Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #23

It been just over a month since we re-opened the golf course to our Members after going through a seven month long renovation. At the time we made a conscious decision to open the golf course because it was indeed playable but not quite "show ready". The decision was based on our desire to get our members back on their golf course to enjoy it while the weather was still decent and not open it in the dead of winter. 

We knew there was still allot of work to be done to tie up the loose ends of construction as well as support the contractor who was still here through the month of October tying up loose ends of their own. We knew it would be difficult to make the progress that we wanted to make based on an intense tournament schedule of both Club Events and Monday Events for the first 45 days, most of that period severely understaffed on a new golf course that requires substantially more hand work. 

Again the decision was made with the Membership in mind and I think for the most part it was the right one, as everyone seems to have enjoyed the changes, agreed that the course was playable and maintained an understanding that we are not done yet.

Most of the membership have told us that they really like the architectural changes that were made to the course during the renovation with one exception. The removal of the fairway bunker on the left hand side of #15. So, while we were open and Diamond golf was still here, we put in it back. Actually it is completely different bunker in a different position but more or less the same location. I call it the 7 day bunker because it was conceived, carved out and completed in seven days.

Good news is we have made excellent progress on new employee  recruiting, bringing our  current GCM staff level to twenty adding nine new team members in the last four months, four of which joined the team in the last  two weeks. And I'm not done yet. Of course there is training and assimilation that needs to take place, but the #1 threat to our success with this new renovation, lack of staffing, has now eased-up.  Additional good news is that after November 15th we will not have a Monday event until the end of April 2022. This gives us Mondays through the winter to exclusively work on the course with out the distraction of a 10:00 AM shotgun. This is huge. 

Bottom line is all of the loose ends that need to be tied-up are going to take some time. We are going to need an productive winter season along with some luck, praying for light rain at night and lots of snow to in the mountains to fill the reservoirs. The four main tie-up priorities we will be working on are:

  • Fairways
  • Irrigation
  • Tree & Brush Cleaning
  • Landscape

I'll go into the details of these in a future Course Update's. Of course we will still be prepping and maintaining the course for member play, but we need to make substantial strides on a  detailed list of these main priorities before spring.

Packing sand with sand pro tires. We haven't been using the mechanical rakes to rake bunkers as the bunkers are smaller in general and and the maneuverability of the sand pros in these small bunkers is limited.

#16 walk-up and surround  doesn't look like much now but areas like these around greens have been scarified to open up some pretty dense hybrid bermuda turf canopies, and heavily overseeded with fescue varieties.  With a little temperate weather to germinate seed, this  overseeding in the green surrounds will really reveal the grassing vision of the surrounds in shot order. 

Thank you Granite Bay Members for your support, patience and course care. We have had no cart damage from member play that I am aware of. The ball marks on the greens are not nearly as bad and we had anticipated. The golf course has continued to get better while you have been using it, which is a testament to all of your efforts. Thank You. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Project 2021 Update #22

The 2021 Turf Renovation Project has been in process for over 220 days and we now have days before we re-open the course to our Members. We in the golf course maintenance department would like to thank all of our Members for their patience during this closure. Additionally we hope that the renovation will have exceeded your expectations both now, and into the future, as the new turf matures and become the great playing surfaces they are destined to be. 

Postcard view of the new #3 green at Granite Bay Golf Club

The course is the same, yet different, as one would expect from any renovation. The green complexes, and the new pure bentgrass greens are in the same locations, but all of the old  green contours are gone and the bunkering is new and different. You will have to re-learn putting on them. The tee complexes are in the same location's but some drastic changes have been made to some, and some are about the same. The big change to the fairways was the switch from cool season turf to Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. The incorporation of Santa Anna was the most important, and driving aspect of the project. Parts of fairways contours and shaping have opened up and provided some expanded landing areas and  sight lines, and some of the fairway bunkering has created different strategy's for all levels of players. All of the bunkers are different with bright white sand and ribboning texture to their edges. The angularity of the sand will give you a good consistent lie and the new bunkers are not nearly as deep as their predecessors.

Driving Range turned out really nice

All of this said, very few golf courses, either renovated or newly constructed,  open or re-open when they are perfectly mature. Granite Bay Golf Club is no exception. Therefore we have to protect the course while it is maturing. Some steps we will be taking are cart path only rules until we feel the course is ready for cart traffic. Additionally we will be playing preferred lies on the entire course until we feel you can play the ball down. We will all have to be diligent about properly repairing ball-marks on the greens as ball mark damage on brand new greens can be significant. Proper ball mark repair will go along way towards preventing poa annua encroachment as poa annua seed find it easy to germinate in a moist depression. 

First day of the upper practice green being open. 

Other strategies we will adopt is use of a target ring above the edge of the cup to help the young exposed edge of the hole with stability and moisture retention. Additionally we will continue with flag colors of  red, white & yellow for front, middle & back hole locations, but we will not be following the rotation we followed previously, as we will need the flexibility to move hole locations based on wear and health of the putting surface, not a prescribed hole rotation schedule. Expect tighter pin locations  then previously experienced at Granite Bay as well. This is purposeful, as a ball mark mitigation strategy. We hope to maintain speeds in the 9 foot range but will need to continue to feed these young greens to help  them establish and heal from the traffic they are about to endure. And for every action there is a reaction as healthy, growing grass can be slower grass. We'll use different maintenance strategies, such as light verticle mowing and grooming as well as light frequent sand topdressing to help with firmness and ball roll. 

Above image shows the target ring that we will be using in lieu of painting cup edges on our brand new greens.  The rings will  provide stability and moisture retention to the exposed edges of the new holes.

I'm excited about getting our members back on the golf course but at the same time worry about these very young playing surfaces. You can help again by properly repairing ball marks, and keeping you cart on the cart path not pulling partially off the path onto the turf which is all or our inclinations. Thanks again for your patience and help getting our new course through these first few months.


Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #21

Better Billy Bunkers

The Bunkers at Granite Bay Golf Club represent a significant portion of our course renovation project.  The current bunkers drainage system, liner and sand are over 13 years old and have more than reached their estimated lifespan.  They were constructed with what was at the time the best available technology, sand over a hard non-permeable polymer lining with an underlying drainage system. Over time this liner has failed allowing soil particles to mix with sand particles after winter storms, substantially slowing down the sands ability to drain which is the beginning of the end.  Some problems were the erosion of the faces and pooled water after rain storms. 

GBGC bunker erosion after a storm in 2011

In addition to providing poor playing conditions the bunkers required hours of maintenance work to repair them after a storm.

Since our bunkers were last renovated a new system, the Better Billy Bunker system, was devised.  Similar systems are used by virtually every high end course in the world and they create a water-permeable base for the entire bunker, while also helping hold sand to steep faces.  This system can allow up to 1,500 inches of water per hour to pass through the base.  One course in Virginia had hurricane Sandy drop 7 inches of water on its 120 bunkers.  Their crews completed their normal raking maintenance, and then spent a total of 1 extra man-hour cleaning up washed sand in the bunkers. There were just a few rivulets to be smoothed out, with a leaf rake. Previously this would have taken an additional 200+ hours of work.

So how is this magic accomplished?  This simplified image (from Dormie Network) illustrates the system.

The blue represents water which passes through the bunker sand and a porous layer of gravel into a drainage line at the bottom of the bunker, which transports the water away.

Steps to create these bunkers

After the bunker has been shaped, which in our case has been no small undertaking, drainage lines are installed allowing for 2 inches of gravel and 4 inches of sand.

Starting to spread gravel over drainage lines

Then 2 inches of gravel are spread

Gravel almost ready for polymer coating

Then a polymer binder is applied. This results in a sturdy pliable layer of glued gravel which allows water to pass through making the entire floor of the bunker, including the slopes, a permeable drainage field

Applying the polymer binder

The final step is sand installation and the finished bunker is revealed.

Newly shaped and designed "splash" bunker with a  Better Billy Bunker liner system and with Idaho White sand installed on hole #9 at Granite Bay Golf Club.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #20

Where's Waldo, uh George

The course renovation has entailed a fair amount of granite boulder removal, primarily to improve playability.  The removed (deconstructed) boulders have been used to provide materials for a number walls, etc. throughout the course.

You may be wondering if one of the course's iconic rock formations, George Washington, was spared.  We can report that it has not only been spared, but George and his entire rock formation have been highlighted with newly positioned and shaped bunkers.

If you aren't familiar with George, see if you can spot him in the picture below.  Once you do be sure to point him out to your guests.  (If you have difficulty, there is a hint below).

George Washington, Number 18 Fairway

If you still can't find him, here is a hint.  The red circle below is on the tip of his nose.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #19

 Golf Course Renovation Tour

This past Friday evening 5/21/21 Mike Nicoletti and I hosted our first GBGC Member tour of Granite Bay's 2021 golf course renovation since the project began over 90 days ago. We had over 30 participants and drove the course in no particular order covering progress, examples of design philosophy as well as answering any and all questions fielded by the Member Participants.

The tour lasted for just over an hour and we covered much of the course mostly highlighting green complexes that have been sodded and seeded. Additionally we covered bunker design and Better Billy Bunker liner, and the subtle changes that have been made to the golf course to both enhance the challenge for the low handicapper while creating a more open enjoyable experience for the mid to upper handicapper. Kevin Marshall will be scheduling another tour soon and we look forward to sharing even more progress at that time. Until then here are some pictures of the tour and the areas we looked at. 

Salvador Rodriguez joined by his brother Eduardo addressed the Members briefly during the tour and enthusiastically explained some of the tweaks he has envisioned for the course. 

Above are some talking points we went over with the group at the beginning of the tour.

We started the tour at the new Tilleys Putting Green and Patio highlighting one aspect of our scope of work which is enhancement of the outdoor activity facilities.

Tilleys Practice Green. The putting surface itself was recently seeded & growing in nicely.

Next we looked at the sightline opening up on #4 green. I've used this example before but if you recall prior to re-shaping the left hand fairway bunker you could not see the front edge of either the green nor the bunker.  Now you can.

Next we looked at the beginning portion of the erosion control rocks in front of the #3 green complex. Jay Abbott identified this erosion threat early in the design process and decided on using  granite rocks harvested right here on the property.

We also looked at the newly sodded green complex on #15.

Next we turned around and looked at the green complex on #13 that had actually been sodded that very day. Notice the openness of  both of the  green complexes, #15 & #13, which again is a main design concept.

A recent aerial view highlighting a birds eye view of the greens complexes on #10, #12, #15 and the very right side of #13. You can see it all starting to come together.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #18



Our renovated greens are being seeded with a 50/50 mix of two creeping bentgrass varieties that are intriguingly named 007 and 777.  Why bentgrass, how are they developed, and why these names?

Bentgrass is an ideal grass for greens if your local environment can support it.  It can withstand foot traffic even if closely mown (down to 1/10 of an inch). Bent, by nature, is a cool season grass which is why they have been uncommon in the South.  Granite Bay’s cool nighttime temperatures allow bentgrass, especially the newer varieties, to flourish.

007 and 777 are part of a new generation of “Super Bents” that are more disease and heat resistant than their predecessors.

#1 Green bentgrass seed germinating and visible 7 days after initial seeding. 12 to 14 days after seeding we will start to lightly roll and mow the new greens.

How New Varieties Are Developed

How bentgrass varieties are developed is fascinating.  If you guessed mad scientists in a lab, you’d be partially correct.  They were developed by scientists in an outside lab but they aren’t mad, they are patient.

New  varieties are grown from samples collected actual golf courses.  This has been going on at Rutgers University for over 70 years.  Some quotes from (the website of Dr. R.H. Hurley, the world’s premier expert on bentgrass).

Over the past forty years turfgrass breeders at Rutgers have visited hundreds of old well established golf courses throughout the United States. During a site visit small patches of putting green turf are collected. The only plants identified for collecting are ones that appear to be attractive, fine textured, dense, upright growing and free of disease.

Some of the older putting greens observed are over eighty-five (85) years old, dating back to the 1920’s, and we feel that some plants collected have been growing and surviving, under the wear and tear, on actual greens, for generations.

The goal has always been to find the idealistic 'one in a million' rare bentgrass plant -- those unique plants that display improved qualities with special adaptive traits that have allowed these plants to survive on a golf green, under extensive foot traffic and low mowing, for many, many years.

These promising wild varieties of bentgrass are brought back to the laboratory (turf farm) and observed for a few years.  Perhaps only two-percent of the promising varieties will be kept for further study with up to 98 percent of the samples discarded. These two-percent are propagated, studied, and grown to produce breeder seed.  And yes, this takes time:

Having patience is most important, as it typically takes an investment in time of approximately 12 to 15 years to collect germplasm, evaluate, breed, and commercially release one new variety.

Every architect and golf course builder has their own style of seeding greens. Basically the process is add pre plant fertility to the newly shaped and compacted  sand mix surface, seed at the specified rate, and incorporate  the fertility and seed into top 1/8" of mix. Then you start to irrigate very lightly on the hour during the day to prevent the young seedlings from drying out.

Major Advantages

So now that you have 007 and 777 varieties, what are their major advantages over previous generations of bent?

·        Improved disease tolerance

·        Improved drought and heat tolerance (777 is being planted in Texas)

·        Denser growth that limits poa annua establishment

So, what about those unique names?

Dr. Hurley’s first improved creeping bentgrass variety was named L-93 after the year it was first commercialized in 1993. 

 For his next bentgrass variety, the experimental designation was DSB (Dollar Spot Resistant Bentgrass) and the year it was to be commercially released was 2007.  Following Hurley’s earlier precedence of naming a bentgrass variety by the year it was to be released, the commercial name for DSB bentgrass was identified as 007. 

 Now, with Hurley's latest creeping bentgrass the commercial name will be 777 after October 2017 when this new “super bent” variety will be commercially released for sale to golf courses.


 Thanks to Ed Reeder for researching and writing this update while I was in a irrigation ditch. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #17

This week we crested the 70 day mark since we first started the 2021 renovation of Granite Bay Golf Club. It's normal for these types of projects  to start off with some  uncertainty  but now excitement is building as we  see the changes to the course that Jay & Salvador envisioned and  Diamond Golf and your GBGC GCM crew is executing. 

We are starting to seed greens this week, sodding around #10 & getting #12 ready for sod, starting the shaping around #15 and finishing the concrete work at Tilley's. It was a busy week like all of them in the past 75 days. Enjoy some pictures of the weeks progress.

The final concrete work in front of Tilley's was completed this week. This was a big undertaking including substantial drainage work to eliminate flooding into the building and additional out door seating, cart parking and access. The finishing touches of landscaping and  some patio railing  are up next then the grand re-opening of Tilley's sometime in May.

Sodding around the new bunkers and green of #10

Above is the new bunkering on #12 that was completed this week. Sodding of the area slated for next week.

If you look close you can see the beginnings of new bunker shaping on #15. This hole will take on some substantial changes with reduced bunkering and wider fairway leading into the green.

The teeing area on #13 needs expansion and we need some rocks for construction so a two bird one stone solution is in process on #13.

An overhead view of the new bunkering on #12.

Overhead view of the seeding process on #4 green. Process included incorporation of multiple fertility products, seeding in 5 different directions and the light topdressing and incorporation of mulch to help with surface moisture retention on this sand based green

Overhead of #1 after seeding after a days worth of light irrigation to keep seed bed moist. Salvador Rodriguez said we should see germination by Tuesday or Wednesday and will need to lightly roll by next weekend followed by first mowing shortly afterwards. We will have 10 greens seeded or sodded by Monday and the remaining seeded before the end of May giving us plenty of time to get them playable by September.