Course Notes, 9/28/2020

Golf Creations continues to make progress on the Golf Course Improvement Project. Rough shaping was completed last week on holes 13-17, and the finish crew has arrived to begin prepping the rough shaped bunkers into ones ready for polymer, sand, and sod.

This week you will begin to see additional holes closed, due to both crews working on different areas of the golf course. If we get some good weather, it could be very possible that most of the back 9 could be closed by Saturday, so it continues to be critical that you please check with the Pro Shop on what holes are available on the days you visit Elcona for a round of golf. Once the finish crew has finalized the bunker shape, added drainage and gravel, the hole will remain closed until polymer is sprayed. This is to preserve the integrity of their work and ensure the gravel layer is not disrupted, which is a critical step in the quality of the Better Billy system being installed. I appreciate your understanding regarding this project!

Below is a summary of all that has been completed since I last wrote:

The Practice Facility bunkers have been finished are are ready for the Better Billy polymer to be sprayed, which will create the liner. As the above slide show depicts, the crew uses both a mini-excavator and hand shovels to finalize the shape and depth of the bunker, as well as dig the lines for the drainage pipe to install. The pipe is installed in a herringbone pattern, that will collect water from all areas of the bunker and displace it into a 15″ catch basin, located outside of the bunker. These basins will be covered with a iron grate and allow water to escape during a heavy rain event. Gravel is then placed over the drain tile and across the bottom of the bunker in a uniform 2″ layer. Once dried to a specified moisture percentage, BBB polymer can be applied to create the final liner.

Hole 13 has one less bunker now on the right side, as the two were combined, with the majority of the sand area guarding the front middle of the green. The left two bunkers remain in their general locations, with sod/sand lines changed to make the bunkers more visible from the tee. The above video shows how Ramiro uses his skidsteer to rough shape a bunker.

14 Bunker Rough Shaping

While the fairway bunkers on 14 have stayed in their general location, there was some smoothing of slopes and lines to improve accessibility in and out of the bunker and to better shed water away from the sand area. The mound right of the first fairway bunker was shaved completely down so that now all sand should be visible from the tee and main landing areas, greatly improving the aesthetics of the entire hole.

The work performed on the greenside bunkers on 14 took a bit of time. Gone is the large knob in the middle of the left greenside bunker, and in its place is a much gentler slope along the front edge along with a clean view of the entire green. The front right bunker was moved slightly into the approach and reshaped to better shed water away from the sand area. The back right bunker was eliminated and in its place will be a bentgrass collection area behind the remaining bunker as well as bluegrass rough. Stay tuned once sod and sand are installed to see the final vision of these changes.

Hole 16’s fairway bunker was moved a bit farther down the hole, with the back half of the original bunker ultimately filled in to create a grass swale to collect water from the bunker and fairway. 16 greenside bunkers were left relatively unchanged in location. The left bunker’s front slope was softened and expanded a bit to make it easier to maintain. The front right greenside bunker had a mound removed and sloped softened so now the entire green can be seen while attempting a shot from it. The back right bunker’s design was good so no shaping was necessary.

17 Fairway bunker. Fairway will expand behind the bunker, along the white line

17 fairway bunker was shifted a bit farther down the hole as well. The back 2/3rds of the original bunker will become a combination of fairway and rough, and maintain its lower grade to collect water from both the surrounding turf and the bunker drainage.

17 greenside bunkers remained largely in their current locations, with slight modifications to the right greenside bunker. A bentgrass run off area was added behind the left greenside bunker to improve the playability of that area should shots miss the green left, giving every player different options of recovery (chip, putt, flop, etc…). One of our main responsibilities during this project is moving/adding irrigation for their crew. One example of this is pictured above, where we had to move a 2″ pipe to make way for the new drain in this run off area.

The approach expansion on 9 was sodded last week, and will remain ground under repair until the sod has rooted down and seams are knitted in.

If you have any questions, please contact me at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this longer than normal blog post, and have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 9/20/2020

The shaping team from Golf Creations arrived late last week to begin Elcona’s Golf Course Improvement Project. Tom, Tom, and I are already impressed with the skill set of the shaper, as he has over 20 years of shaping experience, many of those on renovations at top 100 courses. He also shares our vision on the changes we want to accomplish and can execute those seamlessly. Below are summaries of what all everyone worked on, and some other tidbits you may have noticed the last week out on the golf course:

Sand was rototilled into the existing native sandy soil to form the new bunker base on 18. The wood stakes are where the new sand outline of the bunker will be.

A question I received frequently last week was what the wood stakes were marking. Unless noted on the stake, these are marking the new sand lines for the shaper to identify and contour the outside accordingly. This was suggested by our shaper to help him visualize the new bunker and surround.

The Practice Facility began to receive its facelift, with the addition of a practice bunker on the south end of the tee. We have always struggled with growing quality tee grass in that area due to the lack of sunlight, so it made sense to change direction and move the bunker to that location. The existing bunker next to the practice tee will be completely filled in over the next two months and eventually become an extension of the tee, adding additional yardage and square footage.

The Short Game bunker will be modified this coming week.

Rough shape for the new practice bunker

18’s bunker received a facelift as well. The slope going to the green was softened and recontoured to better shed water away from the sand area and to make maintenance of the turf easier. The floor of the bunker was raised approximately 18″ and given a slight upslope towards the green, and while you will still not see the green surface if in it, you will be able to see much more of the flagstick and have a better opportunity for recovery.

Rough grading complete on 18.
Ramiro uses both a skid steer and mini excavator to add soil and shape the bunker into its final form. Besides shaping, these units are critical in compacting the soil for stability.

The bunker on 9 has been filled in and the area is ready for sod. The approach will be expanded to the right about 3 yards with sod this week.

Tomas filling in 9 bunker with sub soil excavated on site. Approximately 30 loads of fill was needed to raise the soil to its final grade.
Ramiro using the skid steer to level topsoil to its rough grade. Both bentgrass and bluegrass sod will be needed to finish 9.
Bentgrass sod removal from 17 fairway. This sod will be used in other areas on the course, like where #9 approach

This week’s agenda for the Golf Course Improvement Project will focus primarily on the back 9 bunkers. Please check with the Pro Shop on what holes are available on the days you visit Elcona for a round of golf.

Animal damage right of 16 green.

Driving around Saturday afternoon I noticed raccoons/skunks were digging again to the right of 16 and 7. These animals are digging in the soil looking for grubs to eat. These areas have been treated again with an insecticide and the animal digging should go away as fall progresses.

Divot taken out on the left front of 8 green.

I also noticed a divot was taken out of 8 green on Saturday. While taken in jest or by accident, this turf will not recover and heal like a fairway divot and had to be plugged out. Please be respectful of your fellow member playing after you and take care of the putting surfaces!

If you have any questions please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you and have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 9/10/2020

One week from today, the Golf Course Improvement Project will begin.  As I mentioned in Monday’s blog, Golf Creations will begin on September 17th at the Practice Facility.  While the facility will remain open for use, some areas may be temporarily unavailable due to the construction schedule for that day.  Tom and I encourage everyone to check with the Pro Shop each day for complete information on what is available for you on any day you visit Elcona.  Another reminder that they will be working in this order: Practice Facility, 9, 18, 17,16, and backwards from there. As of today, hole #1 will be the last hole to be worked on.

Sprayed and roped off grass area at the Practice Facility

You also will begin to notice more areas being roped off before construction for a period of time.  These areas have been treated with Round Up to kill off the existing grass and conserve topsoil.  Golf Creations will then rototill the area to shape the new bunker complex.  These roped off areas are to be treated as Ground Under Repair and should not be entered until the rope is removed.  The reason for this is for your safety and to prevent foot traffic from accidentally tracking the herbicide to grass that we all do not want killed, like greens and fairways.  Signage like the example below will be placed in these areas to remind everyone of this.  Below also shows how easily the herbicide can track on accident.  The ropes will be removed in a day or 2 after application when it is safe to walk on again.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter!

Signage that will be placed in Round-Up areas.
Accidental tracking of herbicide and the result. Very easy to do!
Semi unloading bunker sand. The trailer is lifted 35 feet in the air to off load!

Finally, bunker sand has finally started to arrive on property, so all of the necessary materials are now here.  Below are each of the main aggregates needed to construct a bunker with the Better Billy Bunker liner.  

Topsoil piled high

Roughly 500 tons of topsoil was purchased to add additional shape to the new bunker complexes.  The topsoil was mixed with sand to best fit our native sandy loam soil here at Elcona.  

Pea gravel is stone that is between 1/4″ and 3″8″ in diameter.  This gravel will serve as both the fill between all drainage pipe and as the Better Billy liner.  Gravel is installed at a 2″ depth to create the liner before the Better Billy polymer is applied.  

1″ River Rock

River rock, similar to what you may find in landscaping beds, will be used to create drainage pits for the bunker drainage piping to feed into.

If you have any questions, please email me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great weekend!

Ryan

Course Notes, 9/7/2020

Happy Labor Day to everyone! A quick note informing everyone that the start dates have changed for the Golf Course Improvement Project. After discussing with our contractor, Golf Creations, and the Golf/Greens Committee, the project will begin on September 17th.

This change in start date will alleviate concerns of the project impacting major events that still take place in September, including the Hole in One Stag event. This will also allow our contractor flexibility in their scheduling regarding the mobilization of their personnel. Once Golf Creations begins on the 17th, they will work 7 days a week, weather permitting, until the project is completed. Even with the later start, their staff is planning on an 8-9 week completion date for the entire project and is committed to complete our project in its entirety in 2020, given their busy Spring 2021 agenda.

After discussions with the Golf/Greens Committee and the Design Committee, there will also be a change in construction order. After the Practice Facility upgrades are completed, the construction crew will work on holes 9 and 18, then work backwards from there. That will simplify the communication on what holes will be available to you on a given day you decide to visit Elcona. There will be signage at the Pro Shop as well to communicate the daily availability and happenings on the golf course.

If you have any questions, please let me know at ryan@elconacc.com. We are all excited to get this project started and I can’t wait to see the final product. Thanks for your continued support and have a safe, happy Labor Day!

Ryan