We’re in the middle of the doldrums of winter, so it’s a nice time to see some pictures of green grass, with a trip back to the Fall of 2022.
A significant difference in the 2020 Master Plan project to the 2022 project, was that we kept all holes open during construction. It was a priority to keep disturbance to a minimum, yet be effective with progress. Logistically, it was much more difficult, especially the putting green/1st tee/driving range tee/asphalt replacement. Safety being our first concern, with heavy equipment moving throughout high-traffic areas of the property, created extra challenges, planning, and patience on everyone’s behalf.
Even though we kept the golf course, and range open, the project moved so quickly that it was hard to keep track of progress. Because the project review was well received in 2020 ( https://www.mhccturf.com/?p=1959 ) here is a chronological review of this year’s property improvement projects:
(If you need a refresher as to the “why’s” of the 2022 MP project, here is communication that was sent out in May, laying out the objectives and timelines: https://www.mhccturf.com/?p=2679 )
Work began September 6th, but the project really kicked off months before, carefully choosing paver materials, and finalizing design aspects. Of all this decisions that were made, this one created the most anxiety for me. The consensus of the Greens Committee and Board of Directors was to replace the tired looking/uninviting asphalt, with a paver material and design, that would match the classic feel of the golf course/property, yet compliment a clubhouse that had modern aesthetics. With literally endless material options, and designs, this was no easy task. Luckily the Hartman Companies Hardscape Division had all the design experience, understood our wants and desires, along with asking to start that phase of the project mid-October, because of how disruptive and logistically difficult it would be. We ended up searching all over the state for the materials that suited the wants of the club, before landing on a few options that were displayed physically, for a final decision to be made.
Just our luck, the final materials that was chosen by the BOD, was not guaranteed to be produced and delivered by the start date of that phase of construction. Even pavers were not immune to a supply/demand challenge. We took a leap of faith that the distributor would come through and be able to produce 7 semi loads (yes, 7) of pavers by mid-October.
On September 6, we began the first stage of construction, which was carefully restoring the 14th green
It would take all of our staff, and Hartman’s team, to remove the 12,000 square feet of sod over the next 15 hours. Each piece of sod was cut to 12″x 18″, and placed on a piece of flexible plastic, loaded onto trailers, then re-laid on two strategic areas of rough that we selectively killed off, to be converted to Fescue. This pain staking process proved effective in 2020, by not rolling up the sod, and damaging it’s structural integrity, eventually giving us a better finished product when it was re-laid, post construction.
As everyone witnessed, keeping greens turf alive on seas of blue tarps, became somewhat of a comical venture. And yes, there was the predetermined watering times throughout the day, in play, to hopefully minimize turf loss during unusually hot and dry weather.
Once all of the sod was removed, the 40+ years of topdressing mix was carefully removed, and staged, to the left of the 14th approach. Keeping this mix, and replacing it, post-reshaping, was key to keeping the green performing as close to the rest of the greens as possible. Our architect, Jim Urbina, laid out the general ideas of how green elevations would change, surface water should flow, the fundamentals of playability, and how the ball would react to the proposed contours, making sure our team, Hartman, and our shaper Joe Hancock, were all on the same page
Because the green was being lowered by over 1 foot in areas, all of the existing irrigation pipe and heads, as well as the XGD drainage https://www.xgdsystems.com needed to be removed, and replaced, post-reshaping. Needless to say, there was as much equipment and staff working as safely as possible at once, in a condensed area.
A quick video of the amount of equipment working simultaneously to remove old irrigation pipe and wire, drainage pipe, as well as carefully removing the 5″ of topdressing
Look after Day 1 of Construction
In 5 days, we had the green rough-shaped, meaning the subsoils were shaped to how the green would eventually match at the surface. This might be most important step in the entire process, as the subsoils not only give the surface its final shape, but more importantly, manage the water as it moves through the topdressing mix, and either is carried off the green complex, or creates consistently wet areas, and agronomic nightmares. As this process of construction moves along, the equipment used gets smaller and smaller, until the finishing touches are carried out by hand rakes.
The second stop of the project, the 1st tee/putting greens demolition had already started by September 12th, as a blank canvas would be needed for golf course shaper, Joe Hancock, once he was completed with 14 green. Not only did we have to remove sod on both putting greens, but all of the rough surrounding the greens, the cart path that lead from the golf shop to the 1st tee (and beyond), the 1990 Arborvitaes, all of the hardscape walls and Chilton edging lining the 1st tee, as well as the plant material, both putting green’s irrigation loops, the 1919 flagpole, and a dying tree behind the tee complex. Logistics planning was at a paramount, as we needed Joe’s transition from 14 to the putting green to be efficient, with no loss or stall of precious time.
Once the demo was complete, and the stage was set for Joe Hancock, Hartman Construction transitioned back to 14 green to install the internal drainage. Because of the punchbowl effect of 14 green, it takes all of the surrounding surface drainage water (summer and winter) right onto the putting surface. In 1926, the Midland BOD minutes clearly state that “horse manure was brought onto the green to raise it up to prevent future winter burn.” Seth Raynor was not used in shaping the new green, and the resulting product was a green that didn’t surface drainage properly, had little variety in pin locations, as well as a non-Raynor/strategic green. Reinstalling drainage was a must for the green’s short and long-term performance success. Hartman installed 2″ perforated pipe at ~16″ deep throughout the green complex.
Once drainage was installed, the topdressing mix was brought back onto the surface, to spread evenly at 5″. Elevation stakes were installed to ensure the mix was spread consistently throughout the complex. Storing the mix so close to the green was a big assist with this time consuming process.
One of the largest challenges we faced with the putting green/1st tee area was space. With impacting close to a half acre of land at once, we created a large amount of material. Some of the material we wanted to keep; topdressing mix from both greens, subsoils from underneath the 1st tee complex, rock base underneath the removed cart paths. But storing all of it in the area proved to be too difficult. As you witnessed, the lower parking lot became a literal production line of products that were coming onto property, leaving property, or being stored for future use. Not only did we store the sod from both putting greens in the parking lot (stressful), but there was so much product and equipment that we ended up closing it for safety and keeping everything organized. This created a 60+day dust storm in the lot, so thanks for your patience enduring the temporary mess!
Most of the soil that was created around the putting green project was saved, to create the berms that would effectively replace the Arborvitaes between the 1st tee/putting green/driving range tee. Over 150 tons of soil was used in creating these berms that would provide safety, but also match the feature that would be restored on the left side of the 8th hole. Replacing the shrubs with a more natural classic golf course feature that Raynor had used, not only at Midland, but at other courses he built, would be a win-win scenario. Any soil that wasn’t good enough to rebuild features (greens, tees, bunkers) was used to create the berm.
9 working days after starting 14 green, and sod was being laid back down, an incredible feat, considering we were still maintaining the golf course for daily play. Joe Hancock executed final grading, and officially handed the green back to our staff.
All of the topdressing mix was brought back on, over the shaped subsoils, and finished graded to match final contours
18″ x 24″, piece by piece, all of the sod was brought back on and carefully laid without altering the final grading
What roots look like after growing on a tarp for 2 weeks…the rolls of sod got substantially heavier
Restoring the mounds to the left of 8 fairway had also began. Unneeded soil from the 1st tee project was being hauled to the site, and the “snake berm” would continue to be shaped for the next few weeks, as extra soil was generated
Drainage is key to successfully growing turf, no matter what the location is. The existing putting greens had drainage issues on many levels. The entire West side of the clubhouse roof drained onto the existing asphalt, via gutters, eventually making its way onto both greens. All of the rain/snow melt drained directly onto both putting greens. The plan was to capture all of roof water, before it made its way onto the new pavers, into drain tile that would service the synthetic driving range tee, the clubhouse, and both putting greens. Managing all of that water will make a substantial difference in the performance of all areas mentioned, as well as keeping the integrity of the pavers, by preventing frost heaving during the winter months.
Main trunk line tile being installed first. All subsequent drainage would then be connected to it
A large part of the functional improvement of the practice areas was to remove the unsightly cart path that ran between both putting greens, rerouting it around the outside of the putting green pad, and to the West side of the 1st tee. As you can see below, the path has been roughed in and its rock base has been packed. The result of this change really allowed us to maximize the space, building a green complex that presented a sense of scale in which the golf course does. Because of that scale, it also allowed Joe Hancock to implement design similarities to what you’ll experience on the golf course. Being able to practice putts that you’ll encounter during your round of golf was a significant desire from Jim Urbina.
After 6 days of sodding 14 green, the sod was rooted enough for its first topdressing and roll. However the sod did not have enough internal structure to allow heavy equipment to be driven on, so over a ton of dried sand was pushed out by hand.
After topdressing, the entire green was plate compacted, creating a firm enough surface to use our riding roller with a brush pulled behind
One of the important takeaways from Jim Urbina’s message to the Greens Committee and BOD in 2020, was that it is near impossible that we would get everything right during the project. With so many improvements happening at once, so many grass lines changing, so many new bunkers being restored, it was bound to happen that aesthetical/functional details would go unnoticed until golfers played the holes, and post-construction study was done on the end product. Two of those were the sightlines from 4 and 11 tees.
Standing on 11th tee, because we pushed the fairway so far left, and carrying the short grass right up tight to the fairway bunker, your eye was drawn to it. However, with this new view, you looked directly down the middle of an unsightly cart path, instead of the golf hole. Luckily between the white and red tee, there was a natural depression, allowing us to re-route the path, removing it from your sightline, and producing a more natural look off the tee, without hampering the natural drainage pattern.
Jim Urbina discussing relocating cart path to its new location with the Hartman Construction team
The cart path is in the direct line of sight to the feature, which is the left fairway bunker (seen right of Jim’s shoulder)
On the 4th tee, the same scenario existed, except this time it was on the right side. Not only did your natural view get broken up by the path, but if you hit your tee shot towards the right bunker, you were unable to see if it was in the bunker or not. Both of these changes were minor, but will have a more positive impact on your round of golf.
Cart path moved to the West, opening up the view into the right bunker
17 days after demo, sod was being laid on the new putting green, September 29th. We knew it would take several weeks of long days to complete the sodding process as the green itself ended up being 13,000 square feet. A 2,000 square foot bump and run area on the furthest south side of the putting green was also created. Many approach shots come up short on the golf course, or hit a false-front and roll back off. Many times you’re faced with a very long putt, off approach height turf where you have to decide which contour of the green you need to play. This area was created to practice that shot. This area is not designed to hit 40 yard wedge shots where divots are taken. We have two chipping fairways to practice that shot.
By October 6th, we had sodded the first tee, the walkways between the tee and putting green, hydro seeded all of the fescue areas around the putting green/1st tee, the area around the 4th tee, the berms left of 8, and laid the asphalt for the new cart path.
All of the mounds between the putting green and 1st tee, along with the area of the West of the new cartpath, and South of the chipping green were seeded to Fescue, and hydro-seeded over the top. This look and feel will match the golf course, and naturalize the area that is so highly utilized by membership. Patience will be key with getting the Fescue to mature, especially since it will be highly visible, but the long-term ROI will be impressive.
The flagpole in its new location (which is now lit at night)
Notice the cart path down the right side of #1 being removed, and the synthetic range tee almost prepared for pavers
By October 1th, the bunker on the East side of the chipping green was shaped, drainage and irrigation installed, and filled with sand. This will provide an actual green side bunker shot that you encounter on the course. The bunker on the right side of 2 was also ready to be sodded out.
New bunker outline and construction limits painted out
The new forward tee on #3 being constructed at the same time
That same day, the new putting green was topdressed and worked in. By this time, we knew that the growing season was over and we would get no rooting going forward. On October 15th, we had our first hard frost. So this meant that any existing sod, or new sod would not grow, recover, or root. The focus from this point on was to prepare for winter survival.
On October 17th, we started our winter topdressing. All fairways, tees and greens would be given a heavy coat of sand, and deep-tined aerified over the next 2 weeks. All Fescues were mown down as well.
The new forward tee on #5 was constructed as well
A smaller, but impactful, project was deleting a forward tee that was creating in the 1990’s in front of the 12th blue tee. Standing on the blue tee, you couldn’t see into either left bunkers, especially because we were trying to hide the abandoned tee with Fescue. However, the irrigation mainline pipe ran through the tee being deleted, so we were limited in what could be accomplished. Josh from the Hartman team did a fantastic job executing what seemed like a simple project, in making it look like it had always been there, which was anything but easy.
Addition by subtraction
The driving range tee and pavering project actually started September 29th, with the demo of the old synthetic range tee first. All of the old, cracked and flaking tee pavers would be lifted, the gravel and sand base removed, the sub-grade excavated to drain properly, drain tile installed, and new base rock, a geo-textile blanket installed (to prevent frost heaving), and final grading complete before new pavers would be installed. All of this sounds easy, but if you were around to witness the process, it was anything but easy, but extremely technical. The synthetic range tee pavers are actually a permeable drainage system, they’ll capture all water flowing off the pavers towards the grass range tee.
During the process, we found numerous drainage, irrigation and clubhouse sump-pump pipes, phone and electrical wires, all of which were not marked/located. It made for uneasy digging, so we were very fortunate to have the skilled and strategic team of Hartman Landscapes Division manage it.
Our old range tee had a very severe slope from South to North, almost double of what it needed it to be. Not only was the removal of several decades of filling tee divots, and re-leveling the tee, but correcting this slope, was a goal. Lining up it’s elevation to the synthetic tee, along with the right and left surrounds, took significant planning and time, but the end product and presentation of such a highly-utilized amenity of the club, will be worth it.
We did not install the synthetic tee itself this Fall, because it wasn’t worth it sitting outside over winter for literally a few days of use last Fall. The synthetic tee will sit on top of the permeable pavers.
The range tee would be sodded on October 25th, the same day that pavers would start to be laid. We knew that the range tee would not root, as temperatures were too cold, however, at this point, we were just happy to be able to get the sod farm to harvest it, and get it on property.
At this point in project, the parking lot had reached its pinnacle of multiple different materials. Old asphalt being stored before being hauled to be recycled, topdressing sand for the golf course, construction rock/s, sands, geotextiles, drain tile, pvc pipe and drainage parts, equipment, 5 semi loads of clay bricks, along with our putting green sod.
In 9 working days, massive progress had been made with the pavers. Winter was coming quick, and a huge effort to increase productivity, via more staff, was made by Hartman’s Hardscape division. The last paver was laid Friday November 4th. By that Monday, rain, and a completely frozen ground arrived. Somehow, all of the pavers were laid, packed in, all surrounding areas of rough were tied in, sod laid, seed put down and covered.
In this same crunch time, Midland’s staff had topdressed all of the tees, greens, and finished fairways, applied winter snow mold applications, blew out the entire irrigation system, deep tined ALL shortgrass, and covered greens. Everything came down to a 2 minute drill, more so than most years. Hats off to our staff to realize the situation, and match it with an impressive effort. The majority of our staff had worked the 2022 MP project, so they were familiar with most of the techniques. What they were not used to was having to maintain the course and property for daily play, with normal expectations. By this time of the year, we had lost all of our strong/young high school and college muscle. So being short staffed, then having that large group of staff go back to school, was a tough pill to swallow. Their relentless work ethic is what I will remember most with this project. Not what they built but how they did it. Watching them walk 7 miles mowing greens or flymow all of the bunkers, then being asked to lay greens sod perfectly for the next 5 hours, was nothing short of impressive. Then they basically repeated it day in and day out for 2+ months. Beyond impressive, definitely not your ordinary group of people.
Looking forward to the 2023 season, there’s a few aspects of the project that will be part of continuing conversation. Everything that was worked on during the project will not open for play until they’re actively growing and can safely sustain foot traffic, as well as normal maintenance. Obviously features that were worked on later in the season, will be the last to open. This is the part of the process that we need everyone’s patience the most. If we rush this part of the process, all of the work and investment goes backwards, then it will take us twice as long to regain any progress made. In regards to the greens – #14 and the putting green. Once they are actively growing, and well rooted, they will be aerified, with cores taken out, to prevent layering from happening https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/course-care/green-section-record/58/9/dont-layer-it-on.html Once the holes heal, the greens will be aerified again. We will stay aggressive with all sodded areas (greens, tees, surrounds) with aerification, to ensure the long-term success is achieved. No short cuts will be taken.
Following the BOD’s goal of being able to drastically improve your experience from the time you reach the bag drop, to the time you leave the club, is a great accomplishment. Investing in these improvements will hopefully bring more enjoyment at your time at the club, from playing, to practicing, or just hanging out enjoying friends and family.
Here’s to the 2023 golf season,
22 Replies to “2022 Master Plan Review”
Hi Mike and Turf Team-
Fantastic detailed overview and a job well done. It seems likely that the collective changes in the entire course renovation contributed to our recent stellar Golf Magazine ranking as the 5th best course in MN?!
Thanks for the response Tucker!
I think you may be onto something in your analysis 🙂
Spectacular report, Mike. Highest commendations to you and your staff (and to Hartman Construction,J Jim Urbina, and the shaper par excellence, Joe Hancock).
Who could ask for anything more?
Here’s to 2023 and continual improvement.
Thanks Dan, here’s to 2023!
Thank you, Mike!! And thank you to the entire grounds staff! What a tremendous accomplishment. So grateful and looking forward to the 2023 season!
Thanks for reading Jared. The staff keeps hitting homeruns!
What an effort by you and your team. Thank you
Lucky to have a great squad.
Wow! Watched it being done and you could tell the coordination and sequence were critical. Nice to see it summarized (if that was a summary), maybe detailed is more accurate. Great job- looking forward to playing the course
Thanks for the note Fred.
Looking forward to seeing you all back out there!
Great job Mike! Hope your getting some well deserved sleep this winter.
We are all getting some much needed rest this winter!
Excellent update as always, thanks for taking the time to get this out to us. One question, was it ever discussed to pull the pavers to the 1st tee and 9th green and again to the 10th tee and 18th green?
Thank you Greg!
It became a budgetary constraint to add more pavers, but it was discussed. Good thing is, we can always add more in the future.
Thanks for taking the time to put this blog post together. I always appreciate and look forward to these. Learned a lot over the years about what it take to keep our course in such unbelievable shape year after year. Hats off to the MHCC Turf Team!
Thanks for reading Brad!
I’m so grateful for all the people who worked so hard and who shared their talents on this huge project. Generations of future members and guests will love playing this course. Thank-you for the comprehensive update and all the photos!
PK! Thanks for all the support, lucky to have a great team!
Read the report and appreciate the great detail provided What has been done to improve our course will be enjoyed by our members and guests for years to come. Cant wait to see the finished product this spring.
Completely agree, this is for now and for the future.
Thanks Mike and crew – we are so fortunate to have you!
Thanks for the note Jeff. We’re fortunate to have a ton of talent and dedication on the team!