A behind the scenes look into maintenance practices including past, present and future development plans of the Lac la Biche Golf Club.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Driving Range Etiquette.

Last week we had an unfortunate incident regarding a member who got hit with a golf ball. The ball was hit from the bottom driving range tee and carried the creek where he was struck while walking up to the #6 tee. In the past, I mentioned the need for some netting not only for the end of the driving range, but also down both sides to protect golfers and staff on #1 and #7 fairway. This request is actually addressed in year 2017 of our 10 Year Capital Improvement Plan.
The problem with our driving range is that there is a large elevation change from the teeing area to the distance markers on the range. Today I decided to spend some time and measure the entire range and teeing area and this is what I found. All measurements where done with both GPS and metered wheel.

Elevation Change:  66 feet or 22 yards
Driving Range Width (From #7 Cart Path to Tree Line #1 Fairway): 163 yards
Driving Range Length (From Top Tee to Creek Directly Behind #6 Tee): 267 yards
Driving Range Length (From Top Tee Directly Over Yellow Yardage Markers to Creek): 311 yards
Distance From Top Tee to Bottom Tee (3 Tier Teeing Deck): 17 yards

I also measured from the bottom driving range tee to the tee sign on #6 and this distance is approximately 276 yards. There is no doubt we have some players that are capable of hitting the ball that far. When you take into account the elevation change, this distance can be cut down by 5% (Roughly 262 yards).

So how do we protect our members, guests and staff from future issues? Here are some of my thoughts followed by potential cons of each:

1) Erect proper netting especially at the back of the range. (The net will have to be very high due to severe elevation change. In the area of 40 feet or higher. Expensive and maintenance prone)

2) Re build the entire teeing area towards the back of #8 blue tee. This will better align the tee down the full length of the range. There are no cons to this option since it makes a lot of sense. It also allows us to increase the square footage from the current tee which is much too small.

3) Make the entire driving range irons only. (Takes away from the complete practice experience)

4) Erect a cage for woods only. (No one likes hitting inside a cage)

5) Build more target areas on the range. (Can be expensive and more labour intensive. People will still want to hit their driver)

6) Move #6 tee further from the creek. (This would greatly shorten a par 4 hole which is already only 340 yards)

7) Use of "Limited Flight" range balls. (Currently we do use these but perhaps there are better options out there that may cut distances down by 30% or more)

I think at the end of day, anyone using the range has to exude the utmost responsibility. Those that aim towards #6 tee knowing they are big hitters are knowingly putting others at risk. If these people would simply aim down the line of the yellow yardage markers, we would never have an issue. Be safe and respectful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Matting Greens.

For those of you who golf early enough in the morning, you may see us matting the greens prior to cutting them. I try to mat 2 or 3 times a week but it depends on weather and staff availability. Matting accomplishes a few beneficial practices.
1) It removes excess moisture (dew) which allows for a better quality of cut.
2) It lifts the grass and helps eliminate grain.
3) Over time it provides upright and dense shoot growth.

This particular brush manufactured by T.I.P.S. is controlled via a hand remote. The brush rises and falls from an electric ram which controls the vertical movement of the wheels. It works amazingly well due to it's weight and brush arrangement. It also makes quick work of brushing in top dressing sand into aeration holes or the turf canopy when light bi-weekly topdressing is performed.