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

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Project 2021 - Update #14

GBGC'S Ground Crew is an integral part of the project

Whether you are a "God is in the details" or a "Devil is in the details" person, it is vital that "what lies beneath" is properly done during a course renovation or later down the road you will be faced with regrets.  Luckily GBGC is blessed with a very capable grounds crew that has been pressed into service to handle the chaos resulting from the application of bulldozers.

Bulldozers are currently reshaping the course to make it both more challenging for low handicappers and more fun for high handicappers, as well as reshaping and recovering our original green sizes.  During this process the existing irrigation lines (and the controlling wires!) can "get in the way" and must be discovered, removed, and replaced.

Our GBGC crew is an integral part of the renovation project, both preparing for the bulldozer work and doing the repairs/reconstruction afterward.

Laying new irrigation lines in a trench we dug

The new wires that control the new irrigation heads must be properly matched to the existing cut wires from the controller boxes to make sure that when you turn on a green's irrigation that you don't get fairway irrigation.  This can be confusing and must be done correctly.

A tangle of wires that must be dealt with

In some cases this gives us the opportunity for significant improvements .  For example the existing irrigation for #11 had just a single controller for the entire green complex.  The replacement irrigation will have four controllers, allowing for a more tailored application of water.

Did you know? As opposed to your residential irrigation systems a golf course's irrigation lines are fully charged 24x7.

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.