Proper Golf

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Donald Ross Greens

Over the last 2 weeks, we have begun renovating the 3 of the 4 Donald Ross original greens during our large scale renovation. A number of the original 27 holes laid out by Donald Ross (the other 9 of the 36 holes were originally designed by Charles Banks) have been altered over the years, including some of the more severe greens that became unplayable with modern green speeds and maintenance techniques. The 3 greens that we are currently renovating are what the superintendent describes as "The B Team", meaning the most extreme and difficult of the remaining original greens. Many of the original Ross and Banks designed greens do still exist on site, however much of the course has been tweeked and altered over the years over the years by the Jones family of architects, who call this place home.

All 3 greens are the high points for each individual hole and were built up on a nice layer of black topsoil with varying fill materials and rocks underneath. Two of the greens (#5 and #9) are split into 2 tiers separated by deep a swale, while the other (#3) was simply small and steep, containing 6 feet of fall from back to front. While each of the 3 greens will be softened to some extent, 2 of them will also be expanded, all in hopes of gaining more pin positions, significant drainage improvements as we are rebuilding them as USGA greens and better playability in terms of difficulty for the members.

Here are photos from the process so far from the 2 of the greens that have been approved by the architect.

Green #3

The plan with GPS'ed elevations. Existing grades and features in green and lighter black line weights, new grades and features drawn in with orange and the heavier black lines.

Stripping the green, which will be transplanted to one of 2 turf nurseries on site for future use during other green expansions later in the renovation.

View from #3 tee. All the grass has been stripped around both bunkers we will be renovating along with the green. A few trees have also been removed on the right
and in the back of the green.

The topsoil layer under the green and colored has started to be stripped away with the trackhoe and stockpiled on sight for use throughout the rest of the renovation.

I have now removed about half of the topsoil from under the green. The guys in the background are digging up the irrigation heads to be removed and saved. The pipe however will be trashed as the green is being expanded and some of the surrounds regraded right where the existing irrigation lines run. We are getting ready to set stakes and take elevations as well.

More topsoil has been removed. You can see old irrigation pipe sticking out,
waiting to find its way to the trash.

Grade stakes are being set and the fill layer beneath the topsoil is being removed
around and between the stakes.

Finishing up coring out the green to sub-grade. Ready for shaping now.

Shaping the sub-grade inside the green well has begun.

Initial shaping according to the plan is complete. Now waiting for the architects approval before sub-drainage can begin.

Altering the shaping to the right side of the green. The right side, where the green has been expanded and ties into a roll and swale, needs to be softened even more to tie in better.

The green has now been approved and sub-drainage has now been installed to
drain out of the front left corner of the severely sloping green.

The sub-grade is being cleaned up and raked out by hand, removing any minor imperfections. More stakes are now being added as well so all the subtleties can be captured when the 4 inch stone layer goes on next, followed by the 12 inch root zone mix layer.

11 loads from my 10 ton articulating dump truck, which is approximately 4 1/2 tri-axel on road dumpers is being wheelbarrowed and raked out to 4 inches by hand on this small green. The entire green must be covered with exactly 4 inches in order to retain all the same slopes at the sub-grade and then again at final grade with the 12 inches of root zone mix so perfectly consistent conditions can be realized in the USGA green building specifications.

Green #9

View from the front left corner of #9 green. The pin is sitting in swale separating the two severe tiers in the green. Irrigation heads are being dug up and removed by hand by the guys in the background.

Pre-renovation view of the green from the back right corner, looking through the swale between tiers. The exposed dirt you see is where topsoil has been striped and drainage has already been installed in the swales and low areas surrounding #9 green.

Sod is being stripped, rolled, and transplanted on one of the turf nurseries for later use.

Topsoil is being removed from underneath the green, transported
around the site and stock piled for later use.

More top soil being removed from the upper tier of #9 green.

Stakes are being set and fill is being cored out down to 16 inches below finish grade. A little bit of shaping has been done with the dozer and pushed to to the trackhoe,
to be hauled away on site.

The top tier of the green has been shaped out. The lower front tier
is still being cored out to subgrade.

View from the front right corner of the green as the edges of the green well are being built up the shaping inside the well can be finished. Doing the shaping inside a well can save a lot of time and money if the architect is able to visualize the finish grade, and the operators are capable of shaping the ties ins at subgrade, 16 inches below the green surrounds.

Shaping of the green is now finished and approved, awaiting installation of the sub-drainage. Rough shaping of the approach is now underway as well via the bulldozer.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Heritage Creek:Pennsylvania's Newest Golf Hole

I was out at Heritage Creek a few weeks back, where we have been building 3 NEW! golf holes to add to the 6 already in play at Kelly Moran's Heritage Creek in Warwick, PA. On one of the hottest days of the year, I was helping turn on the irrigation and seeding/sodding Pennsylvania's newest golf hole, which will be 1 of 3 to finish construction this summer/fall. Holes #3-5, the first of the new holes, will join #6-11 in a 9 hole loop which plays along and now over the creek and number of protected wetlands. I've been told that the members and die-hard players of the current 6 hole loop are so excited to add the 3 new holes that bleachers may even be installed to watch the crane come and install the irrigation line that will cross the creek and connect all the holes!

View from the right tee box on the par 4, #3

Approach to the green. Plays over a protected wetland area. The grass is the ring of rough blue grass which has just been put down. If you look closely, the you can see the sand pro on the green getting ready for seed. The fairway/approach area will also be seeded.

View from the front edge of the very large and severely sloping green with irrigation testing going on in the background. According to the plan on the website, this green was originally supposed to be part of a double green to be played by holes #3 and #12.

Back view of the green.

Another view from the back of #3 green with more irrigation testing going on.

Hole #4 which will be the next hole to be finished and grassed. This hole, a shortish par 4, will play up the hill on the tee shot then hooks off the right across another wetland where the green has been built into the side of a hill.