Bleached out fescue in the Fall
The wispy brown grass that surrounds many of the golf holes at Stowe Mountain Club is called “fescue”. Fescue or Festuca is a genus within the grass family of Poaceae. The species are characteristically a perennial tufted grass species - many are drought and disease resistant and shade tolerant. Planted at Stowe Mountain Club is a blend of the fine fescue grasses that includes; chewing fescue, sheep fescue, hard fescue, and creeping red fescue. The fescue high rough areas are an integral part of the golf experience at Stowe Mountain Club. While playing the course an errant shot has a high probability of landing in fescue since every hole has some fescue on the outer edges.  Knowing how to hit a successful recovery shot out of the fescue is very important to shooting a good score.

Fescue on the right side of the 2nd green in Summer
While there are a few basic skills to hitting out of the fescue, the same is true for managing it. Our main focus when it comes to managing fescue is to have it be aesthetically pleasing and still be thin enough to find a golf ball to advance it. This management strategy is based on a simple principle; the worse you treat fescue the better it is for playability. Successful management of fescue starts from day one. The future success of a stand of fescue grass will depend on what it is planted on. The worse the soil is the better the fescue will be. If fescue is planted on rich, loamy soil it will always be thick and healthy. Thick and healthy fescue will swallow golf balls and trying to hit through thick fescue is almost impossible.

Thin fescue that a ball can be easily found
After proper establishment, fescue should never be irrigated. Our irrigation technician is constantly on the lookout for misaligned sprinkler heads that cover fescue. When there is a very wet spring and early summer the fescue will become very healthy and thick. This was the case this year. Obviously, the growth was out of our control. Similar to irrigation we are very cautious not to fertilize fescue after it has been established for two years. Once established, fescue should be left alone. The one exception to that are weeds. If weeds become too prevalent they need to be removed. Weedy fescue is very difficult to play out of and looks unkempt.
Last week the maintenance team has begun to cut the fescue.  This annual mowing of the fescue is the final piece to the management strategy.  Cutting back the fescue assures even growth next year.  The cutting will also thin out any areas that have grown too thick.  A tremendous amount of work has gone into managing the fescue to get it to the current condition.  Every year the fescue gets better.  The maintenance team is committed to preserving this special feature of the golf course.