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Types of Grass Used on Golf Courses

Golf ball and stick on the green grass field with moisture. image by Maroš Markovič from

Golf courses are made for sport and competition, but if you take a good look around while you're there, you'll notice that they are beautifully landscaped. Putting greens and fairways are always meticulously manicured and have a flawless appearance. There are several kinds of grass that are strong and durable enough to withstand the heavy traffic and activity that takes place on a golf course and still maintain their beauty.

Creeping Bentgrass

A perennial grass that prefers cool temperatures, creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) is used mainly in the northeastern U.S. Creeping bent grass has a fine texture and tolerates low cuttings. Mowing heights of 3/16-inch or less are common for creeping bentgrass, but raising it to 1/4-inch helps bentgrass tolerate wear and stress during the summer months. Greens should be seeded in the early fall; spring planting may not allow adequate time for plants to mature by summer. Water use must be closely managed to maintain healthy plants. Creeping bentgrass grows best on well-drained, slightly acidic greens and requires proper fertilization for continued successful growth.


Zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.) is a warm season perennial grass that is used on lawns as well as athletic fields and golf tees and fairways. Plant zoysiagrass in well-drained, slightly acidic, moist soils and in areas where it is exposed to full sun or light shade. Zoysiagrass is highly heat and drought tolerant but may turn a straw color under severe drought conditions. Water regularly and irrigate as needed. Close, frequent mowing keeps zoysiagrass at its best, mow to a 1-inch height every three to five days. Fertilize grass with a nitrogen fertilizer two or three times during the growing season to help turf maintain color and density.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Medium dense in texture, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is a low maintenance choice for homes and commercial sites. It is used on the fairways, tees and roughs of golf courses. Mow Kentucky bluegrass frequently and keep heights between 2 and 3 inches. Plant in well-drained areas in fertile, neutral to slightly acidic soils. Kentucky bluegrass grows best in areas that have full sun but can thrive in partial shade. Fertilize bluegrass by using two to four pounds of a nitrogen-based fertilizer per every 1,000 square feet. Bluegrass has a poor to fair drought tolerance and thrives when watered and fertilized regularly. Kentucky bluegrass is the most popular cool season turf grass.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) has good tolerance and holds up well under wear and tear on golf course fairways, tees and in the rough areas. This type of grass is rarely used alone and is often combined with Kentucky bluegrass for full sun areas and with fine fescue in shady spots. Plant perennial ryegrass in well-drained, neutral soil. Mow frequently; normal heights should range from 2 to 3 inches. This grass needs water on a regular basis during the growing season to ensure growth and maintain its green color. Fertilize with two to four pounds of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of grass every growing season.

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