Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tractor & Scraper

I’ve learned a farmer is always working on their harvest or in preparation of their harvest. So we were fortunate to have found a band of farmers that smartly utilize their farming equipment between harvests. Last summer, all summer, the farmers were our mass excavators as they dug our 12 acre irrigation pond. It gave me a good understanding of how the farmer works -- pretty simle actually, they work when they can -- sun up to sun down.
The above picture is of a large tractor pulling two scrapers. They fill one basket with 10 tons of dirt, then the second with 10 tons, paying close attention to the mechanisms and when they are full – drive to the fill area and drop and compress the loads by running over the materials. The equipment represent a major investment and they spend considerable time on upkeep and maintenance. I found there to be many similarities between farming and industry –- except deadlines were maybe even more important to the farmer.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The 2nd - earlier this spring

Each Monday I’ll be talking about one of the golf holes more specifically – not a generic bland description, but a feature that I like or I think is special. More than any other hole on the course, the pin placement polarizes which side of the wide fairway is the optimum side. The green is pretty wild. Don spent a great deal of time both tying the green into the surrounds and ensuring it fit into the long views of the ranch portion of the property. The green is in front of the scraper in the background. I’d say this hole looks easy and plays hard. Into the prevailing wind doesn’t make it any easier. You can see there was a little water in a fairway bunker earlier this spring – we were still finishing the drainage.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Strange Weather II

Congratulations to the county – earlier this week we broke a 106 year old record. We are now the rainiest July in over a century - and it isn't because there was a rainier month - the data only starts in 1901. The above picture is from this Thursday - the record wasn't broken by a little bit either. I try not to ask how much we’ve gotten year to date…

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Caterpillar D6R

This is the biggest piece I’ve operated to date – it is a Cat D6R and it is pretty fun. It was pretty hard to see at first and quite responsive – I was usually on the old clunker without air conditioning. When this big guy wasn’t in use I roughed in a few features. That is a wide track – it makes less of a mess when turning, and is a nice compactor. I don’t know what the R is, but Jacob (our shaper) used to make sure he specified the R when ever he was going to put it to work – but I am still a little green as not long ago I used to call diesel gas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Site Equipment - 100" Tree Spade

There is quite a bit of equipment on most golf course construction sites. I thought it might be informative to show some of the tools we used to build the course. This first picture is of Don in our 100” tree spade. Work was a little slow when he first arrived, and he cleared out some of the smaller live oaks from future fairways to fill in the front of the property. He got good at using it, all without any trouble – they get very heavy and are far more unstable with a tree and soil. It hasn't been used for any plantings yet, but it is nice to have the option easily at our disposal.

We never had a deadline for finishing, it has always been work at a pace that makes the most sense for the golf course and economically – this has had a huge impact on the overall quality of the project and I’ll be talking in detail about the philosophical ramifications – it is rare to have an appropriate amount of time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mott of Live Oaks

Last week I was describing a mott of live oaks on the course to someone – they asked what is a mott? As there are quite a few on the course I thought I’d throw a little vocabulary your way. The “ranch” portion of the course was routed around several motts of Live Oaks. I must say that they turned out quite well in the context of the course - they are beautiful and large. We did very little clearing of trees, it was mostly the Huisatche (bonus word) that we cleared. I did like the Huisatche look – kind of like a spindly gorse and almost as painful – but apparently not everyone is very fond of the stuff.

From behind 1 green

Time to start talking about the golf course – the above photo is taken from behind 1 green. The short par 4 opener plays into a quartering wind and has a significant ridge that dictates the strategy from the tee. If you play down the left side of the fairway you can have a fun putt from 50 yards out. The large green is a big target - note lighter colored sand, and it is filled with subtle breaks. There are no mounds anywhere near the putting surface. If you are too aggressive you may find your ball over the back – it is hard to judge from the photo, but trust me it is a tough spot to recover from. The green size was inspired by the large opening green at Jasper Park by the great Stanley Thompson. It gives the recreational player a little extra putting practice.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oyster Stew

Wolf Point Club is on the coast, and we luckily have nearby access to all the oyster shells we could ever need. We have no cart paths on the course. We do have a few high traffic areas - near bridges and the cart barn - where we’ve started to place some oyster fills. They look nice and fit the setting very well.

Enjoy Carnoustie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Well, well, well

To wrap the irrigation system in a nice little blog bundle, I thought I’d show where the water comes from. The above photo is of the drill rig digging the water well. It is pretty deep and a pretty big pipe, and we sure didn’t need it to fill the lake – as it won’t stop raining.

I was on site today and the finish work that was completed recently is outstanding. It has the crew all very excited about the course - they won't stop hitting balls around the maintenance area. I didn't think to take a picture of them today - they were grinning from ear to ear. I'll get one for the blog next next time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Irrigation Lift Off

I have to admit, I was more than pleased to see the first sprinklers working in action. There are an awful lot of details and a lot of work that makes the system function. Don (pictured) and I designed the system together. He has extensive experience with irrigation systems and what the end user needs and wants. It is a decoder system – no satellites to create a visual distraction on the expansive open areas. Don is standing in the approach area of 1 green. Note the extensive use of containment mounding… :) The 10th hole is on the other side of the lake. There are some very large nice live oaks in the background that 11 & 12 wrap around. The black pipes are unfinished basins.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Taj Mahal of Pump Houses

Unfortunately I didn’t get our application in on time for the New 7 Wonders of the world contest – I think we had a shot. Our pump house is nice and cozy. Air conditioned – to keep the pumps running smooth – lots of room so no one is afraid to venture inside. If you’ve never been in a pump house – they are often scary places. Sometimes the pump house is more like a chain link fence. We got a great deal too, our builder wanted to prove their talents and used the pump house as their demonstration model.

In all seriousness, it is fantastic having an experienced superintendent – the end user – setting up the infrastructure in an efficient manner – the way it will (and wants to) be used. There are so many details that make so much sense.

Irrigation Pump Station Delivered

This picture wasn’t taken too long after the delivery. It was great to see it in the ground. Pictured are Mark – our distributor and Don Mahaffey our super super – that is construction superintendent, maintenance superintendent and project manager.

Tomorrow I'll have a great picture of the next step.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Demonio & Diablo

Demonio, pictured swimming, is one half of the team that threatens all who face Infierno Bunker. Diablo is still waiting.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Irrigation As Built

The above illustration the irrigation system in its entirety - almost. All the data has been collected in the field using the GPS unit from yesterday’s image. The data has been post processed – [the unit collects data from several satellites as items are measured. Afterwards data can also be collected from a regional data collector to further refine the errors. The geometry of the satellites has a big part of the accuracy and using a regional beacon adds to the accuracy.]

I then compile the new measurements – recording during construction requires many individual days of measurement – to the image you see above.

There are a few more heads still out there, but thankfully not many.

Monday, July 9, 2007

GPS for golf construction

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time surveying since I've been in the golf business. Initially I helped clubs, architects and a developer with GPS surveying. The hand held device is a sub-meter system and the errors are quite small. I used it as a construction/staking tool to help determine where to cut & fill, planned irrigation or drainage locations and keeping track of teeing areas – they are mostly invisible out here, so they are easy to lose.

In the picture shown above I am recording where the irrigation was installed. That is a swing joint for a valve in head rotor and a quick coupler near the 15th green. As I am often on site it is much easier to record while the trenches are visible. Any future superintendent will have a very accurate survey of the heads and basins, including all the drainage and irrigation pipe locations – that is rare from my experiences. Often a survey is taken after the course is completed and put together with field notes.

We are presently transferring the data to a hand held computer to help run the irrigation system from the field.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Pete Dye and I at Whistling Straits

Watching the Sr. Open today at Whistling Straits, I was reminded of my chance encounter with Pete Dye. They were on site working in preparation of the PGA – which was still a couple of years away. Pete said he was trying to figure out where he was going to put all the people. It looks like they did a great job. I feel very fortunate to have had a chance to say hello and how much I liked his work.

I thought the course was mostly excellent – and somewhat over-whelming. I would have loved to see what man-power it took to build all those bunkers. The most memorable vision was climbing over the northern man-made dunes and getting a look a the native farm land – it is quite flat. There was still quite a bit of remnant construction work that was helpful to see.

This picture was taken in front of the 7th green - it was cold and windy. Pete's dog looked like it was having fun.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Critic

“It is the new and different that is always most vulnerable to market research” - Malcolm Gladwell

As our local 4th of July parade was rained out yesterday, my family and I got to an early showing of Ratatouille. It was very good. My favorite part was the write up by Anton Ego (pictured above) a very dour critic. Written in his final review was what he thought to be the most important role of the critic – To identify what is new and different and yet still outstanding – as it would be to different for the mainstream to understand or appreciate.
Couple his thoughts with the initial quote by Gladwell and one might better understand why golf is somewhat bland in this modern age, and why a critic can be so important.

Here is some of Anton's review:

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ideal Golf Site Resources

We have been fortunate to have several natural resources on the Gulf Coast.
The one that is always present is the wind – creates plenty of strategy and interest – playability and irrigation are the greatest design considerations as a result of the wind.

We are also fortunate to have quite a bit of sand on site. The stockpile pictured above is our fairway plating sand. Some areas have great sandy loam soil conditions ideal for golf turf, others could use a little help – which is the reason for the sand. That is not a mini-excavator.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Banner Image

The above image is a favorite picture that I had taken during a site visit in New Mexico. I’ve tried to find a suitable image from the project I’ll mostly be talking about, but so far no luck. I’ll keep trying.
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