic Golf Course has been in planning, construction & grow-in for the past 4 years

• Olympic Committee’s sustainability goals met at the golf course

• British golf course superintendent locates to Brazil to grow-in the golf course

• Specialty grasses developed in the United States

• Zeon Zoysia, planted on the fairways of the Olympic Golf  Course, is the same grasse used for Tiger Woods’ first U.S. golf course, Bluejack National near Houston, and Trinity Forest, new home of the AT&T Byron Nelson PGA golf tournament



FACT SHEET – Dates, stats, facts, major players

BOOKLET: 2016 – The Year of Zoysia

BOOKLET: Zoysia as a Game Changer



March 2016: Test Event Held, Reviews Promising for Rio Golf Course

December 2014: Rio Olympic Golf Course Complete

August 2014: Grassing Underway at Olympic Golf Course

July 2013: Green Grass Brasil Announced as Sod Producer for Olympic Golf Course

February 2013: Grass Selection Announced for Olympic Golf Course



Photos of construction of course, finished golf course, first golf shots hit on golf course, people who made it happen. CLICK HERE to access photos.



Prior to the event: David Doguet of Bladerunner Farms, Marcelo Matte of Green Grass Brasil, and superintendent Neil Cleverly are available for phone interviews.

During the Olympics: David Doguet, Marcelo Matte & Neil Cleverly will be in Brazil at the Olympic Golf Course during the two weeks of events and will be available for in-person interviews on-site



What’s Your Avocado? Marketing Agency

Stacie Zinn Roberts, 360-941-4595, EMAIL




October 2015: USA Today – Olympic golf course, grassed with Zeon Zoysia developed by Bladerunner Farms, ready for the sport’s return in Rio Games

Ten months from now, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and the world’s best golfers could be battling on another links-style course. But this time Olympic medals will be up for grabs at a unique setting that is a compelling story in itself.



August 2014: Grassing of the Olympic Golf Course in Rio Underway with Zeon Zoysia


OlympicVillageUnderConstInDistanceAs the world awaits the return of golf as an Olympic sport for the first time in more than a century, the folks behind the scenes work to plant Zeon Zoysia grass on the Olympic Golf Course. They must have the course ready by the time the Games open just two years from now in August 2016.

Marcelo Matte, owner of Green Grass Brazil, grows the grass on his Brazilian sod farms for planting directly onto the Olympic Golf Course. A licensed sod producer of both grass varieties used on the course—Zeon Zoysia on tees, fairways and roughs, and SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum on the greens—Matte also spearheads the installation of the grass on every playing surface of the course designed by American Golf Course Architect Gil Hanse.

Matte said he began growing the grass in January 2013 in order to have enough grass inventory available to quickly plant the golf course when construction progress allowed. In all, Green Grass Brazil will produce between 35 to 40 hectares (85 to 100 acres) of grass in order to plant it onto the 18-hole golf course. Matte employs 20 staffers to install the grass on the golf course, along with expert help from David Doguet, the American turfgrass breeder from Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, Texas, who developed Zeon Zoysia for use on golf courses.

FirstMowingInJuneDavidNeilPlanting of the grass from the sod farm onto the actual golf course playing surface began in May 2014. Matte said he is using several different planting methods at the golf course. Most of the Zeon Zoysiagrass surfaces are being planted using Big Roll sod, large spools of sod in one continuous piece that unfurl over a long surface. Some of grass is installed as sod slabs that fit together like puzzle pieces. On the greens, the SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum is being planted as sprigs, basically broken up pieces of sod that are deposited as live grass material and sliced into the soil of the greens surface. No seeds are being used at the golf course. All of the grass is planted as live material. A litany of heavy equipment is used to plant the golf course such as sprig harvesters, sprig planters, fork lifts, rollers, tractors, and trucks.

Both the Zeon Zoysia and the SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum are considered drought tolerant grass varieties. Zeon Zoysia, which has low fertilizer requirements, grows a dense, extremely high-quality playing surface that tends to choke out weeds. This feature of Zeon Zoysia is critical, Matte said, because “we do not have permission to use herbicides yet.” SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum stands up to the salty water conditions that will be used to irrigate the greens at the site.

Planting of the grass at the golf course should continue through December, depending on the pace of construction of the facility. Matte said it will take a full growing season, November through May, for the grass to completely grow in.

Though Matte has grassed many golf courses in his career, “this one carries an enormous responsibility. It is a very important project for everyone involved. It is a once in your life opportunity to be a part of the first golf course made for the Olympic Games. When it comes, I hope everyone in Brazil will be proud of the course. Also the world will watch golf on TV for the first time in the Olympics. I think it will be the largest amount of people watching golf ever,” Matte said.

February 2013: Zeon ZoysiaChosen for Olympics

After more than a century’s absence, when golf returns as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Games in Rio, the grass in the fairways, roughs and tees of the new golf course built especially for the Games will be Zeon Zoysia. The selection of Zeon was confirmed in February at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego by Dr. Frank Rossi, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University who is a consulting agronomist on the project.


“Everything approaching the greens, 88 percent of the grassed area, will be Zeon Zoysia,” Rossi says.


The greens grass selection has been delayed, Rossi says, because the salinity and quality of the water to be used for irrigation is still unknown.

“The decision on the greens and green surrounds hinges on the quality of the water,” Rossi says. “If the water is good, the greens will be an ultradwarf bermudagrass. The surrounds will be another type of bermudagrass. If the water is not good, the greens and surrounds will be some type of paspalum because the bermudagrass may not hold up to poor quality water.”

“As it marks the return of golf to the Olympic Games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport. It will enable Rio to host important events in the international calendar and it will be an example of sustainability and preservation of an environmentally protected area,” said the President of Rio 2016, Carlos Arthur Nuzman.

The choice of Zeon Zoysia as the grass for the majority of the acreage on the golf course, approximately 88 acres of fairways and roughs, reinforces the organizing committee’s desire to create a sustainable golf course. Zeon Zoysia has very low requirements for maintenance and inputs, according to David Doguet, president of Bladerunner Farms, the company that bred Zeon Zoysia.

“Zeon Zoysia is very environmentally friendly. The grass needs very little water, and very low amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, while still looking and playing great. The grass will create a world-class playing surface for the Olympics, and for many years to come,” Doguet said.

Zeon Zoysia was developed in Texas by Bladerunner Farms, the largest privately held zoysiagrass breeding facility in the world. Zeon is licensed by The Turfgrass Group and Doguet Ventures. The grass will be grown in Rio for use on the golf course by Green Grass Brazil, a licensed sod producer of Zeon Zoysia.

Golf has not been a sport at the Olympics since 1904. To accommodate the Olympic-sized galleries and international attention sure to follow the event, a new golf course is being built just five kilometers from the Olympic Athletes Village.

The Rio 2016 Organizing Committee announced last year the selection of Hanse Golf Course Design, based in Malvern, PA, as the golf course architect.