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.