February 23, 2024
A new construction project at The Rookery Golf Club near Milton aims to fix one of the problems with being too successful.
Each year thousands of golfers use the practice range just east of the first hole. As course superintendent Mike Pyne said, the range’s “tee area was getting destroyed by all the usage. 100 buckets of balls a day or whatever it was. That’s a lot of divots for each bucket.”
The normal way to manage the turf is to restrict golfers each day to a roped-off patch of turf to use (or butcher, as often happens). The rope lines move to different parts of the range as needed, giving each damaged area an opportunity for repair and recovery.
Think of checkerboard squares, with playing pieces (golfers) limited to one or two squares each day.
Last year Pyne suggested an expansion of the range’s tee area to handle the increased demand. Clearing the trees and elevating the ground behind the current artificial mat area would give the larger turf space the ability to recover.
Pyne knew just where he would find all the new dirt he needed – the right side rough between the par-5 13th hole’s green and the adjacent pond behind the par-3 15th green.
From about 50 yards short of the 13th green up to its back edge, the ground sloped gently down toward the pond. Pyne marked out about half of that area for removal, increasing the pond size and bringing the water much closer to the 13th green.
The new slope heads down toward the pond about 20 yards right of the green. Pyne said the change in pond proximity also adds to the challenge for golfers trying to reach the 13th green in two shots.
Most of the resulting fill is used to build the new hitting area at the range.
“Just trying to spread the love out,” Pyne said. “Last week we started with stockpiling some of it and shaping the actual pond. And then from there we moved on to shaping and moving the soil to its destination which is here at the range,” Pyne said. “Our goal was to get 60 truckloads here.”
Wilhelm Site Services of Milton is doing the digging. The trucks cut through an opening in the western boundary fence and used Route 1 and Broadkill Road to bring the loads to the range area.
Daniel Wilhelm said the new slope will be steeper than before. “Coming off the straightaway from the fairway side it’s roughly a 15 to 18% grade. We’ll continue that all the way around the bend. We’ll get our grade set and everything and then we’ll be pulling out the breakaway wall to let the water in. Bringing the water in will be the last thing that happens.”
The existing mats will be removed, replaced, and expanded, with long strips of artificial turf placed toward the rear of the new hitting space. In recent years golfers sometimes had to wait their turns to use the existing mats during “Mat Only” days. Impatience led some players to ignore those signs, which is not a good thing.
Any remaining dirt from the pond expansion will be placed in mounds on the eastern edge of the range. Pyne said he will shift the range’s hitting bay angles a bit toward the left, encouraging golfers to aim farther away from the adjacent first hole.
Pyne should see some success with the change in direction, but he is realistic. He would love to see no more range balls landing in the first hole fairway, but slicers have a peculiar talent for the wide-right shot.
ECCO is a Danish company that is really into leather – and I mean that in a good way.
It is the world’s third largest leather producer for a wide variety of products, some of which you might be wearing. For example, the leather wrist bands for Apple Watches come from ECCO.
As ECCO spokesperson Chase Russell noted during the 2024 PGA Show, “They are the link from cow to consumer.”
Much of ECCO’s leather stays in the company as a critical component of its booming shoe business. The golf shoes LPGA star Lydia Ko and other tour pros wear are only a part of its lines, which include boots, sandals, and casual wear.
Russell and I discussed its newest golf shoe, the GOLF LT1. Using a new LYTR foam in the outsole, the design “wears a bit more like a trainer,” he said.
The foam is injected directly into the sole, using what is called Fluidform technology. “It’s really stable,” he said, while creating a softer feel during the round.
The leather waterproof shoe’s outsole is both colorful and transparent, making it easy to see the color-contrasted shank in the middle. The sole’s nub pattern is intended to provide good traction throughout the swing.
The new shoe is available online.
For those looking to try the company’s golf shoes but at a discount, try the ECCO store at the Tanger Outlets on Route 1. The store sells prior year models and closeouts as part of its regular inventory.