Golf course grasses, commonly referred to as turfgrass, have a large impact on a player’s golfing experience. A number of grass types are used on golf courses, each with its own pros and cons. These types of grasses differ from region to region by their ability to withstand both cold and heat. Many grasses used on golf courses are warm-season grasses, meaning their active growth starts in the warmth of late spring and peaks during hot summer weather.
When selecting grass for a golf course there are many factors to take into consideration, such as:
- The region’s climate
- Where on the golf course the grass is to be planted (fairway, greens, tee boxes)
- How much traffic the grass can withstand
- How quickly the grass can repair itself
- The soil type(s) of the course
The grasses you select for a golf course will need to:
- Withstand the full range of temperatures in that region (heat and cold)
- Be tough and withstand heavy foot traffic without breaking
- Be resilient – golf course grasses often need to be cut at very low levels to give players a better golfing experience
Here are some of the grasses that are popularly used on golf courses around the world:
- Bermuda grass
- Perennial Ryegrass
- Zoysia grass
- Fescue grass
- Poa Annua Grass
- Kentucky Bluegrass
- Buffalo grass
- Kikuyu grass
- TifTuf Grass
- Couch Grass
Bermuda grass also called wiregrass, is a thin-leafed grass with light blue-green leaves. Bermudagrass has excellent wear, drought and salt tolerance. It establishes rapidly, can withstand high traffic and is competitive against weeds and, depending on the cultivar, is available as seed, sod or sprigs. They are used primarily on golf courses, athletic fields, tennis courts, bowling greens and high-quality lawns. Bermudagrass may also be used for roadside bank stabilization and pastures either as a single species stand, or mixed with other low-maintenance grasses.
Bentgrass, also known as Creeping Bentgrass, is a perennial, cool-season grass that grows rapidly in cool and wet conditions. Bentgrasses are typically tufted and have slender stems and flat leaf blades. Many species have creeping stolons or rhizomes (horizontal subsurface stems) and can spread vegetatively. This makes it an attractive and resilient turfgrass, able to withstand foot traffic and frequent mowing. This perennial creeping grass is used alone or as part of a seed mix for golf courses, home lawns, and fields but it is native to Asia and Europe.
Perennial ryegrass is a low-growing, tufted, hairless grass, with a bunching (or tillering) growth habit. The leaves are dark green, smooth and glossy on the lower surface, with untoothed parallel sides and prominent parallel veins on the upper surface. As a cool-seasoned grass, it is used for both permanent and temporary lawns. Perennial ryegrass germinates faster, has deep roots and withstands heat and dry weather better than bent grass and Chewings fescue, but requires lenient mowing. They are characterized by bunch-like growth habits.
Although perennial ryegrass is also valued for the high yield and nutritive potentials as forage grasses, it is mainly used for turf purposes, such as golf course, fairways, athletic fields, and home lawns, especially in North America and Europe.
Also Read: Major Varieties of Crabgrass For Your Lawn
Zoysia is an extremely aggressive spreading grass that is generally pleasant on the eyes and feet. It is a hearty and durable grass that features a beautiful light green color. It is a warm-season grass that thrives in regions with high heat and humidity.
Unlike other warm-season grasses, zoysia can survive winter temperatures and come back from dormancy to continue growing in the spring. Zoysia grass is also very hardy—it can handle heavy foot traffic, is tolerant of drought and part shade, and grows dense and thick with a stolon-based root system, which outcompetes many weeds. In its optimal growing zones, this tough grass can deliver a beautiful, dense lawn with very little input from you.
Fescue is a turf grass with remarkable drought and heat stress tolerance. It is a coarse textured, dark green grass with rolled leaves. Fescue grass grows in bunches, with roots that are 2-3 feet deep. One stem of fescue grass will produce several vertical tillers, or off-shoots of grass, resulting in a bunching or clumping. Some fescue grows up and some grows out (also known as creeping).
Fescue does most of its growth in spring and fall. Tall fescue in lawns stays green in winter unlike the warm season turf varieties. The grass has deep widely set roots. Fescue grass will stay green year-round if given proper nutrients and care. By mowing, overseeding, aerating, fertilizing, and watering fescue grass, you can have one of the best yards in the neighborhood.
Poa annua, or annual meadow grass, is a widespread low-growing turfgrass in temperate climates. It looks very similar to Kentucky bluegrass, except it is a lighter shade of green, has a shallower root system, and develops a short seed head early in the season. The leaves are smooth above and below, with finely serrated edges. Poa annua is an invasive grass species commonly found on golf courses and generally used as the putting green grass.
Poa pratensis, commonly known as Kentucky bluegrass, smooth meadow-grass, or common meadow-grass matures into a beautiful, sod-forming turf with a fine texture and blue-green blades that form dense, spreading mats. Kentucky bluegrass is what’s known as a perennial, cool-season lawn grass. This means it comes back year after year and grows most vigorously during the cool seasons of fall and spring.
Kentucky bluegrass is better adapted to high foot-traffic and compacted soil. This makes the grass ideal for yards with children and dogs, park areas and sports fields. It is considered by many as the ideal lawn grass. When taken care of, this grass is among the most lush, dense, and durable lawns you can ever hope to have.
Bouteloua dactyloides, commonly known as buffalograss or buffalo grass, is a low-maintenance, warm-season grass known for the blue to gray-green color of its leaf blades and its drought tolerance. It’s a native lawn grass in North America, competing with blue grama as the most prominent turf type across the shortgrass prairie of Nebraska, Texas, and other heartland regions of the United States.
Buffalo grass derives its name from the fact that it commonly fed bison and buffalo across the Great Plains in the nineteenth century. Since then, it’s become far more domesticated. Buffalo grass lawns are very common, as well as golf courses grown from buffalo grass seed.
Kikuyu grass is a thick, densely growing grass with coarse flat leaves and pointy tips. The grass tends towards upright growth with a thick mat of horizontal fleshy stems on the soil surface. Kikuyu is an excellent choice for areas prone to drought and coastal conditions where the soil may be wind-dried and salty.
Another good thing about Kikuyu grass is its resilience. It is particularly well suited to areas of heavy use, as it can quickly recover from excessive footfall. It is often used on sports pitches and in parks, and so is perfect to install in a busy golf course. The regenerative nature and rapid growth of Kikuyu also means it can become an aggressive weed if it is allowed to spread.
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The TifTuf hybrid bermuda grass variety is a popular new turf choice with a fine leaf blade and dense growth. The dense growth makes it ideal for a lot of situations. Its density allows it to handle high wear situations like backyards and sporting fields, while its fine leaf means it can be manicured for a very formal look and a fast ball speed for sports. TifTuf maintains turf quality under drought stress; it does not go drought-dormant like other warm season lawns. Rather, it holds acceptable green color, even during the tough droughts.
Couch grass is a common and invasive perennial grass with creeping under leaves stems known as rhizomes.From its tips, new shoots are produced in spring and autumn that quickly produce tufts of leaves and more rhizomes. It spreads rapidly to form dense mats of underground stems. This allows it to tolerate very low mowing heights. These strong growth habits also attribute to its ability to handle high amounts of traffic, whilst enabling it to recover quicker if affected by wear and stress. This makes couch turf suitable for large areas such as sports fields, golf courses and parks or recreational areas.