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How To Build a Golf Hole

+ Maneuver the Land Next, a blank canvas is created out of dirt for the architect. “You get the dirt moved around, and

that leaves you with another plane that you have to grade and shape to make the golf ball roll and do what you want,” says Charlton. “When you get a new plane with long slopes and things like that, that’s when you start digging or adding features.” ••• + A Golf Hole in Dirt Form This is where an architect figures out if a sketch on paper will translate in real life. Bunkers are moved, covered or carved out, natural sandy areas are stenciled into the earth, and the hole comes to life. “In a lot of cases, we’ll take existing bunkering and shift it a little bit,” says

Charlton. “In many cases, we’ve added a bunker or two, so we just go out and measure and spray paint where that is going to occur. Then the contractor goes in with various pieces of machinery—an excavator, dozer, whatever—and they excavate out to a shape. That leaves us with a golf hole in dirt form.” ••• + Forming the Tees and Fairways The yardage and playing angles for the hole are studied, and the locations for the tees and fairway are formed. This is also a chance for the architect to ask, “Is this what we really want?” “You go back to where you want your

tees, and figure out if the tees are in the correct position, based on the features we have,” says Charlton. “It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. Do the tees come first or the bunkers? A lot of times, it’s a little bit of both at the same time.” ••• + A Bomb Zone—Installing Irrigation and Drainage If the golf hole measures out how the

architect wants it to look at the subgrade level, it is safe to dig trench lines for irrigation and drainage pipes. This is a “Crossing the Rubicon” decision. “The hole is all cleaned up and pretty,

and then you turn your irrigation and drainage crew loose, and it looks like a bomb zone,” says Charlton. Irrigation heads are marked for

construction traffic with white stakes, making the hole look like a slalom slope. The drain line is topped with drain rock and smoothed out. ••• + Incorporate Cart Paths A few cart paths will be incorporated with the natural sandy areas that wind throughout the course. Others will remain intact, while a few more will be rerouted, even ducking into the forest. While not as sexy as routing the golf course, this is an important logistical step. ••• + Sand Capping A 5-inch layer of sand covers every

Bruce Charlton on Designing Hole Locations and the New Greens at Poppy Hills: We’ve all muttered it under our breath before. This is an unfair hole location! Well, there actually is a science when it comes to designing hole locations. Here’s the breakdown on slope percent-

ages: “On this type of grass (Poppy Hills will have Tyee/007 Bentgrass greens.) with the kinds of speeds we will be able to achieve, 2.5% is getting at the edge, 3% is definitely edgy,” says Charlton. “It can be flat on one side and sloped on the other, and be OK. But when you get 3% going two different directions, that’s when it gets nasty. “Parts of greens will have a lot more slope than that, but those aren’t hole locations. You are just using slopes and

Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Bruce Charlton

contours internally. That’s one of the hints for the new Poppy, in my opinion. The more you play the new Poppy, you’ll understand that there are internal contours within the green that you can use to your advantage to get to other hole locations. It won’t be until you play this course a couple times that you’ll figure it out, but that’s one of the fun things you’ll see.”

A 5-inch layer of sand covers every element of the hole that will be grassed. Pictured here is the new 11th hole before hydroseeding.

36 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2013

Slope elevation measurements are taken every 10 feet and spray-painted on the green for the architect to OK. The blue numbers in this photo are on the new ninth green.

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