December 1, 2011

1st fairway update: 12/1/11

We are continuing to work on the 1st and 18th fairways to resolve the drainage issues and facilitate recovery of the turf damaged by the storm surge this fall.  Unfortunately this has been the 3rd wettest year on record, and we will likely exceed the previous record by the end of the year.  The weather conditions have revealed the core of the problem in these areas, drainage.  The material used to fill the wetlands and build the fairways does not allow water to percolate into the soil and flow to the streams as groundwater.  Therefore any water that does not run off collects in puddles and saturates the surface until it evaporates or drains into the soil which often takes days.

The directive I was given was to restore the condition of the fairway without spending too much money.  Therefore, my approach has been to try the least expensive options first, and then proceed with more expensive solutions as needed.  The least expensive option was to seed the areas and promote recovery using fertilizer from of our existing inventory.  This worked well in areas that had sufficient surface drainage such as the beginning of the 18th and the high areas of the 1st fairways.  Flat areas or depressions remain saturated and have not recovered using this approach. 

The next step is to add internal drainage where possible.  Due to the heavy soils we installed catch basins in the worst areas to collect as much surface water as possible.  This strategy has worked well in the approach and just across the creek on the 1st hole.  We continue add collectors and improve surface drainage to expand the area affected by the drains.  These areas may require laying new sod, which due to the extreme wet conditions this fall will not be available until spring.  We are currently working to determine the cost of completing the recovery using this strategy.

The final step in the process will be topdressing the fairways with sand which we initiated earilier this week.  We aerified the areas and spread out a thin layer of sand that was washed into the turf by the rain.  We will repeat this process throughout the winter as often as possible to improve the health and playability of the turf for next season.  The key to a successful fairway topdressing program is that the drainage must be in place before topdressing begins, which is why previous efforts to resolve the issue have not been successful.  (Click here for more information on fairway topdressing)

Ultimately, the solution to the problem will require raising the elevation of these areas using a well draining material, and designing a drainage system based on the characteristics of the fill used and the amount of elevation change that is created.  This solution is currently being developed by the Golf Long Range Committee with the BSC Group and architect Tim Gerrish.