Golf Course Architecture - Issue 67, January 2022

44 INS IGHT RYAN BOOK Fescue, fine or foe? Are fescue grasses the ideal choice for areas between holes? Ryan Book considers an alternative The sight of fescue blowing in the wind sets many a golfer’s heart af lutter. Despite stealing balls almost as frequently as less-fashionable ponds, it’s easier to accept a hazard that’s been present on golf courses since the origins of the game. Laurel Links Country Club, a 2002 design from Kelly Blake Moran, found that fescue outgrew its rustic appeal. “It just started eating golf balls. Looked like it could have eaten a golf cart too,” says Jaeger Kovich, golf course architect and owner of Proper Golf, who has been leading the club through a multistage removal of its fescue fields during the past few years. “It’s f lat as a pancake out here and it’s a really dense area that was not really meant to be fescue.” If one referred to Laurel’s fescue as ‘native area’, they should be sure to leave the ‘native’ in quotation marks. It’s not indigenous to Long Island’s North Fork region. Like many clubs across the United States, the native vegetation had been trees. The initial build involved opening up the areas between fairways by felling trees, a choice it doesn’t regret. More problematic was the decision to fill those open areas with introduced fescue. The tall grass quickly settled in and, as Kovich notes, began harvesting any ball sent its way. The membership’s pleasure with the linksland aesthetic gave way to frustration as Pro V1s disappeared and rounds lengthened. A lack of maintenance resources created a problem almost as relevant: The fescue required continuous trimming, expensive chemical spray applications and the maintenance hours could be better used almost anywhere else. “They have a pretty small crew out here. It’s really hard for them to find guys to work maintenance crews out here on the North Fork,” says Kovich. “Having to continuously maintain this giant area of fescue was just driving them nuts.” Fortunately, a quality concept for replacing the fescue sat nearby. Friar’s