Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 10, 2013

Dorchester is smiling

Jim Arber
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — As many of you Gladers already know, the Dorchester Golf Course has been closed since last fall for some needed improvements. Long a favorite of local linksters, Dorchester had some shortcomings that simply had to be dealt with. Irrigation was number one. As Steve Kraft, the director of golf at Fairfield Glade said, “Irrigation is the heart and soul of a golf course.”  If that’s so, then the Dorchester Golf Course just got a new lease on life. The entire irrigation system was replaced with a new state-of-the-art system that will make Dorchester even better over time. Those old veins and arteries were all removed and replaced with a new, clean and more extensive system. This new system will allow maintenance personnel to accurately place water exactly where needed and in the proper volume. For instance, in the fall, when new seed needs to germinate, Dorchester will now be able to irrigate those hard to reach areas and depend less on mother nature. Yes, it will take the course about a year to totally recover from all the excavation but much of the damage will be repaired and it will just need to grow in. Play should not be overly affected by repair work. Just like a fine wine, Dorchester will now improve with age.

The Nutt Construction LLC out of Tullahoma was the contractor. They also did the Stonehenge course recently and it’s interesting that the heavy hitters renovating the Blue Monster at Doral also called in the Nutt Company to do much of that irrigation.

As you can imagine, replacing the irrigation for an entire golf course is no bowl of spumoni. It is a hard, complicated and very specialized task. For instance, it is necessary to run a 10 inch main and a four inch pipe under the lake in front of hole one's green as well as under roadways, paths, etc. There is just no way around doing that. So what’s the plan? Drain the lake, dig a trench, bury the pipe? What they do is fascinating. They have this machine that can turn an auger that is attached to a three inch extendable metal shaft. They place this auger in the ground and start the engine to turn it. As it works its way underground toward the lake the operator can see where it goes with a sonar like device. He can then guide it up, down, right or left so that it makes its hole in precisely the right place. Once the auger reaches the other side and breaks ground, they attach the irrigation pipe and pull it on through the hole they just created. A little slurry like lubrication makes the pull a bit easier. The 10 inch pipe eventually works its way to the original side and you now have a huge water main under the lake, or road or whatever. 

If the irrigation system is most important to the long range health of the golf course then the cart paths will surely be more important to the daily duffers. The cart paths at Dorchester were kind of a mess. You golfers out there will be thrilled, once you get a cart on these brand new cart paths. The paths along holes 13, 14 and 15 are now all textured concrete. I am sure you will never forget that path from the 13th green to the 14th tee. We used to call it the “Forest Prime Evil.” The cart path through there was so bad that if it ever got worse you would need a four-wheel drive cart and a kidney belt just to make it through. The difference now is amazing. It’s all concrete, eight feet wide, the trees have been trimmed and the Forest Prime Evil spruced up. Those of you with bad backs can now relax. The rest of the cart paths on Dorchester were also resurfaced. You’re gonna love it.

This too was no piece of strudel. The trick here was to deliver all that asphalt onto the golf course without causing a lot of “collateral damage.” Needless to say, this was no job for hackers. The personnel from the local Rogers Group managed it with minimal damage, using some very sophisticated equipment.

The area along the cart paths will be backfilled and sodded. The area on the other side of the fairways will be seeded. While it may take up to a year for the course to totally recover, any irregularities will be negligible and after a short period of time may not even be noticeable. 

One interesting aside: All of the irrigation work came in under budget. Yep, that’s what the man said, under budget. That made it possible to do more than the planned cart path work. It was planned to only resurface those areas in most need. Because of the saved irrigation money it was possible to resurface the entire 18 holes. Wunderbar! You will love it and just in time for the Cart Path Grand Prix. (Solo estoy bromeando!)

Jim Arber is a freelance writer and leisure professional living in Cumberland County, Tenn. He can be reached at: sots@reagan.com