A Fresh Coat of Paint
Let’s face it, construction projects are a hassle. Whether it is a remodeling project at your house (kitchens and bathrooms are the best), road construction on your commute to work or renovation of your favorite golf course, progress can be a big pain.
A fresh example for me is when they renovated the NCGA offices. They started the process of tearing out the exterior walls in December 2005 and we moved our offices into the cart barn several months later. I can vividly recall some refreshingly cool mornings as the winter wind whipped through the tarps that doubled as my wall. By June we were moving back into the renovated offices. Our brief inconvenience slowly became a distant memory.
As for renovating golf courses, the biggest question is why? Why tear up something that provides a source of recreation for countless people, revenue for the owners, city or company, jobs for employees, habitat for wildlife and satisfaction or dissatisfaction (depending upon how you most recently played) for the game? The simplest answer I can think of is “The Joneses.” As in keeping up with the neighbors.
Golf course architect Bill Love, who recently completed improvements at The Olympic Club, claims that renovation is “being competitive in the marketplace. Golf courses change over time – they are living and breathing entities,” noted Love.
Here are a few examples of changes or worse yet, deterioration on the golf course:
• The turtle shell tee syndrome – divots are constantly filled by sand and seed mixes which form a turtle shell shape on the tees.
• Sloughing off of bunker slopes caused by golfers exiting the bunker slope (high side) versus walking out the low point of the bunker
• Elevation of bunkers lips caused by the constant splashing of sand from golfers hitting explosion shots from a common collection area in a bunker.
“By sticking with status quo – you are getting passed by,” said Love. The facilities who embrace improvements in technology and materials will ensure improved playability in addition to providing a fun and appropriate challenge for every golfer.
Constant splashing of sand can cause elevated bunker lips.
As with every challenge, there comes a new level of unknown. Renovating a golf course has various stages of disturbance which directly corresponds to degrees of frustration for golfers. The first level of disturbance generally contains some small to medium cosmetic changes. These may include rebuilding a tee, reshaping a bunker as well as installing some fairway drainage. The project may alter the hole for a day or two. After a few weeks, everything is back to normal. The golfer can tell that something is different, but hopefully nothing too dramatic-much like a new coat of paint in your living room.A remodeled kitchen or bathroom poses more than just a little inconvenience. On a golf course, this could alter play for several weeks or months. The project may force you to play temporary greens or makeshift par threes as the holes undergo improvements. Once the dust settles and the tee is clear, everyone will notice the improvements. Function and form are paramount and the end result is an improved experience for the golfer.
Completely remodeling your home/golf course is a huge ordeal. Provisional quarters are a must as the contractors gut, strip and tear up your worn and comfortable establishment. The walls that withstood many stories and held pictures of memories are gone temporarily. Once the demolition has occurred and the new construction has started, the hassle of displacement is replaced with anticipation and the vision of the new facility and amenities. In most cases, the new and improved home or golf course has a dramatic effect on the senses. The smell, look and feel of new is as satisfying as a well struck iron – crisp and clean.
There comes a point in time when every golf course faces the inevitable – change. Changing things for the sake of change just does not cut it anymore in this fast paced and ultra-competitive golf industry. How club officials and regular golfers embrace this fact determines the amount and length of anxiety. Planning and due diligence by qualified professionals as well as a close working relationship with course management and select committees will hopefully bring the level of discomfort to one that is acceptable and brief.