June 14, 2021
As a golf-nerd-lawn-nerd crossover, I’m looking forward to a few more things in the big weeks than to Monday, when the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America publishes its tournament factsheet, in which, among other things, the different types and lengths of Grasses that will be used on the host course.
So what are we doing this week?
The US Open 2021 will be played on the Torrey Pines South Course. At 7,765 yards, the course is only about 100 yards shorter than Kiawah Island, which was also the longest course in Major Championship history. But unlike Kiawah, which had almost been rebuilt exclusively on papalum grass throughout, Torrey has a mix of different grasses from tea to green. Let’s break it down very quickly …
Teas: Bermuda grass, .3 ″
First up, we have the teas, which are mostly made from Bermuda grass, a common warm-weather grass found on most southern lawns. Golfers and lawn care King Marc Leishman has it in his lawn and says that it is often kept “short”. This week the USGA is keeping them at 1/3 of an inch.
If you have a Bermuda grass lawn and and willing to invest about $ 1,000 in a nice reel mower, you could get it similarly short. But if you go this route, be prepared to allow your time: you can only mow a third of its length at a time. So, to get your lawn up to US Open fairways level, you’ll need to cut it every day. says King Leishman.
(USGA / Kirk H. Owens)
Fairways: Kikuyu grass, .35 ″
Mark Zeigler at the San Diego Union Tribue has a great story about the grass that I can warmly recommend to you, but in short: Kikuyu is a spongy, almost artificial turf-like grass that is native to Africa and is mainly found in the USA on the Riviera.
The fairways are an inch longer than the tea boxes, but not the length, but the texture is the most interesting element of Kikuyu: it grows thick and lush, which makes for brutal rough if held long and tricky textures if they are be held briefly. The ball sits high and with so much grass underneath it is easy for golfers to tap the ball.
Rough: Kikuyu grass strewn with ryegrass, 3-5 ″
Kikuya rests in winter so it doesn’t matter if the Farmers Insurance Open hits town in January. To make the course fit for this tournament, the course is littered with ryegrass: a fast germinating cold weather grass that you will find on many lawns in the northeast and midwest.
The ryegrass is still present in the rough this week, but when the Kikuyu woke up the greens crew cut off the rough shortly after the farmers and killed some heavy areas of willow grass so the Kikuyu could play a bigger role and make the rough one of the juiciest best before the US Open.
And your lawn? For cold weather turf, a length of 3 inches sounds about right. But while your lawn is technically a similar length to that of the US Open, it almost certainly won’t be as thick. But that’s fine; If people ask, don’t tell them this second part.
Greens: Poa annua, 0.1 ″
And finally the Greens. Like most of the west coast greens, they are Poa annua. Considered a weed in most lawns, it’s a unique grass that has a tendency to bud at the end of the day, which can lead to bumpy conditions on the greens later in the rounds.
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Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor for GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role, he oversees all of the brand’s service journalism in the areas of teaching, equipment, health and fitness on all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.
An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort golf team, where he put them at number 1 on the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to do his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and was named in 2017 “Rising Star” of the News Media Alliance. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast.