A recent inquiry asked: I was recently elected by our board to figure out a way to repair our bumpy, domed, uneven tee boxes. We have a beautiful course and unfortunately out tee boxes are horrible. We’ve tried to level the tee boxes with sand with no success. Also, I would like to use green grass, not fairway grass, on the tee surface.
I encounter many courses with the same problem. Past tee construction scenarios involved fill placement with loam placement leveled by a bad bulldozer operator or unskilled finish raker. I can’t blame them; laser grading wasn’t available back then and insufficient compaction complicates the situation.
I’d begin by establishing a project scope based on your budget:
- A full tee reconstruction will involve bulldozing the work limits, installing subsurface drainage, purchasing additional fill, purchasing and installing modern seedbed mix, laser grading, and new tee top and surround sod.
- A limited tee leveling will involve existing tee sod removal, engineering new tee grades, laser leveling, and installing new tee sod.
In your case, let’s consider a limited tee leveling.
- First, acquire a slope laser and rod. Get someone who has experience with this equipment.
- Install four grade stakes on each corner.
- Set the laser at level and identify the lowest stake grade and install a mark.
- Go to the other corners and install this same level grade on the stakes.
Connect the four stakes with string and you will get a picture of your problem. Keep in mind that a level tee will have a slope of 1% (1 foot in 100 feet) to shed rain water. You should notice that the tee has a decided pitch. If it’s flat, don’t worry.
After you identify your inherent tee pitch (or new tee pitch) , set the slope laser to 1% (or slightly more, never less) and set these new marks on your stakes. You should balance these grades to minimize construction impacts. In other words; establish a slope that minimizes dirt relocation by raising or lowering the plane.
This new plane identifies your new tee top grade.
Next, Remove all irrigation and sod on the tee top and surrounding area impacted by the new tee plane. Evaluate current tee subsoil conditions. Will the tee seedbed mix disappear if you construct the new tee plane? If not, congratulations. If yes, lower the plane grade by 6 inches and install drainage (don’t skimp on the drainage-cheap insurance!) and new seed bed mix 6 inches deep to attain finish grades.
The actual tee surface plane establishment will involve a small bulldozer, or skilled excavator operator. If it’s a minor adjustment, a box blade will work. Add fill and seedbed mix if you want to square the tee box.
Be sure to hire a competent golf course laser grader who owns a low compaction tractor with a laser controlled box-blade attached to the rear. He will use your staked grades to finish grade the tee surface.
Finally, reinstall irrigation and sod. In the Northeast US we often use low-cut bluegrass. It’s cost effective, resilient and handles low cutting quite well.