Warm-Season Grasses Used on Golf Courses

Aerial view of golf courses with warm season grass

"Warm-Season Grasses" are those grasses that grow best in warmer climates. How does this apply in golf? Golf courses in places where it gets hot will use warm-season grasses as a turfgrass of choice.

Examples of warm-season grasses used on golf courses include:

  • bermuda
  • zoysia
  • St. Augustine
  • kikuya
  • buffalograss
  • seashore paspalum
  • bahia
  • carpetgrass
The opposite of a warm-season grass is a cool-season grass, and golf courses in climates where it gets colder will choose one of those. Trying to grow a warm-season grass in a colder climate (or vice-versa) is a recipe for dead or very poor quality golf course turf.

(Many golf courses, however, grow warm-season grasses in the warmer months, then overseed with a cool-season grass for the winter months.)

According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, warm-season grasses reach their optimal growing rate at temperatures from 75F to 95F.

In a report on turfgrass species on the National Golf Course Owners Association website, the NCGOA reports: "Warm season grasses provide the best turf quality and perform their best in summer when air temperatures are between 80-95 degrees F. In fall, when daily high temperatures drop below 75 degrees F. the growth of warm season grasses stops. When daily low temperatures drop in the 50 degrees F., warm season grasses turn brown or go dormant."

The cold tolerance of most warm-season grasses in poor, but zoysia and buffalograss have moderate to good cold tolerance, the NCGOA report states.

If you want to dig into warm-season grasses for golf courses further, you can check out "Warm-season grasses for dummies," an article by turfgrass agronomist Megan Hood.

Photo credit: "Patchy Bermuda grass infestations in golf course fairways comprised of Seashore paspalum" by Plant pests and diseases is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

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