Over my 13 years as a golf course agronomist, this is my third irrigation installation project. The first came at the Country Club of Asheville in 2004. The second was at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Cherokee in 2009. This is the smallest of the three projects that I have done, so I’m more than capable and feel very comfortable managing this project. While the Country Club of Asheville was around 950 heads and Sequoyah National was 1,568 heads, Laurel Ridge will be around 590 irrigation heads. This project was estimated to take approximately 90 days for completion and the contractor has been tasked to finish the front nine holes first, then the back nine holes.
Early in the project, we experienced heavy rains rain which slowed initial work. More recently, the large amount of sub-surface rock and product shipment delays have added to slower than anticipated project progress. The contracting company has run into major rock occurrence on holes #1, 2, upper 4 and upper 5. This significantly slows the trenching process and hinders the clean up time. In addition to the aforementioned conditions, working around cart traffic and golfers was slowing the process down and seed was not germinating due to golf play/traffic. We also experienced some significant vandalism. For these reasons, a decision was made to close the front nine and get the project back on track.
I had a question last week about why we can’t do nine holes now, and nine holes after the season. Several reasons prohibit this. First, we have already secured the company and received the product onsite to do the work…under a contract. It would entail revising the contract and cost even more in mobilization expense to bring them back a second time, and the UV rays would surely compromise some of the outdoor product. Secondly, our new system feeds up hole #8. The new booster pump could not be used on the old pipe/heads and our golf course quality would surely suffer as a consequence. Thirdly, this would provide very inconsistent playing conditions. Some greens would be on the new system while some greens would remain on the old, inefficient system that is beyond its useful life. Thus, we cannot allow the contractor to complete nine holes and leave. As planned, the contractor will be here for the duration of the project as contracted.
The projected completion time for this irrigation project has been a topic of much conversation. Our installation contractor is still projecting a finish date of July 10th. While it is hard to imagine the work on all holes being complete by then, the easiest and fastest portions of the project are on the golf holes at the very end, thus the completion of this project on time may well be achieved.
While the healing time for the turf is complex, it is not difficult. I can’t promise that every single square inch of the areas affected will be healed by Fall, but the majority will be grown in and well on its way to being full and lush. Our golf course is not going to be “bad” for one year and certainly not two as some have said. The best way to help my staff and your golf course with recovery is to follow the rules. We will be “cart path only” for about a month once we re-open. Where we do not have paths, please drive in the rough only. Please do not drive across a newly seeded area. We will provide several rangers/marshals to monitor the course once we re-open. Please do the right thing and help our course grow in and heal up properly without incident.
Additionally, we are going to be doing some tee box work. We will be increasing the size of some tee boxes, and laser leveling others. It is our intention to work during the closure of the hole to do the tee box work needed. Many ladies tee boxes are very small and undulated. While some senior tees will be addressed as well, our valuable women members deserve equal playing conditions.
My door is always open to answer any questions or concerns that anyone may have. Please feel free to meet me or call me (828-452-0545 ext.180) to discuss anything. I hope everyone realizes the effort and passion that we are putting into our golf course and club here at Laurel Ridge. I realize this can be a frustrating time with portions of our course unavailable for play, but the imminent completion of our golf course project promises higher quality conditioning and superb playability. We appreciate your continuing patience and support.
Logan Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent