Year-Round Golf on the Green Grasses at Lake Tansi Golf Course

by David Theoret, The Golfin Guy

Let’s be honest, golf was meant to be played on green grass; the greener, the better. Augusta National in April comes to mind. Lake Tansi Head Golf Professional Gavin Darbyshire echoed those sentiments. “Psychologically, golfers think they play better on green grass; it just gives them an overall peaceful feeling while they’re out there on the golf course.”

There are many types of grasses used on golf courses, they include Bermuda, Poa Annua, Bentgrass, Zoysia, and Ryegrass which is usually used in the southern states for overseeding in winter to keep tees, fairways, and greens, green. Unfortunately, even the greenest of grass turns brown when the thermometer dips low. Darbyshire himself doesn’t mind putting on browned out Bermuda greens.

The Lake Tansi Golf Course in Crossville, TN is an anomaly. While most other courses in the area and surrounding states are browned out with dormant grasses in the winter, the cool-season grasses at Lake Tansi Golf Course remain green regardless of the weather.

Having green grass on your golf course is always a blessing; it’s even better when it can be year-round. On a recent trip to Florida, I found that the majority of courses have gotten away from overseeding. Some cited that the costs were too high, others dreaded the transition back to Bermuda. One course general manager mentioned a course that failed miserably at bringing their course back to Bermuda and lost all their greens as well as a season’s worth of revenue.

Another golf course owner in the Crystal River, Florida area told me a lot of his winter golfers are snowbirds and they expect to play on green grass. He overseeds fairways, tees, and greens. The day I was there, the tee sheet was packed! He says he’ll keep doing it!

Lake Tansi Golf Course Superintendent Todd Matthews says that the grasses at Lake Tansi are a mixture of Bentgrass, Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescue, although the exact percentages of each are as closely a guarded secret as the Colonel’s secret recipe. “Lake Tansi lies at an elevation of 1,900 feet, making the daytime temperatures considerably cooler than other areas of the state. These cool-season grasses don’t lose a lot of their color when they go dormant.”

According to Matthews, Lake Tansi has about 10 acres of quickstand Bermuda grass, which they allow to compete with the Bentgrass. Because of this competition, when the Bermuda grass turns brown in the winter, it is overtaken by the cool season mixture keeping everything nice and green. All of this is done on a modest budget.

After spending 22 years in Florida, you get used to playing on brown grass during the winter months. Once the soil temperature dips below 55 degrees, that beautiful Bermuda grass that Florida is known for starts to turn brown. As soon as that first frost hits – sometimes as early as late November – all Bermuda grasses go dormant. Many of the courses in the Crossville area also experience certain levels of dormancy, but not the course at Lake Tansi. I played it earlier this week and the only real brown spot on the course is adjacent to the 5th tee box, an area the maintenance staff uses for extra turf.

When I moved to Tennessee a year and a half ago, my goal was to play golf at least once each month, which is easily an achievable goal. Playing on a course that is constantly green is a breath of fresh air. For more information or to book your next round on some otherwise unseasonably green grass, call the Lake Tansi pro shop at (931) 733-8801 or visit their website at

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