Abstract: A private golf course successfully renovated a golf green a few weeks before a big tournament.
A private golf club scheduled a prestigious golf tournament in late-August. In late-July, one golf green failed, and everyone knew why. The green was rebuilt a few years before, and a soil supplier had delivered a load of green mixture loaded with silty sand. The bad green mix created an unacceptable putting surface.The golf course superintendent tried to save the green, but a wet spring doomed the putting surface.
The club had to rebuild the green. In the middle of the summer. With a tournament scheduled in four weeks. A golf course contractor got the call, and I went along to assist. The criteria included the following:
*Remove the existing sod
*Remove the existing green mix
*Duplicate the green contours
*Install new green mix (that had been tested many times to insure USGA compliance)
*Install new sod
*Make it look like it never happened
The morning of the radical surgery, the golf contractor walked a large excavator out to the green site. I’ll never forget watching the machine walk across the golf green of a perfectly maintained golf course. We established control points and elevations to recreate the contours, knowing that the golf course architect would “float out” the final green contours.
Skilled golf course laborers shoveled out green mix from the edge and along the subgrade green floor (the bottom of the green mix as it meets the drainage layer). The green “core out” went well, and the contractor carefully added new green mix to the cavity. Plenty of plywood protected the work zone and collar. The golf architect went from a commuter jet, to a taxi, to a sand bunker machine, finalizing the green contours as the sun set on day two of the project.
The club had two choices on green sod: purchase new sod or use the sod from a large practice green located near the clubhouse. They chose the practice green because it had a mixture of native bentgrass, poa annua, and modern bentgrass; this was the same mixture on the other seventeen greens.
The golf contractor directed his expert sod crew to cut, roll, and transport the sod to the rebuilt green. He marked each roll with a chalk number to insure that the sod installation would be in sequence, not in a random pattern that would not look correct.
The sod installation began on a foggy morning. After we rolled the green surface, the superintendent added soil amendments. A very skilled sod technician placed each roll of sod. This individual had previously hand-laid twenty-five other golf greens. After gently placing each strip, he checked for edge alignment. He put his eyes two inches from the seam, and he nudged the edge with his fingers. After a final look, he called for another piece. This process was like watching paint dry. They completed the sodding in nine hours.
The following morning, the sod technician refused to use a plate compactor directly on the newly-laid sod. The sod was wet, so he operated the compactor on a piece of plywood (2′ x 4′-easier to handle). The project completed, the sod crew then installed modern bentgrass on the practice green.
A few months later, I visited the golf course superintendent. He showed me a letter from the tournament chairman. The golfers loved the course and all the golf greens. They never knew about the green rebuild.