Be Careful What You Wish For August 5, 2014 By Bob Vavrek

A number of courses are spending a considerable amount of time trying to eliminate big bluestem from tall-grass areas that are likely to come into play, because an errant shot that lands next this tall, wiry grass is practically unplayable.

We sometimes have unreasonable expectations regarding the performance and appearance of natural areas on the golf course. We desire a wispy, semi-playable area that provides a striking contrast to the mowed roughs and requires minimal maintenance. We want it all.

The quest for “it all” has resulted in some quirky combinations of grass species used for tall-grass areas on some golf courses. A mixture of fine fescues and big bluestem is one combination that can slowly transform from a dream into a nightmare. Forget about wispy, when big bluestem begins to dominate the stand of turf you might as well hit your ball into a water hazard if you think you are going to play out of this prairie jungle grass.

As a result, a number of courses that seeded big bluestem into tall-grass roughs are now trying to eradicate it; at least in the roughs most likely to come into play. However, they are finding out it is much easier to add big bluestem to a native area than it is to remove when it becomes problematic. Big bluestem is one tough customer when it decides to stick around, so think long and hard about where you might want to utilize this grass on the course…and be careful what you wish for.

Source: Bob Vavrek (

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