There is no doubt that lush green golf courses look spectacular. Not only does a good course aid to the game of golf and add to the scenic beauty of the overall club. However, it is pretty interesting to note that the grass used in the golf courses can dramatically impact the game.
Turf grass is the conventionally used golf course grass. These grasses are artificial, and their varieties vary by region due to their capacity to endure cold and heat. Golf course designers, therefore, select grass very meticulously.
As a result, several different factors are considered while choosing the right kind of turf grass. Here, we will talk about different types of golf course grasses in detail, along with their pros and cons.
Different Types of Golf Course Grass
Bur before delving into the main section, let us explore the characteristics of these grasses.
What Type of Grasses are Planted in Golf Courses?
While talking about golf grass, one question is, why can’t regular grass be used in golf courses? What are the things that make golf grasses different from regular ones?
One of the primary characteristics of golf grass is toughness. Keeping this in mind, most courses use turf grasses, as these can bear heavy foot traffic without breaking down or getting damaged.
Maintaining golf course grass is highly essential. That being said, course designers often choose grasses that are resilient to deep cuts. In other words, these grasses need to survive even when cut very low for a better golf experience.
Withstand Heat and Cold
This is supposedly one of the main characteristics that are searched for when selecting golf course grass. It is essential that the grass used in golf courses stand tall no matter the climate or temperature. In addition, golf course grass should not rot or get dried up in extreme heat or cold or rain.
Natural vs. Turf Grass
The next thing that comes to mind is whether natural or turf grasses are most suitable for golf courses? Well, you can choose either natural or artificial turf grass for your golf course depending on your preference and other factors like maintenance, aesthetic appeal, etc.
Natural Turf Grass
- Natural turf grass can be grown from seeds
- Seeds can be conveniently available in shop or nursery
- Most preferred grass type for golf courses
- It doesn’t hold heat like artificial grass
- It offers less resistance to a golf swing
- Need to be grown on own
- Required high maintenance- mowing, watering, and cutting
- May have low resistance against extreme climatic conditions
Artificial Turf Grass
- Low maintenance
- Aesthetically appealing
- Requires no growing time
- Resistant against climatic changes
- Can mimic the feel of real grass
- Holds heat faster than natural turf
- The artificial surface may cause joint pain and strains
- May negatively impact golfing by offering more resistance to swings
Keeping all the pros and cons in mind, let us focus on the different grasses used in golf courses.
Different Types of Golf Grass
Much like your garden or yard, you can choose any grass to grow in your golf course. But of course, your choice would also depend on factors other than your personal preference like the environment, climate, foot traffic, etc.
The following are the popular grass options designers generally have while choosing their preferred turf grass.
#1. Bermuda Grass
If your golf course is in a hot or arid climatic zone, the most suitable grass for you would be Bermuda grass. One of the best things about Bermuda grass is its quick recovery rate and can withstand drought, harsh and dry climates.
Not only this but Bermuda grass can also be mowed pretty deep to give the golfers a better golfing experience. This grass is most suitable for southern climates where the temperature and the possibility of drought remain higher.
- Quick recovery rate
- Can withstand droughts
- Can stand tall in hot and dry climates
- Well-suited to southern climates
- It can be mowed pretty deep
- It cannot be grown in a colder climate
- Poor tolerance to pests, insects, and diseases
- Intolerant to shade
Zoysia is one of the most adaptable types of grasses. It is drought-resistant and highly tolerant of hot conditions. But this grass generally grows at a slower rate than other turf grasses. Nonetheless, if you stay in the southern zone with the hot climatic conditions, Zoysia can be your perfect choice.
Another versatile feature of Zoysia is that it grows thick, killing the weeds, and can withstand heavy traffic. As a result, it is a popular choice for grass to be grown on tees and fairways.
- Moderate maintenance
- Can withstand hot and drought-prone climate
- Tolerate heavy foot traffic
- The thick and tough stem may make mowing difficult
- It does not provide year-round greenery
- In fall, it can go dormant
Opposite to Bermuda grass, Bentgrass is most suitable for the colder climate. So, if you are living in a region that is prone to getting colder, you can focus on choosing Bentgrass for your golf course.
Another feature of this grass is that, just like Bermuda grass, it can also be mowed deep without getting damaged. This, in turn, offers a better swing experience in golfing.
In addition, Bentgrass is more typically found on golf course fairways. Because it grows thick, it can endure high traffic. Also, since Bentgrass does not require much water to thrive, it is best suited to milder regions in the north.
This grass can grow pretty well in the Northeast, most of the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest regions.
- Best suited for colder regions
- Can tolerate heavy traffic
- Can be mowed deep
- It does not require much water to grow and thrive
- It cannot be grown and maintained in hot climatic conditions
- Susceptible to diseases and pests
- Requires high maintenance
#4. Fescue Grass
Fescue grass is most suitable for the regions that receive cool as well as warm climates. In other words, if you stay in an area with moderate climatic conditions, the chances are high that you will plan to grow Fescue grass in your golf course.
This grass has a good look and feel to it and can widely be used in golf fairways. Fescue grass is also suitable for growing at home if you are planning for an in-house golf course.
Since this grass can grow pretty quickly, you will mostly find it in unmowed areas of the golf course.
- Suitable for moderate climate
- It does not need winter maintenance
- Can withstand heavy traffic
- It tends to turn brown in the hot climate
- May require overseeding during summer
- Grow vertically, which may require frequent mowing
Ryegrass is another most popular cool region turf grass. This grass grows better in cool-summer regions. And thanks to its growth nature and delicate texture, Ryegrass is grown chiefly on tee boxes and fairways.
When fertilized, Ryegrass can offer a unique deep green color and can withstand high traffic. However, on the downside, most annual Ryegrass will die once temperatures drop below freezing point.
- Suitable for cool-summer regions
- It has a fine texture
- It can be grown well on fairways and tee boxes
- Looks aesthetically beautiful when fertilized regularly
- Most traffic tolerant turf grass
- Good disease and insect resistance capacity
- It is prone to winterkill
- It cannot be mowed too deep
#6. Poa Annua
Poa Annua, or just Poa, can grow in breathtaking colors on a wide scale. However, it is not so popular as other turf grasses on our list because of its invasive nature. Nonetheless, Golf courses on the Northern and West Coast love to grow Poa Annua primarily due to the color it offers to the ground.
One of the significant downsides of Poa is that it grows with a shallow root system, which makes it less durable. Also, Poa requires hand watering most often, which may be highly time-consuming.
- Looks great
- Grown on a wider scale
- Performs better in shaded areas
- Can tolerate high traffic
- Grown thick and intense
- Requires hand watering
- Invasive in nature
- Shallow roots make it less durable
- Can cause infestation, if not managed regularly
Maintaining Golf Course Grass
No single golf course grass is the best, and each of the above-listed varieties requires a low to moderate degree of maintenance.
To maintain every green and thick spread of grasses, you would need to focus on specific maintenance steps like mowing, watering, and so on. So, in this section, we will focus on the measures adopted for golf course grass maintenance.
A golf course is expected to have a smooth and flat appearance. However, appearance can be deceiving, and it doesn’t matter how flat a golf course may look; apparently, it may still have bumps and dips.
To overcome these issues, you would need to topdress your golf course. You can apply a
layer of sand to the turf to smooth out the uneven surface of the course. You can use different types of top dressing depending on your choice, the nature of your course, and availability.
After you have topdressed your golf course, the next thing you can do is mow the grass. Since golf courses need to have a smoother surface, the grass needs to be cut deep.
While mowing, you must remember that mowing should be done at a raised height during high temperatures and humidity levels. Double cutting should also be avoided to prevent any environmental stress on the grass.
Watering your golf course grass is a crucial thing to do. A well-irrigated golf course will look undeniably lush and exotic. That being said, watering should be done depending on the type of grass you are using, soil, climate, and other factors. For instance, Bermuda grass needs about 1″ of water per week during the summer months. So, overwatering may cause the grass to rot.
Spring is a great season to train your golf course grass to be strong, healthy, and resilient. You can adopt methods like laying down plant-protective materials to keep weeds, insects, and diseases at bay.
Removing the Ball Marks
Golf balls leave depression scars on the turf when they fall from the sky. These marks may cause the course to look uneven. This, in turn, may cause golfers to misdirect their putts. Therefore, it is highly essential to remove the ball marks every day.
This is one of the most essential golf course maintenance tasks to ensure a better golfing experience for the players.
It may sometimes happen that players cut turf during golf strokes. This issue is, however, experienced mainly by the golf courses that receive high traffic.
So, routinely repairing high-traffic golf courses to manage the divots is crucial, as these can ruin an otherwise good game.
“Turf loss due to pests” is a common issue faced by golf courses.
So, it is essential to use chemical treatments to reduce the likelihood of golf courses being infested by pests and insects. Other ways to manage pests in your golf course may include:
- Removing unwanted trees and bunkers to refresh the course.
- Try to recognize the most prevalent pests affecting the golf course to plan better treatment.
- Seek nitrogen treatments for your golf course by calculating your turf’s nitrogen needs.
The top 6 types of grass usually used on a golf course include:
4. Poa Annua
Yes, turf grasses used in golf courses differ from regular grass that we see in lawns and gardens. Although you can use these turfs on your lawn at home, their characteristics are pretty different from usual grasses.
To learn more, please refer to the above sections.
Yes, golf course turfs can be used in home lawns and gardens.
Ryegrass is most suitable for growing the roughs and fairways, as this grass is durable and can endure close mowing.
Proper aerating, irrigation, and pest control can manage golf course grass better. This, in turn, can help you keep your course greener and healthier.
Ryegrass is typically used in fairways. This grass is so well-liked for fairways because it is durable and can withstand being mowed closely and thinly.
Follow the steps below to make your lawn look like a golf course:
• Mow your lawn at the height of 1 to 2 inches.
• Use the right type of lawn mower.
• Choose Bermuda or zoysia grass for the lawn.
• Apply the right (N-P-K) fertilizer at the right time.
• Water once a week, and do not overwater the lawn.
• Use weed control pesticides if you find weeds on your lawn.
The first step that keeps golf course grass green is choosing the right grass.
For the warm season, choose grass species like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Centipede, etc. While for the cooler season, choose specie like Rye, Centipede, Bluegrass, etc.
Furthermore, take note of the watering schedule based on the grass growing on the golf course. The right type of irrigation would help keep grass greener. Right mowing, topdressing with sand, and smoothening the surface with a roller are other methods for maintaining the golf course’s greenness.
It is always a good idea to select a fertilizer that contains the three main nutrients—phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen—for any golf course. The fertilizer’s N-P-K ratio should be balanced to keep the grass green. There are several excellent options on the market.
According to experts, golf grass should only be mowed to a maximum height of 0.125 inches. However, it is typically recommended to keep the height below 0.125 inches.
The type of grass and the environment will determine how frequently golf greens should be mowed. However, it is advised that the course be mowed at least five days a week (on average).
Golf greens don’t require daily irrigation. As a result, you can stick to a deep-watering schedule two to three times per week.
By now, hopefully, you have gained a better understanding of the different types of golf course grasses and their pros and cons.
As we have stated earlier, there is no single golf course grass that is perfect. And you would need to learn about the grasses to understand which one suits you the most. It is also essential to pay attention to the maintenance of the grasses or turfs for a better play experience.
And before choosing your preferred grass, you can refer to the above list of the six most popular golf grass types.