Team USA is not favored to survive its placement in the “Group of Death” in the World Cup—pitted with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. But, as the global soccer spectacle prepares to, ahem, kick off tomorrow, rest assured that at least one Made in America product will last—the turf on which the matches are played.
A Bermuda grass hybrid, known as TifGrand, developed within the University of Georgia Turfgrass Breeding Program will be used on three of the twelve fields of the World Cup which will run June 12 through July 13.
The turf may not have been born near the hedges of Sanford Stadium or the tree that owns itself, but it is still a UGA product. The grass was crafted about three hours south of Athens at UGA’s Tifton campus under the direction of Wayne Hanna and Kris Braman. TifGrand is not the first Bulldog-bred turf to be used for a World Cup. In 2010, Hanna’s TifSport was used in Moses Mabhida Stadium, the field that hosted the final match of the South African World Cup in 2010.
According to Hanna, TifGrand is a darker and denser version of the previously successful TifSport that he has been working to design for decades. TifGrand’s increased density means it can handle the task of hosting a minimum of four matches during the Cup’s group stage that lasts just two weeks. Hopefully, the USMNT will be able to last as long as Hanna’s turf.