A round of golf is as much an opportunity to spend time outdoors as it is an engaging sport and social activity. Golf courses are more like yards and gardens than nature preserves, but the walk from tee to tee across a club’s property puts you right among grasses, trees, and waters of different kinds.
Depending on the location, a course is going to vary in its natural setting, but all golfers know the quality of the ground, especially the grass, is the key to a fair and fun game.
The landscape of a golf course can make or break the experience, and knowing more about how their grounds are maintained can help you recreate a piece of that outdoor setting at home.
Growing Grass For Golfing
When selecting turf grass for a golf course, the choice is going to focus on a few key characteristics of the grass type:
- Dense coverage – turf is the mat of soil, root, and grass system at the surface level of the ground. Since this grass will be walked over and must remain level for the ball in play, courses prefer grass with dense coverage and can be cut low.
- Sun tolerance – tees, fairways, and putting greens are open-air spaces within the courses, and as such, receive little to no shade, depending on the location. Grasses that are sun and heat-tolerant, as well as drought resistant, are going to be the best choices for these areas.
- Texture – some grasses’ blades are stiffer than others, and some have thinner rather than thick blades. The choice of grass texture can make a difference in how it reacts to foot traffic and how the ball rolls along it. Whether on the course or at home, the texture of a grass can be chosen based on how it’s used.
Depending on the part of the course, a different type of grass will be chosen to provide a certain experience. Maintaining the grass on a golf course takes a lot of attention and care, and the resulting landscape for gameplay will reflect the time and effort put in.
Types Of Golf Course Grasses
Golf courses choose hearty, resilient grasses that can take some wear and remain in good condition. These same choices are available for your home lawn as well, so if you want to recreate that lush, dense coverage that you find across fairways and putting greens, you have several options to choose from.
- Bentgrass – This is a popular choice for golf courses because it grows in very thick and can tolerate being mowed low to the ground. A cool-weather grass, this one does best in northern climate Known as a creeper, Bentgrass spreads by root expansion, filling nicely and giving it good density.
- Fescue – Another cool-weather grass, fescue grasses tolerate both cooler and warmer temperatures, making it well-suited for northern and southern climate This is because fescue’s roots are among the deepest of cool-weather grasses, allowing the grass to reach further down and store more water.
- Bermuda – Bermuda grass is the most popular grass choice for golf courses since it grows so well in the sun and heat. It’s an option for summer in northern climates and in the south, can be planted year-round. Like most other turf grasses, this grass grows in thick due to its dense root network and spreading potential.
- Rye – In northern climates, Ryegrass is a popular choice where winters don’t get too cold, but summers remain moderate. Unlike other kinds of turf grass, the roots of Ryegrass don’t grow by horizontal extension. Still, their solid blades and ability to tolerate low-mowing heights make Rye grasses an attractive choice.
- Zoysia – Another heat-loving grass, Zoysia is a top selection for golf courses. The grass grows dense roots and offers lush coverage. Zoysia grass is also sun tolerant, which contributes to the grass’ popularity for open-air courses.
- Poa annua – This grass, also known as Annual Bluegrass, is sometimes chosen as an option for golf courses, but the species is listed as invasive in many states. The plant’s tolerance to low mowing height has made it popular, but its shallow root system means it requires frequent water
Grass Across The Course
Grass on the putting green and tee have similar characteristics. The top choices are Bermuda grass and Bentgrass due to their stiff blades, density, and ability to be cut down low. They can be walked on and remain intact, and their stiffness on the putting green allows the ball to roll across without getting caught.
Grass on fairways can be any of the mentioned species since this stretch of grass is the longest part of each hole. Depending on the golfers, it might get a lot of foot traffic. Bentgrass, Fescue, Zoysia, and Rye can all be found in fairways.
Grass in the rough is another story from the other areas. The rough may have trees and other plants and might also have water features. Grasses used include Fescue and Rye, where they’re often allowed to overgrow in these more naturalized spaces.
Shade tolerant grasses do well in these areas, as do sand-tolerant grasses near sand traps and in coastal locations, like Fescue especially, whose long roots do well in drier soils.
Maintaining Golf Course Grasses
Each section of the golf course requires regular maintenance to ensure it remains distinct and in good condition.
Water management on a golf course can be similar to your home yard, just on a larger scale. Using ground contours in certain areas to channel water will help the surface level stay dry, and not collect water from rain or the sprinkler system.
The tee and putting greens will be flat, but the fairway may have a slight slope, directing water towards ponds or the rough.
To be sure grasses from one area don’t spread to another, physical barriers might be used just below the surface to block the spread of roots out of their zone. Some overlap and blending is bound to happen, but attentive maintenance will be able to keep it under control.