Though water features, sand traps or elevation changes may define a golf course, it is the condition of the grass, both on the fairways and greens, that is most critical to the quality of the course. Because golf can be played in many climates, there is no single grass that works best on all fairways; rather, course builders and architects look for a grass that will hold up well through the weather in a particular region.
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is used in Deep South climates where summers are hot and humid. This grass has fine blades, repairs easily, is nearly drought-tolerant and may be mowed to less than 1 inch. This grass does not hold up well in colder temperatures but may be easily overseeded with a cold-weather grass, such as rye, to maintain winter color.
Bluegrass (Poa) is a cool-weather grass used on fairways in moderately cool to cool climates. This grass spreads laterally to fill divots and can tolerate some shade; however, it must be mowed above 1 inch to avoid damage. Bluegrass does not hold up well to foot traffic and is susceptible to disease.
Ryegrass (Lolium) is a cool to cold weather grass that can withstand foot traffic, is somewhat shade-tolerant and may be mowed to 1/2 inch while remaining hardy. This grass does not spread as readily as bluegrass or Bermuda grass, so having players fill divots is critical. In addition, ryegrass does not hold up well in heat and may thin in the summer.
Zoysia grass (Zoysia) is a deep-rooted, low-maintenance grass for cool to cold climates. Zoysia is a tough grass that can tolerate cart and foot traffic and can be mowed to 3/4 inch. This grass tolerates both heat and cold well and requires little irrigation. On the negative side, zoysia turns brown from October to April in colder climates and has a slow establishment rate.