A Guide to Different Types of Grass on Golf Courses

Team McFly Oct 24, 2023
7 People Read
golf couse
Table of Contents
  1. 5 Popular Grasses Used in Golf Course Turf Management
    1. Introduction:
    2. Bermuda Grass
    3. Zoysia Grass
    4. Perennial Ryegrass
    5. Poa Annua grass
    6. Kentucky Bluegrass
    7. Common Turfgrasses on Putting Greens
    8. Recent Related Articles:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking  

5 Popular Grasses Used in Golf Course Turf Management


Stepping onto a golf course is not just about the game; it's about experiencing a perfectly manicured environment that enhances every swing and putt. Central to this experience is the carpet of green that unfurls beneath your feet: the meticulously selected and maintained turfgrass.

While golfers might focus on their strokes, turf management professionals know that the choice of grass can make a significant difference in playability, aesthetics, and maintenance. From the sun-kissed greens of southern courses to the cool, temperate fairways of the north, different grasses have distinct characteristics suited for varying climates and terrains.

Among the front-runners in golf course turf management are Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Perennial ryegrass, Poa Annua grass, and Kentucky Bluegrass. Each offers unique benefits, ensuring that every golfer, whether a novice or a pro, gets the best out of their game. Dive in as we explore these five popular choices and uncover the secrets behind the world's most pristine golfing greens.

Types of Grass On Golf Courses

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is a very common and durable grass that can survive in the toughest conditions. It is a perfect choice for warm-weather turfgrass. This grass is a great choice for any location with a southern climate.

The Bermuda grass is most commonly used for putting greens. This is because the greens are the most attractive area of any golf course.

Bermuda grass grows well in a variety of soil types, and it is also drought resistant. It can also tolerate some shade. There are many reasons why it is a good option for a golf course. For one, it can help cover a rough edge and create a carpet-like surface.

Another benefit of Bermuda is its ability to spread. As long as it is mowed, it can keep its grassy appearance even if it gets a little thin.

Lastly, your shots tend to fly further if you have a Bermuda grass fairway. This is because the grass is a bit sticky and will have less impact on your ball.

However, you still need to know some things before you start playing on this grass. One is that you may need to water it frequently. You will also need to fertilize it.

The best time to fertilize your Bermuda Grass is in the early spring. Using a fertilizer with a nitrogen-to-phosphorus (NPK) ratio of four to one will give you the best results. If you do not apply this fertilizer early enough, your grass will die off.

Choosing the right grass for your lawn is a personal decision. The most important thing to consider is the type of environment you live in.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is one of the most popular grasses for golf courses. It is used on tee boxes, fairways, and roughs. Golf superintendents prefer this type of grass for its durability, hardwearing nature, and ability to survive drought conditions.

However, there are a few disadvantages to zoysia grass. Among them, the grass is less shade-tolerant than other types of warm-season grasses. In addition, it is not very cold-tolerant.

Zoysia grass is also slow-growing. This can be beneficial for golf courses, especially if you want to use the grass for less frequent mowing. But there are better choices for those who wish to have a quick turnaround.

Some golf course superintendents prefer ryegrass, which is faster to grow and has better cold tolerance. Ryegrass can also be used to oversee a zoysia lawn.

The zoysia grass is also susceptible to large patch disease. Pythium species associated with large patch disease were isolated from rhizosphere soils, thatch, and plant tissues. Most isolates were P. Toulouse, but other Pythium spp. were also recovered.

Pythium Toulouse is not pathogenic to zoysia grass. Therefore, it can be used as a component in the compound to enhance zoysiagrass's performance.

Zoysia grass can be grown in various conditions, including poor soil drainage. However, it can be prone to nematode damage. As such, the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center can provide fertilization recommendations.

Zoysia can be maintained well, but it may take two or three years to grow the grass fully. Its color fades in mid-autumn and goes dormant in winter. It must be moist to keep it green, but it can be mowed infrequently.

golf tee

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a major cool-season turfgrass species. Its upright growth habit and desirable agronomic characteristics make it a good choice for golf courses. However, this species is susceptible to diseases, especially gray leaf spots. The disease has increased dramatically in golf courses in the last several decades.

In recent years, severe outbreaks have been reported from various regions of the United States. These epidemics can lead to high costs for golf courses. To better forecast and control the disease, it is important to understand the relationship between temperature, leaf wetness, and the presence of gray leaf spots.

Temperature affects the severity of gray leaf spots on perennial ryegrass. Plants were characterized by relative water content, chlorophyll content, and growth. The plants had lower disease incidence when the relative water content was higher.

Plants with lower disease incidence and higher growth showed greater tolerance to drought stresses. This was attributed to the overexpression of a gene called LpHUB1. HUB1 is part of the 'Homology to Ub-1' (HUB1) family, which includes diverse eukaryotic species.

HUB1 is a ubiquitin-like modifier that interacts with protein targets and regulates several biochemical pathways. For example, studies have shown that overexpression of the gene increases tolerance to drought stress in perennial ryegrasses.

The gene was cloned from various perennial ryegrasses and identified through serial analysis of gene expression data. Southern blot analysis showed that the transgene had been integrated into the plant.

Further research will provide recommendations to the turfgrass management community. Field experiments will be conducted at multiple sites in Virginia over four years. Results will be published and disseminated to turfgrass practitioners.

Poa Annua grass

Poa Annua grass

Poa Annua grass on golf courses is one of the most popular turf varieties used in putting surfaces. These surfaces feature a tight weave of textured putting grass fibers. This creates an ultra-clean, smooth-rolling surface.

Despite its popularity, Poa Annua has its challenges. Poor drainage is a major issue for these playing surfaces. Therefore, it also requires proper water management.

In addition, Poa Annua can be susceptible to winter injury. This can be caused by prolonged ice cover or crown hydration.

Managing Poa Annua requires an agronomic program that addresses these challenges. This includes ensuring a sound soil profile that will provide adequate drainage. In addition, using fertilizers and plant growth regulators correctly can help the turf conserve carbohydrates.

If the turf is not mowed sufficiently, it can become denser. This can result in less desirable grain, making the putting surface attractive.

Several different strains of Poa Annua are used on golf courses. Many superintendents attempt to keep the grasses from spreading. However, Poa Annua can mix with other strains and cause patches on putting greens.

Managing Poa annua on golf courses requires an intricate understanding of the species' strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this program should be tailored to address site-specific conditions.

Poa annua can be controlled with preemergence herbicides. These applications are typically formulated to suppress seedhead emergence in the fall and early spring.

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are another important tool in controlling Poa Annua on golf courses. When applied at the right time, they can help to improve smoothness and consistency.

Maintaining putting conditions on any turf is challenging. However, with realistic expectations and necessary resources, high-quality putting conditions can be achieved.

kentucky bluegrass golf course

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass has become one of golf courses' most popular turf grasses. It is durable and hardy and performs well in a wide range of climates. Typical uses for this variety include fairways, roughs, and golf course tees.

Several factors are important to the long-term health and performance of Kentucky bluegrass. These include mowing height, severance, drought, shade, and disease. Generally, bluegrass should be mowed between two and three inches. This will help the plant recover from stress periods and enable it to bounce back quickly.

However, if the turf is mowed at low heights, it can be prone to diseases like the Fusarium patch. In addition, red thread, rust, and powdery mildew can cause major damage.

Kentucky bluegrass is adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions as a cool-season grass. It is also durable and resistant to disease. Although it grows best in full sun, it can tolerate partial shading. The best results are achieved when grown in well-drained sites and watered frequently.

When mowing, Kentucky bluegrass should be cut at a rate of approximately 2 to 3 inches. If the mowing height is less than one inch, the grass will not be able to develop fully. For optimal coverage, mowing should be done at least once per week. A fertilizer containing nitrogen-based chemicals is recommended.

Most Kentucky bluegrass cultivars are suitable for golf course use and especially suited for roughs, fairways, and tees. They are also ideal for parks and sports fields of all kinds. Some of the most common types of Kentucky bluegrass include Compact America, Julia, Shamrock, and the Eurasian family.

Currently, several cultivars are resistant to Necrotic Ringspot. These cultivars have been bred to provide greater resistance to the disease; some appear to be more tolerant than others. However, it is still too early to tell whether the new cultivars will fare better than their predecessors.

In addition to disease, many Kentucky bluegrass cultivars are susceptible to leaf spots and rust. Rusts, in particular, can cause significant thinning, as can leaf spots. Leafspot can damage and even destroy a stand of turf, and it is the first disease to be spotted on a new planting.

Bluegrass could perform better in the shade in some parts of Northwest Kentucky. However, it is still used for fairways and roughs and is a good candidate for hazards. In areas where shade is a problem, it should be mixed with other grasses that are more suited to the shade.

Fortunately, breeding work on Kentucky bluegrass has focused on shade tolerance and disease resistance. These efforts are continuing today. New cultivars have also been developed in the past few years.

putting greens

Common Turfgrasses on Putting Greens

There are many different types of grass used on golf courses, and the type of turfgrass that is most popular in your area will depend on the climate. Some common types of turfgrass used on golf courses include bentgrass, annual bluegrass, and poa annua.

Bentgrass is used on most golf courses, as it is a hardy grass that withstands heavy traffic. It has good mowing characteristics and is a good option for fairways. However, it could do better in cold temperatures.

Annual bluegrass is also used for putting greens. However, it requires higher inputs than bentgrass to maintain quality. In addition, it is usually tougher grass. The United States Golf Association uses this grass for its putting greens.

Fine fescues are more drought-tolerant grass. As a result, they have been used extensively on putting greens in Europe for centuries. This is because fine fescues have a more upright growth habit. As a result, they are better able to handle moisture.

putting greens

In the United States, bentgrass and annual bluegrass are the most commonly used turfgrasses on putting greens. In the north-central United States, creeping bentgrass is the most common.

OKC1876 is an excellent turfgrass that exhibits superior establishment and traffic tolerance. In addition to its dark green color, it demonstrates high tensile strength and retains excellent fall color. As a result, OKC1876 is an excellent choice for golf courses, lawns, and other areas with high-quality turfgrasses. See here for more info...

OKC3920 is the tenth bermudagrass variety to be commercially released since 1991. This cultivar has been tested for disease resistance and freeze tolerance. See here for more info...

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Table of Contents
  1. 5 Popular Grasses Used in Golf Course Turf Management
    1. Introduction:
    2. Bermuda Grass
    3. Zoysia Grass
    4. Perennial Ryegrass
    5. Poa Annua grass
    6. Kentucky Bluegrass
    7. Common Turfgrasses on Putting Greens
    8. Recent Related Articles:

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking