Do you want to duplicate the same lush, vibrantly green, and perfectly manicured look of a golf course on your private lawn? Golf course grasses might seem out of reach, but you can re-create your own fairway. First, it helps to learn about the different types of golf course grasses so you can select one that is fit for your climate and your overall environment.
There are numerous types of golf course grass. Some will do well in warmer, coastal climates, while others do best in cooler temperatures. Yet still, some grasses will only thrive in a specific soil type.
If all this sounds confusing, we get it. We wrote this in-depth article to help you understand the different types of golf course grass available to you. We will also provide some tips on selecting the correct type of grass for your lawn and ways to maintain your lawn.
Types of Golf Course Grass
There are two categories of grass for golf courses: warm-season and cool-season grass.
Cool-season grass thrives in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and does particularly well in the fall and spring.
The grass will still maintain its green color even when the prevailing temperatures are lower than 32 degrees and are impressively resistant to subfreezing temperatures.
Examples of cool-season grass include Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine Fescue, Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, and Annual Ryegrass.
Warm-season grasses are suited for areas with a hot climate. They attain their tallest height in the summer, with their ideal growth temperatures being between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
This type of grass is truly the king (or queen) of summer and will quickly lose its green color when the temperatures go lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period.
Examples of warm-season grasses are Bermuda grass, Bahia grass, Zoysia, Centipede grass, and Kikuyu grass, to mention a few.
Other than warm and cool-season grass, there’s what is known as transition grasses. These types of grasses can survive the period between summer and winter and their respective ideal climate.
The exact type of transition grass grown in an area will depend on the climate and sub-climates of that region. For example, Tall fescue grass, which is a cool-season grass, will also thrive in the sub climates of the northern and central transitional zones in the United States. Bermuda grass, a popular warm-season grass, is commonly grown in the transitional zone’s southern part.
Now that you know the two basic grass categories for golf courses let us look at each grass type.
Bermuda is the most common warm-season grass. Golf superintendents love this turfgrass because it grows thick and lush, and it can withstand abuse without drying out too fast. If you live in a warm tropical climate, you will enjoy a green lawn all year long if you grow Bermuda grass.
We recommend planting Bermuda grass in the spring when temperatures are warm. Come summer, and as long as you have done correct seeding, your lawn will be a lovely, vibrant green. Homeowners living in colder regions where grass goes dormant in the warmer months can over-seed with Bermuda grass for a green lawn all year round.
One of the best things about this type of grass is that it isn’t too picky about the soil type. It is a popular choice even in coastal regions where the soil tends to be salty. Bermuda can tolerate a bit of shade, but it does best in lawns that are fully exposed to the sun.
Another positive attribute is that Bermuda is a low-maintenance grass. Light daily watering is enough while the grass is still young and establishing. Once the lawn is established, you can water for longer twice or thrice a week.
Wait until the grass is about 2 inches high before mowing with a sharp blade. It is also good practice to apply slow-releasing nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn six weeks after planting the grass. Apply weed control pre-emergent in fall.
Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass that is light to medium green in color. It has strong above-ground and underground stems, which help the grass to spread fast. This results in a dense carpet-like lawn that can stand up to heavy use in a professional sports setting and a busy family lawn.
Of all the warm season grasses, Zoysia retains its green color much longer, even longer than the popular Bermuda grass. In winter, Zoysia lawns will go dormant but will green up quickly at the start of spring. In winter, you can overseed your Zoysia lawn with perennial ryegrass for a green yard.
One of the things golf superintendents look for in a grass variety is its water-conserving ability. Zoysia has deep roots, which are great at conserving water and resisting drought. These qualities make Zoysia a great choice for golf courses and lawns in warmer climates.
For the best results and optimal growth, we recommend planting Zoysia grass in spring. Early spring is also a great time to get rid of the thatch build-up and aerate your lawn. With its drought-resistant roots, Zoysia will thrive with infrequent but deep watering.
Zoysia grass grows slowly and can be tough to tame. But, if you are looking for a low-maintenance, drought-resistant, and hardwearing lawn, Zoysia grass is an ideal choice.
Ryegrass is one of the best cool-season grasses and does well in coastal climates with moderate temperatures. Golf superintendents opt for ryegrass around tees and fairways due to the grass’s hardwearing quality and rapid germination.
Rye will also offer your lawn a deep green, lush aesthetic, making it the perfect choice for creating a high-quality yard for entertaining. The grass is, however, less tolerant to shade and requires full sun exposure to flourish.
Unlike the dense and tough Zoysia grass, Rye is soft to the touch, making it a prized grass variety for sports lawns. To maintain a lush look, mow your Rye lawn to between 1.5 and 2.5 inches high. You will also need to water your lawn regularly, preferably 6 to 12 inches. If Rye is used to over-seed warm-season grass, it is best to water deeply but infrequently.
Bentgrass is a cool-season turfgrass, and until recently, bentgrass was almost exclusively used in golf greens. Today, many homeowners who do not mind a high-maintenance lawn often opt for the deep green, velvety, and dense bentgrass.
Like Zoysia grass, bentgrasses have long and strong over-ground stems, which spread fast and help form a dense, grass-like carpet. Bent is considered a luxury, cool-season grass variety.
The three types of bentgrass are velvet, creeping, and colonial. Each has varying characteristics, including depth of color, texture, and tolerance to salt, shade, and climate.
Creeping bent is the most popular type of golf course grass. It thrives in cool, humid climates and does well in shady lawns. Creeping bentgrass, like other bentgrasses, can be particularly high-maintenance due to its shallow root system. It requires frequent watering, and the dense carpet-like structure requires special mowing techniques.
How To Choose The Right Type of Golf Course Grass
Golf courses look lush and gorgeous because they are cared for by highly experienced lawn experts. But, you too can achieve this look by growing suitable grass for your region and, of course, taking good care of your lawn.
If you are in the market for grass seeds for a swanky, golf course-like lawn, you should keep in mind a couple of things. These are:
As you have seen from our coverage of the different grasses, each grass variety will do well in a specific climate. Choose cool-season or warm-season grasses, respectively, according to your area’s climate. This is the most important factor to consider.
Tolerance to the elements
Before planting any of the golf course grasses, check that they can withstand things like cold, drought, heat, and shade, depending on your environment. For example, ryegrass has a higher tolerance to heat than it does to shade. On the other hand, Zoysia grass is more tolerant to cold than other warm-season grasses are, but it is not as tolerant to drought.
The soil where you want to grow your grass should be compatible with the grass of your choice. Some grasses, such as Zoysia, for example, have deep roots and conserve moisture quite well. This grass might, therefore, not have a problem growing in poor drainage soils.
Some grass might be better suited for acidic soils, while others will do better in neutral or alkaline soils. You might need to learn how to test your soil pH and other qualities before planting the grass of your choice. This ensures that the grass will thrive for the most extended period possible.
Each section of a golf course has its kind of grass planted depending on the use of that particular section. Some grasses are better suited for greens and fairways, while others do well around the tees.
When selecting grass for your yard, you should also apply the same kind of thinking. Does your yard encounter heavy traffic due to kids and pets playing there? Do you host games and entertain regularly? Or is your yard just for aesthetic appeal?
A soft grass such as bentgrass might not be a good choice for a busy yard. In this case, you could opt for a more hardwearing variety such as Bermuda or Zoysia grass.
As you can see, achieving a golf-course look is not that difficult. The open secret is to grow grass that is suitable for your area’s particular climate.
You will also need to practice good lawn care management, for example, by fertilizing your lawn, applying the right greening supplement, watering as needed, and keeping weeds away.
We hope this article will help you with the first step, selecting the correct type of golf course grasses.