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

 

Bentgrass

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 www.bentgrassdoctor.com (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.




Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #16

 Upper Putting Green

Now is your opportunity to experience something close to "Masters putting".  The Masters greens typically Stimp between 13 and 15.  Our upper putting green is currently Stimp'ing between 17 and 18.


Upper Putting Green

You are welcome to use the Upper Putting Green until its renovation begins.  Try a few putts and begin to appreciate what the pros face in Augusta.  If you sink a few putts feel free to be a bit smug in that you were able to do it on an even faster green than they face

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #15

 "As the essence of golf is variety, it would not be wise to be too didactic as to what does constitute the ideal golf course, but my suggestions for it would be very much on the lines of what I wrote twenty years ago, and as I can hardly improve on that, I set it down here as it was originally written.

General Principles

  1. The course where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes.
  2. There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes, and at least four one-shot holes.
  3. There should be little walking between the greens and tees, and the course should be arranged so that in the first instance there is always a slight walk from forwards from the green to the next tee: then the holes are sufficiently elastic to be lengthened in the future if necessary.
  4. The greens and fairways should be sufficiently undulating, but there should be no hill climbing.
  5. Every hole should be different in character.
  6. There should be a minimum of blindness for the approach shots.
  7. The course should have beautiful surroundings and all of the artificial features should have so natural an appearance that a stranger is unable to distinguish them from nature itself.
  8. There should be a sufficient number of heroic carries from the tee, but the course should be arranged so that the weaker player with the loss of a stroke, or portion of a stroke, shall always have an alternate route open to him.
  9. There should be infinite variety in the strokes required to play the various holes - that is, interesting brassie shots, iron shots, pitch and run up shots.
  10. There should be a complete absence of the annoyance and irritation caused by the necessity of searching for lost balls.
  11. The course should be so interesting that even the scratch man is constantly stimulated to improve his game in attempting shots he has hitherto been unable to play.
  12. The course should be so arranged that the long handicap player or even the absolute beginner should be able to enjoy his round in spite of the fact that he is piling up a big score. In other words the beginner should not be continually harassed by losing strokes from playing out of sand bunkers. The layout should be so arranged that he loses strokes because he is making wide detours to avoid hazards.
  13. The course should be equally good during the winter and summer, the texture of the greens and fairways should be perfect and the approaches should have the same consistency as the greens."
(Alister MacKenzie - The Spirit of Saint Andrews pp.41-42)

Golf Course Design

There is a big difference of taking care of a golf course and building one. Equally different is the building of a golf course and the renovation of a golf course. Some golf  courses,  like a home, have great bones, are built on a phenomenal piece of land in a wonderful area in the world, but just need a few little tweaks that can take it to an entirely different level. I have always held  we only needed to get the turf right to take this property to the next level. I dont believe I was wrong, but lacked the insight into what can really take this course to the next level.  Now that I am seeing the transition of what is being  done here at Granite Bay, I am equally excited about the course design revisions as I am about  the conversion of turf varieties.


An analogy for this  or any renovation process would be like comparing the work to a classic symphony or piece of classical music. The original composer's of Granite Bay were Mark Parsinen, Dave Cook, Jim Fitzpatrick and Robert Trent Jones II with his lead designer at the time, Kyle Phillips. The revisions  to the piece, are now being composed by Jay Abbott & Salvador Rodriguez who have built and remodeled over 400 golf courses between the two of them. The conductor of this symphony is the lead shaper Steve Page. Steve's baton or paint brush is a D5 caterpillar and and eye for shaping golf courses that extends 31 years.



Steve Page, Granite Bay Golf Club 4/22/21

Steve is a third generation golf course builder and shaper who has worked on five continents including 7 years in Asia, 4 of which were in China. He has worked on close to 50 projects for golf course architects like Jack Nicklaus, Brian Curley, Tom Fazio, Perry Dye, Robert Muir Graves, Tim Jackson & David Kahn, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskoph, & Chet Williams




Steve fine tuning the shape and movement of #2 green in early April 2021.

The aforementioned Dr. Alistair MacKenzie – the mastermind behind Augusta National and Cypress Point and known as the “course doctor,” – died in 1934 before seeing his vision for the The Ohio State Scarlet Course in Columbus come to fruition. He completed the original drawings and supervised the work of contouring the greens, but what the course eventually became didn’t feature his distinct design traits. "To get a better understanding of a bunker style that MacKensize would have developed," "lead shaper, Steve Page went on a tour of the remaining West Coast golf courses that still show the MacKenzie influence. During that tour, the "what would MacKenzie have done" or the new Scarlet bunker style was developed." 

In 2004 Jack Nicklaus sent Steve on that trip to study Dr. MacKenzie's work and bring it back to both Muirfield Village and The Scarlet Course at Ohio State University where Steve simultaneously worked on the shaping of both courses renovation's, both for Jack Nicklaus.  It goes without saying  that Steve is a student and  big fan of Dr. MacKenzie, and has brought his skill, experience and admiration of Dr. Mackenzie to Granite Bay. Jack Nicklaus told Steve once "you know Steve, not every bunker has to be a masterpiece. Sometimes a bunker can just be a bunker." And Salvador Rodriguez upon gazing at Steve's renovation of GBGC's #1 bunker said, "well Steve, you'll never build a better bunker then that.", and I said wait until you see #2,  which after seeing Sal said, "Steve, you'll never build a better bunker then that."  

Enjoy some pictures of Steve's work below both here at GBGC and elsewhere.


New bunker #5 at GBGC 


New bunker #2 GBGC. Form following function, the ribboning texture to the edges are of course a design feature but are functional as well with the main finger in the center of the bunker providing easy functional access  into and out of the bunker from above.



New bunker #1 GBGC. Same easy access design feature in the middle of the bunker



Steve Pages work and photography in New Zealand for Jack Nicklaus


New Zealand for Jack Nicklaus


Costa Palmas Mexico for Robert Trent Jones II

 Steve Page's work and photography, Singapore 2021


Singapore 2021