The current 4th hole was originally the 2nd. You played from the current 6th tee, and played to the current 4th green. In the picture below, you’ll notice the driving range West of what is now Hwy 280, the clubhouse in its original location, and the bottom left corner, where the current 6th green is today.
Originally, the 2nd hole dog-legged left to the current 4th green, a difficult shot given the severe slopes. Once the clubhouse moved to it’s current location, the course was altered by architect Paul Coates, and the current 6th green was built. A tee was constructed where the parking lot of the farmhouse laid, and the original 2nd green was converted to a par 3. At the same time, the club removed its Template Short, which played from the current 1st tee, and it’s a good assumption that Paul Coates had that in mind when creating what is now the 4th hole.
However, Paul did not change the slopes of the green, and the green never fit the characteristics of a “Short.” Fast forward to the late 1990’s, and the club enlarged the green in the back left corner, because of a lack of pin positions. But again, the internal slopes of the green did not change. So why did Raynor build such bold contours, and why didn’t Coates change them? More than likely, because greens speeds in those decades were substantially slower, so pin positions were “fair” no matter where they were on the green surface. Agronomy and the demand for faster greens surpassed the original architecture, unfortunately.
Jim Urbina set out to renovate the 4th green, not restore it. The main objective to the renovation was to increase the variety of pin positions by altering the severe slopes, and giving it more of a Seth Raynor aesthetic. A lot of geometry and math was used to determine how to raise the front of the green up 1 1/2 feet, and to lower the right side of the green by 8″, as well as maintain proper surface drainage. Getting the percentages of slopes correct, especially tying the altered areas of the green, with the existing surfaces, was a difficult challenge, and the result needed to be perfect or the end product wouldn’t look right, nor be able to be mown at 1/10″.
Over half of the sod of the green was removed, and placed on individual pieces of plastic. It would take a week for the green to be demo’d, greens soil mix to be brought in and properly compacted in “lifts,” with final grading percentages achieved. Needless to say, keeping all of that sod alive, on plastic, at the beginning of August, was nerve-wracking. So much care was taken to carefully get the sod on the plastic sheets, transport it to the rough, unload it, load it back up a week later, and lay it down as close to perfect as possible, all as quickly as possible. This was incredibly labor intensive, and a massive feat for the Midland staff.
This step of sod cutting the turf off was not for the faint of heart.
Grading stakes and string were used to simulate the final grade.
Bunkers being shaped first to “shoulder” the new green elevation.
Greens mix being brought in, once subgrades were finished.
Greens mix floated out to correct percentages of slopes, and bunker drainage installed.
Finished elevation. Note the large new shelf created on right side of green.
Note the smaller shelf created on the left side of green.
Note elevation of front of green based on now having to walk up onto green pad.
We stared to convert the fairway to greens height of cut in the Fall of 2019, as it took almost a year to accomplish through continual topdressings and aerifications, slowly lowering the mowing heights. The grass was harvested, and used for green expansions throughout the course, and that fairway has been converted to rough. Fescue has been planted around the perimeters of the hole, and a new forward tee has been built. The unsightly fence to the right of the hole has also been removed. The aesthetics of this hole have changed dramatically, and once it reaches maturity, will be a focal point on the front nine.
In the end, we took a green that was 30% pinable, and made it 70% pinable. We didn’t have to move a lot of earth to make such a big impact, but the impact itself will change the playability and enjoyment of the green immensely.