News:

This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Joel_Stewart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« on: May 19, 2007, 03:02:11 PM »
I know a club that is considering rebuilding all 18 of their greens.  Currently they are push up greens.  The club sits on a sand dune, very close to the ocean.  The weather is generally moderate, very few hot days, and the club is open all 12 months.

The USGA has an interesting web site discussing rebuilding greens to USGA specs but I would like to hear from the treehouse on the pros and cons, in simple english.

The USGA web site is, http://www.usga.org/turf/green_section_record/2006/jan_feb/rebuild.html

Thanks

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2007, 03:09:42 PM »
Say good bye to all of the most interesting contours this unknown course that sits on a rather large dune has. Of course, I think they got rid of a rather interesting 18th green on USGA insistence before didn't they? ;)

Scott Witter

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2007, 03:59:07 PM »
Joel:

Your description of site and location sure sounds like it has the makings of good soil/sand for push up greens, though we know nothing about site specifics and whether or not the existing greens are having problems?

How old are the greens, what is their character like, contouring, size, etc.?

Tommy is right to an extent IMO.  I think you can create some interesting surfaces with USGA specs, but you need to push the envelope a bit.  Part of it will come down to the builder, the superintendent and the architect, if you have one, and how tight they hold the line to USGA specs.  No one ever said USGA specs were meant for creativity, rather they were developed for performance criteria to a tested scientific standard.  Regardless, you will have much more flexibility with native soils and the surrounds will almost always tie in better.

Either way, if you have the influence and opportunity I would push to have the native soils tested to determine their strengths and weaknesses.  To simply dismiss those soils without further investigation would be a mistake IMO and should they prove encouraging, it would aso save A LOT  of $.  It also could be that  no one in your area has the ability or the guts to proceed with native soils greens, not uncommon.

There is much to consider and it is wise to fully educate all involved with the options before a rash decision is made.

Jeff Brauer and others can speak to the USGA spec with their thoughts and Tom Doak may chime in with his take on native soils that he has had great success with.  I have built USGA, Modified USGA, California, and Native soil greens.  They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but specific site conditions will often guide you to the best decision.  Either way, gather information, educate and then make your decision.

Good luck ;)

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2007, 04:42:56 PM »
Joel:

Most architects and most green chairmen are afraid to build anything other than USGA specification greens, because if it didn't work out they would be crucified for going with less than the industry standard.  I'm sure that goes double for a famous club which is considering taking its course out of play for a significant period to re-do the greens.

I have built about ten courses with native soil greens -- including, by the way, a course on a sand dune within sight of the one you are talking about.  If the native sand perks well enough (close enough to USGA specs) then I don't believe the benefit of a perched water table outweighs the more difficult degree of construction.  But, I'm sure others will cite "consistency" or something as a reason to spend more money.

Craig Disher

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2007, 05:25:23 PM »
During my club's consideration of a renovation a few years ago, we were told by one architect that the difference in cost between a native soil green and USGA spec was significant - in our case the USGA green was about 2.5 times as expensive. The architect said he only built USGA spec greens. Is this cost difference still true?

Perhaps this is true only in areas with non-sandy soils but the putting surface can have a very different firmness than the area surrounding it - getting the irrigation right can be difficult since the greens will drain much faster than the surrounds. I've seen this problem a few times - the ball bouncing on the firm green but almost plugging just a few inches off the surface. Or is this just poor construction rather than a maintenance problem.

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2007, 05:38:27 PM »
Craig,

with a good construction there will be an unnoticable transtion between green and surround (oh, the bliss of a perfect world). No, but seriously, if it is feasable, push ups are usually better than USGA except in climates where USGA are designed for.

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 05:45:20 PM »
Joel,

I think Tommy's point is a good one.

The ability to build highly contoured greens is hampered if the greens are built to USGA specs.

And, should the club ever want to amend/alter the greens at some point in the future, it's difficult to do, especially if expense is a consideration.

Mike_Young

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2007, 06:10:31 PM »
Joel,
I think TD hits home in his reply#3.  
I might add that no one has ever proven that USGA greens are better greens.  I am amazed how many courses in our area rebuild every few years once they acquired USGA greens.....
ALSO.....competition will try to make you out to be "inferior" if you don't use USGA greens.....
BUT I can say that the one sure thing that will work is to hire the best possible supt you can find..and one that doesn't need to push for USGA greens as an excuse....There are guys that can grow it on concrete if needed.....
Will the USGA guarantee a USGA green and are there specifications or recommendations?
Mike
« Last Edit: May 19, 2007, 06:11:14 PM by Mike_Young »
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Don_Mahaffey

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2007, 06:18:54 PM »
Craig,
With increased fuel costs, I believe the number is more than 2.5 at the present time.

Joel,
I can't for the life of me ever figure why anyone would want to grow turf on dissimilar sand mediums...provided the native sand is of decent quality.

That interface between your sand and the import (USGA) is always a factor in irrigation and other turf management practices. If your climate isn't extreme and/or your water horrible, and if your local sand percs 10in/hr+*, then I see no reason whatsoever to import different sand, other than everyone involved covering their behinds.


*I could actually live with 5 inches/hour, but now Im covering my behind.

S. Huffstutler

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2007, 07:51:13 PM »
You know, everybody is obsessed with perk rates, but once you put a dense modern grass on top, it's kinda like putting a raincoat over a drain, don't you think? All of the effort put into high perk rate sand will be gone once the green is fully covered, so why bother?

Steve

Ian Andrew

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2007, 08:53:43 PM »
Tom Doak's reply is absolutely spot on.

I've never built a real one with "all" the recommended layers in 20 years, but we have issues getting rid of water rather than making it available.

I almost always build a California style green with a percentage of topsoil added to the mix to avoid early diseases like take-all patch. It works up here, but I wouldn't know what works where you are.

Get a soils expert to make a recommendation rather than an architect. When I've got native soils to work with - I always let them look at the what we have, check the particle shape and make a recommendation.

Greg Murphy

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2007, 09:10:49 PM »
Michael Hurdzan's "Golf Greens, History, Design, and Construction" is a good read that illustrates how orthodoxy is often based on pretty shallow, flimsy, even fictional foundations.

Regarding the USGA spec, Hurdzan recounts how in 1989 the USGA publication on recommended method of green construction claimed to have studied "carefully over the years" the specification for an intermediate sand layer and "now definitely concludes and POSITIVELY RECOMMENDS INCLUDING THE INTERMEDIATE SAND LAYER IN ALL USGA GREEN SECTION GREENS. It is an integral part of the perched water table concept. Its function is undeniable, and serious functional consequences may result if it is eliminated. Failure to follow the requirement means you are not building a USGA Green Section Green. . .  The interface between the course sand layer and the 12 inches of upper soil mix acts as a check on the downward movement of non-capillary water". Yada Yada Yada.

For the next three years, the USGA Green Section came under extreme pressure to justify the 1989 recommendations. But it couldn't. In fact, the Cornell professor of soil physics the USGA ultimately hired concluded that the ONLY function of the intermediate sand layer is to act as a gradient separation between the topmix and gravel drainage blanket and not to perch the water table, a complete reversal of the 1989 dogma. Hurdzan notes that if course gravel is used for the drainage blanket, it is probable that there is a need for the intermediate layer (to prevent the layers from mixing) but, as a practical matter, "golf course architects and contractors try to avoid the need for the intermediate layer (by using a finer material for the drainage blanket) because it is expensive and time consuming, and adds nothing to the performance of the green."

But even after this research, Hurdzan writes that one huge question remained unresolved. Is there a water table that can act as a water reservoir for plants growing in the topmix? Hurdzan goes into considerable detail on the subject, and concludes the answer is, "PROBABLY 'NO', or that the effect is not enough to be of any real value".

As you probably all know, in addition to being a well known golf course designer, teacher and writer (courses include Devil's Pulpit in Ontario and Bully Pulpit in North Dakota) Hurdzan spent years as a superintendent, and has a doctorate in plant physiology to go along with a masters degree in landscape architecture. Presumably he knows a little something about scientific method.

Does anyone know if the USGA has tried to rebut any of this?

Hurdzan's Chapter 9 Postscript, on his personal experiences building greens, contains a noteworthy anecdote. He recounts after having replaced an old soil green with a high sand green at a well known Ohio club, the superintendent said the club would like to make some of its older greens larger. Hurdzan said "let's find some places for temporary greens and start getting them ready" but the superintendent said there'd be no need for temps, they'd just continue to use the green they had but rope off the areas newly constructed.

Hurdzan asked if he wanted the new part constructed out of soil like the old green but the superintendent said, no, to go ahead and build it out of 80/20 sand/peat like the new green Hurdzan had just built. Hurdzan began to "scientifically" explain all the reasons why the result would be a maintenance and performance nightmare, when the superintendent interrupted him and said, "Come with me." He took him out to a nice big green on the course and said, "OK, Dr. Architect, tell me what you see about this green." All Hurdzan saw was a nice big green. As it turned out it was half native soil and half 80/20 mix. Hurdzan further learned both halves were maintained exactly the same, same watering, same mowing, same topdressing, same fertilizing, same pesticides, same aerification and verticutting.

Still somewhat incredulous, Hurdzan offered that it must play differently so they had a member hit shots to all portions of the green and putt on the green but he could find absolutely no difference in playability. So he did what the superintendent suggested and the new, enlarged greens worked out just fine. Years later he did it at several other clubs with small budgets, all with good results. He doesn't advocate doing it, because he is concerned that it won't work in every case, but the point is that after a few years of maintenance practices, the construction of a green may have little or no effect on its performance or its playability.

In my area, over the past fifteen years, I know of six courses that built or rebuilt a number of greens. Three went with the USGA spec while the other three were pretty much home cooked. Without a shadow of a doubt the USGA spec greens have performed miserably compared to the home cooked greens. Grow in was a nightmare and in some instances it would be no stretch to say that the greens failed. The spec never gets criticized, though. Rather, the excuse is usually that the spec wasn't followed close enough and the fact the other non-USGA spec greens performed well is attributed to luck.

Has the hallmarks of orthodoxy, no?

Jim Nugent

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2007, 09:38:02 PM »
From Tommy's response, I assume the course is Olympic.  Why do they want to rebuild their greens?  For the U.S. Open?  Is this necessary, or advisable, for the tournament?  How about everyday play?  

James Bennett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2007, 09:53:07 PM »
Royal Sydney recently rebuilt all of their greens, and they remained as native soil, not USGA-spec.  Glenelg recently rebuilt all of thier greens, again as native soil, not USGA-spec.

The greens undulations are significant at both courses, without the dry spots on the high edges of rolls or the wet spots in the lower valleys that can occur in a less than perfectly built USGA-spec green.

James B

Bob; its impossible to explain some of the clutter that gets recalled from the attic between my ears. .  (SL Solow)

Joel_Stewart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2007, 11:11:25 PM »

Most architects and most green chairmen are afraid to build anything other than USGA specification greens, because if it didn't work out they would be crucified for going with less than the industry standard.  I'm sure that goes double for a famous club which is considering taking its course out of play for a significant period to re-do the greens.

Tom:
You forgot the superintendent as well.  

I'm not allowed anymore to mention the club on GCA anymore so the club will go unnamed.

I should also say the club has a moderate problem with nematode which is getting worse.

kurt bowman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2007, 11:30:25 PM »
Pat.

Building highly contoured greens to USGA standards is no mare difficult than building softly contoured greens. I have built both, and everything in-between. The challenge in both instances is ty-ing the edge of the green off into the existing soils where it is unnoticable.

Joel,

I would reccomend that your super send soil samples from each green to Thomas Turf in College Station, Texas for analysis.Once that is complete your superintendent, and/or agronomists can argue over the merit of USGA verse non. I think Tom's take is 100% true. The USGA green works,and it is a cover your a** type of thing. If your club chooses to build these greens on native soil, and they fail someone will be chastised or worse for making that decision. Good Luck,

Kurt

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2007, 11:35:22 PM »
Pat.

Building highly contoured greens to USGA standards is no mare difficult than building softly contoured greens.

I have built both, and everything in-between.

Kurt,

Where did you build highly contoured USGA greens ?
[/color]

The challenge in both instances is ty-ing the edge of the green off into the existing soils where it is unnoticable.

How difficult is it to alter USGA greens compared to push-up greens five years down the line ?
[/color]


kurt bowman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2007, 12:11:24 AM »
Pat,

I golf course that I have recently completed in Los Cabos, Mexico named San Jose Country Club (Club Campestre San Jose) has highly contoured greens on several holes. Several would rival 5 and 14 at ANGC to give you a mental picture.

They are grassed with Sea Dwarf which is a greens variety of Seashore Paspalum. They are designed with green speeds of 8-9, which as you know would be considered slow by today's standards.

Altering the pitch in USGA greens is trickier than push-ups obviously, but providing that the sand layer is all 12" you have 4" of flexibility which is substantial in changing the pitch in pinnable areas.

I recently completed the re-do/renovation of Eldorado Golf and Beach Club.All greens were originally buillt to USGA specs,and we removed all of the old sand, brought in new, and left the gravel layer intact. I believe that if someone who has played the old,and new course would notice a notable difference in the contour.

A few greens JN wanted to re-design completely we had to re-build entirely. Had they been push-ups it would have saved time and money, but that is not a realistic option in this instance.

Down the road at Diamante (Davis Love/ Paul Cowley) I understand they are building push-up greens on the native sand dunes. We are starting a course next door on the same dune, and it is very possible we will do the same thing.

Regards,

Kurt

Kurt

Pete Lavallee

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2007, 12:46:32 AM »
What is the average life span of a USGA vs. a push up green? I seem to recall readings recently that Ron Whitten said USGA greens need to be rebuilt every 20 years; most Classic courses seem to still be putting on their original greens, nearly 100 years later.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2007, 12:46:46 AM by Pete Lavallee »
"...one inoculated with the virus must swing a golf-club or perish."  Robert Hunter

Forrest Richardson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2007, 12:50:46 AM »
I have built or re-built about 500 greens. Only 18 were to exact USGA specs. Jack Snyder, my mentor, built near to 1,500 greens.

NONE were to USGA specs.

A lot has to do with where you are region-wise.

Wisdom for thought:  Suit coats come in several sizes, lengths and cuts because people are different. There are reportedly 100 ways to make  pesto because there are as many micro cultures and family recipes in Italy. The Golden Gate Bridge looks nothing like the The Rickenbacker Causeway because they serve different purposes and different needs.

The USGA spec should be used as a guideline. To say it solves all purposes is well, silly.

_____

In Arizona pack rats can invade 4-inch diameter round pipe and set up small dwellings that clog the pipe. The cool, regular drainage of water is a welcome habitat for the pests....and they eventually clog the drainage and cause disease and other problems. To my knowledge the USGA has never warned against rodents in drain pipes why? because it would be an admission of a fault in the "spec".

« Last Edit: May 20, 2007, 12:52:24 AM by Forrest Richardson »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2007, 04:11:45 AM »
Joel,
Good to hear that the people at the course on a rather large dune that's across the street from another course that is also on a rather large dune which had the same problem with nematodes and handled it without insisting that USGA-style green complexes would be a much better option then interesting green contours, while having an open mind and chose not to listen to those who have seen classic push-up green construction thrive and then get destroyed (like Winged Foot East) by others who thought the importance of an a few extra layers of amendment and pea gravel (or whatever else goes into building a USGA green.) was most important for four days of a tournament that's scheduled many years from now.

What progress we are seeing so early in this new century! Such open, out of the box thinking!

Kurt, I look forward to hopefully seeing these green contours one day, especially if you can get it USGA complexes to work with dramatic contours. Do you know of anyone else that has made this work, or is there some special secret? (Like watering them with tequila!)

It may sound like I'm being skeptical, and I am,especially when I hear someone as passionate about agronomy, as Dr. Michael Hurdzan talk about how unnecessary UGSA spec greens really are, as well as many other classically-influenced architects who I'm not going ot even mention. But truthfully, I'm actually more interested in how it's working, as well as how it's going to further work as grow-in and maturity occurs.

So how about some pictures!

Mike_Young

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2007, 07:47:54 AM »
Kurt,
I have never seen a highly contoured green built to USGA specifications. Actually I have never seenany green built to USGA specs.  I have seen many where it was tried.  I have even seen one highly acclaimed "Best New Private" where supposedly the highly contoured greens were USGA specification only to find out later that some areas of the root zone were at least 30 inches thick because the lead archie came in after the gravel layer and wanted some changes......
I do think there have been sincere efforts to build highly contoured USGA greens but would you not agree that the last change one could mae would be in the gravel layer....after that more than one inch of change in the rootzone and you don't have a USGA green.....
Also, I don't even think the USGA can explain/document the functioning of a USGA green on sloped areas or raised/mounded areas.  
Having said all of the above, I will take your word that you can do it if you say so.....BUT have you gained anything?  I say no because if there is the slightest problem the club/supt/green chair will probe the greens and come back with the answer "were not built to USGA specs" .....All it takes is them finding one or two areas where the rootzone is less or more than the 12or 14 inch area......

Forrest,
Animals in the pipes.....All the time in the SE....muskrats.....
Recently I had a course I did in 1994 and the supt could not maintain the greens..always lost them..every year.....OH and this was a dude..sprayed beer and pepsi on the greens every monday so the microbes could feed.....
Anyway he had told the owner that the architect actually did not build USGA greens and there was no drainage in these greens....of course since the owner listened and saw this guy everyday he listened.   BUT then one day the owner called just to ask....I went out and asked to see the drain outlets first....ANSWER...there is no drainage.....I went to one green with a shovel and found the drain...cut back four feet and water gushed....man what a smell.....these things had been bathtubs for 12 years.....over the next week we found all 18 drains and in 3 weeks time the greens were functioning properly......we also sent the sand to a lab to prove that it was an 85/15.....All of this was animals in the drains......mixed with a dude....
OH and BTW that supt is now somewhere in Montana spraying pepsi and beer on another set of greens......
Mike
« Last Edit: May 20, 2007, 07:48:59 AM by Mike_Young »
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2007, 08:54:59 AM »
All:

We have built highly contoured greens to USGA specifications on more than one occasion.  All of the greens at Quail Crossing, Beechtree, Apache Stronghold, Riverfront, Cape Kidnappers, Tumble Creek, Stone Eagle and Sebonack are USGA greens, and I think there are a few among them that would qualify for even the most stringent definition of "highly contoured".  And I guess we must have done the tie-ins reasonably well since everyone assumed they were built the same as the others.

Getting the tie-ins perfect is extremely difficult.  So is visualizing exactly what you want when you're working on the contours down in the well, because if you are going to build a USGA green, you're stuck with those contours as you build up the layers.  The main advantage of a non-USGA green is that you can add a bit of sand near the end on the finished surface to create some subtle contours or better tie-ins, but if you're building a USGA green you should not do that.

We've gone to USGA specs in these places because the native soils were clearly not suited and I didn't want to write my own specification for the greens.  Deep sand greens with some drainage underneath probably would have worked just as well ... I still don't understand the magic advantage of the perched water table.

paul cowley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2007, 08:56:20 AM »
Kurt..."Down the road at Diamante (Davis Love/ Paul Cowley) I understand they are building push-up greens on the native sand dunes. We are starting a course next door on the same dune, and it is very possible we will do the same thing".
FYI.....we tested the sands and soils all over the site, and they came back just as I expected....recommendation: as long as the existing sand is at least 3' deep, keep it simple stupid....and no drain piping.

« Last Edit: May 20, 2007, 09:21:42 PM by paul cowley »
paul cowley...golf course architect/asgca

Steve Okula

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Pros & Cons of rebuilding greens to USGA specs
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2007, 03:37:45 PM »
Some of the previous posts seem to suggest that building a U.S.G.A. green is like paying extra to assure there will be future problems.

I have been managing U.S.G.A. greens off and on, on various golf courses around the world, for over twenty years, and I have yet to see any fail due to U.S.G.A. construction.

There is a case for building push-up greens in a lot of situations, and I agree that the U.S.G.A spec might well be over-rated and unnecessarily expensive. Push-ups are invariably easier and cheaper to build.

However, from personal experience, there is nothing inherently flawed in the U.S.G.A spec that would contribute to the failure of a properly managed green.
The small wheel turns by the fire and rod,
the big wheel turns by the grace of God.

Tags:
Tags:

An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()
Back