A site analysis is the first stage of the project, during which the Nicklaus Design team determines what opportunities are available at a particular site. Once the survey is completed, the team consults with the client to understand their goals for the project. A location for the course is selected and the routing plan and strategic design are then created.
The clearing plan outlines how existing vegetation will be preserved, or, when required, what areas need to be cleared for course work. Once completed, Nicklaus Design brings in an agronomist to consult on the climate, soil, and water quality to determine what varieties of grass should be used during construction.
The initial excavation requires machines to move rock and soil as detailed in the grading plan. Every course is different—some require more material to be moved than others. Soil is cut from bunkers and lakes and relocated to other areas that require fill to build up features such as mounds and tees.
A shaper begins to mould the course during this phase. Throughout this process, the Nicklaus Design team and the shaper work together to adjust and shape the forms. While this process begins with a plan, it is common to change the green contours, adjust tees, and add bunkers to fine tune the final design of the course.
After the shaping is completed, the contractor installs the drainage. At this point, the course has been shaped to direct water into its low points where the water will be collected and drained away in a series of pipes. The pipes are positioned in a complex network throughout the course to ensure the land drains efficiently and quickly.
Following the drainage installation, the irrigation designer comes to the site to complete a field layout. A course typically has 1,500 to 2,000 sprinkler heads that are laid out in a precise manner to ensure the grass is adequately and evenly watered.
Feature construction is the process of building bunkers, tees, and greens, as well as preparing the bunker floors and tee surfaces for draining and sand installation. During feature construction, the putting greens are also cored and built to USGA specifications.
Features lost during drainage and irrigation installation are cleaned up to create the final surface of the course. A great deal of time and effort is required to create a smooth, flowing surface, ensuring the tees, greens, and bunkers blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
For most courses, sod is installed on erosion-prone areas such as bunkers, lake banks, and hillsides. Following this step, grassing the remainder of the course is completed through stolonizing or seeding. The project agronomist chooses the grass varieties, basing the selection on factors such as soil type, climate, and water quality.
After the grass has been planted, the superintendent takes over the maintenance of the course. During this time, the greenskeeper works to control weeds, adjust the irrigation system, apply fertilizer, and mow the young grass. Every grow-in presents different challenges, and the greenskeeper must adapt to ensure the golf course is ready on opening day.
The grand opening is a course’s most memorable event. Nicklaus Companies works closely with the client to plan and execute a successful grand opening. The team helps stage an unforgettable debut; advising on event timelines, event branding, special guests, media relations, and membership sales opportunities.