Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hey all... it's been a while since we've posted on this blog.  We've been focusing our efforts these days more on Facebook (click here to follow us) and Twitter (here).  We're also updating our website which will allow us to be more interactive with all of the social media outlets.  That should be coming end of next month.

In the meantime, just wanted to share some photos from a project we're working on in Appleton, WI, at the Reid Municipal Golf Course.  It's a huge storm water project that's impacting several holes on the course.  We've been consulting on the golf while the engineering firm AECOM has handled the storm water.

Ryan Inc. Central is the contractor on the job, and they are doing some magnificent work, especially given the fact that they have not had a full week of work yet this year given the multiple large storm events that keep hitting the area.  Even so, the work is nearing completion.  We were there yesterday and took the above photos which show the new naturalized channel being built offline while the old concrete channel still handles runoff.  Once the new grasses establish, Ryan will remove the old channel and transfer the water.  Quite a process to say the least!!

You can also see golf still being played in the background.  It's been crazy there, but good planning has kept things running pretty smoothly and the locals are excited about what's happening.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The story Bob Lohmann just wrote for Golf Course Industry magazine (see
here, starting on page 44) centers on the value of Asset Management Plans — or AMPs, as we like to call them. Bob touches briefly on the deployment of in-house labor, which is a key to making the AMP a viable alternative to traditional master plans. Indeed, with crews that have the necessary skills (and the right oversight), in-house labor is often a major factor in keeping these smaller projects affordable enough for golf facilities to tackle.
There is, of course, a learning curve for maintenance crews who undertake what are essentially golf course construction and renovation techniques. They need to be guided, which is what LGD and Golf Creations normally provide under these circumstances. But good crews do learn, and they can be darned good. As noted in the GCI piece, many superintendents do their own roto-tilling and tree clearing. They buy their own materials, including installation of some of them. 
It's all about finding the balance of tasks that works for your facility.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A good article about the fundamentals of public speaking, especially for anyone looking to entertain or educate their membership, board, golf associations or any other audience:

Stand Up and Deliver:  The Art of Public Speaking

Monday, January 28, 2013

LSF brings golf acument to sports field realm

For many years, golf course architects bristled when landscape architects, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, sports field contractors, attempted to cross over into golf course design, renovation and construction. We’re all human, even golf course architects (!), and so it chafed a bit to see this — mainly because this move clearly requires a considerable learning curve to deal with all of golf’s nuances, not to mention the scale and complexity of golf projects.

The best response, we’ve learned, is switching that formula around — bringing golf design and construction skills to sports field construction. What we’ve seen time and again since the launch of Lohmann Sports Fields in the late 1990s, is this: In the realms of siting, circulation, drainage, agronomy and design for multiple uses, the golf course design/construction process transfers to sports field design/construction in a pretty seamless fashion. In fact, we bring more skills to the table than are required. The process of effectively planning, siting and building sports fields requires all the skills of golf course design and construction, only on a smaller, more simplified scale.

Comparing the master planning a 250-acre parcel for golf — with all the changes in elevation, water, forested areas, and environmentally protected areas — with master planning a 60-acre sports complex is like comparing chess and checkers. We’re glad to have been trained in chess, frankly.

Boil it down and consider drainage alone, probably the single biggest concern in the layout and reconstruction of a sports field campus. Maximizing existing grades and drainage patterns — to move water efficiently from the playing surface — is the golf architect’s primary specialty!

A much overlooked aspect of sports campus design is the availability of a water source and the efficient transfer of water from that source. That’s the first thing we look at, be it a golf or sports field project: Where are we getting our irrigation water, how much do we have, and what will it cost? From our experience, this isn’t given nearly enough attention in sports field design and construction.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hole 17 at Kellogg Golf Course in Peoria, IL, where Lohmann Golf Designs performed a bunker rehab and greens re-grassing program during the Fall of 2011.  The new grasses faired well against this summer's extreme heat and drought.
Re-Grassing:  A Practical and Darn Affordable Option
Several weeks ago, Medinah Country Club hosted the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents (MAGCS) 60th Turf Clinic and Annual Meeting. This is always angreat industry event, and the 2012 edition was no exception. The big take-away? The difficulty in maintaining vintage bent/poa annua hybrid greens.

This was the hottest summer on record, across the U.S. In Chicago alone we experienced 47 days of 90+ temperatures. We also had a mild winter in 2011-12, which meant remarkably little winter kill — but it also meant excessive spring poa growth, which translated into lousy poa root-growth and significant poa die-off by August.

Wev’e all seen examples of old, push-up style greens whose bent/poa mixtures have done just fine these past 20 years. August in the Midwest has always been tricky with the poa annua. There’s even a sense of romance and stubbornness about keeping these old greens alive and playable (to say nothing of avoiding the cost of renovating). But the profiles below these putting surfaces keep getting older and (if you’re not aerifying like the dickens) less porous, and apparently the heat we expect in August is now arriving in July and lasting into September.

At some point, something’s gotta give. For many, what gave out this summer were the greens. If this warming trend continues, the prospects for these old greens are pretty dim.

This was the subtext to nearly every presentation, subtopic and discussion at Medinah: Can supers manage poa long-term with these increased temps? If they’re trying to survive atop the crappy soil profiles that some farmer pushed up in the early 1950s, it’s hard to like their chances.  I think most supers, course owners and club boards realize this, but they’re trying to reconcile the prospect of keeping greens alive, at great cost, with the prospect of rebuilding or re-grassing, another considerable cost.

It’s important for supers to recognize, however, the enormous difference in cost between rebuilding a green to USGA specifications (something that can run between $45,000 and $70,000 per green) and simply re-grassing that same putting surface with modern bents that have been bred to deal with these ever-more-broiling Midwestern summers (Note: we highly recommend adding internal drainage to old green profiles as well, but that is a topic for another time; let’s focus on grass here.)

I would submit as "Exhibit A" the renovation we recently completed at Kellogg Golf Course, a facility owned and operated by the Peoria, Illinois Park District. For less than $50,000, and the use of in-house labor, we were able to methyl bromide 19 greens and seed them with A4 bent. Thanks to a dedicated aerification plan, Superintendent Tim Smith always enabled good root-growth in these old push-up greens, so we left the soil profile and contours completely alone. We seeded on Labor Day 2011 and they were fully grown in by May 1, 2012.

For a long time,some superintendents in cool-weather climates viewed all these fancy new bentgrasses as a luxury. In addition, I think a lot of superintendents still struggle with the idea of putting premium bentgrass on push-up greens that have so many other issues — marginal soil profiles, poor drainage, poor contouring (or lack of contouring) and a lack of cupping space.

However, if the climatic trends continue, I don’t think supers can afford to think of modern bent greens as a luxury anymore. With summers like these, regrassing is a practical and darned affordable option.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The week of Veterans Day seems an appropriate time to share with you the work Golf Creations recently completed at Silver Sage Golf Course, the 18-hole facility located at Mountain Home Air Force Base, 10 miles outside the town of Mountain Home, in the very southwestern corner of Idaho.

This summer Golf Creations put the finishing touches on a dual-phase, green- and bunker-renovation here. Reached on Nov. 13, in the middle of blowing out his irrigation system for the winter, course manager/superintendent Stephen Vedder reported that he, service golfers, local players and the Idaho Golf Association (IGA) couldn’t be happier.

"We had the IGA ratings team out here this summer and they told us we had some of the best greens in the state, in terms of speed and undulation," Vedder said. "And I can report that they are so much easier to maintain."

Bob Baldock originally designed Silver Sage GC back in 1953. Vedder explained that the old Penncross greens were small, lacked contour and couldn’t be coaxed to roll faster than 8.5 on the Stimp. They were prone to dry spots and burnouts in the summer heat. They were built push-up style using native high-desert soil, a dusty loam that locals refer to as "moon dust" — not the sort of nutrient-rich soil you want for a root-zone mix. Vedder had to aerify them four times a year just to keep them alive.

In the late 1990s, an assessment was made of all Air Force-owned courses to prioritize those in need of renovation. Silver Sage was no. 18 on the list — the old greens just barely made it.

Golf Creation tackled Phase I in 2011, working from a design provided by Texas-based architect Tripp Davis. Construction crews arrived at Mountain Home AFB in late April, seeded nine greens with Dominant Extreme bentgrass on June 11, and golfers were playing them Aug. 22.

The greens were all rebuilt to USGA specifications (meaning they imported the root-zone mix — no moon dust). The bunkers were all rebuilt with modern drainage capabilities and liners, enabling a uniform sand cover of 4 inches.

Phase II went just as smoothly. Golf Creations showed up in March, tackled the remaining bunkers, seeded the second nine greens by late April, and they were playable on June 11. The entire price tag for both phases: $1.2 million.

"I’m amazed by how fast they came in but also the uniformity and speed of the new surfaces," Vedder said. "But the roots are what everyone is amazed by. When we opened the Phase II greens, the roots extended down below cup depth. We had roots in excess of 12 inches when they’re being maintained at 1/10th of an inch.

"The Golf Creations crews did an outstanding job, everyone from the shapers, to Bob Lohmann himself, to the laborers who staked out the gravel bases and did all the contouring. They never hesitated to make slight design changes on site, noticing where drainage might no work so well and moving a bunker basin over 5 feet. They fit in and worked very well with my crews, too.

"Bob was out here several times. At the end of Phase I, he went over the best ways to grow-in these new greens, in terms of water usage and fertilizer plans. He went over everything with a fine-tooth comb and told me to call him if we ever needed anything, and a couple times I did. He’s been a great resource."

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Inches of Rain from Sandy and Almost No Cleanup?
After 7 inches of rain from Hurricane Sandy, the renovated bunkers at Laurel Hill still looked great!

Before installing Better Billy Bunker, Laurel Hill's
bunkers looked like this after just a few inches of rain.
It’s clear from watching the national news that the effects of Hurricane Sandy, especially in the Mid-Atlantic region, continue to be felt by millions whose homes have been damaged and/or, even at this writing, remain without power. Our hearts go out to them.

In the same spirit, we send the best possible karma to all the
course owners and superintendents, many of whom experienced their first uptick this year in terms of rounds and revenues after several in the doldrums. Dealing with Sandy’s aftermath will surely not result in the sort of November they were anticipating, in terms of rounds, revenues, or especially expenses.

With all that said, we do want to provide a Sandy-related update from Rick Owens, the head superintendent at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Va. We blogged in mid-September about Golf Creations' Better Billy Bunker reconstruction project completed there this summer, in anticipation of next summer’s U.S. Amateur Publinx at Laurel Hill. Read all about that here.

As follow-up, we feel obliged to report, via Rick, that while Sandy dumped 7 inches of rain on the course earlier this week, the crews at Laurel Hill completed their normal raking maintenance, and then spent a total of 1 extra man-hour cleaning up washed sand in the bunkers. There were just a few rivulets to be smoothed out, with a leaf rake.

A single hour of clean up on 120 bunkers, after 7 inches of rain? That’s pretty incredible. It frankly says a lot for the Better Billy Bunker reconstruction method, which Golf Creations, LGD’s course-construction division, is fully certified to administer. FYI, The bunkers at Laurel Hill aren’t just numerous, they're high-flashed — exactly the kind that suffers most during major rain events.

The Better Billy Bunker method has gained a lot of traction lately, and one of its major claims is a reduction in man-hours related to post-storm maintenance. Sandy and Laurel Hills are proof that claim is well founded.