Do you love the idea of a lush and uniform lawn that looks like the fairway on a golf course? Well, having a lawn that rivals your local country club is not as out of this world as you might think. There are a number of types of grasses that golf clubs can use to create their green fairways, roughs, and putting greens. It just depends on the climate and soil type they are working with. In this article I’ll answer the question “What kind of grass do golf courses use?” and explain which ones can be a good choice for a private lawn.
While most golf clubs work with highly trained and experienced turf experts, it is possible to achieve the same carpet-like grass result at home in your residential lawn.
Most of the varieties of grass used on golf courses are available to anyone.
It’s just a matter of picking the right one for your environment, and committing to the work of establishing a new lawn on your property.
Popular Kinds of Grass Used on Golf Courses
Here is an overview of some of the most popular grass types for golf courses along with the type of environment they require to thrive.
Bermuda grass is one of the most popular varieties of grass for golf courses because of how hearty it is.
It is incredibly durable and stands up to lots of abuse from golfers.
More importantly, it is well-suited to southern climates because it is very drought resistant. This makes it a good choice for residential lawns as well – especially in southern climates where water conservation is important.
That being said, it can also tolerate the temperatures seen further north through the warmer seasons, so if you’re in the southern half of our northern lawn growing zone, consider Bermuda grass for your lawn.
It may not be the first grass in your neighborhood to green up in the spring, but you’ll be rewarded with the greenest lawn on your block during the hot summer months.
It’s one reason this versatile grass has such wide appeal.
Another incredibly common type of fairway grass on golf courses is Bentgrass.
This grass type grows very thick so it can tolerate a lot of traffic. It’s one reason why some courses choose Bentgrass.
While it does not tolerate consistent heat very well, it can thrive in the Northeast, most of the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Bentgrass loves the cooler nights that those parts of the country experience, and it requires very little water to stay green, which saves golf courses money on irrigation.
Another advantage of Bentgrass is that you can mow it short without fear of scalping the green.
Bentgrass is a great choice for homeowners in northern climates who are looking to achieve a perfect golf-course lawn.
Ryegrass is one of my favorite types of grass from a texture standpoint.
This smooth variety of grass grows on both the fairway and in the roughs at many high-end golf courses. It’s another variety that can withstand high traffic, and when properly fertilized it offers an amazing deep green color.
Many varieities of Perennial rye grass don’t self-spread, so repairs require more work than grasses which spread via Rhizomes.
Annual ryegrass is quick to establish, but the major limitation with annual rye is that it will die in temperatures that drop below freezing.
Still, if you live in the southern US, you can sometimes get away with an annual ryegrass lawn year-round. Annual rye is a fool-proof lawn if you can get away with it, and the seed is cheaper than other varieties.
Its stiffness and the way it spreads and fills in gaps makes it very durable for fairway traffic. It is highly tolerant of hot climates and is also drought-resistant. This makes Zoysia an ideal choice for golf courses and lawns in Southern states.
The nature of how slowly it grows can be a big drawback. It’s one reason why impatient homeowners don’t choose to establish a new Zoysia lawn.
With that said, those who have patience will be rewarded.
Poa Annua grass is a bit less durable than the other varieties. It is almost exclusively used on golf courses along the West Coast of the United States.
This grass is actually an invasive species in most parts of the US. As a result, it is less commonly used, and it’s one that I don’t recommend for residential use. I’m always hesitant to recommend planting an invasive species.
Poa Annua grows shallow roots. This is what makes it less durable and also means that it often needs to be hand-watered.
This is not a grass I recommend planting in your yard. But it is a common type of grass golf courses on the west coast use, so it was worth including in this list.
Caring for Golf Course Grasses in a Residential Lawn
In addition to picking the right type of grass, you’ll also need to adopt the right lawn care maintenance strategies that make golf greens such a success.
You likely already have a lawnmower that is perfectly suitable to establishing a golf course lawn, but if you ever have the opportunity to make a change then go for a reel mower.
Landscapers use reel mowers on golf courses because of how cleanly they cut the blades of grass. It is also crucial not to mow your grass too short. Ideally, maintain your lawn at one or two inches in height. Once established you can gradually cut your grass shorter with each mow to achieve the length you want.
I have a guide to selecting the best walk-behind mower right here which discusses reel mowers in detail.
Letting grass grow longer encourages deeper root growth.
This way, grass grows deeper roots to find moisture, and it’s more resilient to drought and disease.
Watering too frequently and lightly can result in disease and a shallow root system that is easily disrupted.