Golf Green: Choosing the Best Grass for Your Course
It’s no walk in the park to get that gorgeous, soft carpet of vibrant green that you see in a golf green. Landscapers and golf course management teams can spend entire workweeks keeping that luscious, carefully trimmed surface at a perfect lawn green. Whether you want to keep a professional green in order or build a practice green in your own back yard, here’s how to make it happen.
Prepare properly. Weeds can hurt the health of grass, as well as mar the appearance of that perfect, homogenous lawn. But many of the herbicides that kill weeds can also harm the grass. If you’re going to use herbicide, start by treating existing grasses and weeds at least three weeks before planting golf-green ready seed of choice.
Pick the right grass. The proper grass in the proper environment will grow well with only a little judicious help. Talk to a local nursery or turf specialist to find the best grasses for your area. In general, bentgrass species are well-suited for cooler climates. Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass are excellent, prolific choices in the warmest climates. And in multiseasonal climes, Zoysias are favored for their ability to thrive in hotter summers (with watering) and cooler springs and falls.
Overseed. In warmer climates, many warm-season grasses survive but go “off color” when the temperatures drop below 60 to 70 degrees in spring or fall. As grasses literally wither, excessive traffic can break off the crown of each blade, damaging the grass and resulting in bare patches the following year. The answer? Overseeding. Overseed with a second, cooler-season grass species that will thrive when temperatures are cooler. You’ll extend the growing season, have happier golfers, and protect the warm-season grass so that it comes back green and healthy the following year.
Water reasonably. According to the Agricultural Extension of Texas A&M University, greens are often overwatered. A green that’s too soft can have poor play, encourage weeds, and create problems with ball marks and shoe print. But a green that’s too hard won’t hold even a well-played shot.
Mow less height, more often. As a general rule, it’s best not to take off more than a third of the blade of grass when mowing. For some grasses with a short optimum height, that means mowing more often. If you lop off half a blade of grass to reach what should be the optimum growing height, you’ll actually be harming the plant’s ability to obtain nutrition for itself, increasing the stress that can lead to disease and yellowing.
Avoid too much nitrogen. If fertilizing is called for, pick a balanced fertilizer. A fertilizer with high nitrogen content can lead to quick, leggy growth, once again stressing the plant – and increasing the number of times you have to mow!