Summary: Many golf courses can’t afford premium materials and elaborate management teams. A golf course in Massachusetts first developed conditioning goals. After eliminating expensive details, a scheme using native materials and a few skilled golf course personnel created a successful, limited budget, golf course.
I’ve built golf courses for owners with limited budgets who want modest golf course conditions. They don’t want slick greens, shaved tees and bentgrass fairways. They want a playable golf course that doesn’t require intensive grooming. This post will discuss one project in Massachusetts.
After site plan review and routing, a clearing contractor began work. The owner hired a professional forester to manage the tree clearing; a good investment because he identified valuable trees for harvest, reducing the clearing costs.
The owner wanted to hire a site contractor to perform bulk earthmoving. Usually done to save money,I’ve seen this fail on other projects. Site developers can’t create golf course features. The finished project will look like a parking lot. The change orders will inflate the construction budget.
After persuasion, the owner hired a skilled golf course shaper for all golf course earthworks and construction. Having one golf course shaper permitted logical work sequencing without the conflicts created by two companies with different earthmoving philosophies.
The shaper used a D-8 to perform major earthworks procedures. His comprehension of final golf course grades created sensible stockpile locations, making cuts and fills easier. Many golf projects suffer delays caused by poor stockpile locating.
The Owner wanted to retain stumps located in front of tee boxes. A cost saving suggestion, he relented after I explained that leaving stumps in front of a tee will save money, but they will decompose in a few years creating a safety hazard.
Grubbing, or removal of tree roots and wood waste, produced a clean topsoil ready for stockpiling. We grubbed the entire golf course playing surface knowing that the remaining woodwaste will complicate the fine grading process.
We removed about a foot of topsoil with the D-8, pushing it into locations not requiring cuts and fills. We didn’t screen any fairway or rough topsoil. After topsoil return, we removed surface stones and stray roots with a mechanical rake.
The cuts and fill were done with the D-8. The golf course shaper is a fine operator, and he created golf course shapes without water pockets. We eliminated loading and trucking costs by limiting cuts and fills to bulldozer pushes. Creative use of existing site topography limited earthmoving.
He roughed out the tees and greens with the D-8. The shaper planned his earthworks well. He shaped final tee, green, and bunker shapes with a small bulldozer and an excavator.
He built tees with native topsoil saving the expense of purchasing, rehandling, and installing custom blended tee mix. We installed fifty feet of drain tile in each tee. It cost about one-hundred dollars; cheap insurance from drainage problems. We screened the tee-top topsoil to remove rocks because we didn’t want golfers breaking wooden golf tees. We laser-graded the tee top, another important construction detail.
We plated bunkers with with screened topsoil. We were fortunate to find cheap, locally available bunker sand. Intensive compaction during construction and loaming insured that the seeded surfaces wouldn’t wash out. We added bunker drainage; this is another inexpensive detail that insures immediate play after heavy rain.
Green construction included standard herring bone drainage tile with a pea-stone backfill. We manufactured our own green mix with on-site loam mixed with sand excavated from a pond location. The ratio of 70% sand and 30% topsoil performs well.
An irrigation vendor designed the irrigation system without charge. His in-house designer created a sensible system on a site plan provided by the owner. We purchased all irrigation components from his company. The irrigation vendor assisted during the installation process.
We seeded the tee tops with low-cut bluegrass. The bunkers faces and tee surrounds were seeded with a bluegrass and fescue mix. We added a small quantity of annual rye for quick germination.
The Penncross greens provide durability to this public golf course. This course will never see extreme putting speeds.
We built the golf course for half the cost of a typical project. Abundant on-site materials created the opportunity to manufacture tee and green mixes that saved money. Lab testing insured agronomic viability.
The owner hired a grow-in superintendent with the following job description: ” You’ll work seven days a week with rainy days off.” The grow-in went well, and after a few months, the course opened for limited play. The course will never host the U.S. Open and that’s how the owner and his customers want it.