Golf Course Construction 101 (Part 1 of the Series)
August 27, 1999
Since graduating from college in 1981, Chris Adkins has taken some interesting career paths. He’s managed farms, worked as a successful golf course superintendent at two Cape Region courses, and owned and operated his own fertilizer/chemical application company. Adkins is now overseeing the construction of The Greens at Broadview, his new public golf course at Routes 1 and 16 near Milton.
The challenges that have already cropped up during course construction may have made Adkins’ life far more interesting than he planned. Nonetheless, in a recent interview Adkins remained fairly cheerful that his long-time dream will become a reality.
For Adkins and his partner, PGA teaching pro Pete Oakley, finding appropriate acreage for a course in the Cape Region was the first and largest hurdle. Authorities on golf course design, such as Tom Doak’s Anatomy of a Golf Course (Burford Books, $24.95 SRP), suggest a minimum of 150 acres. This includes land for the course, parking, the clubhouse, maintenance and golf cart facilities, and practice areas. Locally, both Old Landing Golf Course and Shawnee Country Club use almost exactly 150 acres.
A quick look at the Sussex County tax parcel maps shows that a 150-acre parcel suitable for a golf course is fairly uncommon in the Cape Region. Finding a willing seller of a parcel that size or larger is even more rare.
After five years of searching and negotiation, Adkins and Oakley obtained a 132-acre parcel from Albert Lank. Part of the deal included Mr. Lank becoming an investor in the venture. Several other local investors also made this project possible.
The somewhat smaller acreage than normally called for put a premium on making effective use of all of the property. It also limited the partners’ design options if any major issues arose during the permitting process or later during construction.
Naturally, a problem came up. As reported by Mike Short in last week’s Cape Gazette, a heron rookery was discovered in an old growth stand of pine and oak trees during timber clearing operations. The rookery itself is not in the area planned for clearing, but is near enough to affect the design concept for the 4th and 5th holes.
Adkins is positive that the course design can be adjusted to preserve the rookery environment. In fact, based on experience elsewhere, the environmental benefits of the golf course should enhance overall wildlife habitat. At Queenstown Golf Course in Maryland, three new bald eagle nests have appeared since that popular public course first opened. Somerset County, Maryland’s Great Hope Golf Course, near Crisfield, is a participant in the Audubon Society program supporting wildlife habitat enhancements within golf course properties.
Although the golf course layout for The Greens at Broadview will most likely need a change or two, Adkins is confident that the overall concept will remain intact while respecting the rookery’s needs.
Adkins and Oakley worked together on the course design. Both drew upon past experiences, attended seminars, and discussed their ideas with others to develop a full-size 18-hole layout. They expect their course to be challenging and fun for a wide range of golfers.
The course will not be among the 7100-yard behemoths currently considered as a design minimum for PGA professionals. The acreage limitations won’t permit it. On the other hand, the typical golfer is far better off playing from a shorter set of tees. At approximately 6300 yards, the course layout looks to be enough of a challenge to most golfers.
(This is the first in a series. Next week’s column will continue the story of The Greens at Broadview.)