A considerable amount of effort goes into planning the perfect golf course. One of the most significant considerations of all course designers is which variety of grass should be used in each area of the course.
As this article introduces, there are several types of golf course grass used in the US, and one of the primary influences is the climate that the course experiences for the majority of the year.
This is because some grasses thrive in warm climates, while others work better in cooler temperatures.
Below, we introduce the most popular types of grass commonly used on golf courses in the US before answering some FAQs about golf course grass management. First, however, let’s begin by identifying what the best grass for a golf course is.
What is the Best Grass for a Golf Course?
The best type of grass to use on a golf course is a variety that is tough and fast repairing.
However, it also needs to be capable of withstanding lots of traffic, given the number of players that walk the fairways, greens rough, and tee boxes each day, and the maintenance crews and vehicles used to sustain the course.
Depending on where in the country the golf course is, turf-grasses such as Bermuda, Bentgrass, Zoysia, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Perennial Rye might be used.
Used at the pristine Augusta National, Bermudagrass is often regarded as one of the best grasses to use on a golf course, but the climate of a course will impact the type of grass that is planted, so it isn’t easy to definitively mark one variety of grass as the best.
Most Popular Types of Grass Commonly Used on Golf Courses
Below we introduce you to five of the most commonly used types of grass on golf courses around the world and explain their benefits and what conditions they’re best suited to.
Scientific name: Cynodon dactylon
As you might expect from its tropical-sounding name, Bermudagrass is commonly found on courses that boast a warm climate year-round.
In the US, courses in Florida and Georgia utilize Bermudagrass, as it is heat and drought resistant and is receptive to being mowed low, which is ideal for cultivating smooth putting surfaces.
You’re unlikely to find Bermudagrass in colder climates, as it dies if temperatures drop consistently below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to play golf with the sun beating down on your neck all year round, you’re likely to be playing on Bermudagrass.
Scientific name: Agrostis
While Bermudagrass is unable to survive in colder temperatures, Bentgrass is much more resilient and can withstand colder regions, making it more widely used by golf courses that experience yearly changes in their climate.
Bentgrass also grows short and can be mowed low, which doesn’t harm the quality of the grass.
Because Bentgrass is capable of growing thick, it is commonly used on fairways as well as greens, thanks to its ability to withstand heavy traffic.
In addition, you will find that Bentgrass is used on golf courses in different parts of the world, as it doesn’t require a great deal of water to grow.
Of course, it’s perfectly suited for Northern climates where the weather is cooler, but it also thrives on courses in the Northeast as well as the Pacific Midwest.
Scientific name: Zoysia
Zoysia is a grass variety that is native to the Asian continent, but it has been cultivated in the US for more than a century.
Much like Bermuda, Zoysia is best suited to warmer climates where water is sparse. Favored for its drought-tolerant properties, it saves golf courses in water-scarce regions lots of money on irrigation.
It is another thick growing grass that is durable, meaning it won’t damage easily after experiencing high volumes of foot traffic.
While you’re unlikely to see Zoysia grass on the greens, it’s an ideal variety for both tee boxes and fairways at warm weather, municipal golf courses.
4. Kentucky Bluegrass
Scientific name: Poa pratensis
You will typically find Kentucky Bluegrass just off the fairways on lots of courses around the country, regardless of the climate.
Kentucky Bluegrass is appreciated for its hardy properties and ability to thrive in most environments, as well as its tendency to do well when it’s left to grow longer.
Although not commonly found on fairways of newer courses, you might still find Kentucky Bluegrass on fairways on courses more than twenty-five years old.
It was originally favored predominantly for its ability to withstand heavy traffic.
Newer courses tend to opt for creeping Bentgrass on the fairways as it is more tolerant to low cuttings, making the fairways better for golf.
5. Perennial Ryegrass
Scientific name: Lolium perenne
It would be fair to say that Perennial Ryegrass is one of the longstanding favorites of golf course designers, and it is most commonly used on courses found in any cool-summer region.
In northern areas, it’s not uncommon to find perennial ryegrass used on all areas of the golf course, including fairways, tees, roughs, and even greens.
Ryegrass has a fine texture and clumps together, with its upright growing position creating less fiction on the putting surfaces where it is used.
It can also be mowed in such a way to cultivate aesthetically pleasing designs on the turf (such as striping), and it tends to carry a smooth texture with a deep green color wherever it is planted.
FAQS: Grass and Golf Courses
Why Do They Put Sand on Golf Courses?
Adding sand to golf course grass is a process known as ‘topdressing’ and is vital to the healthy growth of the grass across the course.
Sand topdressing has been performed on courses since the beginning of the game and is done to tee boxes, fairways, and greens to improve the health of the turf.
Adding sand results in improved smoothness, thatch dilution, improved turf recovery, increased firmness, and improved rootzone, each of which is vital to the maintenance of the golf course.
Although topdressing the course is disruptive and often frustrating to members, the long-term benefits significantly outweigh the short-term frustrations.
What Grass Makes the Fastest Greens?
The two most common grass varieties used on greens are Bermuda and Bentgrass.
As we’ve already introduced, Bermuda loves the heat, while Bentgrass does better in cooler climates.
You will find electric putting surfaces where Bentgrass and Bermuda are used, but as research from Purdue University reminds us, putting green speed is all in grass management instead of simply the variety of grass used.
A poorly maintained and cut Bermuda green, for instance, will run a lot more slowly than a perfectly manicured Bentgrass green, and vice versa.
What is the Difference Between Bentgrass and Bermuda Grass?
The fundamental difference between Bentgrass and Bermudagrass is the climates in which they grow and thrive.
While Bentgrass is typically used in Northern states where the temperatures are cooler, Bermuda is popular in southern states that receive year-round sunshine.
While there are certainly some exceptions to this rule (Augusta National’s greens have been Bentgrass since 1981, for instance), it’s a good general rule of thumb to work with.
How Often do Golf Courses Water their Grass?
This is a difficult question to give a succinct answer to, as it largely depends on where a golf course is located!
Courses that experience high volumes of rainfall can rely mainly on nature to water the grass for them, whereas those in warmer, drier climes must be watered regularly.
One thing that is often overlooked is that overwatering is often just as harmful as underwatering.
Water conducts heat, so flooding a fairway or putting the surface with water will cause it to cook, ultimately damaging the grass on the surface.
Depending on the climate, golf course maintenance staff implement a water management system all year round to ensure their grass receives the ideal amount of water to thrive.
Location and Course Grass Explained
The type of grass used at a particular golf course largely depends on its location.
The five varieties that have been introduced in this article are commonly used on golf courses throughout the US and even further afield and are likely to feature on many of the courses that you enjoy playing.
Bentgrass and Bermudagrass tend to take the limelight, particularly where putting surfaces are discussed, and for good reason.
Both varieties are traffic resistant, fast repairing, and can be cut low, making them perfect options to be used on golf courses throughout the US.
What type of grass is used on golf course rough? ›
Grass in the Rough
When it comes to the rough area of the golf course, the common grass used is Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Rye. The quality of this grass to withstand severe climatic conditions makes it hard grass and thus suitable for roughs.
In the northeastern U.S., fairways typically include bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, creeping bentgrass and even colonial bentgrass. Most often the grasses on fairways have been there since the golf course was originally constructed.What are the five specific areas of a golf course? ›
There are five areas of the courseAreas of the Course: The five defined areas that make up the course: (1) the general area, (2) the teeing area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing, (3) all penalty areas, (4) all bunkers, and (5) the putting green of the hole you are playing..What type of grass is Augusta National golf course? ›
The industry has come a long way since 1967, and the development of high-quality perennial ryegrass cultivars has helped give Augusta National the aesthetic appeal it has today.What type of grass is Augusta Greens? ›
Augusta National's primary turfgrass is bermuda. During the hot and humid Georgia summer, bermudagrass covers the landscape because of its heat tolerance characteristics (amongst other reasons). In the Fall as the nights become cooler, the bermudagrass goes dormant, stops growing, and turns brown.What is the most common grass used on golf courses? ›
- Bermuda Grass. Bermuda Grass is the most popular golf course grass. ...
- Bentgrass. Bentgrass comes in at #2 for popular golf course grasses. ...
- Fescue Grass. ...
- Ryegrass. ...
- Zoysia Grass. ...
- Poa Annua Grass.
The St Andrews fescue is patchy and wispy — the product of the sandy, fast-draining land it sits on. It means that more often than not, players will be able to hit a good shot out of it.What grass do Florida golf courses use? ›
Bermuda is one of the most well-known and commonly used turf grasses installed on golf courses in warm locations such as Florida. It repairs rapidly and withstands traffic well.What kind of grass is Pebble Beach? ›
The world-famous Pebble Beach golf course in California is renowned for being 100% Poa Annua grass. It is also commonly found in courses in the Midwest and Northeastern US.What grass is in most golf fairways? ›
Rye Grass. A lot of golf clubs and courses use rye grass exclusively for roughs and fairways. It is a grass which is hard wearing and is able to endure close and narrow mowing. It also has a smooth texture and more often than not is found at golf clubs and courses in cool-summer regions.
What kind of grass is used at Bay Hill golf course? ›
Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge features 7,381 yards of beautiful ponds, Bermudagrass and some of the most challenging golf in the world.What is the tall grass on a golf course called? ›
Golf course fescue is usually grown in the second cut of rough or beyond (such as in unmowed native areas). When golfers think of fescue, they picture a sturdy grass that turns golden and can grow three feet high.What is a 5 in golf? ›
A golfer who scores an ostrich is one who played a hole in 5-under par. Now, most readers probably recognize the problem: A score of 5-under-par is impossible on a par-3 hole, on a par-4 hole, and on a par-5 hole. Five-under on a par-5 hole, after all, is zero.What kind of grass do Minnesota golf courses use? ›
The turfgrasses that are typically planted on lawns, parks, and golf courses in Minnesota are considered cool-season grasses. These grasses show increased growth during the spring and fall and reduced growth during the heat of the summer.What kind of grass does TPC Scottsdale have? ›
The fairways and greens are both made from TiffDwarf grass.What kind of grass is TPC Southwind? ›
The golf course features undulating zoysia fairways, champion Bermuda greens and numerous lakes, streams and ponds.What grass are Pinehurst greens? ›
The No. 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort has reopened with a new strain of grass on its famous greens. The conversion from bentgrass to Champion ultradwarf bermuda grass should help the greens ward off the heat of summer and stay in better shape year-round.What grass is in Arizona golf? ›
Because Arizona is mostly a warm climate with few months of cold weather, Bermuda grass is primary on most Arizona golf courses.What grass is Torrey Pines? ›
Kikuyugrass (overseeded with ryegrass) dominates the rough at Torrey Pines, and it even has burly basher Bryson DeChambeau contemplating a strategy for handling it.What is the grass around a golf hole called? ›
The Green. The green is where each hole is located. The grass here is also cut short, which provides the perfect surface for the ball to easily roll when a golfer is putting. Compared to the fairway, you may notice that the green has somewhat longer grass on the edges.
What is the closely cut grass that surrounds a golf green? ›
The rough is one area on the course where one should avoid landing a golf ball. This longer-cut area of grass surrounds the fairway and the green. In fact, the farther the rough is from the fairway and green, the longer the grass is allowed to grow.What kind of grass is marathon grass? ›
The Marathon products are all tall fescue grass species and are significantly more durable than other cool-season varieties of sod available for use in Southern California.What is the softest grass in Florida? ›
What Is the Softest Grass for Florida? The softest grass for Florida residents includes Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, Centipede grass and Zoysia grass.What kind of grass does Las Vegas have? ›
In and around the areas of Las Vegas most lawns are Bermuda grass. These grasses can tolerate the extremely warm temperatures common in Southern Nevada. Because these grasses are heat tolerant, they will not go dormant in the summer.What kind of grass is at TPC Sawgrass? ›
Tifway is a hybrid Bermuda grass Hawaii homeowners and golf courses use. It has been the most popular sports Sod Turf grass for the last 40 years. Its fine texture and beautiful dark green color make it a good choice for golf course fairways and tees. This grass is dense and spreads rapidly.What type of grass is soft and green? ›
Kentucky Bluegrass is soft and resilient with V-shaped blades and canoe-pointed tips, resulting in a darker green lawn. Perennial Ryegrass is a low-growing turf with shiny, stiff blades, pointed tips, sharp creases, visible veins, and broad collars. This type of grass creates a soft, dark-green lawn.What are the hardest greens in golf? ›
- 2nd hole—Tara Iti Golf Club, Mangawhai, New Zealand (182 yards, par three) ...
- 14th hole—Machrihanish Dunes, Machrihanish, Scotland (332 yards, par four) ...
- 8th hole—Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif. ...
- 6th hole—Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland (189 yards, par three)
Fine fescues, as the name suggests, have fine-bladed leaves and are among the softest and most lush grasses for bare feet. These finely-bladed grasses are known for doing well in shady areas but aren't great for a lawn with high traffic needs.What type of grass is on golf courses in Oregon? ›
Putting greens in Oregon range from 80% to almost 100 % annual bluegrass. The reality of golf course maintenance in the Pacfic North West is that annual bluegrass will eventually dominate turf on tees, greens, and fairways.
What kind of grass is used at TPC Louisiana? ›
|Course Superintendent||Robb R. Arnold|
|Yardage history||7,520 (2005)|
|Grass||TifSport bermudagrass (tees, fairways, rough); Mini verde bermudagrass (greens)|
|Tournament Stimpmeter||11 ft|
The green – or putting green – consists of the area at the far end of a golf hole where the grass is kept shortest and on which golfers are meant to use a putter. The green represents the general target area of a golf hole as it contains the actual hole inside its perimeter.What type of grass is on a links golf course? ›
Fescue grasses are ideally used on link courses and rye free courses. This is because they are tolerant to dry, free draining conditions but can also be combined with the bent grasses when developing the golf green.What is the taller grass that borders the fairway called? ›
Rough: Tall grass that borders the fairway, greens, hazards, and teeing areas. Sand Trap: Another name for a bunker. Shank: When the neck or hosel of the club strikes the ball, resulting in a shot that can travel left or right and low.What are the 5 oldest golf courses in the world? ›
- 7 – Kinghorn Golf Course.
- 6 – Kingsbarns Golf Links.
- 5 – Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club.
- 4 – Musselburgh Links.
- 3 – Elie and Earlsferry Links.
- 2 –Montrose Golf Links.
- 1 –St Andrews, Old Course.
- The oldest course in the world outside of Scotland – Pau Golf Club.
Woods generally fall into two classes, drivers and fairway woods, with a traditional set of clubs including a driver and one or two fairway woods (usually numbered 3 and 5).What is 4 shots under par called? ›
Condor is an unofficial name for a hole score of four strokes fewer than par (four under par, −4). A condor is also known as a double albatross, or a triple eagle. This is the lowest individual hole score ever made, relative to par.Is there a par 7 golf hole? ›
The par-7 stretches the length of this particular nine to 3,469 yards and consists of three par-5s, five par-4s and the monstrous par-7. And yes, it's the No. 1 handicap hole.Has Tiger Woods ever shot a hole-in-one? ›
Woods has hit a hole-in-one 20 times in the course of his lifetime, his first at the age of six. Three have come in PGA Tour competitions - at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, 1997 Phoenix Open, and 1998 Sprint International. Woods is the only professional golfer to win four majors in a row.What type of grass is fairway green? ›
Kentucky Bluegrass,Creeping Red Fescue,Fine Leaf Turf Type Rye.
What are the two main types of grass? ›
Two main types of grass for turf are warm-season grass and cool-season grass. Pick the species of grass seed that matches your climate and your yard's sun exposure. Also consider how much moisture your lawn will get. You may need a grass that resists drought.What is bentgrass in golf? ›
Creeping bentgrass is the most widely used cool-season grass on golf course putting greens. It is a fine-textured species that can tolerate close mowing heights and spreads by stolons. This allows it to recover from traffic and golf ball marks.What is the grass around the green called? ›
Apron The grass surface on the perimeter of the green that separates it from the surrounding fairway or rough. Also known as the fringe.What kind of grass does St Andrews have? ›
The St Andrews fescue is patchy and wispy — the product of the sandy, fast-draining land it sits on. It means that more often than not, players will be able to hit a good shot out of it.What kind of grass is Pebble Beach greens? ›
Kentucky bluegrass is the most popular grass used for lawn in the United States, and for good reason. It creates one of the most high-quality lawns possible. Its soft velvety texture, deep green color and tolerance to heavy traffic make it one of the best choices for yards, sports fields and campuses.Is Augusta bentgrass? ›
To overcome this problem, the grass on the tees, fairways and roughs at Augusta are over seeded with perennial ryegrass. The greens, however, are bentgrass (since 1981).Is Bermuda a bentgrass? ›
The two most common types of grass for greens are Bentgrass and Bermuda. Bentgrass thrives in cooler climates and is typically seen more in northern states, while Bermuda loves the heat and is more commonly seen in the South. There are many exceptions to this rule, but it is generally a good guideline to keep in mind.What is the difference between bent grass and poa annua? ›
Poa is a weak annual grass that requires higher costs to maintain and will die during the stresses of midsummer if conditions are not just right. In comparison, creeping bentgrass is more tolerant of summer stress and easier to manage.