The US OPEN is being played at Chambers Bay on a neo-links course which could be called moderately authentic, down to greens that were seeded to fine fescues. The romanticism of links golf with fescue greens will be short lived this week and we'll be hearing more about it as the Championship unfolds.
Why? Josh Lewis, the Superintendent, also known as the Turf Yoda has done an outstanding job preparing the golf course for this Championship. But he has been dealt a losing hand with the selection of fine fescue greens. Fine fescue greens have had little success in North America, when placed in geographic areas that have temperatures that are much higher than the successful fescue greens in European venues normally withstand. St. Andrews highest daily average temperature for the year is 66 degrees, Tacoma averages four months that the average high temperature exceeds 66 degrees. Fine fescue just isn't in its element, no matter how much we wish it would work on greens.
Poa annua, the grass that is the predominant grass on greens from coastal Northern California up through coastal Canada has invaded the greens at Chambers Bay. Not a surprise to anyone that understands turf management. So, now there are two distinctive grass types on the greens with very different growth habits. This will cause putting woes and complaints late in the day, when it will impact greens' smoothness. And if the USGA doesn't listen to the Turf Yoda and they dry the greens down too much, we'll have another 2010 season of majors when course setup becomes an issue. See: Golf Course Setup and Major Championships
These weather charts below graphically demonstrate why fescue greens struggle when climate is not adequately considered.