Cool-Season Grasses Used on Golf Courses

"Cool-season grasses" are those grasses that grow best in cooler climates. In the golf world, that means grasses that maintain their growth rates, healthy root systems and density in cooler temperatures, but suffer in those areas when the weather warms up.

Some examples of cool-season grasses include:

  • colonial bentgrass
  • creeping bentgrass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • annual bluegrass (often called poa annua, its scientific name)
  • perennial ryegrass
  • fine fescue
  • tall fescue
"Cool season grasses provide the best turf quality and perform their best in spring and fall when air temperatures are between 60-70 degrees F," an info sheet available from the National Golf Course Owners Association states. "During the summer when air temperatures are consistently in the 80 degree F. range or higher, the quality and performance of cool season grasses may decline."

Bentgrass is probably the most desired turfgrass in golf, at least for putting greens, but the farther south one goes the harder it becomes to maintain healthy bentgrass. Many upscale southern courses have installed air conditioning systems underneath their putting greens in order to maintain cool enough ground temperatures to grow bentgrass. Augusta National Golf Club, for example, does this.

Golf courses that are too cold in the winter for warm-season grasses but too hot in the summer for cool-season grasses will overseed their golf courses. That means they grow the warm-season grass in the warmer months, then, when temperatures drop and that turf goes dormant (turning brown), they put down seed for a cool-season grass. That grass grows in over the top of the warm-seasong grass. When temperatures heat back up, those golf courses transition back to the other turf.

Howeowners who are really into their lawns sometimes face the same decisions as golf course superintendents when it comes to caring for grass. See Cool-Season Grasses for Dummies for more general info about cool-season grasses.

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