Building Ponderosa Golf


From site selection through grand opening the building of a golf course is a challenging task. There are many steps to be taken along the way and the signature, 7,000-yard Ponderosa Golf Course is no exception.

The course design came from the vision of legendary golf pro Greg ‘The Shark’ Norman. Before the building process began, Greg, Jason McCoy (senior vice president of Greg Norman Golf Design) and his design crew walked the site and took notes on their vision for the new golf course.

After the initial site visits, the design team set about designing a world class golf course that will be playable by golfers of all skill levels.

Once the initial design process was complete the land was staked with the location of each hole. Staking consisted of a red stake representing the tee box, a light blue stake representing the landing area and a green stake for the green. Line of sight was then cut from tee to green.

After line of site is cut, minor tweaks to the design were made and then clearing began. Site clearing involved tree removal, stripping off topsoil and stockpiling earth.

Course design was a fluid undertaking and during his many site visits, Greg continued to tweak his creation throughout the various steps.

The next major step in the building of the course involved earthworks. This involved cutting and filling, preparation of the site, dewatering, excavation, adding fill, compaction of fill and grading, in preparation for the new course layout.

Once earthworks were complete, rough shaping began. Rough shaping involved the creation of the rough contours of greens, tees, fairways, bunkers and cart paths. During this process, swales and hollows were created for golf course drainage. Fairways and roughs were shaped with positive drainage at a maximum gradient of from two to three per cent. Another component was the building, lining and filling of irrigation ponds that will feed the course’s irrigation system.

Once again Greg visited the site (one of five site visits to this point) to fine tune his design as construction proceeded and prior to one of the finishing steps. Finish shaping involved the final shaping of greens, tees, fairways, bunkers and cart paths. With the addition of topsoil, this stage was complete.

Subdrainage commenced for the greens. This included trench excavation, installing piping, fittings and clean out, laying down gravel and root zone material, fumigation, fertilizing, lime application and final levelling of greens.

Subdrainage commenced for the tees. The tees were laser levelled, including the subgrade. Root zone material was added. Fumigation and fertilizing was conducted, then the addition of lime and final levelling. There is a one per cent subgrade gradient in one direction for tees.

Prior to seeding, an extensive network of irrigation lines were installed to feed the multitude of sprinkler heads throughout the golf course. These heads provide water, the lifeblood of the golf course. If water is the lifeblood, the pump station is the heart. The pump station provides a specified flow at a specified pressure to the numerous heads on the golf course. Once the pump station is installed and connected to the water supply, the layout is ready for seed.

Installation of carts paths commenced and as part of Norman’s design specs, cart paths were kept out of the view from tees, landing areas and greens. Crews maintained 30 to 40 feet between cart paths and tee locations and maintained 40 to 80 feet between cart paths and green locations.

Seeding was the final major step in building the golf course. Bent grass seed was planted on both the greens and tee boxes. Bent grasses are considered by many to be the most beautiful of grasses with their fine texture, deep green color, thick density and low growing habit.

Following the planting of tees and greens, the fairways and roughs were hydroseeded with Kentucky bluegrass — known for its thick coverage and resistance to damage from impact upon the turf.

Check out the pictorial progression of work on holes at Ponderosa Golf Course by clicking on the links in the right sidebar.