Golf Course Architecture - Issue 59, January 2020

65 A major drainage and renovation project is approaching completion at Loch Lomond was mobilised to the site during the original construction. The made-up ground (rock and rubble topped with a layer of clay) is among the worst I have ever seen on a golf course. The weather had been dry for several days when I visited in early November, but there were still signs of retained water. When Cole drove me around the course to look at the work already carried out, it was very easy to tell when travelling on renewed or original turf – on the latter, little could be heard other than the squelching of the tyres. Cole said that prior to the renovation, to help create as much detailed evidence as possible, he had sent a sample of the top one foot layer to a laboratory for testing; results had come back that the soil percolated at 0.1mm per hour! Sand-capping is a potential solution. This process, relatively common in the US and some other parts of the world, though rarely seen in the UK, involves trucking to the site enough sand to spread across all closely mown areas to a depth of 15-20cm or so. It isn’t a panacea – a good number of people think that it merely moves a drainage problem down to the bottom of the cap – and it is very expensive, but it is, at the moment at least, the gold standard for ensuring good drainage on bad soil. The current project started in winter 2017-18, when Cole, supported by the management team, board and members, rebuilt the fourteenth and fifteenth as a trial. These were among the wettest holes on the course, having been built on top of a huge peat bog (famously the location of a near-death experience for architect Tom Weiskopf during the course’s original construction when he fell in the bog and was unable to get out for several hours). It’s not as though no attempts have previously been made to drain the course. In 2006 we reported on a project run by Cole’s boss at the time, course manager Ken Siems, that involved the installation of 40,000 metres of pipe over three-to-four years, which was then complemented with sand banding between the pipes, as close as every metre in the wettest areas. However, nothing lasts for ever, and those pipes and bands have suffered from silt and iron ochre ingress in the years since, and consequently their efficiency has been much reduced.