USGA Stuns Players, Cuts Fescue at Erin Hills

Going into this week’s U.S. Open, there has been a lot of talk about the difficultly of the fescue – the thick, uncompromising grass that outline the holes at Erin Hills.

The USGA, which takes prides in constructing the harshest conditions at any event in golf, surprised everyone on Tuesday when they trimmed the fescue on four holes.

Many are applauding the condition, while others, most notably Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, thought it was unnecessary.


  • Four Holes: USGA officials were concerned about the fescue laying flat in certain weather conditions and trimmed it on four holes: 4, 12, 14, and 18.
  • Viral Video: A number of players had been critical of the condition of the long grass, most notably Kevin Na, whose video went viral.
  • Main Defense: The fescue is considered one of the main defenses of the course, which has fairways much wider than a typical U.S. Open. This will be the first time Erin Hills has hosted a PGA Tour event, so it’s unknown exactly how it will play.
  • Proactive, Not Reactive: Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director, said that the decision to trim the fescue was made last week, stressing that it was not a reaction to criticism from the players.
  • Rory Unhappy: Rory McIlroy was critical of the decision to trim the fescue, noting that it is the U.S. Open and it is supposed to be tough. He went onto to say that players have nothing to complain about if they can’t get the ball in the wider-than-usual fairway.

The Interview

Darin Bevard, Director of Agronomy, explains the reason for cutting the fescue.


“We have 60 yards from rough line to rough line. You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here. If we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home. These are the widest fairways we’ve ever played in a U.S. Open. Even the first and second cut is another 10 yards on top of that. So if you’ve got 50 or 60 yards to hit into and you’re complaining about the fescue that’s wider than that, I don’t think that’s an issue.”
Rory McIlroy

Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.

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