A couple handfuls of grass took one Texas family on quite the journey, all the way from small town USA to the Olympic Games in Rio.
At a farm outside San Antonio there is a field of bright green grass that laid the groundwork for dreams of Olympic gold.
“The reality is better than the dream,” said Darin Doguet. He and his brother work at their dad’s farm in Southeast Texas, the farm that supplied the grass for the Olympic golf course.
The Rio Olympics reintroduced golf to the summer games for the first time in 112 years but Brazil’s hot climate and the selected location presented challenges for the course.
The solution was found at Bladerunner Farms, Inc, more than 5,000 miles from the Olympic course in Rio.
“We’re standing in Poteet, Texas in a field of Zeon Zoysia,” Doguet said with a smile.
The special strain of grass requires less fertilizer, less water, less mowing, no herbicide and better surface than other types of grasses commonly used on golf courses. “It’s just a good grass,” said Doguet.
The grass can survive the heat, withstand the salt water and won’t send a flood of chemicals into the ocean or the wetlands that are located near the Olympic course.
“We put a lot of work into it and to see it play out is kind of nice, we’ve been working on it since I was her age,” Doguet said as he looked down at his 4-year-old daughter.
Bladerunner had the grass for the games but transportation became the next challenge—Zeon Zoysia grows from lives plants, not from seeds.
Doguet cut out a couple squares and shipped patches of grass to a farmer in Brazil.
“They took a handful and made a couple square feet and that couple hundred square feet went to several thousand square feet…” Doguet explained.
Over the course of two years, the patch of grass grew to be roughly 88 acres and now covers than 80 percent of the Olympic golf course.
Doguet said they’ve gotten lots of compliments on the grass and tons of exposure, but no cash.
“We haven’t made a dollar off the Olympics,” Doguet said with cheer. He and no one else is the family is complaining, the experience in itself has been priceless, Doguet said.
The farmer in Brazil used his profits to bring Doguet’s dad David Jr. the owner of Bladerunner to Rio to watch the games and see the grass.
“The reality is better than the dream,” Doguet said, “that’s what they keep saying.”
The U.S. took home the bronze in the men’s tournament and the women will play in the final round Saturday.
After the summer games wrap up this weekend, the Olympic course will open to the public, which will make it the first public golf course in all of Brazil.