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Poa annua greens, like those at Pebble Beach Golf Links, can be bumpy and inconsistent for putting.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Golfers prefer to putt on smooth greens where the ball easily rolls end over end on its intended line to the hole. Poa annua can be the perfect grass for that type of putting surface. Golfers dread slow bumpy greens where the ball can bounce off line. Poa annua can cause greens to roll like that, too. The inconsistency of poa greens makes them a challenge even for professional tour players.
Poa Annua Grass
Poa annua is a variety of annual bluegrass found on golf courses around the country and frequently used on golf greens. Because there are hundreds of varieties that often mix together, poa putting surfaces may look spotted with lighter and darker shades of green. More importantly, the blended poa greens tend to be inconsistent when it comes to putting speed. Many golf courses attempt to limit or control poa growth and the invasion of poa grasses on bent grass greens. However, because golfers carry the seeds on their shoes, poa can invade almost any course.
Putting on Poa Grasses
Pebble Beach Golf Links, a longtime host to PGA Tour events and major championships, provides a perfect example of the difficulties golfers face on poa annua greens. Pebble Beach's poa greens have been both lauded and criticized over the years by the pros who play on them. Poa greens tend hold footprints longer and get bumpy as the grass grows later in the day even if they were cut in the morning, critics say. Pros note that keeping putts less than 4 feet on their intended line can be very difficult. In spring, poa develops a seed head that makes greens so slow that golfers need an aggressive stroke to get the ball to roll all the way to the hole on longer putts.
Best Poa Putting Strokes
Golfers who frequently play poa annua greens may benefit from developing a short putting stroke with a hard, accelerating hit at the ball. Tiger Woods, who grew up playing on poa greens, used this type of stroke early in his career. Imparting more energy on the to the ball can help keep it hold the line on bumpy surfaces. Mark O'Meara, another pro who putted poa greens growing up, learned to make a stroke that hit up slightly on the ball to get it rolling on top of the grass more quickly, rather than bouncing toward the hole. It's no coincidence that O'Meara won five PGA Tour events held at Pebble Beach.
Golfers who play regularly on poa greens, and have trouble doing so successfully, should consider a putter with more loft. On poa greens, the ball tends to sit in a small indentation among the blades. If your putter has with only 2 or 3 degrees loft, you might have trouble lifting it out of that indentation and getting the ball rolling. Your putts are likely to hop and bounce over the first few feet. Champions Tour star Bernhard Langer recommends using a more lofted putter on poa greens to get the ball out of its indentation and rolling.