If, like me, you’ve been fortunate enough to play some of the courses on the Top 100 list, you may have noticed the different grasses on each. One of the main factors that determine which grass is used is the climate of the region where the course is located. This is most important in the areas of extreme climate.
Barnbougle Dunes is a cold-climate course and accordingly uses cool-climate fescue. This grass is used from tee to green and is a harder surface than the grass most of us are more exposed to, which is couch. Fescue requires less chemical input and less maintenance. Less chemical input means less thatch in the grass, which gives a better playing surface. Having a firmer surface will cause the ball to come off the clubface quicker and travel farther, so you may need to play one less club than you normally would.
Another course with a cooler-climate grass is Royal Canberra. It uses Creeping Bent from fairway to green. This year they oversowed with ryegrass, which gives it a different surface from fescue, even though they are both cool-climate grasses. The leaf is a lot softer than fescue, giving a softer playing surface, especially when playing from the fairway. This surface is probably the closest to Augusta National that you will find in Australia. Club distances will be normal, but depending on what time of year you play, you may not get much run on the fairways.
Victoria Golf Club uses Santa Ana couch, another cool-climate grass, on its fairways and surrounds. This type of grass has less thatch and provides a firmer surface to hit from. This can produce a little more ball speed off the club, similar to Barnbougle Dunes, so you may again need to play one club less.
Most golfers probably aren’t that concerned about the type of grass they play on, but if you’d like to find out, ask your general manager or course superintendent. It may help your game to know a little bit more about the grasses used at the courses you play because it can affect your shot results.
I’d like to thank my superintendent friends for their assistance in learning more about the different grasses used in Australia’s varied climatic regions, particularly the cool-climate areas.
Jason Laws is the NSW PGA Teaching Professional of the year and if you have any questions, e-mail him at [email protected]