Golf Course Construction 101 (Part 2 of the Series)
September 3, 1999
Last week we started a series on designing and building The Greens at Broadview, the new public golf course by Chris Adkins and Pete Oakley now under construction near Milton. This week’s column continues the series.
The property’s flat topography made the design work more challenging than if it were in, say, New Castle County, where there are things called “hills.” As Adkins put it, “I’ve got 3 feet of elevation changes over a hundred acres of field and forest. Unless we do something with the land, it could look like a moonscape.”
Adkins and Oakley needed to address three related problems—a flat landscape, storm water management requirements, and the need for a steady supply of water for irrigation. They adopted the construction technique first made popular in building hundreds of golf courses in Florida—a few ponds, put in the right places, resolve all these issues.
Readers driving by the course might think that thousands of cubic yards of material were brought to the site. In fact, the gently rolling mounds are the result of creating four ponds.
The ponds provide several benefits. First, the golf course needs water, and lots of it. The primary pond will be fed by groundwater sources, as well as a single well that is now in place. The other three ponds will eventually connect to the main pond by underground pipes. The entire pond system serves as the golf course reservoir and catch basin.
Second, the ponds provide the primary means for storm water management control. In Delaware all major real estate developments must now provide for on-site storage of storm water runoff.
Adkins said his hydrologist consultants confirmed that the golf course ponds well exceed the minimum requirements. Extreme runoff will eventually drain to a freshwater wetland on the site. Adkins also pointed out that compared to tilled farm fields, golf courses already reduce runoff by 50% because of the absorbent turf.
Third, from a design standpoint the ponds present a visually appealing benefit to the golfers as well as a hazard to avoid. The current design does not require any significant forced carries for most golfers, but the ponds’ locations will be exciting enough along the fairways and near a few greens.
The pond construction already provided some unexpected benefits. The Bunting and Murray Construction crews digging out the pond sites hit some significant sand deposits. Adkins had the sand tested, and learned that it meets USGA standards for green construction. Adkins plans to use sand from a nearby supplier for building the greens, but felt the on-site sand deposits will “work well as a bunker base.”
Once the Bunting and Murray crews dug out the soil, it needed to be placed in the right spots in the right way throughout the course. Barry Edwards, of Edwards Grading, Inc. is the “shaper.” Edwards, 40, from King, North Carolina near Winston-Salem, has been involved in golf course construction for 20 years. He’s worked at other local courses such as Rehoboth Beach Country Club and The Salt Pond.
Edwards moves his “D-4” with surprising sensitivity. He credits the “real good earth” he’s working with on the site, but Adkins thinks Edwards is too modest. For the first few weeks, Edwards focused on building the mounding that will provide noise protection and “curb appeal” along Route 1 and other locations on the course perimeter. As of this writing Edwards and his crew also shaped a few of the greens and bunker complexes, and their work is impressive.
(This is the second in a series of columns on the design and construction of The Greens at Broadview.)