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Course Enhancements | The Appeal And Challenge Of Fescue On The Bog

Course Enhancements | The Appeal And Challenge Of Fescue On The Bog

Admiring and Playing from The Bog’s New Tall and Wispy Grasses

When the U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst in 2014, we were awestruck by the No. 2 Course’s transformation. Back in 2010, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restored the hallowed Donald Ross design, replacing much of the rough with native and wild-looking waste areas. It was a change that gave the course a much more natural appearance. Three years later, when the U.S. Open was contested at Erin Hills, the fields of tall fescue grass waving in the breeze along the perimeters of many of the fairways were equally captivating. It reminded us of the look and feel of Old Sandwich Golf Club, another Coore and Crenshaw design not far away in Plymouth, which opened in 2004. 

Those layouts—and others—served as our inspiration to enhance The Bog course at Willowbend. The holes themselves haven’t changed, but the way in which Matt Klida and his team have augmented them is striking. As you might have guessed, it centers on the addition of tall, wispy fescue grass.

Adding Character and Defining Boundaries

As you make your way around the nine holes of The Bog course this season, you’ll notice that much of the added fescue grass isn’t really in play. These native areas line some of the extreme perimeters of the holes—they’re enhancements that make each hole more visually dynamic.

“It’s certainly not their goal to increase the difficulty of the course. It’s about adding some character and also visual definition.” – Michael Carroll, Head Golf Professional

That being said, members will also notice that there are areas in play where fescue has been added—some of these areas are managed so they remain easily playable, others are more lush and rugged where lost balls are more likely. In fact, many of the bunker complexes are now punctuated by fescue grasses. In that way, the grasses are providing a clear indication of where the trouble is located on each hole. As Carroll acknowledges, members can now use these eye-catching fescue areas as a tool to make smarter decisions off the tee and on their approach shots to the greens.

Playing From the Tall Stuff

Should you find yourself having to hit a recovery shot from the fescue, your best strategy is to first acknowledge the predicament that you’re in. As Carroll explains, you must first accept the fact that it was a poor shot that put you there and then focus only on getting your ball out of the long grass and back onto more manicured terrain. “Just get it out of the stuff,” he says. “Accept the fact that you’ve taken a penalty stroke and move on to the next shot.”

Taking your medicine is never easy, but it’s the prudent play—and really the only tactic that assures you won’t potentially walk off the green with a highly inflated score. “If you find yourself in long grass, no matter what kind of shot you’re faced with, you’re going to take a higher lofted club—a short iron or a wedge—to get the ball back into play,” Carroll explains. “Trying to advance the ball too much is going to create a worse situation. Swinging hard through thick and tall fescue grasses rarely produces positive results.”

Ultimately, we think you’ll find the new fescue grasses on The Bog course to be beautiful…unless your ball should end up in one of those areas. If it does, remember to take Carroll’s advice. So long as you do, you’ll be back admiring the striking appearance of those high grasses in no time.

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