Have you ever played a golf course which is lined with thick fescue grass along the side of the fairways? If so, you already know one thing to be true – fescue is no joke.
While fescue is not a particularly common sight on American golf courses, it is a fixture on the links courses of Scotland. When allowed to grow to a significant height, fescue can make for one of the nastiest lies in all of golf – in fact, when your ball is sitting down in the fescue, you should consider yourself lucky if you can get the ball out at all.
So, if you find yourself playing a course that is guarded by long fescue, you need to have a plan in place for how you are going to deal with the lies that you may encounter somewhere between the first tee and the last green.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize your performance from this beautiful yet challenging grass.
Play It Safe
The first key that you need to take to heart related to fescue is the fact that you need to play it as safe as possible in order to get back on track. Rather than trying to hit a miraculous shot from out of the long grass, play it safe and pitch the ball back to the fairway whenever possible.
Using a lofted wedge will make it easier to cut through the long grass, and only trying to hit the ball 30 or 40 yards is far more realistic than trying to make it all the way to the green. Sure, you might set yourself up for a bogey with this plan, but that is far more attractive (and much smarter) than making a double or worse after trying to pull off a miracle shot.
Read the Lie
One of the things you will quickly learn about fescue is the inconsistency that you will find from lie to lie. Sometimes, you will have nearly nothing to work with when trying to play out of the long stuff. Other times, however, you may draw a great lie that allows you to play the ball all the way to the green.
The key when trying to read your lie is the area directly behind the ball. Do you have a clear path to get the back of the club on the ball with plenty of speed? If so, you just might be able to play a pretty good shot after all. Of course, this will not usually be the case (so count your blessings if you do get a favorable lie), and remember that you will probably have to pitch out in most circumstances.
Expect No Spin
You already know that the ball doesn’t spin much when coming out of the rough – and that is certainly true of playing shots out of fescue grass.
If you do get the chance to take a full swing at the ball when it is in the fescue, plan the shot as if the ball won’t be spinning at all when it comes down. Most likely, the shot is going to ‘shoot’ out of the fescue lie with nearly no backspin, causing it to take a big bounce and have plenty of roll when it comes down.
Flying the ball all the way onto the green is only going to lead to your shot winding up over the back edge when it comes to a rest, so try to play the ball short and let it run the rest of the way. Also, when playing a pitch out or chip out, take the bounce and roll into account so you can be sure to leave your lay up in the short grass.
Keep It in the Fairway!
What’s the best way to escape the long fescue around the course? Keep your ball out of there to begin with!
This tip might seem a bit sarcastic, but it is absolutely the truth. Long fescue grass is meant as a hazard, and it is going to cost you a shot or more in most cases.
To keep your score on track, do your best to keep your ball out of the fescue and in the fairway. By playing shorter (more conservative) clubs from the tee, such as a hybrid club instead of a driver, you can improve your accuracy almost instantly. You aren’t going to be able to play it safe with a shorter club in all cases, but be smart with club and target selection in order to keep your ball away from the long grass whenever possible.
Let It Go
So, you hit your tee shot into the fescue on a par four, and you had to chip the ball back out to the fairway because you had a terrible lie in the long grass. Now what?
The most important thing you can do at this point is to forget about the mistake that you made and move on to the next shot. There is absolutely nothing you can do to make up for the shot into the fescue at this point, so there is nothing gained by remaining frustrated moving forward.
The best golfers are often those who can forget about their mistakes while moving forward with the rest of the round with confidence. Rather than thinking about what has gone wrong and what you should have done better, keep your mind focused on hitting a great shot with your next swing. For example, after you have pitched out of the fescue, train your focus on hitting a beautiful wedge shot to give yourself a chance to save par.
You aren’t always going to be able to quickly recover from a trip into the fescue, but a good attitude can certainly go a long way.
The Last Word
Fescue grass is a beautiful addition to many golf courses – as long as you don’t find yourself playing from it throughout the day. Ideally, you will enjoy the fescue from a distance, looking over at it while you are playing from the fairway.
Simply put, playing from fescue is no fun, and it is almost certain to do damage to your score. When you do find your ball down in this long grass, use the tips provided above to limit the damage and keep your round on track.
Cover Image via Flickr