Golf is a sport that has more variables than almost any other sport.
The weather, equipment, swing, and golf course are constantly changing, and it can be very hard to become a consistent player.
Golfers all over the world work on trying to get their games together so that they can play within a certain range of scores every time they head to the course.
However, this is quite difficult until you understand the full scope of the game of golf.
Golf course grass is another factor that changes quite often.
If you are not already aware of this, different golf courses are built with different types of grasses.
Sometimes there are warm season and cool season grasses, so you will only see different types when you travel.
Other times, golf courses will have various types of grass when you travel within the same area.
The best thing for golfers is to start to learn the different types of grasses out there and how they can potentially impact your game.
When you get really good, you will notice that certain grasses are going to appeal to you a bit more than others.
Types Of Golf Course Grasses
1. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass is the most popular type of grass used on a golf course.
If you are traveling through the warmer states like Florida, you are going to see Bermuda grass everywhere you go.
Most of the time, Bermuda grass is the only type of grass that can hold up in extreme heat situations.
This is why Bermuda grass is used in areas where temperatures regularly climb above 90 degrees.
Golf course superintendents have the difficult task of keeping grass alive in a variety of temperatures.
The heat and humidity can sometimes be highly destructive to golf course turf, but Bermuda grass can hold up to it quite well.
Another thing that makes Bermuda grass so popular for golf courses is that it can be mowed very short.
Mowing the grass short is a requirement for most golf course grasses.
The idea is typically to have grass in varying lengths around the course, and Bermuda grass does a great job of dealing with a variety of mower heights.
In the warm weather states, there are sometimes issues with less rain and drought situations, and Bermuda grass is also very tolerant of these types of situations.
Bermuda does not do well in cold climates and cannot stay alive when the temperatures don’t get warm and allow it to heal and fill in.
When patches of Bermuda need to be repaired, they typically repair very quickly, which makes it good for private golf courses where members expect perfection.
One thing that continues to make Bermuda grass a popular choice for golf courses is how drought-resistant it is.
When you can reduce water costs simply because the grass does not require a large amount of water, the overall maintenance and operation of the golf course will be significantly cheaper.
If you are living in a state where the temperatures tend to get a bit colder during the year, chances are you are playing on a lot of Bentgrass.
The Bentgrass turf is best suited for colder temperatures and can live through winters on a golf course.
Just like Bermuda grass, one of the most important features of Bentgrass is that it can be mowed very short.
Bentgrass can easily be used on greens and mowed tight, then rolled down to create quite a bit of speed.
Those who don’t play much golf may have a hard time understanding the concept of cutting grass short.
If you head out to your yard this weekend and cut your grass to ½-inch thickness, chances are you will kill it.
Typical grass that is used in your yard is not going to withstand being cut so short.
This is common and nothing that you can do to your mowing skills to help make it survive.
The reality is that some grass can just be cut shorter than others.
Bentgrass is one of those grasses, and it is why it is so widely used on golf courses.
Some golf course grasses are better looking than others.
Bentgrass grows in quite thick, and it is durable, so it can make a golf course look great all year round.
Golf courses will use Bentgrass in the fairways and on green surrounds where there is quite a bit of traffic.
When Bentgrass is walked on and trampled on repeatedly, it bounces back quite well.
In addition, you will not need to soak Bentgrass to get it to stay alive, especially if it is planted in areas where it is supposed to be planted.
Sometimes when golf course grass is planted in warm or cold regions when it should be in the other climate, there are issues with its ability to survive.
With Bentgrass, this shouldn’t be an issue, and you should be able to get through the season with beautiful looking grass, as long as you are in the northern states where temperatures are right.
Look for golf courses with Bentgrass because the way they stand out from the others will be quite apparent as soon as you understand the different types of golf course grasses.
3. Fescue Grass
The first thing that may come to mind when you think of Fescue grass is large areas of overgrown turf.
If you have played a northern golf course with large areas of waste and drought, chances are the grass that was grown is going to be fescue grass.
Fescue grass can be used in a variety of areas on the golf course, but perhaps most popular is a long, overgrown area.
Different golf courses try and make the place more challenging.
Very difficult courses will have narrow fairways with hazards or challenges down the sides.
One of those challenges can include Fescue grass.
If you hit a golf shot into thicker, unmanicured Fescue, the chance of hitting it out and having a great shot is quite low.
The Fescue will grab your club, and it is often so thick that you will barely be able to swing the club back.
Fescue grass for golf courses, however, doesn’t only need to be used to punish players.
The great thing about Fescue is that it can be cut quite short to grow in the fairways as well.
Fescue is a cool season grass, so you won’t expect to see too much of this on a southern golf course.
Most of the time, Fescue will be used in fairways, and you can often see the fairways are Fescue by the colors of the grass.
It typically stands out as being a bit lighter green in color and can be quite easy to distinguish once you understand how.
Fescue grass may be familiar to you as this is a type of turf that you can grow at your own home as well.
Since Fescue is able to tolerate a variety of mowing heights, it can make for excellent grass to keep in your yard as well.
You will notice that Fescue has the ability to grow rather quickly, and it will heal itself where there are problem spots.
Overall, you can expect to see Fescue grass used quite a bit on northern courses.
Ryegrass is another golf course grass that you are likely going to see used in your neighborhood as well.
The perennial Ryegrass is used at golf courses in cooler areas as it does not tend to survive too well in the heat and sun in the south.
Ryegrass has an idea of growing temperature, and because of that, it is often planted for short periods of time to fill in at some golf courses.
For instance, if those in the South are looking to fill in or overseed during the cooler months, Ryegrass makes for a great addition.
The grass grows extremely fast and has a deep green color.
This often allows the time for other slower-growing grasses to fill in while the Ryegrass stands out and looks good.
The Ryegrass used on golf courses is mostly used on tee boxes and in the fairways.
It will look quite a bit like the Fescue grass when it is mowed closely.
Have you ever been to a golf course that had perfectly striped fairways?
Looking down at the fairway, you can see the way the mower went out and then came back in when they were cutting the turf.
This is a very classic look on a golf course, and Ryegrass is one of the easiest grasses to do this with.
Striping a golf course in this way helps to make the golf course look more appealing and allows more people to enjoy all that it has to offer.
These kinds of things help to increase overall revenue at a golf course, even if they seem like simple features to add.
The texture of Ryegrass is very fine, which allows for use in a variety of areas.
The one major downside of Ryegrass is that it does not spread quickly.
If there is a problem area on the golf course and the grass needs to grow back in quickly, Ryegrass can take a while.
It is not always as durable a choice for certain areas of the course that are going to see a lot of traffic.
Zoysia grass has been in the United States for many years, but it has only recently become more popular for use on golf courses.
The Zoysia grass is a great warm season option and is very popular in southern areas like Georgia and Florida.
Just like some of the other golf course grasses out there, Zoysia can also be grown at your home.
Many homeowners are switching to Zoysia as opposed to St. Augustine so that they can reduce their watering costs.
Zoysia is known for being a very drought tolerant grass, and it will not require much irrigation at all.
This can save both golf courses and homeowners thousands of dollars per year.
With water being a limited natural resource, many golf courses are learning how to lower their overall costs and keep pricing down.
As soon as you play on Zoysia grass, you will notice how thick it is.
The grass grows incredibly strong and will grab the club if it is left longer.
This allows golf courses to keep the Zoysia thicker in the rough and then lower it down as the grass turns into a fairway.
In addition to the thick grass being a good option when trying to make sure the playability has some variation, the Zoysia grass also naturally protects itself from weeds.
Since the turf is so thick, most weeds will not have a chance to grow up through it.
In turn, this leads to less reason for the golf course to have to spray and fertilize when the grass is essentially handling itself.
The Zoysia grass does not grow all that fast, so you are going to have to wait a bit for a new Zoysia grass golf course to grow in fully.
The good news, however, is the grass will spread fast and start covering large, expansive areas of your course without much time at all.
Don’t be surprised if you see more and more golf courses popping up with Zoysia grass on the tees and fairways.
Since the grass has such great natural features and characteristics, it is going to continue to be a popular option for golf course grass for years to come.
6. Poa Annua Grass
Poa Annua grass is often just called Poa.
The term Poa is a popular one among golfers and golf course superintendents.
Although you may not see this type of grass used quite as often as others, it is still used on golf courses often enough that it is worth mentioning.
The most popular area to see Poa grass is on the west coast.
Some areas of the country will do everything they can to keep Poa away as it can be an invasive species.
Others have used this characteristic to help their golf courses look even better.
One of the things that makes Poa a perfect golf course grass is that it is rather low growing.
Low growing grasses often don’t require as much mowing, and even when they are cut short, they won’t be damaged by the height of the turf.
The major issue that golf course superintendents will face with Poa is that it has a very shallow root.
This means that if something were to go wrong with the turf, it is going to die quickly, and the large patches are going to be challenging to fill in.
Another issue that you may find with Poa is that sometimes the color of the grass is going to be a bit different.
Depending on the time of the year, the greens can look as though they have issues with them when it is simply a variation of color that is natural to find with the Poa grass.
The decision to use Poa on a golf course is a tough one, but many find that if it is already naturally in the area, it is better to use it than to fight it.
In the end, this is still a grass that creates a great surface area for putting and trying to get the ball in the hole.
What more can you ask for from a great golf course grass?
What Determines The Type Of Golf Course Grass That Can Be Used?
After seeing these different types of golf course grasses, you may now be wondering how a course decides which one is the best to use.
This is a great question, and the only answer is going to be the climate.
The first thing that all golf courses need to consider is the climate.
If you are located in a northern area of the US, the warm season grasses will not survive and will not thrive.
The only thing to do is to use a cool season grass.
Although some states in northern areas will have a warm summer, those fall and winter temperatures will be impossible for warm season grasses to survive through.
Once the climate is considered, it is then necessary to look at traffic.
Some golf courses will have 15,000 rounds of golf played per year, and others will have 50,000.
Typically, private golf courses are going to see much less play than public golf courses.
This makes it very important for public golf course superintendents to spend time choosing a grass that is durable and fast-growing.
At public golf courses, the grass needs to grow quickly and replenish itself as often as possible.
With so much play, there are going to be divots and areas of damage that will look relatively poor if you don’t do something to prevent it.
Once you have considered the traffic requirements, it is also good to think about water.
Some grasses are drought resistant and will barely require any water to be used in the process.
Other grasses, however, are going to have trouble making it through an afternoon without needing to be watered frequently.
Different areas of the country have either an excess or shortage of water, and it is essential to consider this when choosing the type of grass for a golf course.
In addition, water can be very expensive.
If a golf course has a lower budget, there could be times when they cannot afford the cost of watering the course, which will obviously lead to major issues.
With the way golf courses are trying to become more environmentally friendly, you will see that there are many more drought-tolerant grasses being used.
Over time, new types of golf course grasses are likely to be introduced.
We all love to see green and beautiful golf courses, but scientists are learning that there are ways to get around this without spending so much money maintaining the course.
The better the golf courses look, the better we can all enjoy them.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the types of golf course grasses that you can run into on the course.
There are many different factors to learn about the game of golf, and some of those have to do with the golf course grass.
Try to learn what you can about golf course grass and how it responds to play.
If you can get a better idea of what you are up against when out on the course, you could end up saving a few strokes.
Most golfers will learn that staying in the fairway and getting the ball on the green is the only defense against challenging-to-work-with golf course grasses.