July 28, 2012

Incredible Vision

Recently the Golf Long Range Committee presented the Water Diversion and Fairway Reconstruction project to the membership. The presentation involved a description of the drainage and elevation problems on the 1st and 18th fairways, and how the proposed project will address them.
The problems are not new, and have influenced a number of capital projects that the club has supported in recent years. The irrigation system was not replaced on the first fairway or the driving range fairway in anticipation of a future larger project that had been discussed but never initiated.
In recent years, the Golf Long Range Committee hired an engineering firm to examine the problem and develop a solution that would elevate the quality of these areas to match the rest of the golf course. Although this relationship had been in place and the plan had been initiated years ago, the project did not have significant momentum until last fall. After Tropical Storm Irene devastated these areas, it became clear that this was an idea whose time had come.
In the weeks before the storm, the club had been working with Tim Gerrish on a design for the 6th green. Once the storm hit this project was immediately placed on the back burner, but not before we had an opportunity to experience his vision.
It did not take long to realize that his talents and experience working on golf renovations would shift this project from making the first and last holes of the course better, to making them great.

The engineering solutions combined with the architectural changes included in the plan will do just that. The design addresses the problems that affect playing conditions, limit accessibility, and prevent the members from fully enjoying their golf course. The architectural changes will improve the accessibility, playability, and strategy of the golf holes, as well as dramatically improve the practice range, which is the weakest facility in the club.
The problems in this part of the golf course are not new, nor is the idea that something needs to be done about them. The plan that was presented Monday was initiated long before the storm hit last fall. Irene has been called a perfect storm because the conditions were ideal for it to strengthen as it neared the coast and that it hit at a peak high tide. I would argue that it was perfect in that it hit toward the end of the golf calendar, and that the pieces and players were in place to develop a solution that would take the worst holes on the golf course and elevate them to a level of quality that rivals and compliments the view from the Marine Lounge.
The hard work and vision contributed by the professional consultants are quite impressive. The project has evolved at a blinding pace, and as we shift from the planning to the permitting/approval stage it would be a shame not to recognize Nick Torello for the time and energy he has put into this project over the last 10+ years. His passion and determination have transformed this project from merely improving drainage on a couple of fairways to improving the health and quality of the golf holes and revitalizing the coastal wetland ecosystem.
There has been a lot of discussion about this project in the last year, both in support and opposition. Monday we laid out the details of the plan and shifted the emphasis from the architecture to the engineering, and in doing so eliminated a lot of the emotion associated with the proposed changes. The final step will be to find a way to fund this project such that the benefits of the renovation do not come at the expense of the long term health and viability of the club. As with the design of the project, please keep an open mind about the cost and financing of the project until the package is finalized and presented for a vote.
The crew is cleaning the debris on the second green left at the high water mark while the first green is being flushed.  Notice the water level between the first and second greens.
This photo shows that the areas that were submerged for less than 24 hours were saved by flushing the salts from the turf and through the soil.  Compare the damaged turf in the rough with the water line in the previous photo.
This photo was taken four days after the storm, and the pin is already back in the green.  The 1st and 18th fairways were closed for months.