PGA Championship 2012: What is paspalum grass?
PGA Championship

PGA Championship 2012: What is paspalum grass?

Paspalum. P-a-s-p-a-l-u-m.

No, this isn't Latin class. It's the grass covering the bulk of playing areas at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island for this week's PGA Championship.

It's a unfamilar strand of grass to most fans, but not necessarily the players in the field in the season's final major. Paspalum is a lot like Bermudagrass, but lacks the grain associated with it. That's good for reading putts, but not great for hitting the bump-and-run chip shot as the club will be grabbed by the grass. Players can get a lob wedge underneath the grass. It's sticky and produces a lot of spin.

"Even as I said earlier, when the greens are firm, just this certain type of grass, it just really grabs the ball," Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. "So you can be aggressive with your chip shots and definitely aggressive with your wedge shots, too."

McIlroy has experience with paspalum. It's the dominant grass where he, and a number of PGA Tour players, practice in Jupiter, Fla.

"We practice on paspalum all the time; me, Luke (Donald), Keegan (Bradley), Dustin (Johnson)," he said. "It's something we are quite used to and something I was talking to Luke about yesterday, something that the guys that are members of the Bear's Club might have an advantage because we are used to how it reacts and we practice on that stuff on our off‑weeks, so it's actually quite nice."

Another advantage: it absorbs water - including recycled water - very well. That'll be good for a week where rain is forecast almost every day.


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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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