The 13th at Midland was determined by Jim Urbina to play as the template, Leven. The history of the original 11th has a lot of unknowns, as well as a few assumptions. Unfortunately, proof of those assumptions cannot be found. Because of Raynor’s drawing, there is an assumption that the hole originally had 2 fairways; an upper fairway that lied where the dumpsite is now, almost hugging County Road B, and a lower fairway, that lied close to the current fairway corridor, dotted with sloughs down the far right side of the hole (where it’s currently rough). Both fairways were split, visually, by a center-line bunker (which is now the left fairway bunker). If you look at the Raynor drawing, and study the topography closely, there’s a chance that Raynor intended the hole to be a Bottle template. But his drawing doesn’t have any bunkers, yet by 1945, there were 3 bunkers. Why is this significant? Because the landforms fit for what Raynor should have done, and the drawing points in that direction, yet the lack of designed bunkering is a big red flag, leading to more questions. There’s never been a picture, or aerial, that could prove it was the Bottle. By the earliest photos we’ve studied, the upper fairway doesn’t look as though it was ever maintained up on the upper section. This could be that by the date of those aerials, they had stopped maintaining it. However, if you stand in the dumpsite, and look at the green, the green itself has features on the backside that look as though the hole was meant to be looked at, and played from, that vantage point.
There wasn’t enough proof to know what it could have been, but regardless, trying to build that hole during this project, wasn’t an option, based on the tight construction timeline, and budget restrictions. If Jim could have definitively proved that the Bottle did indeed exist, the 6-figure cost endeavor, finding a new dumpsite, and grow-in timeline wouldn’t have fit. As a result, the 13th is a hole that we continue to study, hoping to find definitive evidence of its past, in the future, because what was built in 2020, would work as a conversion to a Bottle hole down the road.
With the way the hole is presented today, and with what we definitively know, Jim decided to make this hole play as the Leven. The basis behind this Template is that a player can take an aggressive line over a fairway bunker, or a more conservative line of play (away from the fairway bunker), which results with a player’s ball behind a sand dune, or large grassy mound that stops the ball, and blocks their view of the putting surface on their approach shot. CB Macdonald had found his inspiration for the hole from the South of Scotland, at the Lundin Links. He, and Raynor, went on to build many great strategic Leven’s in the States. The way the 13th at Midland is laid out, it fits the Leven extremely well.
For more information, and examples of the Leven, click the link: https://thefriedegg.com/leven-template-hole/
There had always been an issue with growing quality turf on the current back tee. Most of our tees had been converted to almost 100% Bentgrass, but not the 13th. Its microclimate doesn’t help its cause, being surrounded by trees, that results in shade, and a lack of air movement. But after taking soil samples underneath the tee, it was apparent that the main cause of of the issue was the quality of the soil. Underneath only about 3″ of topsoil, there was an 8″ bed of gravel and rock, which was compacted extremely hard. An obvious decision was made to excavate all of that rock, and replace it with a favorable growing medium.
The center of the back tee was also slid 25 feet to the South, aligning it up more properly for a Leven. The first picture below is standing in the middle of the new tee, where the flower bed had existed. This makes clearing the left fairway bunker more of a challenge, as well as bringing the Leven mound on the right, more into play.
The old “red” tee was converted to the “white” tee, and a new red tee was built further up, and pulled 50 feet to the South, getting those players away from the left fairway bunker, and playing more towards the middle of the hole.
Shown below is the new white tee, with the new red tee to the front right.
From the tees, the existing cart path was very much in your sightline, cheapening such a fantastic natural view. A large portion of the path was removed and converted to rough, as it no longer comes into your sightline.
The grassing lines of the fairway was widened left and right, giving players more options to play down each side of the hole. That width continues all the way to the green, as it wraps around the greenside bunkers. The fairway bunker itself on the right side was buried/removed. The ridge that the bunker existed in, acts as the perfect Leven feature. The rough to the right of the hole, around the large Oak trees was being harvested as rough sod, all the way to freeze-up last Fall. The sod was being used where the back nine cart paths had been removed. This entire area, including where the right bunker was removed, will be converted to Fescue this Spring, as the turf needs to be actively growing for us to make the application to convert the grasses. This is one of the last few projects that didn’t get completed during the Fall. The new Fescue area will start where the bunker existed, and runs down the right side of the hole, all the way to right of the approach, and will also come into play for those going for 17 green in two shots.
The fairway bunker on the left was shifted closer to the green, and now hugs the fairway, tripling in size and depth. This bunker is to be avoided at all costs, as it’s a true hazard if you find yourself in it.
At the green, the surface itself didn’t change much. It was slightly pushed backwards and to the right. With Jim Urbina still looking for definitive history on the hole, he determined not make any major changes to the green’s grassing lines. A Leven template has little to do with the green, other than it being slightly blind on the approach shot. Below Jim is painting the new greens edge. Also note the fairway that wraps around the green was pulled all the way to the precipice of the hill, making sure no balls get hung up on it, as well as improve the skyline visual of the green from the approach shot.
The bunkers on both sides of the green had their exterior mounding removed, brought closer to the green, and constructed in Raynor fashion, with steep and intimidating faces. I received several comments during the course tours, that these bunkers must have been deepened, but only looked so, because of the brilliant shaping by Zach Varty. This hole has a new look from both your tee and approach shot.
We started construction on this hole in beautiful Fall weather. That changed quickly, as on October 15th, we received over 5″ of snow. The decision was made to bring in the several semi-loads of rough sod, and attempt to get it all laid before the snow got too deep, as waiting until after it hopefully melted, would have created a muddy mess, with too much collateral damage with the heavy equipment, as well as getting the sod harvested at the farm in serious jeopardy.
Beautiful one day….
Whiteout the next. The snow had to be pushed off with a skid loader before laying sod.
Not a long hole on the scorecard, but with the tees being shifted, fairway bunker being strengthened, the green-side bunkers much more in play, a much wider approach to be able to run the ball onto the green, and eventual Fescue lining the right side of the hole (as well as the left side), the Leven is a now an even better golf hole.