Course Enhancement Project Update and Lingo:

Sometimes when discussing golf course features I am met with a look of puzzlement or two when we use phrases like finger (an outcropping of turf with sand on three sides), whale-tail (type of bunker nose feature), dog-bone (also a bunker nose shape), bay (large expanse of sand), eye-brow (curvilinear shape of sand viewable at distance), sag (also a bunker sand line), tie-in (green meeting fairway grade), roll (a mound typically in a green), bump (a blunted turf outcropping off a high ridge), or a transition (typically an isthmus between bunkers).  While many of those terms may seem like a foreign language at times, there is a single word which we are using a lot on this project.  BUSY.

As a refresher:


Dictionary [ bízzee ]

  1. occupied: fully occupied in a particular activity, especially work
  2. full of bustle: full of activity, with a large number of people moving around
  3. not free: committed to something that has previously been planned or arranged and so unable to undertake another activity


While busy is a very simple word, it’s the perfect word to describe progress and activity with our project and you can use it without having to think about “whale-tails” or “dog-bones.”

Putting Surfaces Update:

Since planting the greens on July 11 & 12 we’ve top-dressed the greens with about 180,000 pounds (all 21 greens) of sand each week.  This intensive topdressing is required to smooth the surfaces and to provide a ‘bed’ for the new grass plants to grow within.  This ‘bed’ provides a smooth surface to mow the greens low, and is vital to a good putting surface.  With new green renovations, the process uses a lot of labor as many of the tasks are done by hand.

Hand Brushing Topdressing 14th Green

Furthermore, we are mowing them down to their target heights carefully and deliberately and we’ve been adding fertility inputs about every 3-4 days.  The frequent height changes and mowing of sand add many hours of required resharpening and adjusting to the greens mowing equipment.  Our staff has done a marvelous job keeping the equipment sharp and productive.

The greens reached a milestone on August 9 when at 27 and 28 days old respectively, we began shifting our grow-in management to focus on putting quality as we began deemphasizing our management to provide coverage of voids.  In short, we are now slowing up the growth of the greens to make the plants more diminutive which will create better putting surfaces.

3rd Green at 10 Days Old 3rd Green at 26 Days Old

All involved with the project are very pleased with the progress of the greens.  There have been some exciting changes to the putting contours on the greens we’ve altered.  While it may not be obvious the putting contour changes also will give a new flavor to the pin positions.  Some of the older pin positions will be abandoned and some new ones with more complexity will take their place.

Approach and Bunker Work Update:

As I am sure you’ve already read, we’ve made an alteration to the approach in front of the 4th green.  At the recommendation of the architect we’ve transformed what was a “concave” approach leading into the green, to a long slope which “turns” into the green.  The resultant change will improve drainage in the right side of the approach into the green and create the side effect of causing the green to look more perched above the fairway deck.  The combination of the additional bunker on the left of 4 fairway, and the changes to the right approach area will make the hole sweep more like a gentle dogleg which was intended in the initial construction in 2000.

Area of the 4th Approach Altered 4th Approach Work in Progress 4th Hole Viewed from Tee Before 4th Hole Viewed from Tee After

As Allen Wilson addressed in the most recent club communication, we have also installed an additional new bunker on the 14th hole.  This bunker was originally planned dating back to 2003 and subsequently removed prior to starting the CEP.  After first rough shaping in a single bunker on 14 as the CEP planned, it became obvious to all that the scale of the hole greatly overpowered the single bunker and we returned to the original and older concept of two bunkers.  Sometimes in golf course construction scale causes similar alterations to occur.  For example, our first hole greens complex at Old Chatham was originally built in 2000 with 2 left greenside bunkers which were small.  It became obvious to all involved that the 2 small bunkers were out of scale with the large nature of the greens complex and the 2 small left bunkers were converted into a solo larger bunker prior to opening in 2001.

14th Hole Bunker Construction Dirt Stage 14th Hole Bunker Grassing Stage

We’ve finished the bunker extension on the 2nd hole and you can also see in the pictures the new grass planted on the fairway at the 2nd hole as well.  If we did a good job on the bunker extension on the 2nd hole golfers may have a hard time even picking up the area we converted from grass to bunker once the area matures.

2nd Hole Bunker Construction Before 2nd Hole Bunker Construction After

In addition to other work, we’ve also grassed the new bunker complex on the 18th hole.  Here is a preview of what you will now see from the 18th tees.

18th Hole Bunker Grassing Stage

Mowers that Float and a Cornucopia of Water…

One of the developing problems for the CEP is the abundance of rain and rainy weather we’ve been experiencing.  Specifically, we have many areas we’ve planted new turf in approaches, outside greens, and around bunkers we need to mow.  Not only do we need to mow it, we need to mow it with enough frequency to reduce the height we are mowing it at.  Unfortunately, we have to use special flymowers to mow areas they were not intended to mow because they can mow wet areas (at a high height).  Flymowers are what we traditionally use to mow the grass slopes around the bunkers.  These mowers have no wheels, and use a turbine to propel a bed of air downward which causes the wheel-less mowers to float.  They are not bound by terrain to mow grass.  A flymower works well on a bunker face at 1&1/2 inch, but it cuts poorly at 4/10 of an inch which is what we intend to mow our approaches at.  As such we are about a week behind being able to reduce the mowing height on many of our grasses.  The good news is we’ve got plenty of water for our grow in, and I can tell my daughter I actually wrote something that I got to use the word “cornucopia” in.  Thank you all who have wished for adequate rainfall during the grow-in.  The message from the staff is:  Can you turn down the volume just a wee bit?

Some more statistics:

400 Tons = Amount of sand used on the greens to smooth them so far with topdressing.

0.187 = Height in inches Greens were first mowed at.

12 = Number of days old the first green that was mowed at Old Chatham was.

0.150 = Current Height in inches of turf on Greens.

11 = Number of holes with significant alterations during the CEP at Old Chatham