Journey Along the Shores – Part 7 (Pilot Projects)

These are exciting times at Canal Shores.  Momentum is building, as talented and committed people continue to lend their support.  The beginnings of a new Master Plan for the facility are taking shape.  It is still too early to share details here, but stay tuned.

In the meantime, we have undertaken pilot projects in Section D on holes currently numbered 3, 11, and 12 (holes 1, 11, and 12 in my proposed Long Course).  These projects are an extension of ideas and principles that were laid out in previous posts.  They are also an opportunity for us to test out those ideas on the ground to gauge player and community reaction.  It is possible that these holes get changed significantly in the final Master Plan, and therefore, any improvements to be made this year will be done at low-to-no cost.

To illustrate the work in progress, I have created the rendering below.  A few notes of explanation:

  • Orange lines represent wood chip walking paths more safely removed from lines of play.
  • Purple areas are designated “native”, containing both savannah and wetland grasses and flowers. These areas are to be created under the supervision of an ecologist / landscape architect.  They are not meant for play.
  • Yellow areas are designated “tallgrass”, containing fescues and other grasses. Some tallgrass will be playable, and some will not.
  • Playable fairway and narrow intermediate cuts are indicated in green.  Playing corridors are being widened, and play is being more safely directed wherever possible.  Additionally, we are tweaking grassing lines to accentuate ground features and give more visual interest to these holes.
  • Two sets of tees (back and forward) are being created on each hole and are indicated with green boxes.  We will also be implementing “Family Tees” in the fairway between 120 and 150 yards to the green.
  • Greens, as indicated in green, are remaining in their current positions.  However, mowing patterns will be changed to gradually reclaim green areas previously lost to shrinkage.
  • Mounding and ground features to be added are indicated in dark green and will serve as our primary means of adding hazard and interest to these holes (rather than bunkers).
  • Several bunkers will be removed.  Remaining / new bunkers are indicated in white.


Further, hole-specific notes:

Current #3 / Proposed Long Course #1

The primary issue that we are addressing on this hole is balls exiting the property right.  Hospital property and staff are consistently in danger.  In our observation of hundreds of players, there are two main reasons that exacerbate this issue:

  1. Players hit the wrong club from the tee.  From the back tee, the farthest that a player can reasonably hit the ball before reaching an area of the hole that is extremely narrow is 220 yards.  I love to hit my driver, and I know that most players feel the same way.  However, for players who hit their drivers more than 220 yards, that is the wrong club to pull on this hole.  When the consequences of the typical right miss are potential property damage or injuries to our neighbors, players need to use better judgment.
  2. Players take the wrong line off the tee.  The right side of the hole appears to run straight, and therefore players tend to aim straight at the green.  This is an optical illusion though, as the right side actually angles in.  Conversely, it appears to the players that there is less room on the left than there actually is, especially given recent efforts to widen the hole left.  The correct target is the bunker left (which will be removed), or even left of that bunker for a player who favors a left-to-right shot shape.

To address this issue, and make the hole more interesting, we are working on the following changes:

  • Building of a new back tee is being considered to guard the right, accentuate the dog-leg, and highlight the carry over the ridge.  A new forward tee opens up the hole and makes it more playable for shorter hitters.
  • The angled ridge is a fantastic ground feature that we are working to highlight.  Addition of a set of small bunkers will increase the thrill of the carry for players from the back tee.
The picture does not do justice to this large ripple that cuts diagonally across the beginning of the fairway.
The picture does not do justice to this large ripple that cuts diagonally across the beginning of the fairway.
  • Through brush and invasive tree clearing, we have reclaimed 5-15 yards of fairway on the left, where new grass is currently being grown.
  • A new bunker down the right that ties into tall grass plots is intended to accentuate the peril of shots that hug the right.
  • Addition of hollows and mounding around the green are being considered to add interest to the green complex.
Existing ground features might be complemented with mounding from right and/or digging of small hollows.
Existing ground features might be complemented with mounding from right and/or digging of small hollows.

Current #11 / Proposed Long Course #11

This mid length par 3 has a green tucked into a triangular sliver of the property, and features a green and green site with some interest (and even more potential).  Players often miss the green on the short side right – the setup of the hole creates a subtly deceptive angle.

The following simple changes are in the works:

  • Expansion of the green short front left adds pin locations, increasing variety for regular players.
  • Creation of a bunker short right, complemented by a fairway cut short and right of the green adds visual interest from the tee, steers players away from the danger of walkers coming out of the tunnel, and provides a bail out for shorter hitters that keeps a possibility of par alive even when the pin is back right.

Current #12 / Proposed Long Course #12

This hole has been problematic because it previously had no real defense against players attempting to cut the corner.  Damage to parked cars and neighboring homes is a source of concern for safety and liability reasons.  Further, the hole lacks interest and beauty.

The beautiful old bridge, which is a signature feature of this hole, is visible in winter but is almost totally obscured when the invasive trees and brush leaf out.
The beautiful old bridge, visible in winter, is almost totally obscured when the invasive trees and brush leaf out.

Beyond the significant clean-up and clearing that needs to take place, specifically to uncover the steel train bridge, changes will include:

  • The back and forward tees will be moved to left inside of the cart and walking paths and angled toward the landing area, rather than the green.
  • All bunkers will be removed from the hole, as they detract from the beauty of the hole and add to maintenance costs.
  • All grass through the green, with the exception of a depression left that has drainage issues, will be mowed to fairway height and kept in “firm and fast” condition to accentuate the natural movement of the land, as well as several old ground features.

Were this hole not situated within its current constraints, perhaps it would be tweaked according to a risk-reward strategy.  Alas, as stewards of the course it is our responsibility to be sensitive to all stakeholders by slightly limiting strategic options in the name of safety.  We do believe that gains in interest, beauty and fun will more than offset the limits we impose.

Work carries on as momentum continues to grow.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the ultimate changes to the course are far more dramatic than those we are testing here.  For the time being though, spurred on by positive feedback from players and neighbors, we we are doing what we can when we can.

Stay tuned for more to come…

More Journey Along the Shores posts:



Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf

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