Sunday, September 30, 2007

Perfect Fall Days

We finally got a great month weather wise. September has been hot and dry. We've got a lot more grass on the ground. Only a few holes left to go. I'll be busy for the next few days, I'll be posting again on Wed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don -- Part 2 -- Creative too.

Someone doesn’t just become a task master, it is a continual process. Don Mahaffey really excels because he started with himself – caring about and carrying out all the details or insuring they are handled properly – from making sure the 2” irrigation drill bit really is 2” – it wasn’t – to making sure there are no bird baths or puddles – that everything drains even on a small scale.

In my opinion his creativeness is on par with his taskmaster abilities. Although he is very creative in the way that he manages all the details, he is also creative in an artistic sense. I drew detailed plans for the entire golf course, but the intent was to improvise in the field on both a large and small scale. To improve functionality – drainage and irrigation – playability, aesthetics and construction production effectiveness. The detailed shaping and finished playing surfaces are works of art. The fairways are unique and varied, the greens are magnificent -- and they all work functionaly and look like they play great. I think the course is going to be a tremendous amount of fun.

Pictured above, Don is planning the next few days of grassing with Wayne.

I'll have one more part in the near future...
In case you missed it -- here was Don part 1

Sunday, September 23, 2007

15th Looks Easy Plays Hard

We put the finishing touches on the 15th green earlier this month. It has always been my favorite green – I think it is incredibly unique – and the shaping was original to the site. The directive for the course was to make it challenging and not ball hungry – our client didn’t want the player to be looking for their golf balls.
For me, besides short and wide, it also translates to a course that looks easy, but plays hard. The first picture is the 15th green from a forward tee – it is a par 3. It looks easy to me.

This picture is a closer look at the green. A sand pro is “finishing” or polishing the green. It is directly on the extents of the putting surface – the edge of where we will be mowing the green. The margin for error is slight. The green looks even better from other angles with better shading, but I'll be saving those for when this green is green.

Earlier Holes Featured: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 7 - 9 - 10 - 11.

Friday, September 21, 2007

10th fairway

I had hoped to post earlier this week, but it is tough to write more than I already have been – I’ve been updating my brochure, among a few other items – yes I still have a printed brochure in this day and age – I’ve kept it a little smaller to be environmentally friendlier.

So tonight I want to share a picture of the 10th fairway – ripples and all. The further one plays away from the lake the bigger the bumps get near the green – leaving a very tough approach even though it may be only a pitch, it will be tough to get close to the pin.

The stakes are irrigation heads and a few basins. The fairway is 4 rows wide in spots, and only 7 rows long.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A fine computer rendering

I was very excited to see the final results of the above image – it is hot off the presses. It is a computer generated rendering of a planned renovation. There are currently 3 ½ average to poor holes on this existing piece of the property. With a little more room at the other end of the of the site I was able to give both holes some breathing room, I think they can be very fine.

The railroad serves mostly the oil & gas industry, but it is authentic.

I want to share a little more of 10 - I'm going to work on a sketch of 10 green for tomorrow and follow up with Don - part 2 shortly thereafter.

#10 - Shorter and W i d e r

#4 was short and wide, #10 is shorter and wider, almost as wide as it is short. I’ve driven the green a couple times with a slight helping wind – dirt golf that is. The prevailing wind is in the players face. And the lake looks enormous from the tee – can you guess where the green is in the above picture. Did I mention that there are no bunkers? What I like best is how severe the green plays the further one plays away from the lake. The rumpled fairway has been looking most excellent lately.

We are grassing it very soon and I will hopefully show some shadowy photos. We have a lot more holes grassed as a result of the team and the almost perfect weather the past few weeks.

Earlier Holes Featured: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 7 - 9 - 11.

Friday, September 14, 2007


We finally got some help fending off the storms – see above. We have gotten quite a bit of the grass on the ground this week.

I also changed the header image at the top. It gives a me good feel for what the property is like – at least the peaceful parts – the ride does get a little rougher in spots. :)

Monday will be the weekly hole feature where I describe a unique or interesting aspect of each hole, and shortly followed by Don – part 2.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don -- Part 1 -- Taskmaster First

Don Mahaffey has been on site for 18 months. He has been a superintendent for a long time and has a thorough knowledge of all matters golf. Work started fairly slow, but as we’ve progressed Don has taken on more and more work – he has been the construction superintendent, maintenance superintendent and project manager – all of those roles get harder as the project comes to completion – and he is steadily getting better and better.

As his work load has increased his taskmaster side has really kicked into full gear – there is just no room for loose ends with his work load. Don “worries” about all the details –- worry means practicality, logical, planned or well thought out. All of which leads to an efficient project that will benefit future ease of maintenance and most excellent playability.

He communicates most effectively with the entire team.
He doesn't mix words.
He will almost always come around to a good idea.

We get to play good cop / bad cop with our vendors -- it can be fun.
Don was nearly an Olympic Water Polo team member – he’ll say he was 3rd or 4th alternate and that is miles away from the Olympics -- I guess I could agree with him...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sodbuster Wayne

This spring Wayne Hansen (pictured above) was added to the team. Don Mahaffey found a most excellent local farmer with no golf experience and trained him in the world of golf agronomics. Technically he is the mechanic, as he can fix anything. Farmers generally don’t wait for service calls to harvest the fields.

He has been a huge asset and has taken to the job like a fish to water. Since we’ve started grassing Wayne has been keeping a collection of bugs found amongst our crops. Just this week he was instrumental in fending off our first invader – no small task. He has been able to really get into the grow-in and watch every sprinkler and develop his own best practices which are helping our subsequent spriggings. The course is in great hands with Don and Wayne.

Wayne is a bright guy, we’ve taken to discussing gravity over dinner – and beers. He is also very practical – he likes the new Miller Chill, not because it is gimmicky, but because it is easier when they add the lime and salt for you.

Monday, September 10, 2007

9 -- Inward

The 1st and 9th holes play from the same teeing area -- away from the clubhouse. The 9th is the longest hole on the course – it can play quite long from a back teeing area. It plays around a 12 acre lake and on paper it seemed a bit formulaic – in its strategy and how well it worked from a clubhouse view. After shaping I was no longer concerned – the fairways and green turned out very well. During my concern phase I really pushed the 2nd shot landing area with two very meaty bunkers to spice up the hole.

The visual intent for the hole was to see the green and first set of bunkers from the clubhouse and teeing area. What I didn’t expect was that there would be a perfect window between some great live oaks that highlighted the 2nd bunker complex. Note the picture above. The regular tee is sighted to be exactly where the view is best - where I was standing for the picture. *The container by the right tree is temporary.

Earlier Holes Featured: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 7 - 11.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another little slice of 7

To share one additional insight with the 7th hole – During the redesign to its current form (see here), I had sketched a small 200 square foot bunker in the middle of the fairway. As it was built the hole plays down wind and the tiger can try to carry the ball to the approach inbetween the left fairway bunkers and the green side bunker. The right side of the fairway is protected by native grasses and the greedy player will find their ball in a tough spot frequently. The current play, without the centerline bunker, is to try to hit to the neck and not through the fairway into the left fairway bunkers – which are quite severe.

One can also play safe anywhere in the big left portion of the fairway –- a hint: the green is far more receptive the closer one hits their tee shot to the left fairway bunkers. The center line bunker was an attempt to create a lay up option – with a long iron or utility club – or lay up left. Don felt that instead of creating options that it would reduce options as the lay up left would not be used -- unless accidently. We discussed it for a few days and together decided to leave it out.

I’m looking forward to seeing it tomorrow with mature grass…

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spreading Lime with the Dakota

Wayne, our new mechanic – who will be featured as soon as I get a better picture of him, is spreading lime just prior to grassing using our Dakota 440 Turf Tender. Don has lots of preferences for maintenance equipment – he spent a good amount of time with me at last year’s Golf Industry Show sharing some of his insights and experiences. The vendors are a big part of any project - it has been very helpful to see first hand how good service is invaluable.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Bottle Hole No More - The 7th

As the course routing was evolving the 7th hole always hovered around the same open cleared area - it didn't move much. My original idea was to create a short version of a bottle hole – the ground had a slight rise away from the tee and it would be fairly easy to accentuate the ground to make a line of cross bunkers. As the other holes were being developed I had a sense that I was overusing the diagonal feature. So I overlaid all the holes in the same orientation from tee to green and it was a lot easier to see the similarities.

It was some time later when we were getting ready to start on 7 and I said to Don I’m thinking about not making a diagonal cross bunker complex here… That was by far the shortest meeting we’ve had on site – he was in full agreement. I came back with a new sketch, Don was fully supportive from a construction perspective and encouraged us to make the greenside bunker larger.

The surrounding area was subdued and the new holes movement is too.
*For reference - I used an 800’ turning point in the above image.

Also while it looks like it is just a sketch - those features are all GPS'd data as are most of the trees.

The 7th previously when it was a Bottle Hole. You can see the natural tee landform in the contours too - it is the teeiest tee we have on the course. I also had a hell of a name for this version of the bottle...

Earlier Holes Featured: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 11.

An addendum on the definition of a Bottle Hole:
Here is the most famous bottle hole - click for aerial.
From George Bahato's great book: The Evangelist of Golf
Bottle Hole Origin: C.B. Macdonald modification of original 12th hole at Sunningdale's Old Course, Berkshire, England - No Longer Exists
Bunkering: Features a dramatic set of fairway bunkers placed on a diagonal to the line of play, separating a two-level fairway. Green site well bunkered with Principal's Nose complex beyond fairway bunkers.
Approach: The narrowere fairway segment (set on the upperfairway segment) offeres a less hazardous approach shot.
Final comments: Though many were built, most have been lost as club committees eliminated one of the optional fairways.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Wind in Action

It is difficult to photograph the wind. On my first site visit I noticed a tree out in the middle of a field growing sideways away from the prevailing wind.

This week while Don was testing some sprinklers and the pump station pressure at a point far away from the Station – I took a few shots. The wind was mild as compared to an average afternoon - in the photo it is coming from the right (south east). If you look close you can see the arc of the water – it bends in the clouds.
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