Climate, soil condition and irrigation are all important factors in selecting grass types for a golf course. Course conditions must be kept as consistent as possible throughout the seasons, which often requires blending grass seed types. Grass is selected not only for hardiness, but for its ability to adapt to the particular needs of a course.
In addition to climate and soil considerations, another factor affecting the choice of grass is course design. Designers can raise or lower the difficulty of a course with how often the grasses are cut and at what height. Fairways are generally cut at 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. Tees are shorter at 3/8 to 1/2 of an inch. Putting greens feature the shortest grasses, often cut around 1/8 to 3/15 of an inch. Some grasses fare better than others at being cut often. Some are stressed when they're cut too low. Grasses are chosen depending upon where on the course they will fare best.
The grasses used on putting greens are generally sturdier types. One of the most popular grasses for greens is Bermuda. It is used in warm climates because of its resistance to drought and how well it cuts down. Bermuda dominates greens in Southern states such as Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as Hawaii.
Creeping Bent Grass
The second most popular grass for use on putting greens is Creeping Bent. Bent dominates golf courses in the United States, losing out only to Bermuda in the hot Southern states. Bent grass has a fine texture and tolerates low cuttings, making it ideal for putting greens.
Bluegrass is distinctively dark blue-green in color. It is often used for fairways and tees. It is favored in cooler states and climates because it is drought and disease resistant and changes color to green early in the spring. There are many varieties of Bluegrass, all of which are hardy with quick regrowth times and a good reaction to being mown short. Ryegrass is often mixed with Bluegrass to fill in bare patches during the winter.
Zoysiagrass is common on athletic fields in addition to golf courses. It is highly resistant to heat and drought. It is a stiff, slow-growing grass that requires fewer cuttings than other grasses. It often is used wherever Kentucky Bluegrass is used, such as the fairway and roughs.