As some of you may know, after the Australian Open was played at New South Wales in 2009, the greens at NSWGC (primarily a mix of couch with some poa annua) were 'lost' in February 2010. They have made a remarkable comeback by all accounts and are again in championship shape–as fast as you can have them considering the weather related limits on green speeds at La Perouse.
In December, details of a long-touted green resurfacing program were made available to members. This will be a 4 month long project, undertaken from August to November this year. Here's an extract from the club announcement:
When assessing the greens, a number of approaches were considered including a full redesign to resurfacing only. Issues such as traditional design, pin placements, construction, location, cost, and grass types were considered. It was resolved that the club would proceed with a greens resurfacing project with only holes three and four to have significant redesign to them. The design for those greens will be provided with the consultation of the Greg Norman Design Company.
Following an analysis that looked at member inconvenience and costs, it was agreed that the greens replacement will take place all at once over the period 8 August until 28 November 2011. The grass type will be selected following further observation in characteristics of the two new species used in our northern putting green (‘MacKenzie and 007)’, the nursery and from performance reviews of various species used at other clubs such as the National Golf Club.
The basic work involved in resurfacing a green includes removing the turf surface and underlying thatch to a depth of 50-75mm. This will be replaced with new sand (50-75mm) plus soil amendments incorporated into the remaining soil profile. Then, the surface will be sewn with the selected bent grass with germination to start within one week and ready for play within 10 weeks, subject to favorable growing conditions.
A couple of questions came readily to mind:
1) Will these mixtures of bent grass be able to fight off the natural incursion of native grasses as well as the current surfaces? I have not played at the National for about 7 years so I'm not sure how well this seed mixture is holding up. 007 is a variety of creeping bentgrass, but not a Greg Norman Turf grass, despite the fact it's in use at the National. Mackenzie bent I have no knowledge of. It must be holding up well at NSW given the fact you have walk on/walk off at one of the putting greens. I guess spikeless golf shoes really do help prevent seed incursion.
2) Greg Norman Golf Design??? My understanding is that Shark fired all his staff in Australia about 10 months ago, so I wonder who will be onsite for this project. Bob Harrison was the point guy for all the previous work done at the club, including the redesign of 18 completed prior to the '09 Open. Even though Shark is a member, it's surprising to me they brought him back without Bob Harrison being involved.
3) The two greens undergoing redesign are being done for different reasons... The green on 3 needs to be less convex, if not concave to stop balls rolling off the front and back of the green from a stationary position. Both of which have occurred after replacing the ball on the green and standing back to check my line. Number 4, since its benched into a dune, can handle some additional contour on what is now one of the flatter, least interesting greens on the course.
Has anyone else been involved in a project of this scope at a similar site and what are the pitfalls involved?
On the over/under, I'm thinking this will have a neutral to positive affect on the club's ranking (No 38 Worldwide in the 2009 Golf Magazine survey)