Abstract: Flatten and grade uneven tee surfaces with the following procedures.
Tee leveling resolves surface drainage issues while providing a flat surface for golfers. If the tee mix and subgrade fill is acceptable, you can avoid an expensive rebuild by limiting the scope of work and cost of materials.
Evaluate the subject tee box. Is it an old style push up tee that is too small? Or is it a modern tee with good structure, but with bad tee alignment? Tee evaluation includes the following:
- Determine if the existing tee mix will sustain the agronomic demands of your golf course.
- Determine that the current tee fill is not settling,
- Evaluate tree impacts and future stump removal projects near the tee.
If the tee structure is acceptable, consider a tee leveling. Tee leveling involves removal of the existing sod, laser grading the surface, and installing new sod.
Determine current tee alignment. Take a Google Earth shot of the proposed work area. Digital overviews show the current tee orientation in relation to fairway bunkering and landing zones. Draw a line down the center of the fairway and draw parallel lines on the side of each tee. The current alignment will be obvious.
A golf tee must have surface sloping of at least 1%. This is a sheet-flow specification developed by civil engineers to insure that rain or irrigation water will shed off a grassed surface.
Determine the current grading of the existing tee. Use a slope laser and a survey rod that measures in tenths. I like tenths because it’s easier to add and subtract numbers in the field. Purchase a dozen wooden stakes, 1″ x 1″ x 36″ or similar size. Use a black permanent marker to mark the grades. Use a drilling hammer to drive in the stakes.
Set the laser on zero slope, or flat. Take a shot at the four corners of the tee top. Locate the highest elevation and install a wooden stake. Do the same for the other three corners, then measure the distance between the grade mark and the sod.
For example, if the tee has a slope of six inches front to back, then you have a workable slope that can be easily modified. On a 50 foot long tee, this pitch is 1% ( in 100 feet, the pitch will be 1 foot, or 1 foot in a hundred).
If the tee is flat, then you’ll need to establish a layout of the proposed slope to see where the new slope will land on the tee surface.
Choose the direction of the tee slope. The tee surface slope can go in any direction, although front to back is preferred. Slope toward areas that expel water. A cart path that sheds water is fine, but a berm will not shed water and you’ll end up with a wet spot on your tee.
Set the laser near the high point of the tee. Install a 1% slope downward on your slope laser. Add a one foot offset to the stake (measure up 12″ from the first horizontal mark and put another horizontal mark and perpendicular check mark). This will allow you to establish a grade at a location that will be several inches underground. Establish the high grade mark (including the one-foot offset) on the wooden stake. Take new shots on the other wooden stakes. Mark each stake with the new grade.
After the four stakes are marked with the proposed slope grades, measure down 12″ and you will see how much soil will be removed to establish your new slope. If you can’t measure down a foot, measure down and deduct the length from 1 foot. For example, If you go down 6 inches and you can’t go any further, than you have a six inch cut at that location.
If your tee is flat, you’ll see that several inches of mix will be removed at the low end of the grade to create a pitch. Dig down and determine how much tee mix is installed at that point. If you can’t live with the thickness, then it’s time to consider coring out the existing mix and establishing a new tee subgrade.
The tee leveling construction process involves the following:
- Strip existing sod, plus a few feet along the edges
- Remove irrigation impacted by the project
- Install grade stakes
- Cut slope with appropriate equipment
- Add fill and tee mix to edges if needed
- Laser grade
- Reinstall irrigation
- Fine grade
- Install tee top sod/seed
- Install side slope sod/seed