Tuesday, 27 November 2018

My Year in Review – Part Two – My Work in 2018

Pepper Pike 8th green, 15th in background 

Business Overview

It was a very busy year for construction work. The spring started well with a few construction projects. The summer was unusually quiet and I took some time off.  The fall saw an incredible run of nine projects over three months. It may have been the busiest fall I have ever have had. It's the first one to go into December in nearly 20 years ...

Numbers and Lists


Miles Driven: 26,800 km. (not including rental car miles)
Flights Taken: 54 (similar to last year)
Total Miles Flown: 50,539 miles 

My Business

Courses Visited: 26
American Work: 20%
Income in Fall: 50%
New clients: 4
Construction Projects: 13
Interviews: 2 (0-2)

New Client List

  1. Sao Paulo in Brazil (Planning Report)
  2. Agawam Hunt (Donald Ross) in Rhode Island (Planning Report)
  3. Oakfield Golf Club near Halifax (Master Plan)
  4. Sussex Golf Club in New Brunswick (Planning Report)
Equipment Operated

  1. Mini-excavator (multiple times and multiple sites)
  2. 450 dozer (Wheatley Hills)
  3. Sand pro and blade (Orchard Park)


Pepper Pike Club – April/May and September/October

This project involves extensive tree removal, bunker work and changes to grassing lines. The spring work included the 1st, 2nd and 7th holes. The fall work included the 8th, 9th green, 15th, 16th and 17th being completed. The work is being done by Precision Golf based out of Cleveland. Tree removal and grassing work is being done by golf superintendent is Ken Happ and his amazing staff. Expect to finish this project next year.

Islington 18th Green and 10th Green in Background
Islington’s 18th green – April

We had to relocate the creek, because it was undermining the clubhouse. The creek relocation was designed by Mark Schollen and the construction was done by R&M Construction. We relocated the green to maintain its relationship with the creek and moved the cart path further away from play to improve the aesthetics. Work was done by KCM Construction. Superintendent is Andre Aymar. Hole is in play.

Galt Practice Facility – April

The club built a new teaching building, added a 100’ x 100’ net facility and a new putting green to make the most of the front entrance. The netting work was done by Skyline and the golf work was done by Flightline Construction. The golf superintendent is Mark Piccolo. Mark quietly did a wonderful job of recovering the course from severe flooding damage.

Crag Burn Practice Facility – April

The rule of thumb is people only use the upslope and flat areas to work on their chipping and pitch shots. Essentially I flattened the worst chipping facility I have ever seen. I did this by accumulating all the hills and mounds into one slightly elevated central green with two deep greenside bunkers. Work was done by Tony of Faery Golf and the golf Superintendent is Ned Booth. Will re-open this spring.

Ashburn Old - Relocated 18th green
Ashburn (Old) – August and September

The largest project I had this year was the rebuilding of the Back Nine green sites at Ashburn’s Stanley Thompson course. Most of the greens and even some of the holes were not originals. They were added by another architect and didn’t fit the remaining holes. The intention was to bring all the green sites back in context with the first nine holes. Original Thompson greens like the 11th were retained while the new holes and greens were given a Thompson inspired facelift. The biggest change was the relocation of the 17th to incorporate a dramatic location which improved the safety around the 3rd and 18th tees. Work was by NMP Golf, supervised by Geoff Proffit and greens were sodded by golf superintendent Jason Fillion.
Oakdale 7th Green Bunkering and Feeder Slope
Oakdale Knudson – August, September and October

This is the other large fall project. It involved rebuilding the 1st and 5th green on the Knudson course, renovating all the bunkers, rebuilding four tees and removing all the awful mounding around the holes added twenty years ago. The goal was to remove two bad renovations from a decent nine-hole layout. The mound removal component was a massive project. My personal intent was to create a third Stanley Thompson nine to match the other two nines at Oakdale. The construction is by Flightline Golf and the Golf Superintendent is Michael Dermott. This project will continue into next Spring.

The Briars – September and October

This was a combination of lining some of the bunkers, tweaking a few and making a few changes to improve the conditioning and character of the bunkers. The work was originally quite understated and I removed a few features I had added decades back to simplify some bunkers and really downplay the shapes. I’m mature enough to realize this is a better answer. It works better in the setting. The work was done by Flightline Golf and the golf superintendent is Patrick Greenman.

Pinegrove – September and October

The work at Pinegrove Country Club started in September and carried on to the end of the year. The club decided it wanted something simple and visible, which eventually determined the style we would be using. This unintentionally took us back to the style of Howard Watson without ever being my original intent. The detailing is very strong, the lines are simple and the really bad renovations are gone. Work was done by NMP. Golf superintendent is Guillaume Després.

This was the final job for Donald from NMP. He was excellent and I told him so often. When I thanked him for his great work on my final day on site … he shed a tear … and said he couldn’t remember a project he enjoyed more. That’s the way we would all like to transition to retirement.

Orchard Park – September

Nothing more challenging than being asked to re-grade an iconic green. The first green at Orchard Park is among Travis’s best greens, but at 20% pin locations and averaging 5% slope it was no longer viable. All I did was change 5% to 3% and shift the major roll on the back left to the back of the green. The false front is intact. This took the pin area over 50% without changing the look or the essence of the green. Work by Tony of Faery Golf and the golf Superintendent is Bob Kelly. Should be back in play next Spring.

St. Catharines – October

This was a simple bunker job involving the 6th and 13th green sites. We deepened the low side bunkers and then shaped them to match the bunkers done the previous two years. Work was done by Flightline Construction. Golf superintendent is Dennis Piccolo. Love Dennis’s unorthodox and effective ways of dealing with his clay property.

Laval-sur-le-lac –  October

I knew we were rebuilding the 11th green because we change out the green’s mix on a one green every year on the Willie Park course. I tweak them for drainage, but generally leave the greens alone. I did take the tier out of the front this time that was added by another architect. What I didn’t know was we were also resurfacing the 1st of the Blue Course. We lifted the entire green site and surrounds to improve the drainage and airflow (trees are all gone on the west side too). Mix from the Blue course green was used in the Green course green. Work done by NMP Golf and the golf superintendent is Luc Ladocuer.

18th at St. George's before sod goes back on
St. George’s –  October

The work involved rebuilding two of the greens. The back of the 18th green was lowered to create pin locations across the entire upper plateau. We also rebuilt the 3rd green by removing the two rolls that come into the green and softening the green so everything behind the false front is now available for a pin. Both greens were expanded during this process. I was involved with the 2014 rebuild, but did not make the final call on most of the greens including these two. I don’t see any more changes coming now the three greens have been softened. The work was done in early November by KCM Construction. Golf superintendent is Ian McQueen. Work around the greens on the bunkers is in progress, but an early winter has deferred that to Spring.

Wheatley Hills Punchbowl green site in progress
Wheatley Hills – November

The club continues with an Emmet restoration. This time out we are making a change to a green site that is not a restoration. The 4th green will become a punchbowl green. This is something Emmet did and this will be the most dramatic transition we will do to the course. Work began in November and continues now. We are waiting for the green to be shaped by Geoff Porteus and hopefully we can get the sod back on the green before winter shuts us down. The green and surrounds will be completed in the Spring. Golf Superintendent extraordinaire Ben Orlowski fearlessly pushes on despite the delays. A side note, I ran a 450 Dozer for two days, well, because someone had to and I think I finally found some confidence with operating one. I was happy with the results.

This was quite a year of construction for me and reminiscent of 2009 and 2014 when I was busy on site just about every day.


Spring Work

  1. Wheatley Hills – Finish 4th Hole - April
  2. Pepper Pike Club – Bunkers – April
  3. St. George’s – Billy Bunker Project – April
  4. Oakdale Knudson Nine – Finish Project – April
Fall Work

  1. Highland CC – Bunkers – October
  2. Cherry Hill – Minor Renovations - October
  3. Wheatley Hills - remainder of bunker work - October
Potential Projects

  1. Ken-Wo – Some Bunkers – July
  2. Ashburn (Old) Front Nine Greens and Bunkers – August
  3. St. Catharines – More Bunkers – October
  4. Hillsdale – Full Renovation – August to October

2019 or 2020

Design Consulting ...

Tom Doak was awarded the contract to build the next golf course at Sand Valley. I walked a different quadrant with him a year ago when he made that pitch, but this one is for the other choppier quadrant I have not seen. He has asked myself - and one other individual - if we would consult on the project. I have said yes and he shared the news on Golf Club Atlas. I'm not sure what I can add, but that would be really fun for me to be part of a new design. As much fun as I've had on going to join Gil's construction projects, there is no involvement in the design ideas. I look forward to the opportunity, but I expect that may be 2020 and not 2019.

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