This site is intended to share information relating to the management of the golf course conditioning and quality of Northmoor Country Club and the art, the science, and the factors that influence those conditions. Please visit as often as possible.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Austin Country Club

Prior to being recruited to Wynstone Golf Club in the Chicago area, I managed the Austin Country Club, a stunning, dramatic Pete Dye design.  It is an extremely challenging course in the hills of Austin, Texas.  It was rated the #3 course in Texas by Golf Digest Magazine.   This past weekend the Dell World Match Play Championship was played there.   Below are a few photos of the course.   It has numerous elevation changes, long carries over deep rock ravines, narrow rolling fairways, penal green's surrounds and very large - undulating Pete Dye signature greens.  The hilly upper part of the course differs significantly in design from the lower 45 links style designed holes along the Colorado River.  If you ever get to Austin, give me a call and I will see if I can get you on the course.  

The original ACC location was a gently rolling Perry Maxwell design just south of Austin.  The new club is located in the hills just west of Austin.  To give you an idea of the difficulty of the course, member handicaps initially increased by almost 50% and an average of 6 hour rounds of play.  A tough track indeed. 

The 11th hole has a 220 to  230 yard carry over the canyon
The 18th hole has very difficult approach shot into the green from 200 yards out at the top of the hill
The 12th hole has a long & difficult approach carry to a very narrow green
#2 Par 3  Requires a total carry
Hole #3 - A 250 yard approach into a green with water 4 feet left of the green
The 11th hole commands a long approach shot into the with a 60 foot deep canyon 6 feet left of the green
Ben Crenshaw & Tom Kite are members of ACC
I had the tremendous good fortune of working with Teacher of the Century Harvey Penick


Time To Prepare

The following article, presented by the USGA relates to the time involved in preparing a course for member and golfer play.

They Need Time To Get It Done      

Double mowing is a common strategy used to increase green speeds, but this practice requires additional time to complete ahead of play. 
Golf courses can be very busy, but providing time to complete necessary maintenance will lead to greater overall golfer enjoyment.
Golfers want their course available when they want to play. Closing the course or delaying play for maintenance is never popular. Golfers feel inconvenienced when their course is closed and facilities lose revenue when golfers are unable to play. However, providing adequate time to complete essential maintenance tasks is critical for presenting a well-conditioned golf course that meets expectations on a consistent basis.
When thinking about the time it takes to complete golf course maintenance tasks, we are really focusing on labor hours. Every maintenance task requires a certain amount of labor and equipment to complete in a given amount of time. If the timeframe shortens, more employees and equipment will be required to achieve the same level of course maintenance. If the available labor or equipment decreases, more time will be needed to complete the same tasks or fewer tasks will be completed. There is a direct link between time spent on maintenance and golf course conditions, there is no way around this concept. 

Important practices like morning watering should not be compromised by the golf schedule. Water management can be the difference between healthy and dead grass.
So, how can maintenance and golfer access be balanced? Superintendents can track the labor hours required to complete specific tasks. With this information, starting times for golf and maintenance can be coordinated so that maintenance is completed ahead of play, when staff can work most efficiently. Using a tee time system makes it easier for maintenance work to proceed ahead of play because it takes time for golfers to make their way through the entire course. “Shotgun” events require maintenance to be completed in a tighter window because all holes will be occupied simultaneously when play begins. Good communication between pro shop personnel and the maintenance department is imperative for scheduling maintenance according to daily starting times and special events.
Additional Resources
PDF Version
Additional Resources
PDF Version
Golfers can do their part by respecting daily starting times. Maintenance operations are carefully planned. Although teeing off on the fifth hole to get ahead of groups on the first few holes may seem inconsequential, it could interfere with overall course maintenance. Once maintenance is bogged down by golfer traffic, efficiency is dramatically reduced. This causes a domino effect throughout the day, potentially keeping important tasks from being completed. If this frequently happens, overall course conditions can suffer.
Providing a place to play golf is every golf course’s primary purpose. No golf course was built solely for the purpose of maintaining it. However, if expectations are to be consistently met, there must be a clear understanding of the time required to conduct necessary maintenance practices. Striking a balance between golfer access and the time available for maintenance will lead to better overall golf course conditions.

Additional Resources:
PDF Version
Additional Resources:
PDF Version
Additional Resources:
PDF Version
Additional Resources:
PDF Version

Shotgun starts are desirable for large events because they allow participants to start and finish at the same time, but the maintenance staff needs additional time to have all holes prepared before play begins.

More from the USGA

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Course Opening

When we open the course this spring we will start out playing the north course.  This allows the staff to concentrate on getting 18 holes cleaned, prepared and playable for member play.  Then we will move to preparing the holes south of Clavey as soon as possible. 

Some of our seasonal staff are just beginning to return for the season.   The temperatures are still very cool and I am looking for the first good few days of weather to open the greens.  Below are photos of  just a few of the tasks that the staff does to prepare the course for spring play.

Weather permitting, we will open the course and the range on the matts on Friday March 25th.  There is a chance for snow this week so be sure and check the condition line, my twitter @TommyDWitt, or the site for updates

Fairways are being mowed for the first time
Debris is blown from the greens and fairways for mowing
Greens are rolled to firm the soft surfaces after the freezing and thawing
Greens are mowed for the first time

                        Fallen trees from winter storms are removed from the course
    Accessories are readied for placement on the course
   Refurbished benches are put on the course
Thousand of sticks and branches are collected
   Bunkers are prepared for play