Knowing the type of grass on the greens, you’re playing impacts your game. What type of grass is used on golf greens? Well, two common green turf types are bentgrass and Bermuda grass. In this post, you’ll learn everything about bentgrass.
What are bentgrass greens? Bentgrass greens are a common type of putting green in the US. It is a cool-season grass that thrives in temperatures between 60 and 75°F. It is known for its fine blades, making it smooth and fast. It also grows more horizontally, hence the name “bent.” Bentgrass greens are also known for their ability to hold their line, which makes them ideal for putting.
Not knowing the strengths and weakness of bentgrass greens, or whatever green you’re playing on, could limit your ability to sink putts. As a PGA professional and graduate with a degree in Golf Courses Operations, I know enough to be dangerous on the subject.
Read on to learn:
- What are Bentgrass Greens?
- Bentgrass Greens: Pros, Cons & Tips
- Differences Between Bentgrass and Bermuda
- Bermuda Grass: Pros, Cons & Tips
- Great Golf Courses With Bentgrass Greens
So here we go! Take your shoes off, and feel the grass under your feet!
Check this out: Golf Course Grass: 6 Types & How To Play Them
What are Bentgrass Greens?
Bentgrass is a cool-season grass often used in Northern climates like the USA and Canada. For science buffs, it is of the genus Agrostis, so there are hundreds of types of bentgrass varieties.
Bentgrass, like most cool-season grasses, requires an average air temperature between 60 to 75°F and a soil temperature of 50 to 65°F for root growth.
Why bentgrass is desirable as grass on golf courses, including green surfaces? It is because of the nature in which it grows. Bentgrass has a very shallow and dense root system that grows in more of a “creeping” or horizontal nature. The term “bent” comes from that growth characteristic. The grass blade stands tall and does not have “grain” as Bermuda grass has.
Bentgrass can be mowed very low without damaging the grass blade. This makes it fantastic for excellent, true-rolling, and potentially fast-putting surfaces. Additionally, bentgrass can handle a great deal of foot traffic, making it ideal for a busy northern golf course.
What does bentgrass look like? Bentgrass has a deep green appearance when appropriately maintained, which golfers love to see when out on the links.
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Bentgrass Greens: Pros, Cons & Tips
Let’s look at some pros, cons, and tips for bentgrass greens.
- With the right growing conditions, bentgrass is easier to maintain
- It can be cut shorter generally without worries
- Can produce faster greens without too much stress on the turf
- Rolls truer because of a lack of grain
- Easier to read greens for most golfers
- Can handle a great deal of foot traffic
- Great in cool climates
- Considered a high-maintenance turfgrass
- It can only be maintained in cooler climates and needs an average air temperature between 60 to 75 degrees
- Does not do well with temperatures above 85 degrees, which can happen in usually favorable areas
- Can be prone to diseases such as
- It needs a lot of water
- It requires adequate drainage to do its best, and too compacted soil can become an issue
- Faster green speeds may be challenging to handle for higher handicappers
- The increased break that comes with bentgrass may also be difficult to handle for higher handicappers
Tips For Playing Bentgrass Greens
The key to putting bentgrass greens well is becoming a great green reader. As a native New Yorker, growing up in the central part of the state, I became accustomed to bentgrass. It may get tricky to read the greens initially, but it gets pretty easy once you have it down. Much easier than the Bermuda greens I have played on for the last 27 years since moving to Florida.
Here are my suggestions for reading bentgrass greens:
- Start looking at the contours of the green early- I would start looking at the contours of the green as I was well away from the green…150 or more yards away. I found that you can get a good sense of the high and low points of the green from that far out.
- Watch how the ball reacts on approach shots- With that first point in mind, watch how it reacts and rolls once it hits the green on your approach shots.
- More investigating as you get on the green- You have your initial intel in hand as you approach the green; now that you are on it, you need to dive deeper into your assessment. I recommend looking at the line of your putt from all sides and not just behind the ball. You can get great info from a 360 tour of your putt.
- Watch all others putt- Continue to gather all the intel you can from anywhere you can. That includes watching how other putts move when you play.
- Practice- Nothing substitutes for practicing. Work on your speed and distance control when you practice on bentgrass greens.
Aside from bentgrass, there are other types of grasses that you’ll want to understand as well.
Differences Between Bentgrass and Bermuda Grass
|Blades of grass
|Smooth and fast
|Slower and more receptive to grain
Bentgrass and Bermuda are the two most common types of grass used for golf greens. They have different characteristics that suit them for different climates and playing conditions.
Bentgrass thrives in cooler climates, with optimum temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not as heat-tolerant as Bermuda grass and can suffer from winterkill in cold climates.
Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass that thrives in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate heat and drought better than bentgrass and is more common in warm climates such as the southern United States.
Blades of grass
Bentgrass has finer blades of grass than Bermuda grass, which makes it smoother and faster. It is also more receptive to sandblasting, which can help keep the surface smooth and debris-free.
Bermuda grass has thicker blades than bentgrass, making it slower and more receptive to the grain. The grain is the direction in which the grass blades are growing, and it can affect how a putt rolls.
Bentgrass requires more maintenance than Bermuda grass, especially in terms of watering and mowing. It must be watered more frequently and mowed more often to keep the blades short.
Bermuda grass is more drought-tolerant than bentgrass and can go longer without water. It also doesn’t need to be mowed as often as bentgrass.
Bentgrass greens are typically more expensive to install and maintain than Bermuda greens. This is because bentgrass requires more frequent watering and mowing and is more susceptible to diseases.
Bermuda grass greens are less expensive to install and maintain than bentgrass greens. This is because Bermuda grass is more drought-tolerant and less susceptible to diseases.
Ultimately, the best type of grass for a golf green depends on the climate and budget of the course. If you are looking for a smooth, fast green that is ideal for putting, bentgrass is a good option. However, if you are in a warm climate or have a limited budget, Bermuda may be a better choice.
Bermuda Grass: Pros, Cons & Tips
Let’s examine more pros, cons, and tips for Bermuda Grass Greens.
- Ideal for warmer climates
- Handles high temps well
- It can be cut shorter generally without worries
- It can take a great deal of foot traffic
- Bounces back quickly after being damaged
- Good at tolerating drought
- Difficult to read because of grain that exists with Bermuda’s growing patterns
- It can be fast down grain and very slow into the grain all on the same green
- Can suffer damage from very low temps
- It can only be maintained in warmer climates and needs an average daytime air temperature above 85 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive
- It needs a soil temperature of a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit to grow
- Browns and goes dormant in the winter
- Browns and goes dormant after extended periods without water
- Can aggressively spread into areas it was not meant to grow
Tips For Playing Bermuda Grass Greens
Below are my suggestions for reading Bermuda Grass Greens. Many of the tips are similar, but there are a few dramatic differences. Of my tips for bentgrass, the following remain true for Bermuda. And I have some more about how to read the grain.
- Start looking at the contours of the green early, when you are well away from the green.
- Watch how the ball reacts on approach shots hit into the green.
- Do a 360 tour of your putt once on the green.
- Watch all your playing partners’ putts.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
- A down grain putt will see the grass have a shiny look to it.
- An into-the-grain putt will have more of a dull look to it.
- Pay attention to nearby water sources. Bermuda grass will naturally grow toward natural water sources.
- Look at the edges of the hole. There will be one side of the hole that will look burned out or more chewed up. The other side will look cleaner. On the burned side of the cup, the grain is moving away from it.
- If you are unsure of the grain but fairly sure of the overall break of the putt, you can take a more direct line and hit the putt a little firmer.
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Great Golf Courses With Bentgrass Greens
Some of the best courses that have bentgrass greens include:
- Augusta National Golf Club (Augusta, GA)
- Pine Valley Golf Club (Pine Valley, NJ)
- Merion Golf Club (Ardmore, PA)
- Muirfield Village Golf Club (Dublin, OH)
- Liberty National Golf Club (Jersey City, NJ)
- Shadow Creek Golf Course (Las Vegas, NV)
- Sherwood Country Club (Thousand Oaks, CA)
- Royal St. George’s Golf Club (Sandwich, Kent, England)
- Kasumigaseki Country Club (Saitama, Japan) 2021 Olympics Course
- Caves Valley Golf Club (Owings Mills, MD)
Like many golfers, I have extensive experience playing on bentgrass greens. Additionally, thanks to my Golf Course Operations degree, I have a more in-depth knowledge about questions like what grass is on golf courses, than the average golfer may have.
In the sometimes debated topic of bentgrass vs. Bermuda grass on golf greens, I am on team Bentgrass. There are many positive aspects to bentgrass greens. However, one of the biggest downfalls of bentgrass as a choice for green surfaces is its low tolerance for heat.
In terms of playing on bentgrass greens and Bermuda, this article should also serve as an excellent guide for you on the subject.
No matter what grass type is on the greens, the next time you tee it up, I wish you nothing but the best of luck when you roll the rock on the dance floor!
Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.
He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or BrendonElliott@pga.com.
- Best score: 69
- Favorite driver: Srixon ZX5
- Favorite ball: Srixon Z Star
- Favorite food at the turn: Turkey and cheese on white