One of the first decisions in the renovation process of The Harvester Club was the related to the green complexes. As many of you who have played The Harvester over the years know, the greens are referred to by most, if not all, as excellent putting surfaces. No matter what time of year or weather conditions, the greens remain fast (11-13 on stimp), smooth, and true. The surfaces have gentle movement and contours that create exciting and fair putts. Generally speaking, everyone loved The Harvester’s greens and was one of the primary reasons people would return to play again and again. A green surface is a culture of grass that “lives” together and is established over the years as a result of the original seeding, the sand and soils of the area, the contaminations that are brought on to the surfaces through the air, and how they are maintained on a daily and yearly basis. Therefore, what is established on a green today will be part of a culture of grasses on the green that changes slightly over time. After analyzing our greens, it was determined that the health of our greens is terrific, the culture of the greens is a superior putting surface, and frankly we did not want to mess with them so there would not be any chance of the greens on the new club to be inferior to our current greens. So, we left them alone. We did enlarge the greens in certain spots and trim them in other spots by flipping the sod from one area to another area on the green surfaces. No green sod was lost in the process and no new green sod was brought in to The Harvester in the process. That’s right, we netted even sod for the 18 greens. That task alone is pretty amazing and frankly, we got a little lucky! Another point of interest relating to the greens at The Harvester Club is the maintenance on the greens over the last 18 years has been the normal mowing, lots of use of daily rolling the green, light top-dressing nearly weekly, and no aeriation or punching holes in the green surfaces EVER. The greens alone are a huge reminder to me of the quality maintenance staff that is genuinely caring for and maintaining these surfaces over the years. Our two superintendents have been Joel Randall and Chad Wilson. Both started their young careers at other great clubs through short stints of time but have primarily been responsible for The Harvester and are still there daily ensuring the renovation process is completed properly. Just so you know, the daily basis for them over the last 5 months of this process has been 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM virtually 7 days a week. Amazing job by both men and their staff and all of those that will get to enjoy The Harvester should be forever grateful for their efforts.
Once it was determined the green surfaces were staying, Keith Foster had the vision of not just great greens but great green complexes. Golf courses that were built in the Golden Age (1920’s) had green complexes that at many times went out 30+ yards around the greens. In other words, the area surrounding the green would “set up” the putting surface. This surrounding area would include: carefully crafted bunkering, thoughtful mounding, swails, hollows, and different varieties of grasses. The surrounds were used to produce exciting short game challenges, as well as functionally used to properly drain water away from greens and bunkers to the natural surroundings. The green surrounds that Keith and the MacDonald’s team have created at The Harvester are really, really special. The next question becomes, “what is the sand in these bunkers?” The team went through much research, thought, and consideration of different types of sand. Factors that typically play in sand selection include: cost, color, playability, accessibility, and style of sand and bunkers. We chose a flat bottom style bunker that sits into the ground nicely and was common among courses built in the early 1900s. Also common was using sand that was on or near the site. This has presented challenges for golf courses all over the country over the years as many golf course owners, designers, and construction companies quickly go with quarries or distributors that make golf course sand for use on course all over the United States. This sand is then hauled around the country but is generally perceived as “good” sand because it was used on another “good” golf course. Through our research process, we went through filtering and testing Iowa sand we came up with what is the “perfect” sand for The Harvester. Our sand is a light tan color (a color native to our area), mined locally, filtered and processed locally, produces playability that is consistent with other “good” sand; is obviously accessible for us, and with it being local the hauling costs are minimized. Generally speaking, I love our sand and I think you will too. It looks great, plays great, is available for us to replenish the bunkers yearly, and is unique to our club alone.
That is enough for today, tune in soon as my next blog will discuss our grass selection for the club!