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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The new issue of Golf Course Industry magazine features an insightful cover story on the current state of the renovation market, made all the more insightful by the inclusion of comments from our own Bob Lohmann, founder and principal of Lohmann Golf Designs and its sister construction firm, Golf Creations. Check it out, and note that Bob, a regular contributor to the magazine and www.golfcourseindustry.com, will soon be weighing in with his own renovation-specific column, to be posted in the coming weeks at GCI. The gist? How scheduling/planning (or a lack thereof) has impacted the renovation market. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Timing is Everything

When it comes to growing grass, timing really is everything.  Putting that seed down at just the right time of year when the temperatures and humidity have peaked and are on their way down is crucial to achieving good fall growth.  It looks like they got this timing exactly right at Indian Creek Golf Club near Omaha, NE, where Lohmann Golf Designs just completed the third and final phase of a complete bunker renovation and green/fwy re-grassing program on this 27-hole layout. 

In the photo above, you'll see that coverage on the greens (T-1 bent), which were seeded by August 28th, and the fairways (Noble Eagle rye blend), seeded by September 7th, is well over 90%.  That's an incredible amount of grass in just over 40 days.  Most of that progress is do to well-timed planting and good water management by the super, Jim Nedrow, who has experienced severe drought in the area since early Summer.  It also helped that the owner of Indian Creek was willing to shut these nine holes down in mid-July so that Duininck Golf, the construction firm that handled the renovation, could get all the earthmoving and shaping done in time to fumigate and plant.

With large scale projects like Indian Creek, it is crucial that planning work be completed in ample time on the front end (ie. during winter months) to get the project out for bid, contractor chosen, and project dates set, so that there's also ample time on the back end to grow the grass before winter sets in.  Gaining extra grow-in weeks in the Fall means much earlier opening dates the following Spring.

Keep your eye out for our next Golf Course Industry E-news article which talks even more about the importance of timing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wetlands created throughout the Bridges at Poplar Creek Country Club serve to store stormwater and release it in a much cleaner condition while also providing visual interest and wildlife habitat.  This same concept is being employed at Reid Golf Course in Appleton ,WI.

Another golf course serving the greater good

Stormwater and water-quality issues far larger than any golf course issue have again enabled a course renovation project, driving home yet again golf’s communitarian benefits to the public at large. Bob Lohmann recently wrote about this dynamic for Golf Course Industry magazine, in reference to our work at The Bridges at Poplar Creek, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Several hundred miles north, in Appleton, Wisconsin, we see the same formula at play: New state mandates have obliged cities and towns to meet certain water quality standards in lakes and streams. The Wisconsin River runs through Appleton, and the city sought a place to find water, store it, clean it up and release it to the river.

Hello, Reid Golf Course, a municipal facility that proved to be a logical location for this water-quality and stormwater-management effort. The project has been green-lit, bid documents are out and it looks as though construction could begin as soon as November 2012.

Lohmann Golf Designs has been a design consultant on this project for several years now, not just because we have executed so many similar golf course-enabled, stormwater-management projects elsewhere, but because there really are huge golf-related repercussions to reckon.  Obviously, better storage and treatment of water involves the creation or major expansion of on-course ponds. This is sure to affect the routing of existing holes — but it also results in thousands and thousands of cubic yards of fill, coming from these big, new holes in the ground.

Again, it’s only logical to use that soil, on site, to improve the golf course where possible, in terms of design, agronomy and safety. In Appleton, LGD has come up with yet another inventive and practical plan, if we do say so ourselves. Several rerouted holes at Reid will have to carry or skirt these new bodies of water. Our design plans achieve those changes without making this municipal track too difficult — forced carries can be heroic and strategic, but they’re not for everyone. For example, we’ve moved the forward tees on the short par-3 11th up and around a new pond perimeter to preserve an alley of fairway.

We’re also using this abundance of new fill (estimated to be approximately 100,000 cubic yards) to rebuild three greens impacted by pond creation. And this is where it gets pretty neat: We will deploy an “alternative green construction method” using native topsoil, a 6-3-1 mix of sand, peat and soil in the root-zone. Yes, this isn’t a USGA-specified approach but our mix will most closely mimic the root-zone on the remaining 15 greens. When we’re done, maintenance of all 18 greens will be more or less identical.
Further, we’re using a bentgrass variety that is not one of the elite, new varieties because we want the new greens to match the old ones in color and performance, as well.
One more thing about the Reid project: Inevitably, there has been some minor opposition to the proposed changes on the golf course. There is always a population of golfers, at a private club or a muni, who liked the course just the way it was. It has taken some serious outreach from the city and LGD to make plain the state mandates, the resulting changes, and why all this must happen. See here the webpage Appleton has created to serve as a clearinghouse of information re. the project. It’s well done, and while some people will never be won over, this is a good model of what other course operators might consider when undertaking any major renovation project.

This wetland at Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest, IL gathers water entering the site from a nearby hospital campus and cleans it before depositing it back into the Skokie River. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Golf Creations' debut as certified Better Billy Bunker installer

LORTON, Va. — Here’s a good argument for the scions of golf course architects getting out there on their own, making their own way, before eventually working for the family firm.

Matt Lohmann is a project manager here at Golf Creations, the sister construction division of Lohmann Golf Designs. He’s also the son of LGD founder Bob Lohmann. When Matt got his start in the golf business, he did so on his own — going to work as a construction superintendent for Wadsworth Golf Construction Co. Hard to beat that sort of experience.

During his tenure at Wadsworth, he oversaw construction here at Laurel Hill Golf Club. That was 2004-05, and Matt would go on to complete a couple other projects before leaving Wadsworth in 2007. But he’s back in Lorton, Va., this summer, overseeing a Golf Creations-led bunker reconstruction project in anticipation of next year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, scheduled for Laurel Hill GC July 15-20, 2013.

“I went back to Laurel Hill a number of times after it was built while doing some other work in northern Virginia, just to see how things were going and to play the course, but it’s been a few years now,” Matt explains. “It’s nice to see the course was designed and built well enough to attract a USGA championship.”

Designed by Bill Love, Laurel Hill Golf Club is indeed a beauty — situated on rolling terrain that previously housed a District of Columbia Department of Corrections facility at Lorton, whose prisoners operated a dairy farm on site. Matt Lohmann has returned with his Golf Creations colleagues to reinstall the sand in all 120 bunkers using the Better Billy Bunker method, a process Golf Creations was certified to carry out this summer.

“When we originally built these bunkers, we used a woven fabric liner,” Matt explained. “Over time, there was contamination however, and some of the fabric we used had been ripped by the sand pro. Once that fabric is ripped, it just gets worse and worse. Because Golf Creations has been certified as a Better Billy Bunker installer, we’ve been brought in to redo all 120 bunkers.”

The Better Billy Bunker method involves laying down 2 inches of gravel across the entire bunker “floor”. A spray polymer is applied; it seeps down amidst the gravel profile and hardens into a strong-but-flexible bond, holding the gravel together. This layer effectively holds sand on the steepest of bunker faces and manages to move water through it at a rate up to 350 inches an hour.

“This is a 4-5 week process that will be done in September,” Matt explained. “We’re dodging a few golf balls because the course isn’t closing — just some temporary greens on affected holes as we work hole-by-hole through the course. It’s been a great experience all around, because we’re putting to work our Better Billy Bunker certification, which is a credit to Golf Creations — not every contractor is entrusted with this sort of work — and it’s great to come back to Laurel Hill.

“I guess it’s always our goal to leave a course better than we found it. But considering my history here, it feels even better on this project.”

Erosion and contamination problems on existing bunkers

Sand removal and new edge cutting

Clean-up and testing of existing draintile

Gravel installation


Polymer application

Sand installation
Finished product


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It's been a hot and heavy month of construction at Chenequa Country Club in Hartland, WI, where Lohmann Golf Designs and Golf Creations have rebuilt the green on #2 and the entire hole #3.  The renovation process actually started way back in 2002 when LGD prepared a master plan for all 18 holes and the driving range, and since then we've been implementing small projects on an every-other-year basis. 

This year' s project on #2 and #3 is probably the most dramatic makeover so far, though.  The greens for each hole sit along a newly constructed pond complete with boulder wall.  The new settings are dramatic, visually stunning, and add considerable strategic options for players to ponder.  Hole #3, a 175-yard par 3, was re-equipped with a new teeing complex situated north of the old tees atop an existing hill.  The new look is spectacular, if not a bit intimidating.  But there is definitely room to maneuver around the hazard and bump your way to the green for those who can't handle the carry.

It's grow-in time now, and with the mild temperatures and low humidity, you can almost see the new turf filling in!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Certification the Right Answer

When something appears too good to be true, there’s a good chance it’s not true! That's the reality when bidding construction jobs. We saw a supreme example of this a few years back up in Grand Rapids, Mich., at Fifth Third Ballpark, home to the Tiger’s Single-A affiliate, the Whitecaps. The owners there spent $400,000 with our company in 2009 to completely rebuild a field that was only a year old! The culprit? Cheap pipe that was never tested.

There’s a standard of materials and workmanship to which golf course builders are religously held, and the reality is, that standard didn’t really exist in the sports field realm until a few years ago when the The American Sports Builders Association (formerly the US Tennis Court & Track Builders Association) developed a certification process for field builders.  We support those efforts and are in the process of achieving our own certification.

An industry standard for sports field contractors is a great thing. If the school district or park district or municipality has confidence in the certified bidders, they will have confidence in the bids — a confidence that even the low bids will ultimately yield a quality, finished product and that money is being spent wisely.

LSF's field renovation at Fifth Third:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

College sports seasons underway with the help of Lohmann Sports Fields

It’s nearly September and we all know what that means: The beginning of another fall season on the collegiate sports scene. It also means high visibility for two projects from our team at Lohmann Sports Fields (LSF).

The first is the newly renovated soccer field at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, which hosted the first match on the new field Aug. 18 (that was the opener for both teams; since when do fall sports seasons begin in mid-August?). In any case, Wisconsin (alma mater of LSF founder and principal, Badger Bob Lohmann) defeated Notre Dame, 1-0, and a video report from match — including some sweet, low-angle shots of that beautiful new field — can be seen here.

Notre Dame student-athletes are well familiar with the work of LSF, which reconditioned the soil profile and regrassed the football field at Notre Dame Stadium in 2008, after building the all-new softball field in South Bend the year before.

Notre Dame’s football team opens the season this weekend — in Ireland of all places, against Navy — but the home opener in South Bend is scheduled for Sept. 8 against Purdue. All of Notre Dame’s football games are televised, so think of LSF when you see some tailback cut hard off tackle and maintain sure-footing, thanks to the expertly installed, super healthy turf.

For the record, LSF stripped the entire playing surface using a Koro Field Topmaker, roto-tilling in an assortment of soil amendments, laser-grading the field, then resodding with bluegrass imported from Colorado. Jim Lohmann oversaw that job and did the entire deal in 10 days. He worked side by side with George Toma, famed grounds keeper at several NFL stadia, whom Notre Dame had hired to consult on the project.

We’re proud of LSF’s association with major universities, but LSF gained their business thanks to a diverse list of happy clients, from tiny Marengo High School in suburban Chicago (multi-field complex) to the Dow Diamond in Midland, Mich., home to the Great Lakes Loons, the Single A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers — Ballpark Digest named Dow Diamond its 2007 “New Ballpark of the Year”, and The Midwest League named Dow Diamond its 2007 “Field of the Year”.

After all, no job is too big or small to be done exactly right.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nothing’s perfect.

At least, very few things start out that way. Take all these “grow the game” initiatives many of golf’s governing bodies have undertaken. Most start with the best of intentions but require significant tweaks to get the job done.  Oftentimes, those adjustments are really just a more effective pooling of resources, as most worthwhile things have lots of moving parts.

Our fearless leader, Bob Lohmann, wrote this week at golfcourseindustry.com about several initiatives that have really come into their own thanks to this sort of cooperation. One involves the First Links program, a worthy collaboration of the PGA of America and the American Society of Golf CourseArchitects, whereby the PGA put up $50,000 in grant money to cover the initial expenses for ASGCA members to consult with golf facilities seeking to build a learning facility for beginning or otherwise novice golfers.

Course facilities apply for these grants and an ASGCA member is sent out to approved-applicant courses to assess the site for game-growing opportunities. One of the grant recipients, Elliot GCin Rockford, Ill., chose Lohmann Golf Designs to handle consultation to one approved course project this summer. We’re just back from Rockford, where we provided some serious, much-needed planning and design services, including a detailed costing out of eventual construction.

Yet the First Links effort offers no financial mechanism to move a project like Elliot GC’s from planning to construction, and from the completion of construction to operations and maintenance.

Enter Leon McNair from Links Across America — part of The Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation (WGCF), the philanthropic arm of Wadsworth Golf Construction — which provides that mechanism, that bridge to construction and day-to-day operations that these “grow the game” facilities need.

We’ve gotten to know Leon and LAA quite well in recent years. We love what they do, and one of the things Leon is always talking about is the creation of “real” golfers — players who don’t just know how to swing the club but how to handle themselves on the course, how to enjoy themselves, how to be good playing partners. Lots of us had dads or other mentors who taught us this stuff, but lots of us don’t have that resource.

It strikes us here that pooling resources to give kids or otherwise new players that sort of support is analogous to what we’re all doing at Eliot GC — the PGA, the ASGCA, LAA and LGD, among others. It takes a village to make golfers, and golf courses.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hot gassing underway

Methyl bromide hot gassing is underway at Indian Creek.  This is actually phase 3 of a 27-hole gassing and re-grassing program.  Interstingly, the owner's purchased their methyl bromide for all three phases back in 2010 when it seemed inevitable that the new label would limit the use of the product into the future, and the supplies under the old label would last only a season or two.  

Not sure where they are at now with the labeling and supply, but we are sure that the gassing and re-grassing process pays huge dividends.  Like much of the Midwest, the Omaha area has suffered drought and high heat this summer, which wreaks havoc on poa annua roots.  But the new greens at Indian Creek (phase 1 and 2, the latter of which opened this spring) now sport pure stands of A-1/A-4 blend and are holding up tremendously well against this severe summer stress.

Fumigation underway

Drought stress evident in fairways and roughs, but new greens holding up well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Realizing a long-range vision at Chenequa CC

Lohmann Companies is hard at work renovating the 2nd and 3rd holes at Chenequa CC in Hartland, WI.  Proposed as part of a long-range master plan prepared in 2002 by Lohmann Golf Designs, the project includes the construction of a new pond, complete with stone retaining wall, and the relocation of the 2nd and 3rd greens along the water's edge.  

Hole 2, a drive-able par 4, will also see the reconstruction of its fairway bunkers to add a more strategic element on the tee shot.  That, along with the new green hanging dangerously close to the water along its back edge, will give CCC members a lot more to think about when determining their playing approach on this short, but demanding hole.  Here's a look at LGD's computer rendering of the proposed green, before and after:

Hole 2 Green - Existing

Hole 2 Green - Proposed
Hole 3, an existing par 3, will essentially be a new golf hole that will play from 120 to 175 yards over the pond to a green guarded on its back and sides by new mounding and existing ravines.  The new teeing area is located along a hillside located due north of the existing tees, and offers spectacular views of this intimidating hole.  See below a before view of the new hole corridor (notice the existing green behind the trees), followed by an after view of the new hole.  These images were instrumental in getting the project approved by the members:

Hole 3 - Before from new teeing area

Hole 3 - Proposed
All of the construction work at Chenequa is being completed by Golf Creations, the golf course construction division of Lohmann Companies.  Grassing is scheduled to start in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on construction and photos of our progress.      

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Real-World Consequences of Heat & Drought

Please take a moment to pity Jim Nedrow, the eminently capable course superintendent at the 27-hole Club at Indian Creek in Omaha, Neb. Supers are suffering all over the Midwest this summer, but this spring Jim grew in Phase II of a renovation we at Lohmann Golf Designs have undertaken at Indian Creek. The Red Feather nine opened a month ago and since the ribbons were cut, they’ve had 45 straight days without measurable rain — and temperatures for the last 30 have averaged daily highs of 99 degrees.

The pictures included here show how tough and crispy it’s been. Even where Jim has “watered in” the new grass, areas on the edge are browning out. Still, he has kept these young greens more than alive. They are healthy, rolling fast and smooth. I think Jim would tell you himself, he learned some valuable lessons from the Phase I grow-in (of the renovated Black Bird nine) — namely, he’s leaving the height of cut a bit higher on approaches and collars. This has minimized stress as they continue to mature.

Phase III construction (the Gray Hawk nine) is well underway at Indian Creek, which is one reason we were out in Omaha the first week in August, toiling in the hot, hot sun. Duininck Golf is handling construction and the dry weather — usually a contractor’s dream, in terms of productivity — has resulted in this anomalous behavior: Site superintendent Travis Quisberg is actually wetting down the construction zones! Why? To make the soil a bit more tacky and less dusty, but mainly to keep existing turf in and around those zones alive. In these hyper-hot, hyper-dry conditions, equipment and carts are doing more damage than normal. One can see the dry turf almost disintegrate under the wheels.

Omaha is a burgeoning tournament town. Indian Creek hosts its own prestigious amateur event, The Indian Creek Invitational; The Web.com Tour was at Champions Run GC last weekend; and the U.S. Senior Open visits Omaha CC next year. If you plan to attend either professional event, book yourself a tee time at nearby Indian Creek, which is about as good a daily-fee venue as you’ll find anywhere in the Midwest. Just bring a wide-brimmed hat and some sunscreen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We were tickled to learn the other day that our work at The Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club had earned 2012 Renovation of the Year honors from GolfInc. magazine. See the story here. Hats off to our clients at Hoffman Estates Park District and our colleagues at The Bruce Company of Wisconsin, who surely share equally in the gratification department.

Lohmann Golf Designs has been working with our clients in Hoffman Estates, mainly in a bunker-renovation capacity, since 1995 (so long ago, the course was then known simply as Poplar Creek GC). The course isn’t that old, opened in 1976. But it was built in a floodplain and just got soggier the more the adjacent neighborhood and commercial development expanded. When you build on and/or pave all that surrounding real estate, the water has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, much of this runoff found its way onto the golf course.

The linked story above does a good job outlining how we solved the flooding issues by expanding water-retention capability — while simultaneously improving the course (especially its risk-reward elements, thanks to all that new pond acreage). Truth is, we at LGD have experienced considerable, first-hand success both eliminating flood issues by expanding water-retention in ecologically proactive fashion — at Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest, IL, in 2003, for example — and better the golf experience, a the same time. In fact, the last time one of our projects earned Renovation of the Year honors, in 2005, it was The Traditions at Chevy Chase in Wheeling, Ill., where our work was again occasioned by chronic flooding issues.

It’s hard to fathom during a dry, hot summer like this one, but water-storage issues aren’t just a practical invitation to renovate. It’s more evidence that golf courses are ideally suited to perform critical municipal, communitaria functions like mitigating neighborhood flooding issues. I’d trade all our Renovation of the Year awards if conservation commissions across the country better recognized that.