Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall projects, 2011: Part deux.

Restored bunker at VGC's 9th hole, by MGCD.
Blackhawk Golf Club: Renovation of the greenside bunkers on the front nine is complete. With great weather throughout, the start of this bunker refresh program, which involved reshaping cavaties, checking and fixing drainage, some edging then replacing sand, was a great success.

After I left Edmonton on October 16th - shaping and edging work complete - golf course superintendent Duane Sharpe lead his crew at finishing up with drainage repairs and additions, and filling Blackhawk's decade old bunkers with new sand.

In spring next year, we'll tackle the greenside bunkers on the back nine followed by all of the fairway bunkers beginning in fall 2012. (Interesting stat that I've always loved: The back nine at Blackhawk features almost two times as many sand hazards as the front; and, prior to installing bunkers off the tees at the 1st and 4th holes, post-opening, golfers didn't confront a fairway bunker at Blackhawk until the 11th hole.)

Victoria Golf Club: Work continues at holes 1, 13 and 17 at VGC. With the design and shaping work complete, bunkers at the 1st and 17th are being drained, lined and grassed by VGC's maintenance/construction crew, under the direction of golf course superintendent Paul Robertson and his assistant, Derek Sheffield. At the 13th hole, a new teeing area is being finished. Without bias, the new back tee at #13 - which is right of, and signficantly lower than the previous tee - changes a comparatively mundane par-three into one of the most interesting looking, and exciting holes at VGC.

Victoria, British Columbia is one of the few places in Canada where we can shape and build golf during the winter months. Right after the New Year, in early January, we move on to the next phase of our continuing restorative-based work at VGC, seaside holes 3-6. The focus of our work to-date has been the green sites - bunkers, putting surface expansions, etc. Fifteen green sites will be complete by spring 2012. Holes 10, 15 and 16 remain; then fairway bunkers and other details.

Anonymous Golf Club: In my previous post on fall projects, I also mentioned a very, very challenged course in southwestern Ontario. Work is in progress at this course, which shall continue to remain nameless (at least for the time being), as well. Frankly, this project isn't as exciting as VGC, and a number of others I have on the go, but we've made really good progress at simply beginning to make this course more playable (tree removal, eliminating bunkers, re-shaping fairway areas and green surrounds, etc.). Improving drainage is the other main focus. This property is extremely flat with some of the worst clay material I've ever seen. Worse than Wascana Country Club in Regina, Saskatchewan, which I didn't think was possible.

Significant cuts and fills have been made in two fairways this fall. These fairways have been contoured to surface drain effectively, and a lot of drain tile is going into the ground. Although a few unfortunate things, which were out of my control, have occured during this project, I'm quite happy with the significant improvement made to playability and drainage - two very, very important elements in golf course design.

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