Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Birds

I’ve taken an awful lot of pictures on the site over the last two years – my camera is always in my pocket – a 7 meg Cannon Elph with a 2 gig chip. Everything about the project, the design and our process has been most interesting and why I am enjoying sharing so many elements of the project. I also like showing many of the other types of pictures on Friday’s and the weekend.

This image was taken this past December. Apparently each night a large mass of birds would migrate towards the setting sun. It is hard to describe how many birds were over my head – they continued way past the image frame. I look forward to some of those chilly nights again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The constructed golf maintenance buildings

Seen from above you’ll see a good access road for employees and deliveries, access to the course in 2 spots – with maintenance roads traveling along the north of the course. The facility is nicely secluded and sheltered from the course. The pump house is on the way to the course and has irrigation parts stored within to promote an awareness of the station and its operation.

Building 1 above includes the offices and equipment maintenance center.

The room on the left is the office for Don and the mechanic, Wayne. The middle door is the shower and lavatories. The last door is the break room – nicely equipped and a cool respit from the hot summer days.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two buildings are better than one

I’ve never seen a maintenance facility that didn’t need more room – and often wind up adding additional buildings over time. Don has said his decisions were all practical – they may be but only if you’ve been an accomplished superintendent for a long time. Don chose to build two buildings – one insulated for the offices and repairs (pictured above) – the other for storage of equipment, the largest piece being the tree spade.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Golf Maintenance Facility Site Location

The maintenance facility ideally has multiple easy access points to the course and has a separate entrance able to accept large deliveries. I’ve seen many maintenance old facilities easily visible from the course – and don’t look so pretty.

I wanted to hide ours and keep it close. The course routing is tight – not spread out – which helped the decision to put the facility north of the course. The perfect spot was just outside the course perimeter and didn’t require any clearing –- it was a little wet so required some fill. The above picture was taken 16 months ago -- note the dense tree canopy shielding the facility from the course.

I’ll be showing a progression of the facility -– hopefully Don will share some of the insights and unique aspects particular to the location and the benefits of having the end user be responsible for the layout.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The 5th My Favorite

The 5th hole is to date my favorite. The green complex and the natural swales leading up to the green lend to a much favored location to approach the green from (see earlier image). This set up the opportunity to protect that favored location – with Infierno. Our client gave us so much room (so few constraints) to make the course as good as possible -- I couldn't say no to the one request I didn’t think was the path to the best course possible. Fortunately I think I turned that request into an opportunity and used it somewhat originally.
Earlier Holes Featured: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 11.

Twofer – Setting the intake line & a few flowers

The above picture was what I was referencing when I mentioned Lupe didn’t mind getting wet. The water is cold.
I’d much rather watch flowers grow than the FedEx cup point updates... I will root for Stricker however...

Friday, August 24, 2007


This weekend I’m going to show a couple non-golf images. I have taken thousands of pictures from all the days I’ve spent on site – many not of the course. This picture was taken very early on from when I first started getting acquainted with the site and all its nooks and crannies. Fortunately no spider bites just a few bee stings.
I hope you like the pics. Cheers.


This little fellow was caught not too far from our golf course – I’ll just say close enough that I’ll think hard before going for a swim. He is over 13 feet and looks hungry. It is planned to go in the clubhouse when finished.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Intern Rob

Our first intern is on his way back to school. I was very glad to have the opportunity to help bring on a young enthusiastic student, interested in architecture, to the project – Don did whip him into shape – and especially that is was Rob (you may recognize him from my first post). He got a very diverse education, unfortunately it included the rainiest summer in history, but fortunately it did include several new beer tasting classes. I think it will take a while for him look back on this summer and realize how much learned – but I think it will make an impact for his future. In truth he may have been more interested in finishing the course as opposed to going back to class.

Rob very much enjoyed the camradarier at the end of business hours –- I did mention the beers already…
He sure did fill up the trailer with lots of stuff, mainly guitars and video game systems.
He was most generous -- he lent me his fan the night the air went out –- it was hot.
He is an inquisitive fellow, and at one of the post business barbeques he retained the Wolf Point Arm Wrestling Title –- mostly because I wasn’t available.
Hit ‘em well Rob.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rainmaker Lupe

When hiring a subcontract there are several important factors – price, schedule and experience. All of which directly relate to the quality of the guy running the job on site –- the irrigation is a most critical component. Depending on the number of crews, the quality of the job can vary depending on who is running the show.

Lupe lead our irrigation installation. I can’t say enough about him. It also was most helpful having a very experienced super –- from an irrigation perspective –- manage the installation. Don and Lupe worked very well together.

Lupe never asked any of his guys to perform a task that he wouldn’t do himself. He was dirty, cold and wet, especially this winter -- setting the intake pipe shown in the backgroung.
*The intake pipe supplies water to the pump station.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Grandpa Joe

Joe Hancock, pictured above, visited our site several times early in the project. He spent a good deal of time on several greens and helped our land forms take shape. It was a good learning experience for me to see someone that patient on the bulldozer. I’ve never seen someone move so little with the blade on purpose before – that is a compliment. We haven’t seen him in a while, especially after we got Jacob on site. Joe really helped get the shaping ball rolling.

Joe really is a grandpa, a couple times over.
He likes Fish Cancun, and can eat the good meal every day – although maybe shouldn’t.
His music is old and he gets bored working in the same place for too long.
He didn’t quite get some of my terms, but that is because no one has ever used the image of a slug to describe a shape before.

He likes practical jokes and I could have shown a few other pictures... but chose the high road. :)
What did he bring back to Michigan with him? That real architects stock the fridge with the good stuff, I don’t think he was used to that one.

We definitely had fun.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Short, wide & playable – the 4th

I read the following quote this past week in the Sports Illustrated golf plus edition – “I’ve never had a client say, ‘Build me a short, wide and playable course.’ ” It was by Tom Doak in response to the fact that clients typically want a long tough test. The word never is what struck me. How lucky is it to have a client make that request of me.

The 4th hole is short and wide and playable. My favorite element is how the green is best approached from the side. In the photo above – of the 4th green – you’ll see some shaping that isn’t the back stop of the green. If you come approach from the wrong side of the fairway – there is no getting close to several pins – one of the pins will be closer to impossible. Playable doesn’t mean easy – because this one can be, but certainly may not be.

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

Friday, August 17, 2007

Toiling Turtle

I found this guy heading towards the lake for a bath. He must have been resting in one of our wetter basins for quite some time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spillway Pat

Pat, who it inspecting from the top, was responsible for our bridges and the spillway – shown above. The pipe is so for draining the lake - there is a valve a few hundred feet away. The spillway is built to handle quite a bit of overflow rain. It will be working overtime tonight. The cement truck poured the cement into the excavator bucket which was then spread across the framing and rebar structure. See there are lots of uses for an excavator. I have a nice photo of the finished flagstoned surface.
Like many of our visitors - Pat liked to fish. We could count on him to be on site often – and then be off looking for a catch. The locals know of most of the hot spots, and do share a few from time to time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Johnny Scraper

This next theme is the people who helped make the project be a success.
I introduced you to the scraper team previously, and the gentleman above is who banded them together. I affectionately called him Johnny Scraper. He was very bright, and kept the details in order in regard to the excavation. I will say we did make the job easy by showing them where all the fill should be placed – paint by numbers if you will – we staked all the areas using plans embedded in our GPS unit.

Johnny was very interested in everything we did. It wasn’t long before he got the gist of the nuances of golf design – in the above image he is sharing his thoughts on green design.
I am thankful of the work they did, and they were a far cry better than the first person who bid the job – I could swear when that person came to visit the site he was driving a vehicle from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jacob Cope

It is hard to remember how long Jacob was on site – as he was so instrumental and it seems like he was there the whole time. Jacob was our Shaper. We had other shaping support, but he was the one who really put the course in shape. I was most impressed by his abilities. He worked with detailed instruction, vague instruction, no instruction and dual instruction (when Don and I gave him opposite instructions). He handled everything in stride.
As young as he looks, he has been on helping to build courses for a long time now – he took to the work at a very young age, and his abilities on the dozer are fantastic.

A few important facts:
He likes his tea sweet and ice cream isn't ice cream unless it's Bluebell!
He's not used to walking as much as the architect, especially in mud and he is a true Texan and friend.
I hope to get him back to work for us soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The 11th Hole

I'm skipping hole order this week given the course has changed quite a bit, and I want to share some very current data. The above image of #11 shows off the fairway contouring, the shared (with #12) bunker and the green is right of the bunker.

What is special for me about the hole? That it is the first hole we grassed - :). Truthfully it is the hole I was inspired the least by – in its pre-finish form. The intent was for it to be a challenging hole, a longer par 4. My vision was in some ways impractical with our site constraints. Don and Jacob, our shaper, both convinced me to take a more practical approach with the green complex. I think we made a very wise decision together - even if it wasn't going to rain like hell this summer. I really dig the hole now, and it still may even be one of my least favorites – I have very high regard for the rest of the holes.

Lastly, our turf farm scout said the finish on our first several holes was as good as he'd ever seen - Don - and the team (me included) - are now a bunch of finishing sombitches!
I am very excited.

Earlier Holes Featured:
1 - 2 - 3

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sprigger Sprigging!

The golf course was ready for a change, and I’m ready for a change. Today is the last piece of equipment I may show for a bit. The golf course’s change is that it now a few holes have been planted with grass – it has been a long wet summer.

The above picture is of a sprigger. Underneath is a roller and small disc – it smoothes the soil and cuts in the sprigs. Sprigs are small chopped up pieces of grass – in our case Bermuda. It is planted vegetatively as it is a hybrid without seeds. It grows laterally and should root in a week or two and will spread like wildfire in our current conditions. The above portion is somewhat obvious – a cage where the crew feeds the sprigs in the hopper and hand tops small hard to get areas.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sand Pros

I should explain that I am a little more excited about the all the details of this project because of how much we’ve done in-house with a modest hard working team. Don Mahaffey has run the project exceptionally well and the results are really starting to show our efforts.

As for the equipment some was furnished by our sub-contracts, some owned and we’ve rented the rest. We have been most selective with our equipment rentals from a cost perspective. Any equipment on site gets used. So I’ve been a lot more aware of what we have on site and it has been more meaningful as a result.

The above picture is of our sand pros – our finishing tools. There is a blade in front and a rake in back. The blade makes tiny cuts and fills while the rake smoothes everything out. It is quite enjoyable - reminds me of raking a zen garden, and many say their favorite part of construction. For us we'vs spent a lot of time shaping prior to the finishing stages, so it has really just been some minor details and tweaks and fixing some erosion - mostly on the greens.

After construction these machines are used to mechanically rake bunkers on most courses. Fortunately our bunkers are too deep, steep and small for these buggers to get in – so they won’t get much use in the bunkers when we are done.


Back to pictures of our site equipment – this is an excavator, of which we’ve had several on site. It is most versatile. It has been used to shape features, load materials, dig sand, clear trees, build bridges, compact fairways and dig trenches – as in this case for our high power lines. It is most impressive to see someone use the bucket as an appendage to bridge across a span. It handles a large tree like breaking and flinging a small twig, yet with a skilled hand, it looks like they could play a cello. We've had some pretty big buckets on site - a couple tons per scoop. They require significant maintenance, especially when clearing - the operator can more than just operate.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The 3rd - pictured from above earlier this year.

My favorite aspect of the third is how the sight line is a perfect line of charm for the player standing on the tee and the green looks like it sits lightly on top of two bunker complexes - at the first landing zone and surrounding the green in the above picture. The long route to the hole looks like a recurve bow, while the direct route is the string which can be made in two strokes as there is a bit of a help from the prevailing wind.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Gracias México & Felicitaciones Lorena Ochoa

What a great week for golf in Mexico. There was a great deal of interest in golf this week from the country that borders my home state -- and as can be seen from the above web traffic map there was also great interest for this blog. I hope the game will prosper and grow -- it is a goal of mine to work in Mexico one day soon.

This week was the first ever Women’s British Open contested on The Old Course at St. Andrews. The pictures of all the players on the Swilcan Bridge and in front of the R&A Clubhouse were really great to see, and the following is one of my favorite quotes from the week - "The greens are very strange".

It is an awesome golf course –- I’ve been fortunate to have played there with my father –- both forwards and backwards.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Thank You Infiniti & The Wall Street Journal

Hoping to capitalize on the increased volume of web searchers regarding the recent purchase of The Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch… :)

In Today’s Wall Street Journal Infiniti has run a half page ad, pg. A3, featuring me as an owner of one of their vehicles. I submitted and suggested a photo of my car on site – I have driven it into a few strange places - I guess they liked their very polished version. Maybe I’ll show one when the site equipment series continues next week - actually I think this might be picture enough.

It was really cool to also have the WSJ’s artist create my stipple portrait. It is the image at right under “about me”.

From the Infiniti website: Innovation. Ingenuity. Inspiration. Infiniti is proud to present some of today’s forward thinkers -- and their Infiniti vehicles.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ditch Witch - Trencher

Depending on soils there are two ways to get small, lateral irrigation pipe in the ground. [laterals are the runs of pipe from the main line that connect to the head – see as-built] Vibratory plow is one method - open trenching is the other. The above picture is a trencher, and how our pipes were installed. It works like a giant chain saw and leaves a trench deep enough and just wide enough to lay the pipe and have room to route the wire and make the connections. It disturbs little material – is easy to put back – and requires proper compaction to eliminate small little impressions across all the fairways. If you have enough time it will compact in the rain.
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