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Why does UGA play football 'between the hedges?'

Bright green privet surrounds the field at Sanford Stadium, and has since the 1920s

ATHENS, Ga. — Saturday’s football game between Georgia and Notre Dame will be played between Sanford Stadium’s legendary hedges, a sight that might prompt fans of the Fighting Irish to ask why UGA is so fascinated with shrubbery.

Games in Athens are played “between the hedges.” Georgia fans love the green surrounding Sanford Stadium’s field, and blanch when opposing players damage the lush privet, as Georgia Tech players did after a victory in Athens in 2016.

According to Georgia’s Sports Information Department, it was UGA graduate Charlie Martin who came up with the idea to plant hedges at Sanford Stadium back in the 1920s.

Prior to his death, former Sports Information Director Dan Magill wrote that Martin fell in love with the Georgia football team and after graduation went to work in the UGA athletic department.

During a trip to the Rose Bowl in California, Martin was impressed by the bright red flowers surrounding the field there, and thought roses would make a nice addition to the stadium that was then under construction in Athens.

“On his return to Athens he first thought of putting a hedge of roses around the field in Sanford Stadium, but UGA horticulturists said roses wouldn’t thrive here and suggested a hedge of privet Ligustrum,” Magill wrote.

When Sanford Stadium opened in 1929, 30,000 people watched Georgia defeat Yale between the hedges.

Not every game played at Sanford Stadium has been between the hedges. In 1996, Athens hosted Olympic soccer. The stadium couldn’t accommodate the larger field with the hedges so clippings were removed and re-planted after the Games.

The hedges were removed and replanted again during a recent renovation of the stadium.



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