When the majority of golfers play their ball, either from the tee, fairway, rough or green, not many will give a second thought about the hallowed turf beneath them and how it is different from the grass they mow back at home each week. In reality a great deal of consideration is given to ensure the best possible grass varieties are used. Grass selection is based on climate, soil type, water availability and quality and the playing characteristics required by the designer. There are many specialized varieties of turfgrass for golf courses some of which require intensive maintenance and careful cultural practices.
Here are some of the typical grass types found on golf courses.
Bentgrass – A grass often used on golf courses in northern Europe. The bentgrass varieties have many advantages as they can be mowed to a very short height and are ideal for highly-manicured areas such as tees, greens and fairways. There are various types but browntop bents are well adapted for maritime and coastal climates such as in the UK, while creeping bent is commonly used, especially on greens, in both cool and some warm climate regions.
Fescues – A large family of grasses which can be used on all areas of a golf course, most usually in cooler climates. They adapt well to less fertile conditions and although some varieties are appropriate for close mowing they are most often distinguishable as tall rough grasses, particularly on links courses.
Rye Grass – This cool-season grass is used for roughs and fairways. Its use on golf courses has increased due to the fact that it is hard wearing, tolerates close mowing and the ease with which it can be striped by reel mowers.
Kentucky Blue Grass or Smooth-stalked Meadow Grass – A grass used for fairways and roughs, largely in cool-season areas, but also in some humid regions.
Bermuda Grass – A warm season grass variety which is very heat tolerant and found on courses in southern Europe and the Middle East. Bermuda grass can be used on all areas of the golf course and is commonly propagated by sprigging.
Paspalum – A warm season grass which is tolerant of salt water and heat. It can be used for tees, greens, fairways and roughs and provides a very dark green colour.
Taking three of the courses we have designed with Colin Montgomerie as an example it is interesting to note the differences in grass selection at each.
1) The Montgomerie at The Dutch in The Netherlands has creeping bent greens with a browntop bent / fescue mix in the fairways.
2) The Montgomerie at Papillon Golf Club in Turkey has bermuda grass everywhere except for the greens which are creeping bent.
3) The Royal Golf Club at Riffa Views in Bahrain uses wall to wall paspalum.