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EVENT-FULL SEASONS AT CANAL SHORES

Part 24 of the Journey Along the Shores series dives into our growing volume of activity and events

With each passing year, Canal Shores gets busier. The course is seeing more play and it would seem that the Evanston-Wilmette community has gotten markedly golfier. That is terrific progress from my geeky perspective. However, the activity at Canal Shores does not begin and end with golf, which is one of the many ways that our community course delivers value. The more people attending our growing roster of events or simply getting outdoors and using the space, the better.

Of course, the multi-use nature of the facility necessitates that different user groups have to figure out how to coexist. This process is not without moments of discord. Dog walkers, runners, picnickers and golfers use Canal Shores in different ways and have to learn how to respect the course, and each other. Casual golfers, players from the junior programs and the high school teams that call the course home sometimes step on each other’s toes. And we all have to make way for the steady stream of golf and non-golf events that are filling up the calendar. As an individual, it is easy to get caught up in the painful part of these growing pains. I choose to try and stay flexible so that I can enjoy the growth of the Canal Shores community.

In addition to our thriving junior camps and ladies league, 2018 saw many of our customary events return, which were also joined by newcomers. The year kicked off with the annual Garage Party fundraiser and was followed in the summer with the Murray Brothers Invitational benefiting first-responders. Fall brought Northwestern football tailgating and ETHS golf matches. Once again, we concluded the season with yet another rousing gathering of the Honourable Company of Reverse Jans Golfers. The chilly temps were happily faced and members of the company generously donated enough to fund a significant portion of the lease for our Superintendent Tony’s new utility vehicle. Many thanks to Seamus Golf, Imperial Headwear and Ballpark Blueprints for their support.

Other gatherings and meet-ups kept the season interesting, with the highlight being a visit from The Fried Egg’s Andy Johnson and Erik Anders Lang for a recording of his Random Golf Club series. The outdoor music scene at Canal Shores also went next level when the 1st and 2nd holes served as the venue for Out of Space, a festival headlined by Mavis Staples and The Indigo Girls. Last but not least and just under the weather wire, the Evanston Running Club held their Cross-Country Invitational. The diversity of these events is a testament to the movement within the community to take a fresh and open-minded look at this public asset we own and find new ways to make use of it—club in hand, or not.

On the heels of a successful 2018, this season is already off to a strong start (in spite of the Chicago weather) in this, our 100th anniversary year. The New Club golf society held their first spring tune-up and the Garage Party was once again a mob scene. The calendar is filling up quickly with events and outings, big and small. On June 4th, the ladies come out for Women’s Golf Day quickly followed on the 7th by the first annual Canal Shores Open, in which teams will battle for the inaugural title. On June 14th, we’re taking a page out of the Winter Park 9 playbook by starting up a weekly Friday Skins Game. Out of Space is coming back with four nights of shows featuring Cake, Mandolin Orange, I’m With Her, Jeff Tweedy and Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers. All exciting events that are sure to be good fun for all.

As we continue onward, it is my hope that more folks look at Canal Shores for what it is—a fun golf course in a beautiful green space that is welcoming and infinitely flexible for events and activities of all kinds. 18 hole golf outings are dandy, but they are just one of the many ways to enjoy Canal Shores. Our staff, including fabulous new Events Coordinator Melissa (melissa@canalshores.org) is willing to help with conceiving or executing any manner of gathering under the sun. Want to have a 5-hole one club tournament and then drink beer and eat pizza by the fire pit? No problem. Want to start a weekly disc golf league? She’s got you. Want to host a business networking meeting with cocktails and casual putting contests? Melissa and Tony will figure it out. Want to have a bring-your-dog-to-golf gathering? How has that not already happened? You get my point here.

The bottom line at Canal Shores is that it is our space. The more we use it and contribute to it, the more it will thrive. We certainly love seeing more people playing golf—it is the greatest game, after all—but there has always been more to Canal Shores than golf, and there always will be.

For the entire Journey Along the Shores, click here.

Copyright 2019 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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IN PRAISE OF RESTRAINT AT ROCK HOLLOW G.C.

The first edition of this season’s Upping My Dye-Q series takes a look at the Tim Liddy designed Rock Hollow Golf Club

“Who are you, and what do you do?” The direct inquiry by the local I encountered in the pro shop after completing an early-spring loop around the Tim Liddy designed Rock Hollow Golf Club caught me off guard. He must have noticed the befuddled look on my face, so he elaborated. “We saw you playing fast and carrying your bag. We know everyone who plays out here. What’s your story?” Gathering myself, I explained that I was on my way to French Lick and was taking the opportunity to see Rock Hollow, which had been on my hit list for years. After commiserating over our mutual affection for their home course, we settled in for the kind of enjoyable conversation that naturally flows among fellow geeks. Topics ranged from Chicago Golf Club to Langford & Moreau to the Pete Dye Course at French Lick, along with their beloved Rock Hollow. It was exactly the kind of community golf vibe that makes me feel right at home.

Pete’s Protege

Tim Liddy got his start at an engineering firm where he was working as a landscape architect and self-described “front end guy”. The engineers often assigned him to be the client liaison because of his skills with people and drawing. This dynamic led to an introduction to Pete Dye in 1990, resulting in his assignment to the Ocean Course project on Kiawah Island. “Pete didn’t draw plans. At that time, the permitting process required more detailed drawings,” Liddy shared. “Pete loved me because I had studied the world’s great golf holes and understood what he was talking about. It also helped that I drew well and quickly, and I didn’t mind that most of my drawings would end up in the garbage when he changed his mind. Pete started as my idol, served as my mentor, and ultimately became a father figure.” The pair’s collaboration carried on for 25 years with Pete concocting and Tim drawing.


Tim Liddy’s artistic talents on display in his digital watercolor of Rock Hollow’s 1st

Serendipity would continue to tap Tim Liddy in the early ‘90s. The Smith family, stalwarts of the game in Indiana, were looking to build a golf course and they approached Pete Dye through a mutual friend. While reviewing plans for another project at the dining room table in the Dye home, Pete made the simple suggestion, “Tim will do it.” The gears were set in motion for Liddy’s first solo design.

The Golfing Smiths

Why did the Smiths decide to build a golf course? “It’s 25 years later, and I am asking myself that same question,” joked Terry Smith, the patriarch of this golfing clan. Terry learned the game from his father, and passed it on to his three sons, Terry, Todd and Chris. All played high level competitive golf, with Chris ultimately becoming a PGA Tour winner.

The family owned a gravel and stone business that operated out of a 350+ acre quarry in Peru, IN. By 1972, the site had been mined out and sat fallow. “We left it alone to become wildlife habitat, but I felt that there could be a better use for the land,” Smith said. “Golf was such a big part of our lives, it made sense to transform the quarry into a golf course.” Clearing began in 1992, and based on Pete Dye’s recommendation, the Smith’s crew went to work under the direction of Liddy. “We had the equipment and people to handle the clearing and earthmoving, and Pete lent us a shaper to bring the finer details of Tim’s design to life.”

Creation stories tend to be romanticized, glossing over the gory details. Many golf geeks dream of building and owning their own course, and most have no comprehension of the blood, sweat and tears necessary to make that dream a reality. The story of Rock Hollow’s creation includes hints of just how tough it can be. “After unexpectedly having to top dress the entire course with soil from our farm, we found that the 7th hole was still too rocky to grow healthy turf,” recounted Smith. “Members of our family, staff and the community came out and crawled the entire length of the fairway on hands and knees picking out rocks prior to seeding.” With that level of commitment and engagement, it is no wonder that the Smiths and their neighbors remain attached to the course.

The Course

The site that would become Rock Hollow had two special characteristics on which Liddy capitalized. The mining operation created more than 50 feet of elevation change from the outer edges to the central lake—uncommon for this part of Indiana. Additionally, the site was much bigger than the golf course, allowing for the retention of that “nature preserve” feel. As Liddy described it, “Everything leads you into the natural landscape. It is like a watercolor with detail in the middle of the painting while the edges blur to support the whole.” Areas of wetland and woodland are interspersed, with the golf holes taking the player on an exploration of the land.

Rock Hollow’s nines are routed in two loops. Each begins by working around the property edge and then turning back inward to interact with the lake. The perimeter topography holds more interest, and Liddy took advantage of that variety to create a collection of holes packed with character. “One of the best things about Tim’s design is that there are no weak holes,” gushed Smith. Even after discounting his owner’s bias, I tend to agree that Rock Hollow is solid from start to finish. A unique and creative hole like the short par-4 16th, with its semi-blind approach to a green that seemingly floats on the horizon, stands out from the rest as a favorite.

Click on any gallery image below to enlarge with captions

In typical Dye fashion, Liddy employed angles, elevation changes and landforms to make the player feel uncomfortable on the tee. Confident drives are rewarded, but the best line to take is frequently not evident to the newbie visitor. Unlike some of Pete Dye’s courses, Rock Hollow has a much more understated aesthetic to accompany the strategy. “The design was a reaction to Pete’s strong personality,” Liddy explained. “The feature shapes are simple and the edges are blurry on purpose, allowing the landscape to be the focus.” This conscious restraint does not result in a bland golf course, however. To complement the natural beauty of the setting, Liddy took a hands-on approach that is evident in varied green surrounds and large, contoured putting surfaces. Rock Hollow is a course that would remain interesting, challenging and fun even after numerous plays.

Returning to the locals in the pro shop, their pride in Rock Hollow is palpable and well founded. After a period during which the conditions deteriorated, new Superintendent Larry Wilk and his team have the course looking and playing great. The design might be restrained, but the hard work and love that have gone into making Rock Hollow a terrific community golf course have been anything but. “I love golf, and it feels good to have created a place for our family to work and play the game,” Smith mused. “We took an unproductive piece of land and gave it a new use that makes people happy.” Terry Smith doesn’t say so explicitly, but I get the sense that reflecting on the joy that his course has brought to players makes the investment of blood, sweat and tears worth it.

For those in search of fun, affordable and architecturally interesting golf, Rock Hollow should be on your list. The Smith family is ready to welcome you in Peru.


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MORE MUSINGS ON GREATNESS

While listening to a podcast with Ron Whitten, long-time architecture editor with Golf Digest, I was struck by how similar his early experience of falling in love with the game’s playing fields was to my own. In his youth, Whitten visited both Canal Shores (then known by another name) and Chicago Golf Club. Each course delighted him in a different way, and caused in him a revelation that would launch his career – there exists a wondrous variety of golf courses to explore.

Ron Whitten’s experience resonates with me because it mirrors my own, and that of my two sons. I learned the game playing with my dad and grandfather at the course on the old Fort Sheridan Army base in Highland Park, IL. Soon after, I began a ten year stretch of caddying at the Old Elm Club, a Harry Colt design built by a young Donald Ross – a true architectural gem. I played many other courses during my younger days, but Fort Sheridan and Old Elm were my favorites. For me, although they resided at completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of pedigree and conditioning, they were both intensely interesting in their own way. With the minds and hands of both Harry Colt and Donald Ross involved, the greatness of Old Elm is inherently obvious. Fort Sheridan wound through a military base past tanks and cannons, on the parade grounds and over ravines – what could be cooler for a little boy? Fast forward and I now split time with my sons between Canal Shores and Kingsley Club, each interesting in its own unique way.

The subject of what defines greatness in golf course architecture is one that I covered previously in my 108 in 48 post. There is a broader category of “good” into which great courses like those fall, with a much simpler definition informed by my experience. A good course is one that is interesting enough to make me want to play it again. This definition is inclusive of both ends of the spectrum, and tends to be exclusive of courses in the middle. Life is too short to spend precious golf time (and dollars) on the bland, the boring, or the just plain bad. I would rather hold out for those courses that get my gears turning with quirk, interesting details, or unique surroundings.

Exploring the ends of the spectrum and sharing those stories will be the focus of Geeked On Golf going forward. Chime in and share your experiences. It is always a pleasure to connect with kindred spirits.

Copyright 2019 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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THE YEAR THAT CANAL SHORES BECAME A GOLF COURSE

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:

  1. Expansion of the puttable areas on the green pads.
  2. Expansion of teeing areas and fairways, and definition of grass lines.
  3. 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.


BUNKER REHAB

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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REVERSE JANS RECAP

Part 22 of the Journey Along the Shores series looks back at the annual gathering of the Honourable Company of Reverse Jans Golfers

Canal Shores is about coming together, having fun through laid back competition, and caring for a special community asset.  That is the spirit in which the Honourable Company of Reverse Jans Golfers convened for its third annual gathering and golf outing in December of last year.

CanalShores14-AndyDrone.JPGThe day began with solid geekery as HCRJG Member Andy Johnson (@the_fried_egg) brought out his drone to capture photos and video of work that we completed as part of our Metra Corner Makeover.

Andy was kind enough to put together a video montage that illustrates well how integrated with the surrounding community Canal Shores is.  Our clearing efforts along the canal and our work on making bunkers and grass lines more interesting is also evident.

 

 

It was then on to the golf.  We had six teams totaling 24 members of The Company playing our 14 hole reverse routing.  The competition was friendly and intense, and thankfully we managed not to damage any property.  We also got the now customary wide range of curious and bemused reactions from folks out walking wondering a) why is this big group playing golf in December, and b) do you realize that you are going in the wrong direction?

After the round, we convened at the Legion for food, storytelling, and awards.  Many thanks to Company Member John Enright from Bluestone in Evanston for providing the food.  Thanks also to Imperial Headware and Seamus Golf for once again providing us with stellar swag for our contestants.

HCRJG2017-ImperialSeamus.jpg

As always, Team Dingles (Captained by David Inglis) won one of the sets of treasured glassware.  I can honestly not remember which team won the other set, and it doesn’t matter because having fun and giving back is what is more important to us.

We managed to raise several thousand dollars and were ecstatic when the opportunity arose to use our donation to help our Superintendent Tony Frandria (@TonyTurf) repaint his maintenance shop.  HCRJG Member Lisa Quinn connected Tony to a vendor and this spring the shop was transformed.

The fine folks at Dynamic Colors absolutely crushed the job and gave us a cool recap video as a bonus.

 

I can’t thank the members of the HCRJG enough for their ongoing support of our dream chasing at Canal Shores.  That support extends well beyond the afternoon each December when we hold our gathering.  They are there year-round, putting the community in community golf.


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 21 (Burn Baby Burn)

There’s a new boss at Canal Shores – a Burn Boss, that is – and his name is Steve Neumann.  Steve is the Chair of our Grounds Committee as well as the Eco Committee that recently completed creation of the Ecological Component of our Master Plan (click here to see the Eco plan).  Being a geeky man after my own heart, he fulfilled an ambition of becoming an officially certified Burn Boss by participating in training with the Forest Preserve District.  Perhaps the coolest title I have heard to date.

In my previous post on trees, I shared about our intention to continue the battle against buckthorn, honeysuckle and other invasives to create space for native trees, shrubs and other plants to flourish at Canal Shores.  The property is currently so terribly overrun with invasives that the by-product of our clearing efforts is a tremendous amount of brush.  Prior to this season, we have experimented with using the material in raised hugelkultur beds, and we have chipped quite a bit of it.  The chipping is faster and tidier, but it is also cost-prohibitive considering the volume of material.

Cue the Burn Boss.

Burning has been a land management practice since before European settlers arrived in America.  Native Americans used prescribed burning of the prairies and woodlands to promote biodiversity, maintain ecological health, and sustain their food sources.  Fast forward several centuries, and ecologists, land managers and Golf Course Superintendents are once again embracing regular prescribed burning as a best practice for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

According to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, “Unburned natural areas can quickly become choked with invasive trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants including buckthorn and honeysuckle.  A periodic fire regime limits these unwanted species while promoting more desirable woody species such as oaks and hickories, as well as numerous grasses and wildflowers.

As an additional benefit to prescribed burns, the black earth left behind after a fire warms more quickly in the spring, which gives native species a jumpstart in growth over unburned areas.  Other benefits include accelerated nutrient cycling in the soil and decreased fuel loads that will reduce the likelihood of wildfire.

Our crew is now committed to the practice of burning to support the ecological enhancements we are working so hard to make.  Steve obtained permits from both the Illinois EPA and the City of Evanston, and organized our first burn.

Although we are starting slowly with burning brush piles, my hope is that we expand the practice to our woodland and “native” areas in the long run because burning is a best practice.


OUR FIRST BURN

After winter clearing projects, we had plenty of brush to burn.  Tony and John moved and compiled it on the 11th hole.  The pile was big to begin with, and during the three hour session, we continued clearing the along the canal.

We were fortunate to have a great turnout of volunteers, young and old.  Our Burn Boss got the fire going, and for more than 2 hours, we fed the fire.

What started as a big pile of brush became a big fire.  24 hours later, all that was left was a small pile of ash.  Spring rain and wind will take care of the ash, and we will do it all again in the next session.

Many thanks to Steve for his efforts to educate and organize, and to our dedicated volunteers who showed up to feed the fire and feel the burn.


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Geek Dad’s Diary – Part 1 (The Best Birthday Gift)

What is your perfect day of golf?  That is one of many questions that golf geeks pose in casual conversation, and it does indeed elicit thought provoking answers, especially when one’s buddies are well traveled.  There’s the obvious: “Getting the magic invite to experience Cypress / Pine Valley” or “Attending Sunday at The Masters”.  There’s the creative: “Playing out to the turn at National, hopping the fence to play Shinnecock, and then playing home on National.”  There’s the masochistic: “All four of the main courses at Bandon on the Summer Solstice.”  There’s the sacred: “A stop by the graves of Old and Young Tom Morris, prior to a twilight round on The Old Course.”  And then there’s the Dad: “Golfing it around my community course with my kids on a lazy afternoon.”

Before my sons became golf crazed, I felt that the Dad answer was a bit poseurish.  The guy doesn’t really mean that he would rather play with his kids than see Cypress, I would think.  He’s just trying to make a point.

I get it now.

My guys have helped me feel and understand where that answer comes from, and I can attest to its authenticity.  There is joy to be found in many places in this great game, but nothing mainlines it for me quite like enjoying golf time with my kids.  It brings me back to happy days, learning the game with my dad and grandpa, while simultaneously pulling me intensely into the present moment the way that few things can.

It is in that spirit that I kick off what will hopefully be a new series – the Geek Dad Diary – in which I will share some of these perfect days.  My hope is that the entries will connect you with the joy of the game, give you a little inspiration, and prompt you to share stories of your own.


THE BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT

GDD1-Boys.JPGIn considering what I wanted for my birthday this year, I couldn’t think of anything more valuable than time with the people I love most.  The boys and I pulled a Ferris Bueller.  I sprung them from school for the day, we fueled up on carbs at Walker Brothers, and headed south to begin a golfy adventure.

PUTTER HEAVEN

Jack has been saving birthday and Christmas money up for a new putter, and what better place to blow a wad on a flatstick than at Chicago’s very own Bettinardi putter studio?

GDD1-JackStudio.jpg

Not only do they make beautiful putters, they also know how to provide an incredible experience for golf geeks.  After watching Jack putt with several different models, our guy Brad took him into the lab and they buckled down.  First, the stroke was analyzed in high def super slow-mo.  Then the putter was tweaked and adjusted until it worked perfectly with Jack’s stroke.  And finally, a grip and cover were selected to add the finishing touches.  Jack is ready to drop bombs this season, and I have a severe case of putter envy.

For icing on the birthday cake, we took a stroll through The Hive to admire the high-end custom putters – unique designs, finishes, inserts, all drool-worthy.

INDOOR WHACKAGE

Our original plan was to grab lunch and high tech whackage at TopGolf, but Mother Nature did not cooperate.  We called an audible, and after a fat burger with our buddy PGKorbs, we headed to the White Pines Golf Dome.

Another buddy, Andrew Fleming from KemperSports has been encouraging me to check the dome out, and now I know why.  The temperature is perfect, and the balls are unlimited.  The dome is 100 yards long, which gives the player a much better sense of ball flight than hitting into a net.  We were hooked.

And then it got better.  The Manager Lane stopped by and invited us to try out the simulator – another first for us.  We played the first 5 holes of The Old Course, and easily could have stayed for several more hours if evening plans weren’t on the books.

The day certainly gave me my fill of golf geekery, along with a full fatherly heart.  Additionally, it confirmed that my boys are ready and willing to go down the golf rabbit hole with me.  That presents interesting possibilities galore.

Plans are already cooking.  Stay tuned for more diary entries to come.


MORE GEEKED ON GOLF MUSINGS:

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 20 (Spring Project)

Our Superintendent Tony Frandria and Assistant Superintendent John Lee have worked wonders to continue the improvement of our putting surfaces.  However, there is not much that they can do when those surfaces have shrunk to a size much smaller than originally intended.  Such is the case on our 17th and 18th greens.

It is also the case that the approach in front of the 17th green the area behind the 18th are consistent drainage problems.  Every rainfall above 1 inch results in standing water for extended periods of time.

We realize that the combination of these two issues is leaving a poor impression on visiting players.  The closing stretch is where a course should impress.  In the case of Canal Shores, it disappoints.  Therefore, we have decided to make our spring project for 2018 a Closing Stretch Makeover.

Project elements include:

  • Expansion of the 18th green putting surface out the edges of the green pad.
  • Restoration of the bunker front left of the 18th green.
  • Creation of an artful drainage ditch behind the 18th green, with adjacent native area plantings.
  • Restoration of a sandy waste on the right side of the 18th fairway.
  • Clearing of brush and invasives adjacent to the 18th teeing area.
  • Expansion of the 17th green putting surface out to the edges of the green pad.
  • Creation of a Lion’s Mouth bunker in the front center of the 17th green.
  • Creation of an artful drainage ditch left of the 17th green.
  • Clearing of brush and invasives adjacent to the 17th teeing area.
  • Removal of arborvitae shrubs behind the 17th teeing area.

This sketch illustrates the updated layout of the closing stretch, with added interest for players and beauty for all visitors.

CanalShores17+18-Aerial-JWSketch.jpeg

And this close-up sketch of the 18th green complex provides more detail on the layout that will be enjoyed both by players and passersby on Lincoln.

CanalShores18-GreenDitchMakeover.jpg

Ditches and swales will be key components of our drainage strategy when we move from this pilot project phase to a renovation phase.  Inspirational examples from courses around the world abound, and we intend to draw on those examples in this makeover project.

For those unfamiliar with the Lion’s Mouth design, there is a reason why it has been so often employed by many of the greatest architects in history.  It is perfect for a short par 4 like our 17th.  The central bunker is visually imposing and a thrill to navigate.

Our volunteers began work in the fall with the clearing of invasives around the 17th and 18th tee areas.

Resources and volunteers are currently being organized, and we will begin work in early March when the ground thaws.  The intention is to complete the project by the second week of April so that the new turf can establish and be mown by Memorial Day weekend when the season gets into full swing.

Stay tuned for more updates to come…


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 19 (All About the Trees)

Over the past several years, countless hours have been spent in the field and in meetings to assess the state of our tree population, and to chart a course forward toward making that population larger and significantly healthier.

Our findings will not be a surprise to anyone who has taken the time to look closely at the ecological picture at Canal Shores.  In many places, the property is a disaster area, and it has been for many years.  I am grateful to the members of the community who decided that the “gem in their backyards” was in distress and stepped in to save it.  For those who have not yet done so, now would be a good time.  We have a plan, and there are opportunities to target contributions of volunteer time and money to revitalize Canal Shores, including its trees.


ASSESSMENT

We are not short of trees at Canal Shores, but as it turns out, we are short on good ones.  Planning Resources Inc. sent their Arborist out to do a tree survey.  They were looking for valuable trees to keep and incorporate into the ecological master plan for the property (full Plan coming soon…).  “Valuable” is defined as important native species, or large, healthy trees that are not invasive species.  The survey found that Canal Shores has 904 trees on our 82 acres.

At first glance, that number might seem big, but it really isn’t.  Given that the golf course occupies less than half that total acreage, a healthy tree population would number in the thousands.

PRI tagged every valuable tree they could find.  I encourage anyone walking or playing the course to look for tags to better understand which trees are desirable, and sadly how few of them we have.

CanalShores14-TaggedTree_111917.jpg

Tagged trees are numbered and catalogued for reference, and have been geo-located onto the map that follows.  The map, along with the associated illustrations, is a great reference for learning more about where our desirable trees are, and what they are.  I have learned a great deal about trees from PRI’s work, and I have started to share that knowledge with my boys.

Valuable trees are circled, and “key” trees (meaning high value species and of size) are in orange.

GREEN BAY TO LINCOLN

CanalShores-TreeInventory1.png

CanalShores-TreeInventory2.png

LINCOLN TO CENTRAL

CanalShores-TreeInventory3.png

CanalShores-TreeInventory4.png

CENTRAL TO ISABELLA

CanalShores-TreeInventory5.png

CanalShores-TreeInventory6.png

ISABELLA TO LINDEN

CanalShores-TreeInventory7.png

CanalShores-TreeInventory8.png

LINDEN TO SHERIDAN

CanalShores-TreeInventory9.png

CanalShores-TreeInventory10.png


INVASIVES

Invasive species are making Canal Shores unhealthy.  I am far from being an expert, but what I have learned is that a healthy ecosystem has layers, each layer ideally containing a variety of species:

  • An herbaceous (ground) layer of grasses, flowers and groundcover that are the home to pollinators and other important insects and animals.
  • An understory (shrub) layer of small trees and shrubs that provide food and habitat for birds.
  • A canopy of trees, of varying species and age.

The primary problem that Canal Shores has with its invasives is in the understory, specifically with buckthorn and honeysuckle.  That problem has manifested in three ways:

  • First, within the understory, buckhthorn and honeysuckle are extremely aggressive competitors and they have left us with almost no other shrubs, greatly decreasing biodiversity.
  • Second, they form dense thickets, starving the herbaceous layer of sunlight.  Where buckthorn grows densely, there is bare ground underneath which also creates erosion problems on the canal banks.
  • Finally, the buckthorn and honeysuckle leave no space for desirable trees to regenerate.

There are good reasons why it is illegal to sell or plant buckthorn or honeysuckle in the state of Illinois.  They are parasitic plants that take over and leave the areas they populate in much worse health.  To say that one likes buckthorn is the equivalent of liking a tapeworm.

IL Exotic Weed Act.png

In fighting buckthorn at Canal Shores, I have learned first hand the many ways that it fights back.  It has whacked me in the face, hit me in the head, poked me in the eye, cut up my arms and legs, and more.  Suffice it to say, I have never been a fan.  However, when I watched the video below, I was tipped over the edge.

Not only is buckthorn bad for the other plants around it, but the berries produced by the females have a laxative effect on birds, while providing no nutritional content.  Are you kidding me?  This demon weed must go.

Many thanks to Brandon from Ringers Landscaping for allowing us to share his webinar.  I highly recommend watching at least the first 18 minutes.


STEWARDSHIP

During the course of this lengthy process of assessment and learning through pilot projects, I have heard and read statements like “Save the buckthorn!” and “Can’t we just let nature take care of itself?”.  These statements are born of ignorance and are in direct conflict with the principle of land stewardship for which our community is responsible at Canal Shores.

Abdication of our stewardship responsibility has directly resulted in ecological degradation.  In the hundreds of hours that I have spent on the ground with fellow Buckthorn Warriors, I have seen what this degradation looks like.  We have saved desirable trees that were literally being choked to death by invasive vines.  We have watched in disappointment as a large, unhealthy tree falls over in a storm, taking with it several desirable trees that we hoped to save.  We have seen the bare ground under buckthorn thickets suffering from stormwater erosion.  And we have seen newly cleared areas spring back to life with grasses and flowers when sunlight is allowed to reach the ground.

The results of doing nothing are obvious and incontrovertible.  It doesn’t work.  Based on our learnings and the counsel of experts, we are now moving forward.  Special thanks to Grounds Committee member Matt Rooney who drafted our Tree Policy, and then painstakingly revised it to incorporate feedback from numerous parties.  Click here to read the Canal Shores Tree Policy, which has been approved by our Board of Directors.

What does this look like on the ground?  Before areas can be revitalized, clearing has to take place.  We are prioritizing spots that directly impact the golf course – tees, greens, fairway landing areas are all of highest priority as we want to enhance the turf quality, playability and visual beauty for our paying customers.  We have selected specific trees (e.g. black cherries) to add to the tagged group for preservation, and buckthorn has been painted for removal.

CanalShores14-MarkedBuckthorn_111917.JPG

The work is well underway on holes 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12-18.  We have applied for a burn permit from the EPA to deal with the cut brush.  We are also recruiting a Landscape Architecture / Ecology intern whose focus will be on maintenance of cleared areas as well as site-specific habitat design and implementation.


CONCLUSION

Decades of neglect and mismanagement are not going to be undone overnight.  However, we have made a beginning and we will continue working toward our goal of making Canal Shores a healthy ecosystem that includes a variety of native and other desirable trees.

We hope that all members of the Evanston-Wilmette community join us.  Check the Greens & Grounds blog for dates of upcoming volunteer work sessions, or email me at jwizay1493@hotmail.com to be added to the Buckthorn Warriors mailing list.  Inquiries about tree donations can be made with Dan Bulf (dbulf@canalshores.org).  This is a big job, but together, we can do it.

CanalShores14-HenrySaw.JPG


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

 

Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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GCA Video Archive – The Courses of the Americas

This section is dedicated to the golf courses of the Americas.  Videos include course tours, aerials, feature stories and more.  U.S. Open venues are presented first, and then the rest are organized alphabetically by country and course name.  This section is constantly evolving and being updated.  I hope that you find it to be a good way to do research, and relive happy memories.


U.S. OPEN VENUES

ErinHillsUSOpen.pngERIN HILLS

(Host: 2017)

OakmontLogo.jpgOAKMONT CC

(Host: 2016, 2007, 1994, 1983, 1973, 1962, 1953, 1935, 1927)

HOLE 1 – Par 4                     HOLE 8 – Par 3

HOLE 2 – Par 4                    HOLE 9 – Par 4

HOLE 3 – Par 4                    HOLE 10 – Par 4

HOLE 4 – Par 5                    HOLE 16 – Par 3

HOLE 6 – Par 3                    HOLE 17 – Par 4

HOLE 7 – Par 4                    HOLE 18 – Par 4

Church Pews

ChambersBayUSOpenLogo.jpgCHAMBERS BAY

(Host: 2015)

HOLE 1 – Par 5                    HOLE 10 – Par 4

HOLE 2 – Par 4                   HOLE 11 – Par 4

HOLE 3 – Par 3                   HOLE 12 – Par 4

HOLE 4 – Par 5                   HOLE 13 – Par 4

HOLE 5 – Par 4                   HOLE 14 – Par 4

HOLE 6 – Par 4                   HOLE 15 – Par 3

HOLE 7 – Par 4                   HOLE 16 – Par 4

HOLE 8 – Par 5                   HOLE 17 – Par 3

HOLE 9 – Par 3                   HOLE 18 – Par 5

PinehurstNo2Logo.pngPINEHURST NO. 2

(Host: 2014, 2005, 1999)

MerionUSOpenLogo.jpgMERION GC

(Host: 2013, 1981, 1971, 1950, 1934)

HOLE 1 – Par 4                    HOLE 10 – Par 4

HOLE 2 – Par 4                   HOLE 11 – Par 4

HOLE 3 – Par 5                   HOLE 12 – Par 4

HOLE 4 – Par 3                   HOLE 13 – Par 4

HOLE 5 – Par 4                   HOLE 14 – Par 4

HOLE 6 – Par 3                   HOLE 15 – Par 3

HOLE 7 – Par 4                   HOLE 16 – Par 5

HOLE 8 – Par 4                   HOLE 17 – Par 3

HOLE 9 – Par 4                   HOLE 18 – Par 4

OlympicClubLogo.gifTHE OLYMPIC CLUB

(Host: 2012, 1998, 1987, 1966, 1955)

CongressionalUSOpenLogo.jpgCONGRESSIONAL CC

(Host: 2011, 1997, 1964)

PebbleBeachLogo.jpgPEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS

(Host: 2019, 2010, 2000, 1992, 1982, 1972)

BethpageLogo.jpgBETHPAGE BLACK

(Host: 2009, 2002)

TorreyPinesUSOpenLogoTORREY PINES

(Host: 2008)

WingedFootLogo.gifWINGED FOOT

(Host: 2006, 1984, 1974, 1959, 1929)

OlympiaFieldsLogo.jpgOLYMPIA FIELDS CC

(Host: 2003, 1928)

OaklandHillsLogo.pngOAKLAND HILLS CC

(Host: 1996, 1985, 1961, 1951, 1937, 1924)

baltusrol logo.jpgBALTUSROL GC

(Host: 1993, 1980, 1967, 1954, 1936, 1915, 1903)

Hole 1  – Par 5                    Hole 10 – Par 4

Hole 2 – Par 4                    Hole 11 – Par 4

Hole 3 – Par 4                    Hole 12 – Par 3

Hole 4 – Par 3                    Hole 13 – Par 4

Hole 5 – Par 4                    Hole 14 – Par 4

Hole 6 – Par 4                    Hole 15 – Par 4

Hole 7 – Par 5                    Hole 16 – Par 3

Hole 8 – Par 4                    Hole 17 – Par 5

Hole 9 – Par 3                    Hole 18 – Par 5

Hazeltine logo.jpgHAZELTINE NATIONAL GC

(Host: 1991, 1970)

Oak-Hill logo.jpgOAK HILL CC

(Host: 1989, 1968, 1956)

Hole 1  – Par 4                    Hole 10 – Par 4

Hole 2 – Par 4                    Hole 11 – Par 3

Hole 3 – Par 3                    Hole 12 – Par 4

Hole 4 – Par 5                    Hole 13 – Par 5

Hole 5 – Par 4                    Hole 14 – Par 4

Hole 6 – Par 3                    Hole 15 – Par 3

Hole 7 – Par 4                    Hole 16 – Par 4

Hole 8 – Par 4                    Hole 17 – Par 4

Hole 9 – Par 4                    Hole 18 – Par 4

Riviera logo.pngRIVIERA CC

(Host: 1948)

PhillyCricketLogo.jpgPHILADELPHIA CRICKET CLUB

(Host: 1910, 1907)


UNITED STATES

Minot CC

Monterey Peninsula CC

Mossy Oak GC

Mt. Prospect Golf Club

Muirfield Village GC

Palmetto GC

Pasatiempo GC

PGA National GC

PGAWest-Logo.jpegPGA WEST

Other PGA West Videos:

Pinehurst Resort

No. 4

PineValley.jpeg

PINE VALLEY GC

Poppy Hills GC

The Prairie Club

Pronghorn Golf Resort

Nicklaus Signature Course:

QuailHollow.png

QUAIL HOLLOW CLUB

Sage Run GC

Sand Hills GC

Sand Hollow Golf Resort

sandvalley_logoSAND VALLEY GOLF RESORT

 

 

 

Scottsdale National

Sedgefield CC

Seminole GC

Sentry World GC

Shoreacres

St. Charles CC

St. Louis CC

Streamsong Golf Resort

 

 

 

 

 

Sweetens Cove

Sweetgrass GC

Talking Stick Golf Club

Tetherow GC

TPC Deere Run

TPC Harding Park

TPC River Highlands

  • 8/2/16 – Renovation update from The Golf Channel – click here
  • 8/2/16 – Milan Moore of PGA Tour Design talks changes from The Golf Channel – http://bit.ly/2b1vNON

TPC Sawgrass

TPC_Scottsdale_rgb

TPC SCOTTSDALE

Other TPC Scottsdale Videos:

Treetops Golf Resort

 

 

 

Trinity Forest

Troon North Golf Club

 

Troy Burne GC

True North Golf Club

Trump National Doral

Valhalla GC

 

wailaelae-logo.png

WAIALEA CC

Other Waialea videos:

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

 

Westhampton CC

Whistling Straits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whispering Pines

Wickenberg Ranch

Wild Horse Golf Club

Winter Park CC

Wolf Creek GC


CANADA

Bear Mountain

5/29/15 – Tour from SCOREGolf – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZyg-ocorKA

Cabot Cliffs

12/4/13 – Coore, Crenshaw, and Keiser on Morning Drive – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/golden-ticket-ginella-nova-scotia-coore-crenshaw-keiser/

8/21/14 – Matt Ginella on – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/morning-drive-new-canadian-course/

6/17/15 – PGA of Canada drone footage of the 16th and 17th holes – https://vimeo.com/130875163

7/1/15 – Mike Keiser on Morning Drive – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/mike-keiser-bandon-dunes-and-cabot-links/

8/13/15 – SCOREGolf grand opening tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWpmQKlL_OM&sns=em

10/1/15 – Evan Schiller flyover of the 16th hole – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlNLw9YDK1o

11/18/15 – Course tour with Golf.com – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlNLw9YDK1o

6/15/16 – Drone footage – https://youtu.be/mG1Zwyqw0sY

9/11/16 – Gorgeous Designs You’ve Gotta See: Golf Digest – https://youtu.be/vOPMQcwRpHM

Cabot Links

4/12/12 – SCOREGolf – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm_9QxT_SUs

6/27/12 – Rod Whitman & Ben Cowan-Dewar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HVlTbb1mxo

8/20/12 – Course feature at the 5:33 mark from SCOREGolf – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR-0IHZxigM

8/13/15 – SCOREGolf – https://youtu.be/292Bdt4cBq8

10/24/15 – Evan Schiller flyover of the 15th and 16th holes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaPS1zUfSxE

9/11/16 – Gorgeous Designs You’ve Gotta See: Golf Digest – https://youtu.be/vOPMQcwRpHM

12/28/16 – “A Journey Like No Other” – https://youtu.be/THVlPhl_G-I

Elmhurst Golf & CC

7/16/12 – Superintendent Daniel Ciekiewicz details course conditions and greens from Tee2Green – https://youtu.be/UEnLAhHK5hA

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

5/8/14 – Course profile from SCOREGolf – https://youtu.be/ga3jzNMApck

Glen Abbey GC

7/27/12 – Interview with Allen Hibers, director of golf, (4:57 mark) from Michigan Golfer – https://youtu.be/jq6WWEdcSjc

3/21/13 – Jack Nicklaus reflects back on his first solo design from ClubLink – https://youtu.be/M3tp0y1d0yo

8/9/13 – Course tour from Global News – https://youtu.be/CYNazZIUkbU

7/12/16 – ScoreGolf feature on the future of Glen Abbey and The Canadian Open – https://youtu.be/Ro5QrvUVDBI

Glen Arbour GC

2/19/14 – Golfing World – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kbbdugDLUI

Granite Golf Club

5/8/15 – SCOREGolf course tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NynNRLOoxCQ

Hamilton G & CC

7/27/12 – Course preview for 2012 Canadian Open from Michigan Golfer – https://youtu.be/jq6WWEdcSjc

6/9/15 – Drone footage of the West Course, front nine for the RBC Canadian Open from DroneHub Media – https://youtu.be/D5lX6_3KavY

6/11/15 – Drone footage of the South Course, back nine for the RBC Canadian Open from DroneHub Media – https://youtu.be/iLn04oFNTDo

6/18/15 – Drone footage of the East Course – https://youtu.be/UJ_Ty8BSh7w

Highland Links

8/20/12 – Course feature at the 11:39 mark from SCOREGolf – https://youtu.be/nR-0IHZxigM

9/14/11 – Ian Andrew re: restoration – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7VL_30QT5s

Laval-sur-le-Lac Blue Course

7/28/16 – Insight on renovations w/ architect Ian Andrew from ScoreGolf – https://youtu.be/posM_8t7oQc

Mickelson National

11/27/15 -Windmill Golf Group: behind the scenes in development process –  https://youtu.be/aBWBJdhkze8

St. George’s Golf & Country Club

7/27/16 – Behind the scenes of maintenance from ScoreGolf – https://youtu.be/kTBP7GqRdrs

Victoria Golf Club Links

12/12/12 – Club promo video from NorthOlbo – https://youtu.be/n_1d9seDT3E

6/12/15 – Drone footage from NorthOlbo – https://youtu.be/7zJVpTyUPIM


MEXICO, CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

(Listed alphabetically by country and course)

ARGENTINA

Olivos Golf Club

1/31/14 – Golfing World – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA0NLlW6WM4

BERMUDA

Mid Ocean Club

6/4/14 – Course profile from BermudaMedia TV – https://youtu.be/D1HoYs71GuQhttps://youtu.be/D1HoYs71GuQ

9/23/16 – Teeing it up in Bermuda from Golf.com (5:00 mark) – https://youtu.be/OWXt4hr0UDk

BRAZIL

The Olympic Course

1/28/14 – Andy Reistetter course tour with Gil Hanse –

 

2/23/14 – Gil Hanse on Morning Drive – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/morning-drive-gil-hanse-olympic-golf-course-update/

2/23/14 – Gil Hanse on In Play – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/play-feature-gil-hanse-and-2016-olympic-golf-course/

2/21/15 – Amy Alcott on Morning Drive – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/amy-alcott-discusses-rio-olympics-course-design

8/28/15 – Gil Hanse on Morning Drive re: grow-in progress – http://www.golfchannel.com/media/hanse-olympic-course-100-percent-grown

Tee to Green w/ Frank Nobilo on The Golf Channel –

Par 4 2nd          Par 4 3rd          Par 3 4th           Par 4 7th           Par 4 9th

Par 5 10th         Par 4 11th        Par 4 12th         Par 4 13th          Par 3 14th

Par 4 16th        Par 3 17th         Par 5 18th

5/19/16 – Preview from SCOREGolf – course insight at 1:50 mark – https://youtu.be/8ru2j5Boz0A

Course tour and commentary with Gil Hanse on The Golf Channel – 

Front Nine                  Back Nine

7/25/16 – Hole descriptions with Gil Hanse from Golf Digest – 

8/2/16 – Olympic preview from Golf Digest – https://youtu.be/khD1KwqEKY8

8/6/16 – Gil Hanse talks about the closing holes with Geoff Shackelford – https://youtu.be/0tyzimydT8k

8/6/16 – Gil Hanse talks bunkering with Geoff Shackelford – https://youtu.be/OrbroSy3zdI

11/28/16 – Current state of the course from The Golf Channel – http://bit.ly/2fKZbdv

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Casa de Campo: Teeth of the Dog

1/16/13 – Course detail from The A Position – https://youtu.be/HVsiShqqByQ

11/12/13 – Aerial footage from Tony Weeg – https://youtu.be/V8_ECivjnXw

3/1/14 – Golfing World – https://youtu.be/5o87x5KH-GI

MEXICO 

Punta Espada GC

10/15/13 – Aerial tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZLRVpPLqFc


MORE GCA VIDEO ARCHIVES:

 

 

Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf