So a huge thank you to Golf Course Trades, Many Francis, Rich Hurley, and Doug Homan for their help with my article about Vesper Velvet. The entire piece is here. From the article:
“So Manny [Francis] converted Vesper’s greens to the strain he found in his yard, and both he and the grass became legend. Vesper Velvet spread across the northeast – and even across the pond – with lickety-speed. In the course of its history over the decades, Vesper Velvet could be found at as iconic places as Fenway Park, the White House lawn, and Wimbledon’s tennis courts: quite an accomplishment for the son of a coffee farmer who was born on a ship making passage from Brazil to Portugal in 1919.
And with every runaway success, the legend of Manny Francis grew. Oh the stories they tell about him!
—he would chew the grass, tasting it to test its acidity. “He didn’t just look at the plant; he understood it with his hands and his eyes. He and the plant had a synergy together and it blossomed through him,” Francis II recalled;
–he taught himself chemistry, agronomy, and other sciences, wearing out copy after copy of textbooks;
—and he was so close with quintessential American golf designer Donald Ross, that some people still refer to Vesper Country Club as a Manny Francis design in the Donald Ross style. In fact, Francis carved out a second career regionally as a well-respected golf course architect.
But Vesper Velvet wasn’t done: next came the legacy, the offshoots. One place was Homan’s beloved Lake Sunapee.
“My grandfather, who knew Manny well, cultivated his own close-cousin cross-strain called Lake Sunapee Velvet, and it’s our entire playing surface, with the exception of our 10th green, which is actually Vesper Velvet,” Homan stated proudly, and rightfully so. Lake Sunapee’s Velvet proved equally successful and as much in demand as it close cousin.”