Is it turf grass, or turfgrass?

There is an interesting thread on Twitter, started by Mike Richardson, about turfgrass terminology. He was asked why “we write grass names such as bermudagrass or zoysiagrass as single words when they are, in fact, grasses?” Aaron Patton answered that, showing a screenshot from a 1962 Agronomy Journal article on that very topic.

PACE Turf (Larry Stowell, I presume) asked a related question about the etymology of turf grass vs. turfgrass. That’s a good one, because it should almost always be turfgrass, but spellchecking software will often flag turfgrass as incorrect, and suggest a change to turf grass instead.

Madison wrote about this in his introduction to Practical Turfgrass Management:

excerpt from Madison textbook 1971 on turfgrass word usage

Then I looked up the 1952 and 1953 committee reports, just to be sure.

In 1952, here’s the start of the report from the TURF committee.

1952 turf committee report

In 1953, the report is now from the TURFGRASS committee, and it ends with the explanation quoted by Madison.

1953 turfgrass committee report

Micah Woods
Micah Woods

Scientist, author, consultant, and founder of the Asian Turfgrass Center