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: