Part 23 of the Journey Along the Shores series takes a look at improvements to course presentation
Prior to this year, Canal Shores was a place where it was great fun to play golf, but it wasn’t much of a golf course. It was a novelty that captured our hearts. This year, Canal Shores became a golf course.
There were three big steps made by our Superintendent Tony Frandria (@tonyturf) and his crew during the spring, building upon the solid progress of previous years:
- Expansion of the puttable areas on the green pads.
- Expansion of teeing areas and fairways, and definition of grass lines.
- Rehab of bunkers.
Previous pilot projects touched on these three aspects of course presentation. This season, all holes were further upgraded, creating a unified aesthetic and better playing conditions. The result was that playing golf at Canal Shores felt like playing proper golf, rather than whacking it around in a park with target greens.
PUTTABLE AREA EXPANSION
Progressive green shrinkage is a common problem on any course, and it is particularly bad at Canal Shores. With our extremely limited resources and poor irrigation, there is no easy way to push the greens out toward their original edges. We made a decision to scalp the green pads anyway, working under the assumption that a patchy collar is better than rough height grass. Players can chip or putt from the puttable area, making our holes more interesting. Lines were painted and the grass was cut.
TEEING AREAS, FAIRWAYS & GRASS LINES
Next, we took a look at the tee-to-green presentation. In the spirit of teasing the most interest and fun out of our little course, we again got creative with grass. We ditched defined tee boxes wherever possible for teeing areas, allowing us to spread wear and tear over a larger area, while also giving our players greater variety day to day.
Teeing areas were connected to the fairway, and the fairways expanded. Although we have our fair share of good players at Canal Shores, we also have many beginners, juniors, and seniors. For these groups, short grass makes the game more fun, and fun comes first. Again, lines were painted and the mowing began. With our new mowing pattern, a player who struggles to get the ball airborne will still be able to move forward and enjoy the hole.
We didn’t want the course to become a homogenous stretch of fairway, however. That’s not golf. Golf involves navigating obstacles (hazards) using your mind and your skill. We don’t have many hazards, and we don’t have the resources or desire to create more, so we again sought to make the most of the course features we have. There are grass bunkers and quirky mounds scattered around Canal Shores, and we decided to accentuate them by letting the grass grow. The contrast of fairway height grass surrounding a scruffy hump, bump, or hillock is far more interesting than a single height of cut. These hazards also create real challenge who fail to avoid them.
With a full year’s experience under our belt, we now know the mowing patterns. In 2019, we will fine tune, including maintaining the scruffy grass at a lower height to give players a better chance at recovery.
The final piece of this year’s upgrade was our bunkers. As those who have been following along know, we have chipped away at bunker rehab for years. The goals have been to decrease the number of bunker and the square footage, while also dramatically increasing the interest. In 2018, those goals were finally achieved across the entire course.
A donation of high quality bunker sand from a generous Superintendent in the area was the nudge we needed to follow through and bring all remaining bunkers up to snuff. What follows is a recap with visuals of our work over the years. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who pitched in on bunker work.
HOLE #2 – The front left bunker was rebuilt and given more character.
HOLE #3 – A fairway bunker left was removed and grassed over. A small fairway bunker was added in the landing area on the right.
The right forebunker was rebuilt and given more character.
HOLE #8 – The two bunkers right of the green were the best we had, and so were left as is. Two bunkers left of the green were reshaped smaller and with more character.
HOLE #12 – A left fairway bunker was removed and grassed over. The bunker front left of the green was reshaped smaller with more character. A bunker left of the green was filled in and grassed over.
A pot bunker was added front right of the green.
Two large saucer bunkers behind the green were removed and replaced with a more interesting single trench bunker.
HOLE #13 – The bunker front right of the green was reshaped with more character. The sandy waste bunker behind the green was in good shape and left as is.
HOLE #14 – One long trench bunker left of the green was broken into two smaller bunkers and reshaped with more character.
HOLE #15 – Two fairway bunker were reconfigured into the Principal’s Nose.
A bunker short left of the green was removed and grassed over. The bunker front right of the green was repositioned and reshaped with more character.
HOLE #17 – The left fairway bunker was reshaped with more character. The right fairway bunker as allowed to grow over as it is within the delineated wetland buffer.
HOLE #18 – The near right and left fairway bunkers were allowed to grow over. The far right fairway bunker was transformed into the Church Pews. The bunker front left of the green was filled in and grassed over.
Puttable areas, grass lines, and bunkers. Thanks the commitment of our staff and volunteers, we continue to push our little gem forward. In 2018, Canal Shores became a real golf course. Who knows what 2019 might bring. Stay tuned….
For the entire Journey Along the Shores, click here.
Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf
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