Everybody is talking about it now, but fescue will be a footnote come Sunday night.
The hot word this week during the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay has no doubt been “fescue.” This includes among golfers, television commentators, spectators, and, of course, golf course superintendents watching around the world. We can’t stop talking about it.
But as I walk the grounds of the golf course that used to be rock quarry (among many other things) this week and study the little plants beneath my feet, I’m starting to wonder why? What’s all the fuss about?
Yes, it is the first course to host an open with (basically) wall-to-wall fescue. That in itself is interesting, I’ll give you that. And, from a playability standpoint, how the club strikes the ball from the fairways and rough is also interesting, and how the putting surface rolls and holds up to a little June Pacific Northwest heat wave deserves our attention. I get all that.
But let’s face it. It is just grass. Like any other course that has hosted or will host the U.S. Open, it is a surface that will be put to the test. It will be stressed, beat up and abused for the entire week. It could just as easily be bentgrass, Poa annua, Kentucky bluegrass, bermudagrass, ryegrass or any other flavor of the month. Every year the players adapt. They would adapt to artificial turf if they had to.
I find it curious how closely we are all watching how the fescue does this week. It’s not like most can go out and introduce it to their own course. This maritime fescue is limited to a few places on the planet. Unless you live in the Puget Sound region, or the British Isles, or perhaps parts of New Zealand, this isn’t the grass for you. So why all the hubbub?
Like any other Open, the players are walking and hitting off and putting on the same grass as everyone else in the field. For that reason alone it is no more fair or unfair to any one golfer.
If the story of fescue plays any part at all in this Open, it will be once again to open the eyes of the golfing world to the ever-increasing presence of brown golf, just like last year’s open at Pinehurst did.
That’s what the 2015 U.S. Open can do. In the end, this fescue will be nothing more than a footnote.