Turfgrass performance can be assessed in terms of visual quality, but evaluators require training and may be distracted by many factors that affect accuracy and consistency. The objectives of this study were to assess a handheld optical sensor (GreenSeeker) for evaluating overall turfgrass quality in three turf species over two growing seasons, and to compare the combined time required for visual evaluation and data entry with the time required for the same functions using the handheld optical sensor. Visual quality ratings and sensor ratings were collected on schedules prescribed by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program for the 2002 bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.), 2002 buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides), and 2002 zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.) studies in 2003 and 2004. Use of the sensor reduced the time required to complete data collection and data entry by 58% compared with human visual evaluation. Of the three species tested, the bermudagrass evaluation had the strongest correlation between ratings collected by the human evaluator and the sensor [r = 0.79 in 2003 (n = 343), r = 0.85 in 2004 (n = 343)]. The handheld optical sensor provided a consistent, objective evaluation of overall turfgrass quality and required less time than visual evaluation. The handheld optical sensor provides advantages for assessing turfgrass quality that cannot be realized by human evaluation, but the sensor alone is not sufficient for specific evaluations such as color, texture, or density that are routinely characterized by human evaluation.