Golf Course Management

SEP 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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gcm ex t ra freed up a nice little stretch of land in the middle of our property — and it was ripe for conversion into an additional practice area. The process may have taken a few years, but we were able to come to consensus about what we wanted and how to achieve it. Working entirely "in house," we designed a practice area that also doubles as our turf nursery. We now have three nursery greens — 10,000 square feet of good ground on which to grow, test and analyze turf. The area is bordered by our 14th, 15th and 16th holes. In the area between two of the nursery greens, we constructed a unique and very user-friendly practice bunker. The new bunker has two distinct levels. Approximately two-thirds of it is 3½ feet deep, simulating our course's typical "shallow" bunker shot. In this portion of the bunker, a player can indeed see his or her shot fy, land and roll out. It's a great spot to hone one's sand game. The remainder of the bunker is what we call "the Basement." It is almost 6 feet deep and replicates the deep bunker shot found on many of our holes. This section enables our members to take a few steps down and practice an escape that they will need should they encounter one of our deeper bunkers. Because the new practice bunker is between two of the nursery greens, players can hit shots in several directions. They can experience every type of wind and sun condition. The variety of different shots is endless. The long and short — really, the up and down — of this story is that we have a single bunker that serves multiple purposes. Instead of two separate bunkers, our crew now needs to tend to only one, with fewer edges to maintain. Wood planking and steps make entry and exit easy for all. If a player hitting pitch shots over the sand wants "direct line" access to the green, he can simply walk right through the middle of the bunker without disturbing anything. What really makes this area attractive — beyond the one-of-a-kind duallevel bunker — is the fact that players can hit a 100-yard shot as well as every other kind of short-game approach, right down to little running chips to one 64 GCM September 2013 Before construction of a new practice facility at Lake Merced GC in Daly City, Calif., the slope of the driving range prevented golfers from seeing the practice bunker. The new facility, which is positioned in the middle of the golf course, features a new practice bunker whose edges are visible from a distance. of our nursery greens. In the weeks to come, we expect to see our members inventing small short-game tournaments on and around our practice area. Hopefully, this forgotten part of the property will now become a great gathering spot in the early evening for after-hours fun (and practice!). Making it work In constructing the bunker, we worked entirely with our own crew — no outside construction frm was involved. Whenever possible, we tweaked the design to accommodate future maintenance needs (such as convenient entry points for mowers and other equipment). The most diffcult issue confronting a project such as this was cost. We had to balance the need for a secondary practice area to alleviate heavy traffc on the existing area against the burden of spending money to create an added facility on our property. Needless to say, this challenge is one superintendents (and boards of directors) face every day all across the country. When responding to inquiries, it was essential for us to premise support on the agronomic benefts of the new turf nursery, and in addition, to focus attention on an equally important aspect of the project — the added benefts of a new practice area for our club members. The enhancement of the existing turf nursery — and the possible creation of this very compact, added practice area — has been a constant discussion topic at green committee meetings for nearly three years. The fact is, many members wanted more space to work on their wedge play, bunker shots and especially chipping from all angles. With many veteran green committee members supporting such a project, it was essential for our golf maintenance staff to gain their insight concerning the layout of the area from a playability standpoint. We asked the green committee members (and anyone else who was interested) to meet with our staff at the old nursery area to discuss possible locations for additional nursery greens and some type of practice bunker. The primary focus of the meeting was to determine how to maximize the playing surface of such a small area. Looming over everything was the question of cost. But the green committee members who participated were receptive to the cost implications arising out of many of the suggested designs (e.g., moving existing irrigation). As Lake Merced's superintendent, I was able to work my way through the fnancial issues and come up with a plan that would satisfy everyone. We were determined as a

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