Fairway And Rough Heights Vary By The Season

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
August 7, 2013

Bermudagrass roughs mowed at 2 inches may be fine at times of the year when the turf is thin and not actively growing, but is often too difficult to play from during summer months when warm, humid weather produces a thick, lush stand of turf.

Mowing is one of the most basic yet important management practices for providing desirable golfing conditions. Mowing height is determined by several factors including type of playing surface (i.e., green, tee, fairway, rough), grass species and desired level of quality. Another factor that greatly affects mowing height in Florida is the time of year. 

There are ranges of appropriate mowing heights for each playing surface. The Best Management Practices for the Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Courses lists recommended mowing heights for Florida golf facilities. Fairways are generally maintained at 0.5 inch throughout most of the year. Lower mowing increases shoot tillering which increases leaf density, and this provides a “tighter” playing surface as the golf ball sits higher in the turf canopy. Conversely, higher mowing provides a more cushioned ball lie where the ball nestles down further into the turf canopy. 

Golf course roughs in Florida are generally maintained at or slightly below 1.5 inches. The turf canopy of bermudagrass and seashore paspalum becomes more open as mowing height increases. Warm-season turfgrass roughs maintained above 1.75 inches can be quite challenging for the average golfer (especially during warmer months when the turf is growing most vigorously) as the golf ball can sometimes disappear within a thick rough. 

Summer months bring warm, humid conditions that cause the turf to grow at an accelerated pace. Some golf facilities maintain slightly lower mowing heights during the summer months to improve aesthetics and playability. Fairways can be mowed from 0.38 to 0.45 inches while roughs are maintained between 1.0 to 1.25 inches in summer. Mowing heights are raised slightly in the fall, as soil temperatures decrease and the turf thins from peak season cart traffic. Mowing height can be increased to as high as 0.7 inches in fairways and up to 2.0 inches in roughs to improve conditions for the peak golfing season. 

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines for Florida. There are a number of other factors that may dictate the specific mowing heights and level of desired playability at your facility. 

Source:  Todd Lowe, (tlowe@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image