Minutes later we visit the field where Florida's TifSport fairways are sunning lazily. "A million eight [hundred-thousand-square] feet are in this field," says Allen. "We can cut 45 semi loads a day. That's 12� acres, a half-million feet." Florida has ordered a million feet of TifSport, a hybrid raised for hardiness, disease resistance, rich color and tolerance to low mowing heights, a turfgrass suitable for playing fields and golf courses. The TifSport will be delivered to Gainesville as sod, but to cover all the fairway acreage, Sherman intends to plant it in plugs—two- or three-inch circles cut from the sod—that will fill in quickly. He says, "We'll go out with buckets and throw them down and roll them in. A month later you'll be playing golf on this."
"I'm a sprig man," says Allen. "Why in the world would you plug something?" Sherman tests the nap of the grass with his feet. "We're hitting a fly over the head with a sledgehammer, we know that," he says. "But this course has to be ready in November, and even two weeks shorter growing time makes a world of difference." Anyway, Allen's sod is too smooth and perfect for Sherman's purposes. "Golf courses are supposed to mimic the effects of erosion," he continues. "We can get a more natural look by plugging."
Allen, ever the salesman, pretends not to hear this last blasphemy. However, he is unsparing with one piece of advice: "Fumigate wherever you can." Before tilling, the Florida course received an application of the herbicide Roundup to kill the common bermuda and other turfgrass strains that had taken hold over the years. A few holes received a second treatment of Roundup. Still, even three applications of Roundup, Allen tells Florida superintendent Mark Birdsell, leaves 5% to 10% of the grass in the soil. "Ever been in a parking lot and seen bermuda growing through the asphalt?" says Allen. "That'll give you an idea of how hard it is to kill."
To achieve a 99% kill rate, Allen recommends fumigation, a costly procedure ($1,500 to $2,000 an acre) that involves injecting methyl bromide into the soil and covering the ground with plastic for two days. "If you have growback," he warns, "the only way you can fix it is to spend another million or so dollars to re-grass." Standing in a sea of green, the members of the Gators' delegation nod like so many dashboard dolls, glumly doing the mental arithmetic. It's pretty obvious where a big chunk of the project's contingency fund is going to go.
Jimmy Allen beams. "Y'all ready for lunch?"
In the next installment of This Old Course, water-logged Florida is swept into the Atlantic, an ozone hole opens in the atmosphere directly overhead and mole crickets invade the clubhouse. Nobody cares, because the Gators men are still celebrating their stunning team and individual victories in the NCAA championship.