BY MICHAEL G. MELLON
Scheduled to open in April of 1991, the new Arnold Palmer designed golf course in Carlsbad, California displays what is newly possible with hydraulic planting techniques. The centerpiece of the new Four Seasons Resort and Sports Complex, this championship 18 hole course was built in the rolling coastal foothills, barely a mile from the Pacific Ocean.
The 300-plus acre project tastefully incorporates natural terrain and features with the demands of modern championship play in a resort setting. Grading and mass-ex for the project, shaping, green construction and the irrigation system were flawlessly executed by Environmental Golf, Inc., a subsidiary of Environmental Industries, Inc., Calabasas, California.
The hydraulic planting for the course was subcontracted to Micke Santoro, Southern California Hydroseed, of Temecula, California. Hydraulic planting, more commonly known as hydroseeding and hydromulching, is a well established technique for effectively planting large areas quickly and inexpensively. It is equally applicable to planting quality turfgrasses or establishing vegetation on steep slopes.
The Aviara project is a prime example of the versitility and flexibility of this technique. In the beginning phases of the project, freshly graded slopes were hydraulically seeded with an erosion control/color mix to hold them in place as well as to add beauty to the final project. Areas adjacent to the course, as well as areas lining the approach roads, hotel complex, and course facilities each received appropriate seed mixes. Wood fiber mulch, seed, fertilizer and water were applied with a combination of high pressure spray hoses and the tower spray gun. On the soil surface, these materials form a continuous mat that protects the germinating seed from the elements until it is established. The mulch helped to control dust by stabilizing the soil and protected the slopes from erosion resulting from normal irrigation.
Planting the 136-acre golf course was a slightly different matter. Considerations for climate, intensity of play, maintenance and appearance dictated that three different grasses be employed on the new course- not a mix, but three distinct varieties, in carefully delineated areas.
For the fairways and tees, Palmer chose ‘419’ Tifway II hybrid bermudagrass, for its tight growth habits, durability and fast recovery from damage. Palmer prefers the upright lie of the ball on Tifway II and specifies it regularly on his courses around the world.
For the roughs, Palmer selected ‘Sahara’ improved common bermuda, for color, durability, and its limited seedhead production. Due to Aviara’s proximity to the ocean and the likelihood of cool summer nights, it was believed that ‘Sahara’ would perform better and retain it’s color longer than ordinary common bermuda. The limited seedhead production was expected to slow the invasion of common into the fairways and greens.
The U.S.G.A. spec greens dictated ‘Pencross’ bentgrass, for its tight, fine-leaf texture, ease of play and its beauty. Three different grasses presents a challenge to anyone planting a new course. A great deal of thought and planning went into the “spray plan” and required a seasoned professional to pull it off. It was important to complete designated areas of each hole before access to that area was closed off to equipment or foot traffic.
To maintain purity of each planting, it would be necessary to thoroughly clean out the 3,000 gallon spray tank between loads. It simply wouldn’t do to have a bentgrass green contaminated with common bermuda!
Environmental Golf worked closely with Southern California’s staff to schedule and coordinate the more than 300 tankloads required to plant the course. Santoro sprayed the entire course utilizing long extension spray hoses, permitting him to minimize the distances the heavy truck traveled over the prepared surfaces. It takes a little longer, but the hand held hose gives the operator more control, especially where the different grass varieties intersect.