Putting Green Turf

Written by Jacey Harmon
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The temperate zone of a specific location will be a determining factor for choosing a putting green turf. There are three basic groups of climate zones in the United States--cool, transitional, and warm. Each zone has a group of turf grass species that can be successfully grown in the area. Cool climate zones can grow cool climate turfgrass species--bent grass, blue grass, fescue, and rye grass. Warm zones can grow warm climate turgrasses--bermuda grass, zoysia grass, centipede grass, and seashore paspalum. Transition zones are areas where both warm and cool season turf can be grown, with some difficulty.

Cool Season Turf for Greens

Bent grass is the universal cool season turf grass for cool climate putting greens. Bent grass thrives in mild weather conditions and has a high cold weather tolerance. Bent grass makes a smooth putting surface that can tolerate mowing heights below 1/8 of an inch. The most common variety of bent grass used on putting greens has been Penncross bent grass.

Older greens in the cool climate regions will probably consist of mainly of poa annua. Poa annua, or annual blue grass, is a very invasive species of turf that tolerates the low mowing heights of greens. Poa annua greens can be easily identified by the spotted look of the green. Poa annua is not very uniform when it comes to color and texture. The turf presents a problem for golf course superintendents as it can produce seed at low mowing heights. This can create a bumpy and inconsistent playing surface.

Warm Season Turf for Greens

Burmuda grass hybrids are the most common turf for greens in warm climates. In the past, bermuda grass was considered a lesser quality turf than bent grass. Improved cultivation practices and newer varieties have evened out the differences between the two. Tifgreen is the most common variety of bermuda grass used on putting greens in warm climates. Bermuda grass goes dormant in cool weather conditions. This causes golf courses to overseed their greens with a variety of cool season turf grasses. The most commonly used types of cool season grasses are perennial rye grass, and rough blue grass.

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