The kind of grass is grown and how it is maintained can make or break a game on the putting green. Grass is crucial to how fast and straight the ball rolls toward the cup. Caretakers aim to keep the grass at a particular height and grow only stiff, upright varieties that will smoothly carry a golf ball on the blade tips. Certain grass types are better at this than others.
Creeping bentgrass is one of the most dominant types grown on putting greens in the United States, according to PuttingGreens.com. A cool-season specialty grass, it grows best in cool, humid climates. It thrives in sunny locations but will tolerate some shade. This grass puts up with low temperatures, but discolors early in the fall. It has a shallow root system and spreads by stolons above the ground. Bright green and fine-textured, the leaves are flat, narrow and rolled at the bud, creating a strong structure. Creeping bentgrass is high maintenance, requiring frequent watering, mowing, fertilization, aeration, and dethatching.
Penncross, a creeping bentgrass hybrid, is used at several championship courses such as Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina and Inverness Golf Course in Chicago. Dark green in color, it has an upright and uniform growing ability favored by golf course managers. It is also highly resistant to disease, is fast-growing, and sturdy enough to be walked on frequently with little damage. Released by Penn State University, it is not very shade tolerant.
Bermuda grass, a low-growing, wiry perennial, was actually introduced to America from Africa in 1751. It is used as turfgrass on several golf courses throughout the South and as forage for livestock. Hybrids such as Tifgreen and Santa Ana have been developed specifically for turfgrass use. They are dark green and have fine, sturdy leaves but do not produce seeds. Bermuda grass can be confused with bentgrass because of its appearance. Depending on variety, it spreads via above-ground stolons and underground rhizomes. It requires constant management because of its invasive qualities.
Kentucky bluegrass, a European native, is primarily grown in the northern half of the United States. It has a boat-shaped leaf tip that, when mowed, is rigid enough for putting greens. Longer day lengths influence its upright growth, and it reproduces via rhizomes and tillers. Blades typically remain green longer and but less leaves are produced per shoot than Bermuda grass.