Abstract: Wooden stairs installed on tee box slopes provide safe and aesthetic access to tee tops.
I’ve built tee stairs with landscape timbers and pressure treated lumber. Landscape timbers are recycled railroad ties or artificial recreations made of pine or other soft wood. In the days before pressure treating, timbers soaked in creosote were the only option for wood buried in soil.
New types of pressure treated wood are environmentally friendly. They can be installed in high-use areas without any toxic residue. I still use a mask when I cut pressure treated timber.
I begin my stair projects with a few hours of layout. I use graph paper, laser, pencil, measuring tape and a patient assistant. I work closely with club decision makers to determine three critical points:
- The location of the stair centerline
- The elevation of the top of the bottom step
- The location of the top of the top step.
I usually install the edge of the stairway several inches below the surrounding grade. If you leave the edges higher, they become a tripping hazard. I install 2” by 2” stakes, one foot from the outer stair limits. After I mark the approved stair elevations, I’ll ask the club representative to approve these points. I’m very nervous about building stairs on golf courses because of a customer who told me: “I once made a contractor rip out a completed pressure treated stairway because the top stair didn’t land on the right spot.” After hearing that story, I now install stakes that detail the top and bottom stair elevation
I determine the height, or rise, of the stair with the aid of a laser. After setting the laser on level, I take an elevation reading on the top of top step point and the top of bottom step point. Let’s assume this measurement is 4 feet. My stair will rise 4 feet from top to bottom.
I next mark out 4 feet on my graph paper. On an 8 x 11 sheet, I’d assign 3 inches to each square. Draw two pencil lines on the left margin using 12 squares.
I’ll determine the stairway length by having your assistant hold a long 2 x 4 at the location of the front of the bottom stair. Attach a bubble level to insure that the 2 x 4 is vertical. Install a shorter stake on the location of the front of the top stairs.
Measure the distance between the long pole and the short pole. I’ll use 5 feet as an example. Sketch the height and length on the graph paper. Determine the size of available timbers. Let’s assume you’ll use timbers 8″ x 8″. Multiply the length (5 feet) by 12″ to determine total inches (60). Multiply the height (4) by 12″ to determine total inches (48).
Divide the height (48″) by the height of each timber (8″). You’ll need 6 timbers, although you’ll have a problem with the run. If you use 6 timbers, and install them tightly, you won’t cover the length of the run (60″). Adjust each timber to compensate for the reduced length, calculated as 60-48=12, divide 6 stairs by 12= 2″. You’ll need to add 2″ of additional stone dust on each stair.
I use a small excavator to remove existing sod and soil. I add a geofabric layer to keep out weeds.
Confirm the final stair work limits, and run a string line from the top to the bottom, on both sides on the outer edge of each stair. Install the string on both sides of the stairway.
The days of banging 12″ galvanized nails into wooden stairs are over. Purchase 12″ galvanized screws and install with a beefy drill and generator setup.
Install a tie-back, or perpendicular tie system, on the first stair. I add two tiebacks, 4 feet long a foot in from each stair edge. Rest the first stair on the tieback and install four screws in each face. I add 2 foot tiebacks on each succeeding stair.These serve as stable, nailing platforms for the stair construction.
After the stairway is completed, I install pressure treated boards on each side. Install loam and sod up to the plank surface.