Monday, April 12, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #13

 Last Weeks Progress

My intention when our renovation project started was to provide a couple of course updates per week to keep members informed on progress. For various reasons, getting this done has been tough the past few weeks because of the amount of time I have had to spend with hands on construction. The good news  is Ed Reeder, GBGC's resident Golf Committee and Board of Governor's scribe has volunteered to help out, so you will soon be getting  more eloquent and frequent content then what I have been providing. 

Below are some pictures of progress last week which include installation of a new curb for cart path & patio at Tilley's, training and installation of the polymer of the Better Billy Bunker liner and more sod installed around bunkers and greens on #8 & #5.

Monday 4/5/21 we started and finished the demolition of the cart path outside of Tilley's. Wider cart path, new patio seating, fire pit area in the works.

New curb at new Tilley's putting green. The area around Tilley's and # 9 scheduled to be sodded on Thursday 4/15/21. Patio concrete and cart path scheduled to be poured the following Friday & Saturday.

Above is Jerry Lemons (center) , the developer pf the Better Billy Bunker system conducting a training session with Diamond Golf. Contractors must be certified to install the Better Billy Bunker System. In a nutshell there is a  specified gravel layer (minimum 2") installed over a drainage pipe in a ditch which is sprayed with a polymer that adheres and cements the gravel together without filling the capillary (water draining) pores creating a drainage field throughout the entire floor and face of the bunker. Water cannot collect. If water does not collect or back up, sand dose not  load up with water and stay's put even on fairly steep faces.

#2 LH bunker after being sprayed with the Better Billy Bunker polymer.

#1 green side bunker after Better Billy Bunker polymer installation

New sod installed around #8 green and new bunker.

Now sod installed around #5 green and new bunker

Recently installed sod around the new bunker on #5

Above is a shot of just this AM, Monday 4/12/21 of some adjustments the contractor is making to the left hand bank on #9 and softening further the run-up on that left side of the green as well.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #12

 Grassing Begins

"After obtaining a clean seed bed, the greatest preventive of weeds and clover is, - with the aid of  sun, water, fertilizers and suitable seed, -to bring up such a rapid growth of turf  that there is now room for weeds to exist." (The Spirit of Saint Andrews - p.197 Alister MacKenzie)

Forty four day's into our major turf renovation, we started to get some sod installed. Getting started on the sodding for the green surrounds and complexes is essential as we need to get the greens seeded ASAP so they will be ready for play in September. Sodding around the greens prior to seeding the actual putting surfaces themselves is important because once the greens are seeded the amount of irrigation necessary to grow-in the new seedlings  will make the adjacent bare soil too wet to work on and vulnerable to erosion. Our goal is to have six greens ready for seeding by mid-April. We will have greens 1,2,4,8,5 & 11 ready by that goal.

When it comes to actual grassing strategies of the green surrounds we have to take into consideration the diverse environments that our green surrounds inhabit. Some green complexes are in the full sun during the day most of the year, and some receive only afternoon sun spring through fall, and receive hardly any sunlight in the winter months. Therefore different grassing strategies will be incorporated for different green surrounds.

It has been well established that we will be using Santa Ana Hybrid Bermuda in our fairways as well as parts of the green surrounds that are in the full sun. The turf we plan to use in the rough and tying into bunker edges is Tall Fescue. Tall Fescue is moving in a different direction then  perennial ryegrass which was what the course was primarily seeded and recovered with for decades. Tall Fescue is more heat tolerant then perennial ryegrass and consequently its popularity in the golf market has soared. Our plan is to incorporate more tall fescue in our current rough as well during the renovation, tying in the new sod with our current rough. 

Below are some pictures and narrative of new sod and progress this past week. 

New Bunker on #1 surrounded by new tall fescue sod installed last week

Different view of the same bunker with newly sodded Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda in the approach. 

#4 green with new bunker to the right surrounded by newly sodded Tall Fescue and to the right newly sodded Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. Here is an example of more work that needs to be completed with the next sod install and ty-in work that need to be accomplished with seeding or re-sodding in the future. Again the big push is to get most of the sod around the greens in place so the greens can be seeded and irrigated without eroding the banks and surrounds of the green. 

This pictures shows the new view of the #4 green 150 yards out from the middle of the fairway. The fairway bunker on the left 110 yards out has been removed and a new smaller version shaped in it's place farther to the left. Its hard to see at the moment buts its rough-shape is there. Opening up sight lines is an important design concept for Jay Abbott & Sal Rodriguez. Prior to taking the back edge and land form from the back  of the old bunker and pushing it into the bottom of that old, deep bunker, one could not see the front edge or reach of the right-hand greenside bunker or the entire front edge of the putting surface as they were hidden by the flashing face and landform of the old bunker. All of the irrigation had to be peeled back along with the irrigation control wires but I wanted to show the attention to detail of the design concepts that are being employed here and the extent we are going to accomplish these goals. We would have created a better view it it were not for a 6" water mainline that would have be disrupted by cutting the ridge down further.  I wish I would have taken a before picture of this view as a comparison.  

West Coast Turf installing big roll  Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda in the approach of #1

The above picture shows we have left a gap in sod to facilitate the completion of the Better Billy Bunker Liner as well as the installation of the Idaho White bunker sand. Completion of the bunker was not going to hold up sodding which again was necessary to get the green seeded. These areas obviously will be sodded after those tasks are completed. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #11

 "There should be heroic carries but always an alternate route." (Alister MacKenzie 1920 - quoted in Golf As It Should Be, 1996 by Mark Parsinen)

Tee Renovation

The Scope of Work for our current course renovation at Granite Bay  includes enlarging, moving and adding additional teeing levels to the course. The purpose for this is to provide additional teeing area, lengthen the course to just over 7000 yards and provide the alternate routes Dr. MacKenzie mentioned above.

Some of the big expansions are the tournament tees on #4, #9, #12 & #11 as well as pushing back for additional teeing area #13 & #14 club tees. Relocation of the forward ladies tees on #2 is in process and we are looking at some moves to #16 forward and combo ladies tees as well. Below are some pictures of what is happening to date on the Granite Bay Tee's.

Above is an overhead view of #9 tee showing the expansion and leveling of all levels as well as the addition of the new tournament tee.

Ground level view of the new tournament tee on #9

Here is an overhead view of the future #4 tournament tee. 

Ground level of the material being stacked up for the new tournament level on #4

Not much to look at right now, but picture shows an overhead view of the beginning of the new location for the forward cobble tees on #2 closer to the cart path.

Very early ground level view of the #2 cobble tee location.

Ground level view of the area directly behind the club tee on #13 where we have removed several rocks and can now expand this space inhibited tee level backwards. Doesn't look like much right now, but we will be able to at least double in size the teeing area on this level.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #10

 "On many courses there are far to many bunkers. The sides of the fairways are riddled with them, and many of the courses would be equally interesting and infinitely more pleasurable if half of the bunkers were turfed over and converted into grassy hollows."  ( Alister MacKenzie - The Spirit of St. Andrews p. 57 by Alister MacKenzie)

Bunker Renovation - Shaping

We've settled on a way of cataloging "The Project 2021" course updates using the  labels of   this online format, which are to the left of this update. This way a Member can click on the label and the  content that has been written on any given part of the renovation will be available as a group. 

Todays update focuses on Bunker Renovation. I mentioned the particulars we are utilizing in our new bunkers in a previous course update entitled  Renovation Decisions & Philosophy We will be installing a Better Billy Bunker drainage system and installing Idaho White Sand, the details of which will be covered under the label "Bunker Renovation" as we progress. What we wanted to share today is the particulars on some of the re-shaping of the bunkers that is underway as well as the re-shaping of their associated green surrounds. Below are a series of pictures along with some narrative that show the work in progress. 

This aerial view encapsulates some of the design philosophy that Jay and Salvador are incorporating into the renovation. This is the replacement of the right hand fairway bunker on #9 fairway. The bunker was built right on top of the old bunker and moved seven yards closer to the landing area. Notice the large cut of earth out of the fairway directly in front of this bunker. That cut was made mainly to expose the front edge of the bunker as the land form previously obstructed your vision. Design Philosophy: "...opening up sight lines to make all features visible to competitors." In order to achieve this feature on this bunker GCM had to remove irrigation heads, line & wires which will all have to be put back.

This is the newly added bunker on the left hand side of the fairway on #9. This was added exclusively for the low handicapper while teeing off from the new tournament tee creating the risk reward this caliper of player craves.  Design Philosophy: "Create a fun and rewarding experience for the mid to upper handicapper, and a challenging and rewarding experience for the low handicapper."

Low handicappers will have to hit it 270  from the new tournament tee level to clear this new bunker on the left hand side of #9.

Above is the redesign of the greenside bunker on #1. The bottom of this bunker is 12" higher then it was but the design feature I like the most is the finger coming down in the middle of the bunker separating the right portion from the left. The size, shape of this finger was indeed form following function as players can enter or exit this bunker from above easily. Design Philosophy: "Make subtle adjustments to the course to enhance original design and make the course play like it opened today without losing the integrity of the original design concepts." 

Another view of greenside bunker on #1.

Another view from the landing area.

The beginning of the new greenside bunker on #4. This shape begins with the lead shaper on a 
 D-4 Caterpillar.

View from afar of the same bunker taking rough shape along with the rest of the green surround and approach.  

Diamond Golf's finishing crew beginning the finishing process of the new greenside bunker on #4.

Obviously there is allot more work to go on just bunkers alone not to mention the rest of the course and I'm looking forward to sharing more as we continue to progress phase to phase all the way around the course. Thanks as always for your support!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #9

 "What matters most is not the size of the green versus the length of the approach, but the size of the hazard-free area around the hole versus the difficulty level of the approach. If this is properly balanced, the course will remain fair for all players, and be more interesting to boot..." (Tom Doak 1992 - quoted in Golf  As It Should Be - Mark Parsinen 1996)

Greens Restoration

One of the things that we will be addressing during our ongoing golf course renovation is what can only be described as a restoration of our putting surfaces. Changes that occur gradually over a 27 year period are very subtle while they are happening, but fairly profound when analyzed after almost three decades. This course update is the first in a series of updates aimed at showing what has changed over time to our greens and how we are restoring them close the their original state. There will be tweaks in the surfaces mostly designed to facilitate surface drainage, but other tweaks that will provide strategic options to getting to the hole. A picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy the first part of this series with other editions to come as we progress through the "finishing", "seeding" and "growing in" process's of our new putting surfaces at Granite Bay.

Above photo is a picture of the putting surface liner on #5. Putting surface liners are used to separate the edge of the green's sand mix from the native soil outside the green for numerous reasons, one of which  is to identify the original edge and shape of the putting surface. During original construction the top of this liner was very close to the surface. As you can see the top of the liner is a full 12" below the ground 27 years later. This picture was taken on the left hand side of the green between the sand trap and the putting surface so much of this buildup can be attributed to sand splash from bunker shots but we are finding liners down anywhere from 8"to 12". This is normal from sand topdressing over the years but a little surprising when you first uncover it.

If you look close at the previous picture you will see a wire at the bottom of the frame that was placed there during original construction. This wire can be traced with a wire tracer when dug up and the above picture depicts the results of this original perimeter of the green on #2 with the hashed red lines. Notice how far the green has shrunk at the back. This is not unusual as perimeter issues on a putting surface are not un-common and when they are experienced  the first thing that happens is you stop mowing the area. This shrinking was likely due to shade issues caused by the large Blue Oak that is directly behind the green.

Above is a traced perimeter of #3 green. Notice the shrinkage on the left hand side walk-up to the green where we have experienced perennial issues.


Step #1 in the restoration process is to identify the perimeter edges of the original green which we have done and shown examples in the pictures above. After determining this original shape, step #2 is to sod cut the area which is depicted above.

Step #3 is removing the old sod and associated top 2" to 3" and burying or stockpiling. This material is not to be used for fill or plating as is is all soft organic and loaded with poa seed.

Step #4 is to start to remove the next 3" to 4" of mostly sand mix. This material is not ideal to seed into as the poa contamination can still be present at this level, but it is great material for sand capping surround areas where sod will be placed on top of it

Diamond Golf Currently has 8 greens prepared to this level and will have another two or three at this level by next week. Next big move to these green complexes and subsequently to all of them, is to re-shape bunkers and install BBB liners,  restore irrigation that was removed to facilitate new green complex and bunker shaping, along with the "finishing" of the greens. The finishing process will be chronicled in the next  part of our "Greens Restoration" series of the 2021 Project. Next update early next week will cover some of the new bunker shaping along with overall pictorial progress report. Stay tuned.

Thanks as always for your support.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #8

"In large Measure, the popularity which the game of golf will enjoy in  the future depends on the quality of the courses we provide for the players of the future. A great majority of the players, then as it is now, will be average golfers. Our courses must be built for them as well as the scratch man." (Robert Trent Jones II - Foreword in the Spirit of St. Andrews; Alister MacKenzie)

Today marks day 28 of our Granite Bay Golf Club renovation project and progress continues despite close to a inch and a half of rain over the past week. Rain substantially slows down most activities in outdoor construction, but we were able to stay busy working on preparing tee levels, which have a lot of sand content and can be worked when regular soil cannot because it's too wet. Below are pictures of recent progress.

#9 Tee after laser leveling and adding a sand cap. The tee level at the back is a new tournament level behind the older tournament level which still needs sand capping. 

#1 & #10 Tees getting the laser level / sand cap treatment today. Club level has been expanded to the rear to get us more teeing area. The new Combo level across the cart path will have a entirely different line to the landing area and will have enough room to occasionally put the Club tee blocks back there, and for special occasions even the the Granite's.

#2 Tees with the D-4 Cat doing the initial shaping just prior to laser leveling and sand capping. Notice the new forward tee location for the ladies bringing their level closer to the cart path. 

#8 Green stripped of sod on the original perimeter of the green. My next course update will chronicle these first steps of what can only be described as a  greens restoration process. It is amazing how much a green can shrink or grow and certainly elevate over two and a half decades. Stay Tuned.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #7

 Renovation Decisions & Philosophy

"Granite Bay was conceived as a place where the spirit of golf, the absorbing fun of the game could flourish." (Jim Fitzpatrick - forward in "Golf  As It Should Be", 1996 by Mark Parsinen)

In August of 1993 Mark Parsinen, inspired by The Golden Age of Golf Course Design, had a vision of "Golf As It Should Be". With the help of Dave Cook & Jim Fitzpatrick, this vision was realized with Granite Bay Golf Club. Golden Era architects like Alister MacKenzieA.W. Tillinghast and H.S.Colt influenced the design of the course and their namesake is reflected throughout the club at the MacKenzie Grill,  Tilley's Pub and the Colt rooms.  The stories that preceded the club are as numerous as they are interesting and Their context interrelate with Granite Bay's next era, beginning with our present-day renovation. As we progress through the renovation of the golf course and send regular updates, we will share some of these stories from the early days of Granite Bay Golf Club.

ClubCorp's Senior Vice President of Agronomy, Jay Abbott, is the project manager for the golf course renovation. Jay has contracted  with Salvador Rodriguez the founder of Diamond Golf International to complete all construction of the project. 

Jay started his 40 year career in golf course construction working for such greats as Arthur HillsTom WeiskopJack NicklausTom FazioPete Dye and Lanny Wadkins. Jay is also a second-generation Superintendent who has worked all over the country. From growing up and working on golf courses in Michigan to PGA WestDisney, Escondido & Dancing Rabbit. Jay joined ClubCorp and led the renovation of Brookhaven the original ClubCorp 54 hole facility. He then moved to Kingwood CC as a Regional Superintendent overseeing 90 holes at Kingwood and supporting  30 other clubs in the region. In 2019 Jay accepted the role of SVP of Agronomy for ClubCorp and now oversees golf course maintenance operations and construction projects on all of the over 200 courses in the companies portfolio. In Jay's career, he has hosted over 15 PGA Tour Events, 6 Senior PGA Tour Events & 5 LPGA Tour Events. With his experience he has a full understanding of what a championship golf course should look and play like. 

Salvador Rodriguez has built over 220 golf course's for designers like  Jack Nicklaus, Greg NormanTom Fazio , and Robert Trent Jones II, all of whom were inspired and drew from the architects of the Golden Era.  Sal brings an unmatched level of experience in construction and design of golf courses. Sal and Diamond Golf are held in high regard throughout the world of golf. With Sal comes some of the best golf course shapers in the world. Diamond Golfs attention to detail is impressive. 

Jay and Sal's vision for Granite Bay is to take a great golf course, make a few tweaks to make it even greater. Their overall philosophy is : 

  • Make subtle adjustments to the course to enhance the original design and make the course play like it opened today without losing the integrity of the original design concepts.
  • Create a fun and rewarding experience for the mid to upper handicapper and a challenging and rewarding experience  for the low handicapper.
  • Restore the Greens to their original design while opening up sight lines to make all features visible to the competitors.
  • Lengthen the golf course from the Tournament tees to over 7000 yard's while adding and relocating forward tees to help make the course more enjoyable for Juniors, Seniors & Ladies.

Putting Surfaces 

The greens will be restored to their original width, depth and elevation. Over time putting surfaces commonly shrink due to growing challenges on the perimeter and become elevated from years of topdressing. A future course update will explain in detail this "greens restoration" process. After they are restored they will be seeded with Dominator 007 / 777 Creeping Bentgrass.

Tee Boxes, Fairways & Roughs

Many of the tee complexes will be expanded and all will laser leveled. Additional teeing levels will be added where appropriate. The grass varietal on the tees will be Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. Tournament tees will be added on #4, #9,#11, #12 & #16.  Minor tweaks will occur in fairways to improve landing areas on #10 & #16 for  example.  Additional tweaks to improve surface drainage on #6 and #15 for example and to improve open sightlines to putting surfaces and bunkers. The fairways will receive a sand cap and be grassed as well with Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. The rough will be enhanced with fescues and bluegrass that will tolerate shade and Granite Bay summers. 


The bunkers will feature a Better Billy Bunker liner system which is the leader in golf course bunker drainage and playability. The sand will be  Idaho White ( Best Sand 900) which is highly rated by the USGA naturally meeting all their key bunker sand characteristics. There will be various changes to the shape and size of the current bunkers. The high flashing faces will be softened and when possible all edges of the bunkers will be made visible from the tee or landing area. The bunkers will also have more "texture" to the edges. Some bunkers will be removed and others added with the idea of not to overly penalize the mid to upper handicapper while challenging the low handicap golfer. Look for several future course updates detailing the bunker restoration process.

Practice Area

An additional putting green will be added near the driving range. The upper putting green will be flattened and enlarged. The putting green at Tilly's will see significant enhancements to foster the camaraderie and fun you have enjoyed so much over the years. The green will be enlarged and new lighting will be installed. 

We will continue to share regular updates of the renovation as well as design principles as the renovation progresses. Be sure to check out the Granite Bay Course Update, Instagram @ granitebaygcm, and  the clubs Facebook page. 

As always, thank you for your support and patience.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #6

 Below are some pictures of end of the week progress this past week. As you can see we are now utilizing drone technology to capture images and video. More to come next week.

Thanks as always for your support and patience.

Good image from above showing new bunkering, green expansion and new shaping of the Tilley's putting green as well as new drainage ditch to repair flooding issues into Tilley's Pub. Close near the cart path you can see the outline of the expanded patio as well as cart path.

You can get a good feel for the shape of  new LH fairway bunker on #9. Designed to challenge the low handicapper from the new championship tee moving back and too the left 10 or so yards. It will take 270 yards to carry this bunker from the new tee.

Across from the new LH bunker on #9 is a newly shaped bunker on the RH side of the fairway. The large dirt cut in front of the bunker was removed so the front edge of the bunker would be visible  from the tee. This bunker will be slightly smaller with added texture in the edges.

#1 green and bunker getting restored.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #5

Today marks day #16 of Granite Bay Golf Clubs renovation project. It has become very evident to me that this type of golf course renovation and scope of work will inherently create subtle changes to all playing surfaces involved. Our intent is to have these changes flow with the natural land forms but fix the many areas that need subtle change, and address when appropriate the member items brought forth through the Golf Committee. 

We would definitely like to thank Dan Becker for his tireless advocacy for the membership and the golf course. He has the ear of Club Corp Agronomy and has relayed all of your concerns and ideas. Most of the ideas and comments Club Corp Agronomy has already noticed including the items I have been personally told about by members over the years. I can tell you that  most concern's or comment's regarding the golf course that has been brought to me and relayed to Club Corp Agronomy  have been enthusiastically validated and will be addressed in this renovation. Basically they see the same things that you have seen.

 A picture is worth a thousand words so below are some shots of progress since Monday 3/1/21. I'll provide another update by the end of the week.

Thanks as always for you support and patience.

We have made a selection for our new bunker sand. The Bright White bunker sand above and on the left is called Idaho White. Why? Because it is hauled all the way from Emmett Idaho.
It is a superior bunker sand  as it is mostly angular in shape so provides a firm bunker sand 
(4.5 kg/cm2 penetrometer) that prevents the dreaded "fried egg lie"
and it drains well (32.1 in/hr. infiltration). 
This is a very highly rated sand by the USGA and surpasses the USGA guidelines for bunker sand which is >20 in hr. Infiltration & a Penetrometer reading of >2.4 kg/cm2. Regional clubs who currently use this sand are Olympic Club, Lahontan, Castlewood, Silverado, Yocha Dehee.

Stripping off the old green on #1 on Monday. Progress.

We will be expanding patio seating area outside of Tilleys and the cart path coming off the #9 green and will fix the flooding issue at Tilleys when these drains can not handle the shed of water off the path and backs up into our favorite pub.

New "Splash Bunker" behind #9 green hollowed out for new "Better Billy Bunker Liner" or what is known in the industry as "BBB Bunkers". I will chronicle much more on this as the bunkers get completed but in the mean time anyone who is interested in more information click on the below link.

The Better Billy Bunker Method

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #4

 Today is day 12 of  Granite Bays 2021 course renovation project. Below are some more pictures of progress because as we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. Enjoy.

GCM crew brushing in sand topdressing on the newly sodded chipping green.

A view from 150 yards out of the new "splash bunker" on #9. 

Nice view from the clubhouse roof of the shaping of the "splash bunker".

Close up view of the shaping of the new "splash bunker". Sal wants it to look like a catchers glove aimed at the 150 yard landing area.