Alan Wooley, PGA has appointed a Strategic Planning committee. The committee first met on March 1.
1. Committee members: Gary Neffendorf, Brian Jordan, Shelly Ross, Brian Roeder, Jerald Gold, Brian Maenius, Jack Garner, Anna Marie Kluber, Adam Stafford and Leonard Bentch. Jimmy Lukacs provide technical information to the group.
2. Jeff Blume’s analysis and inventory
3. Meeting summary
2. Preliminary Analysis and Inventory of the current conditions of the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Golf Course
Number of Pages: 15
The following is the report detailing the existing conditions of the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Golf Course. This list was created during a site visit conducted on January 19, 2011. Those present for the site visit included Gary Neffendorf, City Manager for the City of Fredericksburg, Alan Wooley, Director of Golf at Lady Bird Johnson, Brian Roeder, Superintendent at Lady Bird Johnson, and Jeff Blume of Jeffrey D. Blume, Limited. It is important to point out that the majority of the existing conditions of the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Golf Course are positive, and that the maintenance of the course is of good quality. This list, however, was formulated to concentrate on the course’s short comings in an effort to eventually address these issues.
General Course Conditions
The putting surfaces on the golf course and putting green were over seeded at the time of the site visit, making an analysis of the current turf conditions difficult. However, the greens have been observed during earlier site visits when the Bermuda turf was actively growing. The most notable deficiency in the quality of the turf on the greens is that it has mutated significantly since its installation. The newest putting surfaces are approaching 20 years in age, and are showing the typical mutated turf quality that exists on older Bermuda grass greens. These mutations create inconsistencies in putting quality and react differently to every day maintenance practices such as verti-cutting, aerification, mowing and fertilization. The aesthetic qualities of the putting surfaces also possess a modeled appearance in the turf.
Another issue with the putting surfaces is the inconsistency in their construction. The oldest greens built in the 1960’s are “push-up” type construction built out of the native soil with no underlying drainage system. The newer greens, built in 1991, are constructed to USGA Guidelines with a drainage system underneath and a sand base for the rootzone. These differing types of construction create difficulties in turf maintenance, as their requirements for water and nutrients are dissimilar. Further, the physical characteristics of the putting surfaces specifically relating to contouring and size have no consistency. The older greens rely primarily on surface contouring to promote site drainage. As a result, their contouring is more severe than those greens built in 1991. While this does not create a problem with the current turf conditions, if a new turf variety is implemented during a renovation many of the old greens will become unplayable due to faster green speeds.
Consequently, the most glaring need to be addressed in any renovation of the golf course should be the rebuilding of all of the putting surface to current USGA Guidelines, and updating the turf variety and contouring to modern standards.
The quality of the bunkers on the golf course has deteriorated over time. Typically, new bunkers have a serviceable life of 5 to 10 years before they need to be rebuilt. Since Lady Bird Johnson is in a relatively arid climate, this lifespan should be at the upper end of this spectrum. Never the less, the newest bunkers at Lady Bird Johnson were built in 1991. Consequently, all of the bunkers are in need of renovation.
Modern bunker construction is much different than what was practiced twenty years ago. Today, the drainage system in most bunkers is constructed with ADS N-12 corrugated plastic pipe, and many are lined with products such as “Sand Mat” or “Sand Trapper”. These products help to extend the life of the bunker and eliminate the contamination of the sand.
Another issue with the bunkers is that they are randomly placed on the oldest part of the golf course without much creativity in their design. Even the newest bunkers have lost much of their original shape through normal maintenance and edging. Further, some bunkers have been eliminated, and others possibly added since the original golf course opened. This results in a fragmentation of the golf course design. Since most of the bunkers are located around the greens complexes, they can easily be rebuilt as part of a greens renovation. New bunkers will need to be placed in accordance with the new greens designs, but will need to be kept to a minimum to ensure that they can be well maintained for the desired maintenance budget.
For the most part, the tee complexes on the nine holes completed in 1991 are in good condition and relatively level. The par 3 holes could use additional tee space (hole #4 in particular) and the championship tee on hole #3 is too small. As for the original nine holes, most of the tee complexes are too small, and are in need of leveling. In addition, the ladies (or forward) tees are not properly located according to modern standards, and new ones should be added. Increasing the size of these older tees and leveling their surfaces is a relatively inexpensive undertaking, and should be considered if the course is closed for more significant renovation.
The cart path system on the golf course is in varied condition. The newer concrete paths that were constructed in 1991 are in relatively good condition with the exception of areas on hole #3, hole #5, and hole #12 where some cracking has occurred. The older asphalt paths that exist on the original nine holes are in very poor condition and are in need of replacement. Any replacement of existing cart paths should be constructed with concrete for better durability. In addition, they should be designed so that they can be used to convey site drainage where applicable.
Any renovation of the cart paths adjacent to tee complexes and green complexes should include the implementation of curbing to control traffic in these areas.
The irrigation system for the golf course is in relatively good condition, and the control system has been upgraded in recent years. New Rainbird Nimbus central control software was installed over the last few years, and the field satellites have also been upgraded. As with any irrigation system that is almost 20 years old, the piping network is beginning to show signs of fatigue. This results in leaks in various parts of the system, but the number of leaks has not reached the critical point that would warrant replacement of the piping network. However, at some time in the future, the irrigation system will need to be replaced with newer, more efficient piping and components.
The most glaring weakness of the irrigation system is the lack of dual head control around the putting surfaces. This means that there is no capability to accommodate the differing water needs of the greens and the surrounding features. This lack of dual head control leads to wet conditions in the approaches and green surrounds, and prematurely deteriorates green side bunkers through over watering. As part of any greens renovation, dual head control should be implemented to address these issues.
Work has been done on the pump station in recent years, but it should continually be reviewed to determine its efficiency. As the station is now almost 20 years old, it will need to be replaced at some point in the future. However, as is the case with the irrigation system, replacement is not eminent barring some unforeseen event.
Due to the site’s natural contouring and soil types, drainage on the golf course is relatively good. There are some local drainage issues that need to be addressed with the implementation of additional sub-surface structures and piping (particularly on holes #1, #10, and #15). In addition, changes to the golf course routing to respond to the airport avigation easement issue may require new drainage systems to adhere to any new design.
The turf quality around the golf course suffers primarily due to outdated turf varieties. Both the original nine holes and the 1991 expansion have either 328 Bermuda grass or Common Bermuda grass in the fairways, rough and green surrounds. Further, this turf has been infested with other turf varieties and mutations over the years. Without significant expenditure and a lengthy closure of the facility, changes turf varieties are not possible. However, the existing turf can be managed and improved through proper maintenance practices, and any renovation to the course should begin to implement a newer variety of Bermuda grass such as 419 Tifway or Tifsport. As mentioned above, changing the turf variety on the putting surfaces is a much easier undertaking, and can be done with significantly less disruption to course operations.
The aesthetics of the golf course rely primarily on the uniqueness of the site, as well as the many existing mature trees. Many of the design lines (green edges, bunker shapes, and fairway lines) have been lost over the years. These lines are critical to the presentation of the golf course, and play an important role in describing the tactical examination for the player.
The most obvious loss if design lines relates to the bunkering around the course. Typically, the front edges of the bunkers become raised over the years through normal maintenance practices, resulting in a decrease in visibility of the sand traps. Further, through normal edging practices the overall shape and integrity of the bunkers can be compromised. In addition, many of the bunkers on the original nine holes do not possess much descriptive character with regard to shot values. Any redesign of the course bunkering should be done with the goal of re-establishing the descriptive character of the sand traps. Also, since Lady Bird Johnson is a municipal facility, any new design should minimize the number of sand bunkers to reduce the amount of maintenance, while maximizing the impact and quality of the bunkers that are created.
Fairway lines are easily remedied and changed since all the turf on the golf course is Bermuda grass. These lines can be delineated during one of my site visits, and changed during the course of normal maintenance.
The green edges around the golf course have experienced the most change over the years. Typically, fairway Bermuda grass turf will intrude on the putting surfaces resulting in a reduction of square footage on the greens. Further, through normal maintenance practices the greens will also shrink. On the putting surfaces built in 1991, the green basin can be located and the greens expanded back to their original size through re-grassing. On the older greens this can be more difficult to accomplish because they were not built to USGA Specifications. If a complete greens renovation is implemented, these issues will be addressed through the construction of the new greens.
The tactical examination of the holes built in 1991 is good from the perspective of the description of shot values. Most of the shots on this part of the golf course are described by the existing tree lines, the bunker placements, the location of hazards and the shapes of the putting surfaces. On the original holes, the tactical examination is not as defined, as most of the putting surfaces are round and similar in size. In addition, the bunkering has little descriptive character. Future renovation of the greens complexes, the re-establishment of the course’s design lines and bunker renovations should enhance the description of shot values and improve the tactical examination for the player.
Over the years there has been significant tree loss on the golf course. Mostly this has occurred due to oak wilt and the demise of some of the mature Post Oak trees. This problem may be compounded by the trimming of the trees on holes #7 and #8 for the avigation easement, and may result in the loss of some of the large Live Oak trees in this area. If significant tree loss is experienced on these holes, then a redesign of this part of the golf course will become necessary as the design of these two holes will be compromised.
The city has done a good job of tree replacement over the years, and this process should be continued to reforest areas of the site where necessary. However, any new tree planting should be accomplished under the guidance of the superintendent or architect to ensure that the turf quality around the course is not compromised through shade issues.
On critical trees around the golf course, lightning protection should be added to protect these specimens and preserve the integrity of the golf course design. Due to the high incidents of oak wilt, this may not be appropriate in most of the Live Oak trees.
The maintenance site for the golf course needs to be renovated to allow for the addition of a covered cart storage facility. This should be in conjunction with a move to replace the existing gasoline powered golf carts with new electric carts.
The maintenance facility should also be expanded to allow for more under roof storage of equipment, as well as the creation of storage bins and a new wash rack. Finally, some tree planting and landscaping should be implemented to further screen the maintenance facility from view.
The cart staging area adjacent to the clubhouse should be expanded to eliminate conflict with automobiles in the parking lot. A good site for staging expansion could be between #1 and #10 tee boxes.
The practice facilities need to be renovated to create the same playing conditions that are found on the golf course. This should include the renovation of the putting green and chipping green to match the turf on the putting surfaces on the course. In addition, the practice tee should be expanded as much as possible to disperse wear. A second practice tee could be added on the southern end of the range to increase tee space and provide a lesson tee for instruction.
Hole by Hole Analysis
The tee complex is undersized and unlevel. Consideration should be given to expanding the surface area of all the tees (particularly the regular men’s tee and the senior tee) as part of any tee renovation. Further, the ladies tee is poorly located in relation to cart circulation.
Where possible, the hole should be lengthened by moving the championship tee to the south.
- The cart path is in poor condition in most areas.
- Drainage is poor in the swale between the fairway landing area and the green.
- The large Live Oak trees located to the west of the green create a shade problem for the turf on the putting surface. Consideration should be given to moving the green slightly to the east to eliminate this problem.
- The sand bunker to the front left of the green has little descriptive character.
- The turf grass on the putting surface has significantly mutated creating difficult conditions to maintain adequate putting quality.
- The tee complex is undersized and unlevel. Consideration should be given to expanding the surface area of all the tees (particularly the regular men’s tee and the senior tee) as part of any tee renovation.
- The low area to the west of the fairway is not aesthetically pleasing, and should be cleaned up or reshaped. This area might also be a good source for material should a renovation be considered in the future.
- The cart path is in poor condition on the north side of Live Oak Creek. In addition the concrete path behind the green (to the northwest) has been broken up by clean up operations over the years.
- The turf grass on the putting surface has significantly mutated creating difficult conditions to maintain adequate putting quality.
- The championship tee is too small and needs to be increased in size.
- Cart access to the ladies tee on the south bank of Live Oak Creek should be implemented to eliminate the wear patterns adjacent to the tee.
- The original shape of the bunker to the west of the putting surface needs to be re-established.
- The turf grass on the putting surface has significantly mutated creating difficult conditions to maintain adequate putting quality.
- The area between holes #3 and #5 was originally left in its native condition. Consideration should be given to returning it to this state to reduce maintenance costs and improve its aesthetic character.
- For the length of the tee shot, the tee complex is too small to disperse wear and accommodate an adequate tee placement rotation. Consideration should be given to expanding the tee surfaces as much as possible by lowering the existing elevation and adding new tees where possible.
- Tree planting should be implemented to the south of the green complex to provide additional separation between the putting surface and #15 fairway.
- The concrete cart path east of the fairway is in poor condition and should be replaced.
- The area between holes #5 and #3 was originally left in its native condition. Consideration should be given to returning it to this state to reduce maintenance costs and improve its aesthetic character.
- Because the hole is such a short par 3, the existing tee complex is not adequate to disperse the wear patterns. Every inch of tee space on this hole is critical; therefore all tees should be expanded to their maximum potential.
- The hole is very difficult for high handicap players and beginners due to the forced carry required. This is not the case for the more accomplished player as #6 may be one of the easiest holes. Competitively, this creates an unfair advantage for the good player, but will be difficult to address in the hole’s current configuration due to the green site being located on the top of the cliff. Whatever renovation occurs in this area of the site, it is important to preserve this green site as it is the most unique on the entire property.
- The loss of the large Live Oak tree to the west of the putting surface was a blow to the hole’s aesthetic quality. Tree replacement should occur as soon as possible.
- The unique character of this hole is created by the cliff in front of the green. This character is lost when the cliff face becomes overgrown with vegetation. As part of normal maintenance, this area should be kept free from overgrowth on a regular basis.
- The tee surface area on this hole should be expanded, and the tee tops leveled as part of any tee renovation.
- The existing tee complex does not possess adequate spacing from #8 fairway creating a dangerous situation. Consideration should be given to relocating the tee complex as part of an overall renovation of this part of the golf course to remedy this potential liability problem.
- The main aesthetic feature to this hole is the large, mature Live Oak trees between the tees and the green. Should these trees be damaged or die due to the recent pruning, the aesthetic and playable quality of the hole will be significantly compromised.
- The old asphalt cart path is in poor condition and is in need of replacement.
- The existing contour of the putting surface is far too severe to accommodate the faster green speeds made possible by modern turf grasses. If the turf on the greens is replaced, this putting surface will need to be rebuilt to reduce the severity of the contour.
- The proximity of the back tee to #7 green creates an unsafe situation and a potential liability issue.
- The existing tee complex needs to be increased in size and leveled.
- The existing contour of the fairway creates a blind tee shot. This also creates an unsafe situation and a potential liability issue for the city.
- The cart path adjacent to the tee complex is in poor condition and needs to be replaced.
- The two round bunkers in front of the putting surface have little descriptive character.
- The two sand bunkers in between the landing area and the green have little descriptive character or shape. Further, they are not in play for the accomplished player, and therefore create an unfair competitive advantage against the high handicap player or beginner.
- The cart path to the west of the hole is in poor condition in spots and needs to be replaced.
- The contouring of the existing putting surface is too severe to accommodate the green speeds made possible by more modern turf varieties. Should the turf on the putting surfaces be replace with a more modern variety, this green will need to be rebuilt.
- The tee complex is undersized and unlevel. Consideration should be given to expanding the surface area of all the tees (particularly the regular men’s tee and the senior tee) as part of any tee renovation. In addition, separating the championship, men’s and senior tees should be considered to be consistent with the other tee complexes around the golf course.
- The cart path to the west of the fairway is in poor condition and should be replaced.
- Drainage is poor to the west of the existing lake.
- The existing putting surface is too severely contoured, and will need to be rebuilt if the turf on the greens is changed to a more modern variety.
- The bunker to the west of the green has little descriptive character.
- The surface area of the tee complex is not adequate to properly disperse wear patterns. Since this hole is a par 3, the tee surfaces should be expanded as much as possible.
- The trees located to the south of the green create a shade problem for the turf on the putting surface. Where possible, the trees should be pruned to allow more sunlight to penetrate to the green.
- The bunkering in front of the putting surface has little descriptive character.
- The surface area of the tee complex is small. Consideration should be given to adding a new forward tee located to the south of the cart path.
- Significant tree loss has occurred to the left of the fairway, resulting in a change in the playability of the hole. The hole was not designed to be a drivable par 4, so consideration should be given to protecting the area just north of the green with new tree plantings or bunkering.
- The cart path near the tee complex has cracked significantly, and is in need of replacement.
- The surface area of the tee complex is not adequate to properly disperse wear patterns. Since this hole is a par 3, the tee surfaces should be expanded as much as possible. This may require lowering the elevation of the tee surfaces.
- The bunker to the southeast of the putting surface needs to be re-established to its original shape.
- At the first landing area to the east of the fairway, drainage is poor and needs to be addressed through the implementation of subsurface piping and structures.
- Significant tree loss has occurred between #14 green and #16 green over the years. New tree plantings should be implemented in this area.
- In the fairway just short of the landing area, surface drainage is poor and needs to be addressed through the implementation of subsurface piping and structures.
- New tree plantings should be implemented between the landing area of #15 and the green of #4 on the north side of the cart path.
- The emergency spillway for the irrigation lake should be re-established via the cart path south of the tee complex.
- New tree plantings should be implemented to the east of the fairway at the landing area to replace tree loss in this area.
- The bunker located north of the putting surface has lost its original shape. This bunker should be reshaped to adhere to the contouring around the putting surface, but should not be re-established as a beach bunker.
- The cart path to the west of the fairway is in poor condition and is in need of replacement.
- The two round bunkers south of the putting surface have little descriptive character.
- Consideration should be given to moving the chipping green and practice bunker to a practice range location to allow for additional space adjacent to #18 green for cart staging and post tournament gathering.
This is my initial analysis of the golf course based on the first site visit. It is intended to list some of the possible problems with the golf course. Some of the issues raised have more merit than others, and there may be other issues which have yet to be identified. My recommendation is to supply the members of the master planning committee with a copy of this list for their review. In our next meeting, we can discuss these issues and expand the list in accordance with the recommendations of the committee. From that meeting, we will revise the list and begin to suggest in more detail the renovations which may be necessary.
I look forward to our next meeting and to continuing with the master planning process.
Jeffrey D. Blume, ASGCA
3. Following is the summary of the meeting:
Lady Bird Johnson Golf Course
Master Plan Committee
1 March 2011
The Master Planning Committee for Lady Bird Johnson Golf Course held its first meeting on March 1, 2011. In attendance were the following committee members;
Anna Marie Kluber
Also in Attendance were Jeff Blume, golf course architect and Jimmy Lukacs, greens chairman for Friends of Lady Bird Johnson.
The goal for this meeting was to populate a list of possible improvements to the golf facility over the next 1 to 20 years.
The entire committee participated and the list is as follows;
The committee felt that the greens surfaces were a major concern because of their age and inconsistency of grass types between old and new greens. They felt that they would like to construct greens that more closely resemble the size of the original greens and would provide consistent putting surfaces.
The time frame of this construction was discussed with a reasonable construction schedule beginning in February with planting around May 1st. The grow-in varies depending on the amount of sod utilized but a late summer opening could be expected.
Jeff Blume discussed the safety issues with holes #7 & #8 and talked about the industry standards for safety corridors and the ensuing liability if changes were made without adhering to industry standards.
Possible routing plans were discussed to address issues of safety and the increased distance the golf balls travels since the original design. Also discussed were changes to additional holes during construction to add aesthetics, operational efficiencies and make for a more playable golf course for all levels of golfers.
The committee felt that some routing changes would have to be part of any reconstruction.
The locations of several different tee complexes were discussed and Jeff Blume commented that tees were relatively inexpensive and easy to relocate.
The condition of our cart paths was discussed. The age and condition of the asphalt paths was identified as the biggest area of concern. Curbing around tees and greens was discussed as being advantageous to the appearance and maintenance of those areas. The area around the clubhouse #1 tee, #10 tee and #18 green and practice green was an area of concern from a functional standpoint and an aesthetic appearance.
Drainage and Water Features
Several areas of concern concerning drainage on the course were discussed. The committee felt that these areas needed to be addressed if the course was closed for any period of time for other projects.
A couple of areas that the addition of moving water features was discussed including the bluff in front of #6 green and #2 green. The rocked drainage feature between #10 and #18 was also identified as possible area a water feature could be installed.
The bridges on the course and the entrance were discussed concerning their functionality to carry equipment and to be usable after rain events. The entrance bridge and the post and cable fencing were discussed as areas of aesthetic improvement for the facility.
The life span of bunkers was discussed with the industry standard being 5-10 years. The bunkers at Lady Bird Johnson have deteriorated and suffer from both a functionality, design and maintenance standpoint. The reconstruction of green side bunkers could be accomplished at the same time the greens are being rebuilt.
The committee felt that bunkers should fit the design of the greens (course), be functional and easy to maintain.
Improvements to the practice facility were discussed, the improvements identified by the committee included;
Additional tee area
Tee area at the south end of the practice facility
A more extensive short game area
Better target areas in the landing area
A more functional putting green by the clubhouse
A building for instruction
The entrance to the club was discussed. The limited number of parking spaces was a deterrent for use of the golf course and clubhouse at the same time for different functions.
Relocating the maintenance facility to Tivydale road and expanding parking to the south was a logical option. The construction of a cart storage facility to allow for electric carts, and a cleaner environment to store them was desirable to the committee.
Landscaping and lighting for the parking areas was discussed as a future upgrade to the facility.
Turf Quality and Fairways
The introduction of 419 bermuda grass or tif-sport bermuda grass for greens surrounds was discussed as a desirable alternative to common bermuda grass. The conversion of the fairway grass to one of the newer strains of bermuda was discussed and the additional time that the facility would have to be closed for grow-in was not a desirable option for the committee.
The obstacles that hamper the full utilization of the clubhouse were discussed. The lack of parking was mentioned again and relocation of the maintenance facility and additional parking was discussed. Clearing and landscaping and the addition of deck to the east of the cardinal room was discussed and thought to be a great future goal to upgrade the facility.
Additional kitchen equipment for the Cardinal room was also mentioned.
A comprehensive plan to brand the facility including flags, tee markers, scorecards, cart decals and the removal of all advertising on the facility was well received by the committee.
Options for future growth of the facility were discussed. If parts of this master plan are implemented and marketing dollars ear-marked for capturing a part of the tourism traffic coming to Fredericksburg the need in the future for an additional 9 holes might be needed. The committee asked Jeff Blume to keep that in mind as routing options were explored.
The committee took the last few minutes of the meeting to preliminarily prioritize what they thought were the top few items discussed. These were identified as:
1B. Greens and surrounds
2. Staging area #1, #10 etc.
4. Cart Paths
5. Practice Facility
Jeff Blume indicated that he would take the information shared by the committee and present several scenarios to the committee at the next meeting. Tentative time frames were discussed and the next meeting will be in approximately 3-4 weeks.