For many years we have had a continually escalating issue in the landing area on #10 fairway of poor drainage, excessive shade, and standing water. All these issues have lead to poor growing conditions for turfgrass, limited ability to allow golf carts off the path, and a lot of upset golfers and guests.
After three years of resodding the same area in the landing area due to winter shade and saturated soils limiting our ability to successfully maintain a quality playing surface the decision was made to finally fix the area instead of continuing to patch it. We began the process this summer by removing the trees which were creating the shade on the fairway during the fall and winter months. We actually began to see some benefits from the shade removal toward the end of the year with the fairway beginning to dry out quicker after storms. It was the first piece of the puzzle that was starting to come together.
The biggest piece of the puzzle was to install subsurface drainage into the fairway landing area to remove the water. #10 fairway is unique from other fairways on our course in that it is not very much higher than the water level of the lake surrounding the course. What this means is that the water table is very close to the surface limiting the soils ability to drain as well as other areas. In the spring when TVA begins to raise the level of the lake back up to "summer pool" the water is actually pushed back up into the water table and will keep this area from drying out. Our solution to the problem...5000 linear feet of subsurface drain lines.
For the past month our agronomy staff of 5 have been working hard, in all kinds of weather, trenching drain lines, hauling gravel, moving plywood, and installing drain pipe, to continue improving our golf course for everyone's enjoyment. We installed 25 150' long lines of 4" slotted pipe every 10 feet running across the fairway to a 6" trunk line which will take the water to edge of the lake where it will be released through a bubble basin. 5000' feet of pipe might seem excessive to some but I don't want to do this project again and believe this is the best way to have a long term successful project.
We have done a lot of drainage work since I got to Harrison Bay in 2001 and have had some issues with our normal use of washed limestone gravel. The main issue that we run into with using the washed limestone gravel is that it has zero nutrient holding capacity so the sod that we place over the gravel line does not have the ability to grow very well and many times will thin out or die leaving the underlying gravel exposed to potentially damage golf clubs and mowers. This time we used a product from Custom Stone Handlers in Soddy Daisy known as River Path to top off the underlying 1" river stone. This mixture of stone and sand will allow for some nutrient holding capacity which will allow the sod to thrive while also maintaining the percolation into the drain lines.
It has been a hard fought battle to get this project done and I have to give all the credit to my dedicated staff who have worked hard and steady to complete this project in less time than scheduled. If you have played golf in the past month I am sure you have seen them toiling away, shoveling one load of gravel after another. Being able to drive out on this fairway during the winter months has already shown us that the drain lines are working and the project is successful.
We will be sodding the drain lines over the next week and will plan to open the fairway back up to play close to the first of March. This project has been needed for a long time and I hope that this spring and summer when you are allowed to drive your cart out into the fairway, stand there without getting your shoes soaked, hit your golf ball off of a nice stand of turf, and not worry about splashing mud all over your nice clean pants that you will think about the hard work, dedication, and passion shown by your agronomy team over the past month and consider saying "Thanks" to them for all they do to better the golf course on a daily basis.