As there continues to be questions regarding this Fall’s Master Plan work, I am putting the same information that was physically mailed to all members in March, on the blog, as it should be a helpful reminder of the scope of work, and to eliminate any misinformation. Please feel free to reach out with questions that you may have.
Continual Progress —
Part of the Seth Raynor golf course Master Plan was to continually evaluate the golf course and grounds of Midland Hills. Our architect, Jim Urbina, spent several years studying Midland before creating the Master Plan. One of the several reasons the club chose to work with Jim, was his desire for a continuing relationship. A large part of that relationship was to remain engaged after the Master Plan was implemented – a continual evaluation of how the golf course would be received after implementation. Getting feedback through the membership on how the changes challenged, and are enjoyed by all players of all skill level was, and continues to be, an important part of the process.
Midland’s implementation of the Restoration Master Plan in 2020 was based off a very aggressive timeline. To accomplish what we did, with very little weather delays, was nothing less than lucky. A contingency plan was created before implementation that would have allowed us to complete the work the following spring, however, it was not needed.
However, the Master Plan was not just what was completed in 2020. It has long-term goals beyond what was already accomplished. Continual evaluation, where the club’s financial position lies, along with other club-wide capital investment needs, drive those goals and implementation timelines.
After evaluations by Jim Urbina, feedback from the Golf Committee, membership, and long-term goals set forth by the Greens Committee and Board of Directors, Midland Hills will embark on the continuation of our Master Plan in the Fall of 2022.
These improvements will mainly focus on aspects that our timeline in 2020 did not allow for, as well as a few areas of the project that Jim Urbina would like to improve upon, based on evaluation of membership play.
- #1 Tee /// Small Putting Green
The first, and most dramatic change, will be to the small putting green and first tee area. This area was identified originally as an area of improvement to present a better first impression as you walk up to the club, as well as an area that would now match the look and feel of the rest of your Seth Raynor golf course.
- As an overview, the Arborvitae shrubs between the putting green and first tees will be removed. The putting green will be expanded to almost double in size with a more rectangular shape that matches the look and feel of the Seth Raynor architecture on the golf course. The rough around the putting green will be replaced with fairway height-of-cut turf, creating areas to practice golf shots that mimic those you will find on the course.
- The cart path between the putting green and first tee (and all the way down the right side of the hole) will be removed and short grass surrounding the putting green will now continue all the way onto the first tee box complex. The tee boxes themselves will drop down several feet, the unnatural retaining walls behind the tees will be removed, making room for the cartpath to be rerouted behind the tees, wrapping around to the West side of the complex.
- There will be a four-foot berm created in the location of the old cart path (East of the tees), with Fescue grass planted on top, to create safety to the small putting green and driving range tee. This will maintain safety, yet open up the view from the golf shop/putting green area to the front 9, matching the look and feel of open vistas on the restored golf course.
- #2 – Road
The bunker on the second hole will be expanded all the way around the right side of the green to the approach.
- The back left corner of the green on the second hole will be expanded all the way to the back of the greenpad, creating an a new, exciting, and strategic pinable area.
- #3 – Punchbowl
The forward tee on the third hole will double in size.
- #4 – Short
The hill side to the right of the fourth forward tee will be dropped, opening up a view of the entire right bunker of four green. The red tee will expand to the West. The cart path will also be re-routed so you’re not looking straight into it while hitting your tee shot.
- #5 – Maiden
The forward tee on the fifth hole will be tripled in size, making room for more than just the red tees.
- #8 – Knoll
Seth Raynor had originally designed an above ground berm to the left of the eighth hole. This was to protect shots from rolling onto (the then) 18th, but also to create a hazard for wayward tee shots. The berm will be restored in a strategic location to recapture aligning players from the tee, as well as a natural hazard. The dying tree on the peninsula has been removed, restoring the tee shot. The dying Oak to the right of the approach has also been removed, making room to expand the short grass to the right of the approach/fairway, bringing the water into play for aggressive lines off the tee.
- #11 – Westward Ho!
The cart path will be re-routed to the North between the white and red tees on 11, removing it from your sightline off the tees.
- The fairway grass line between the first and second left fairway bunkers of 11 will be expanded to create the proper scale and balance.
- #12 – Biarritz
The front left corner of the fairway on 12 will be more squared-up to better capture the Seth Raynor aesthetics.
- The old, abandoned, tee box front left of the current blue tee in the Fescue area will be deleted, and the Fescue grass line will be pushed back to the South, improving the sightlines into the left green-side bunker, as well as improving pace of play from topped tee shots hit into the Fescue.
- #13 – Leven
The dying Ash tree on the left side of 13 will be removed, and the Fescue line will be pulled to the South
- The 13th green will be expanded to the back and to the right, recapturing more dramatic putting green surface and pinnable areas.
- #14 – Alps
The fairway on the 14th will be expanded considerably to the right, helping to keep shorter player’s shots on the fairway as Raynor intended.
- The 14th green will be given a full restoration. We know from the BOD meeting minutes from 1926 that the green was rebuilt after Raynor left, to prevent “winter-burn,” meaning that soil was added lifting the surface upward, creating a turtle-back as it is today. Understanding original Seth Raynor Alps greens that have not been modified (examples: Fishers Island (below) and National Golf Links of America), as they will serve as the inspirations of how the 14th at Midland will be restored, since we do not have ground photos.
This not only improves the poor functioning surface drainage, during the summer months, but also addresses snow-melt during the winter months (reducing the chances of “winter-burn,”) but it also restores the strategy, fun, and excitement of how a Seth Raynor Alps green should play, as the pinable areas of the green will now double.
- The Fescue will be pulled towards the fairway left of 14 approach, helping to create texture to the visual, as well as to buffer out the bathroom shelter.
- #17 – Long
The right grassing line of the 17th fairway will be expanded from 250 yards out, to the green, recapturing the topography that Raynor utilized, as well as properly aligning the right side of the fairway to the right side of the green.
- The original 7th green (now the chipping green to the left of 10) will have the modern-mounding removed and the bunker restored. This will not only serve as a true green-side bunker to simulate shots you will find on the course, it will serve as an aesthetical improvement playing the 11th hole, and strategically a hazard while playing the 10th.
- The driving range tee will be re-leveled, and resodded. The last time it was leveled was when it was constructed in 2005. Decades of taking and filling divots has made the tee uneven, impeding surface drainage, and enjoyment of use.
Timelines: The Greens Committee and Board of Directors have given significant considerations to reducing the impact to play while completing the discussed work. Working on logistics with our contractor, Hartman Construction, and Jim Urbina, as well as studying our golf event calendar, we believe we can complete this work with the least amount of impact.
- All fairway grassing line changes (8,11,12,14,17), as well as new Fescue lines, will begin in mid-to-late July. Those holes will not close, as we’ll simply rope off these areas, and ask cart riders to not cross the rope and stake that will run the length of them. The timing of this is based on a few key reasons. Being that these areas are the only feature of the project being seeded, it takes significantly more time for that seed to mature. Ideal seeding weather is also a reason, as well as maturing enough to handle the winter season.
- Work on the putting green/1st tee, as well as the 14th green, will begin Tuesday September 6th. We will still have the large putting green, which will remain open, and the first tee box location will move up the beginning of the fairway. A temporary green will be created on 14 approach, so that hole will remain open during construction.
- The remaining aspects of the work, i.e., expanding tees, bunkering, etc., will occur once the putting green and 14th green work is complete.
- Rerouting cart paths (1st, 4th, 11th tees) will occur in October, when the demand for play is dramatically reduced.
- The Driving Range tee will be re-leveled and re-sodded in October as well, as to reduce the amount of time hitting off the artificial mats.
Any tees that are expanded will have a temporary tees positioned in front of construction, to keep the hole open, the staff safe, and construction efficient. Those new tees will remain closed until the following Spring.
Once construction begins on the small putting green, it will remain closed until the following Spring. The same thing will occur with 14 green, that temporary will remain in play until the following Spring, giving all of the sodding work time to properly heal before the onset of winter.
Fairway and Fescue grass line changes will remain Ground Under Repair until the following Spring, and a local rule will go into play.
Any other work, i.e., bunker construction on #2 and old #7, the driving range tee, will remain ground under repair until healed-in, and can handle foot traffic and regular maintenance.
The exact day of installing fresh asphalt on cart path changes will have temporary cart restrictions.
The Greens Committee and Board of Directors (on behalf of the membership) are very excited about the new improvements and the timeline for completion. The implementation of these refinements, that are a continuation of the 2020 Master Plan work will be unique, in that unlike 2020, when the course was closed, will take place for all to witness during their round of play. We will, however, need everyone’s help, and cooperation, with keeping safe distances from heavy equipment, and giving the right-of-way to focused construction crews. We are very excited to have everyone witness these changes physically take place right in front of their eyes.
The continual pursuit of improving our Seth Raynor-designed golf course is something that the Committee and BOD take very seriously. The feedback from the 2020 work was overwhelmingly positive, and we’re certain that the work in 2022 will be nothing short of the same.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Will the holes close during the project?
- No, all holes will remain open during the work. There will be temporary tees and greens, as well as “Ground Under Repair,” but holes will remain open to play.
- When will the small putting green, 14th green, and new tees reopen for play?
- This will be weather dependent as the weather will dictate maturity. Regardless, the greens and tees will open when they are ready to handle foot and maintenance traffic in the Spring of 2023.
- Why wasn’t this work completed in 2020?
- Time and budgets dictated how much could be accomplished in the short construction timeframe of 2020. Some aspects of the course needed to be evaluated as a whole to determine how they would play. This ongoing review is designed to make improvements, both short and long-term.
- When will the new Driving Range Tee open for play?
- The tee box will be re-leveled and sodded at the end of the project to keep players on the existing turf for as long as possible. Once re-sodded, the tee will reopen in the Spring of 2023 once it is actively growing and well-rooted.
- Why will the Fairway expansion seeded areas start so early, and why won’t carts be allowed to drive over them?
- Because seed takes months to mature, and stops maturing by the end of September, we need to start the process in July. Seedlings are extremely vulnerable until maturity is reached, and cannot handle cart traffic. These areas will be roped off until it is safe to do so.
- Why are we starting the work in September, can’t we start it later?
- Starting the work in September gives us enough time to complete the construction, as well as gives the sod enough time to mature and root, giving it the best chance of survival over winter.
Again, if you have questions regarding the work, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.