6 types and how to play them

While many of us focus on properties like topology and wind when playing a round, golf course grass never seems to be discussed. Sure, it’s not that important, but it has its own impact.

A lot of thought goes into choosing lawn grass as each type has its pros and cons. For example, Bentgrass struggles in hot conditions, while Bermuda grasses excel at surviving in drought-like weather.

So don’t neglect weed knowledge any longer and stay up to date! In this post, we describe everything you need to know about the main weed strains, along with any changes you need to make to your game.

Why is the type of golf course grass important?

Although beginners may not realize it, the type of grass affects your performance. Some grass makes the ball roll faster and others can snag your golf club. And it’s important that you understand the differences between each. Often, depending on the course location, you can make an educated guess. For example, you see completely different grass on the rough than on the green.

Game differences aside, turf managers also need to consider which grass can survive where. The most influential factor is climate, both heat and precipitation limit options. However, you also need to consider other factors such as durability and soil type.

Read more: What is a Desert Golf Course?

6 Common Types of Golf Course Grasses

1. bent grass

Golf course grass bent grass

Bentgrass is one of the best golf course grasses for cool conditions. As such, you’ll find it throughout the Northeast and Northwest. Bentgrass does not have a large grain and can be cut very closely, making it a great grass choice for greens.

The main disadvantage of this weed is that it does not tolerate extreme heat very well. It doesn’t usually need a lot of water to maintain it, but it needs a lot in hot conditions. This will make it rather soft and a bit brown. While this doesn’t look aesthetic, it still plays well in this condition.

example courses

  • Augusta National Golf Club (Georgia): The Masters
  • Royal St George’s Golf Club (Kent): The Open Championship
  • Shadow Creek Golf Course (Nevada): The CJ Cup

Tips for playing on Bentgrass

Bentgrass is the perfect green grass for golf courses due to its lack of grain. Still, turf managers can select it for the rough. Here its extra length and thickness make it more difficult to manage.

We recommend opening the face and approaching the ball in a steep arc. This way you touch less grass behind the ball and minimize the chance of your club catching. You also need a firm grip and a powerful swing to ensure you generate enough pace to get your ball free.

2. Bermuda Grass

Golf Course Grass Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is the most common golf course grass for warm climates because of its excellent ability to survive in extremely hot and dry weather. It is also very resistant to damage and recovers very quickly, making it a good option for greens. However, it has an Achilles heel and that is the cold.

Bermuda grass also responds well to being mowed at varying lengths, meaning you can find it in multiple locations during a course. The interesting thing about this grass is the grain.

On the green where it is very short, you will probably putt with the grain. But you can tell by looking at the shadow. If the grass is shiny, place with the grain, and if it’s darker, place against the grain.

example courses

  • Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Florida): Invitation by Arnold Palmer
  • East Lake (Georgia): Tour Championship
  • TPC Scottsdale (Arizona): Phoenix Open

Tips for playing on Bermudagrass

You need to pay attention to the grain with each shot as it can be distracting. For example, if you hit the ball on a slope but hit the target, the ball will fly slower than you think.

In fact, if you’re hitting against the grain, we’d recommend giving up your putter in favor of a hybrid. This allows you to hit a bump-n-run style shot and be less affected by grain.

3. Fescue

Golf Course Grass Fescue

Dan Perry (Flickr) under CC BY 2.0 – unedited

Fescue usually occupies unmown sections of the golf course. Typically, it is very long and thick, with a golden hue. That being said, groundsmen can clip fescue very short so you can find it on fairways and even greens.

One of the reasons it’s popular with groundskeepers is its low maintenance. She doesn’t need much water and grows slowly so she doesn’t need to be relegated to the rough.

In addition, it performs well in shady areas and in hot and dry conditions. There are over 300 styles to choose from.

example courses

Tips for playing on fescue

When you find yourself in thick fescue, your main goal is to get out of that pesky weed — the last thing you want is to screw up your shot and have to try again. So it’s usually best to play a sure shot.

Grab a short iron and hit the ball with an open face and a steep swing. You may consider clamping your wrist earlier than usual. However, if you have a favorable lie, you have the opportunity to play a more aggressive shot. Pay attention to how much grass is next to and under the ball.

Continue reading: What is a links golf course?

4. Poa Annua

Golf course grass poa annua

If you ever hear someone complain about golf grass, they’re probably complaining about poa annua. While excellent for play, this fast-growing golf course grass has one key flaw when it comes to playability, and those are the grass’s seed heads.

You see, seed heads loosen after use and this can cause the grass to become uneven after a short period of time. Therefore, the floor is much harder to read when playing late in the day after it has been heavily used.

Generally, Poa annua is found in temperate areas as it does not respond well to very hot or cold conditions. It also requires a lot of maintenance. That includes a lot of water. In addition, the grass is susceptible to pests and diseases.

example courses

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links (California): AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
  • Torrey Pines South (California): Farmers Insurance Open
  • Winged Foot Golf Club (New York): US Open

Tips for playing on Poa Annua

Poa annua is a somewhat sticky weed which makes it quite slow compared to other grass species. This means you have to use more force than usual, otherwise you might find your shots constantly falling short with this type of green grass.

Before playing, consider how many times the court has been used – this affects the proliferation of seedheads that will slow down your shots.

5. Rye

Golf Course Grass Rye

Dan Perry (Flickr) under CC BY 2.0 – unedited

Perennial ryegrass, or rye as it is more commonly known, is a grass that thrives in temperate conditions. While many grass species do well with a low trim, rye does not. This means it’s a bad grass for the greens and far better for fairways and the rough.

However, the aesthetic speaks for itself – groundskeepers can create beautiful striped patterns with this grass. It requires a decent amount of care, partly because it’s a fast grower, but also because it requires overseeding and lots of water.

Another strength of rye is its fairly long shelf life. In high traffic areas, it will not be easily damaged.

example courses

  • Augusta National Golf Club (Georgia): The Masters
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links (California): AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Tips for playing on rye

Ryegrass is mostly upright, so it has virtually no grain. This means you don’t have to make a lot of adjustments to your core shots.

After reseeding, however, rye usually receives plenty of water. This will cause it to be a little sticky, so use a little more force than normal, emphasis on light.

6. Zoysia

Golf course grass Zoysia

Forest and Kim Starr (Flickr) under CC BY 2.0 – unedited

Like Poa annua, Zoysia comes from the Poaceae family. It grows upright like rye and is very popular in areas with large seasonal fluctuations. It shows its endurance in particularly hot and dry weather, surviving on far less water than most other grass species.

In addition, it retains its healthy green color for a long time in winter and recovers faster than most in spring. While slow growing, she is very tough and does well in busy areas. Most golf courses choose it for fairways, tees and the rough – not greens.

The main disadvantage of using Zoysia is their susceptibility to diseases. It’s quite expensive to protect properly. Other than that, it doesn’t require much maintenance otherwise, so it somewhat offsets the cost.

example courses

  • Trinity Forest Golf Club: AT&T Bryon Nelson
  • TPC Sugarloaf Country Club (Georgia)

Tips for playing on Zoysia

Because Zoysia grows upright, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting under the ball most of the time. Instead, you’ll find that the densely packed and rigid grass holds the ball. This means that, like Rye, the ball can play slightly slower than you expect.

frequently asked Questions

What type of grass do golf courses use?

Golf courses use many different types of grass. The most important include:

  • Bentgrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • fescue
  • Poa Annu
  • rye
  • zoysia

What is the most popular golf course grass?

The most popular species is Bermuda grass. The reason this type of grass is commonly used on golf courses is that it is resilient and versatile. It survives well in hot conditions and performs well as both short and long weed.

Final Thoughts

Although most players don’t give grass type that much consideration, you definitely should. It affects how you must hit the ball and how your ball moves, so pay attention.

You don’t necessarily have to be able to spot all golf course grasses at first glance. Just pay attention to the properties of the grass and that will tell you everything you need to know. At the most basic level, consider the length and grain of the grass as these are two of the most influential factors.

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