Golfers Guide to Grasses

Golfers Guide to Grasses

If you’re going to play golf, you pretty well need to know what kind of grass you’re playing on. It makes a difference. But nowhere, it seems, are there pictures you can use to recognize grasses on the course. This article attempts to provide that information, and identify the impact that different grasses have on shots from the fairway, shots from the rough, and putts on the green.

Originally published 2010

Note: Pics are 300 pixels wide

Common grasses and their effects:

  • Bahia Grass – a warm-climate grass used for roughs and landscaping
  • Bentgrass – a cool-season grass used for tees, greens, and fairways
    Has a serious grain that can affect a putt more than slope. During a PGA tournament that Gary McCord was covering, he said he once lined up a putt with a 5 inch break, hit the line perfectly, and watched the putt move 6 inches uphill. When he asked his caddie what happened, his caddie replied, “Grain”. McCord said he quit playing competitive golf right at that moment. (An exaggeration, to be sure, but a fun ending to the story.)
  • Bermuda Grass – a warm-climate grass, used for greens and tees
  • Fescue – a family of over 300 cool- and warm-climate grasses. Blue Fescue is typically used in golf courses.
  • Kentucky Blue Glass – drought-resistant grass used for fairways, roughs, and hazards on cool-seaon courses
  • Kikuyu – warm-climate grass used for tees and fairways
    • Kikyu is somewhat “hairy”, if you look at it closely. And the leaves bend over in the middle, forming a spongy mat that traps the club, especially because the ball tends to sink down between the blades, effectively resting on the ground. The trick is to strike down on the ball, as though from heavy rough. Otherwise, the thick mat of interlaced Kikuyu blades trap the club, drastically reducing clubhead speed.
  • Poana (Poa Annua) – A nice, short grass for fast greens. Considered a nuisance by household gardeners.
  • Rye Grass – cool-season grass used for roughs and fairways (and at Wimbeldon)
  • St. Augustine Grass (Charleston grass) – warm-climate grass used on green and tees.
  • Zoysia – blanket-like, cool- and warm-climate grass used for tees, greens, and fairways

Course Guide

Definitely a work in progress. To the degree I collect tidbits of information from here and there, this table gives me a place to record them.

Course Greens Fairway Rough
Pebble Beach Poa Annua
Poppy Hills Poa Annua
Spring Valley Poa Annua
Practice Facility

Resources & Credits

Picture Sources

Copyright © 2010-2017, TreeLight PenWorks

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  1. The Art of Putting | Treelight.com March 23, 2017 (12:22 pm)

    […] hope it’s not the latter, but it’s a definite possibility. I figured there should be a Golfer’s Guide to Grasses somewhere that tells you what you need to know. I didn’t find it, so I started one. The idea […]

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