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If you have played Wildcat Creek recently, you likely have noticed some course renovation work in progress.
Changes include converting No. 11 to a par-4 and removing the trees obstructing the green, adding a pond in front of No. 14 green, leveling and expanding tee boxes and reshaping and redoing the bunkers using the Better Billy Bunker system.
The original Billy Bunker was developed by Billy Fuller in 1981 while he was the golf course superintendent at Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters. They had a problem with ground clay contaminating the bunkers causing them to rebuild their bunkers every year.
While driving to a meeting, Fuller noticed the Department of Transportation working on a steep slope and noticed that they were installing a fabric liner. He found out that the liner allowed a large quantity of water to pass through but would keep the soil in place. This gave him an idea for his bunkers.
He tried a liner on one bunker and found it successfully eliminated the clay contamination. However, they still had a problem with heavy rain washing sand down from the top of the bunkers. He needed a way for the water to go through the sand and the liner. To accomplish this he put a 2-inch layer of gravel under the liner. Thus the Billy Bunker was born. Fuller introduced the Billy Bunker specification to the golf construction industry in 1994 and since then about up to 1,000 courses have had their bunkers implement the system.
Some of you traveling golfers probably played in these bunkers and may have even noticed the liner getting exposed on poorly maintained bunkers potentially impacting your shot. I have run into this with a plastic liner. I can recall a PGA Tour pro getting relief from the bunker liner. Fabric liners also wear out in time. This issue led to the creation of the Better Billy Bunker.
In 2009, a fellow superintendent came to Fuller with an idea he had based on how rubber playgrounds are constructed, using a polymer to hold the pieces together. Working with Dow Chemical, they used a polymer that was strong and flexible to hold the gravel together while allowing water to drain freely. The polymer can allow up to 350 inches of water to pass through per hour!
Those recently playing Wildcat Creek have seen the bunkers cleaned out, gravel installed and the polymer sprayed on. After the spraying there was a shine to the bunkers. After 24 hours of curing, sand can be installed and sod placed around the perimeter to complete the process.
Hundreds of courses around the country have since implemented the Better Billy Bunker system. Now Wildcat Creek will bring this patented state-of-the-art approach to Kokomo.
Tom Kim is quickly becoming a sensation on the PGA Tour. The 20-year-old brought a lot of game and excitement to the President’s Cup as a member of the International squad. Now he has captured his second PGA Tour title at the Shriners Children’s Hospital Open, recording no bogeys during the event. You may recall he quadruple-bogeyed the first hole in his first win.
Kim is the second youngest to capture his second title since 1900, even six months younger than Tiger Woods. It took Kim only 18 events to win two events, three events fewer than Woods. Kim now ranks 15th in the world.
It was great to see smooth-swinging Fred Couples win again on the PGA Tour Champions after having not won in five years. He did it in great fashion, putting together birdie runs of five and seven holes on the way to a round of 60 beating his age by three strokes.
The Indiana Golf Course Superintendents Association (IGCSA) was added under the umbrella of Indiana Golf in August. It joins the Indiana Golf Association, Indiana Section of the PGA, the Indiana Women’s Golf Association and the Indiana Golf Foundation. The addition provides the IGCSA some administrative staffing support that its volunteer board had to provide in the past.
The First Tee of Indiana has been awarded an IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility) grant from the USGA. It was one of 25 chapters across the United States to receive a grant ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 on the 25th anniversary of The First Tee.
Among the specific community partnerships the grant will aid is the Carver Community Center of Kokomo. New First Tee coach and American Legion golf professional Jeff Seagrave will implement programs at both the Carver Center and the American Legion. The grant will provide start-up money for program equipment, class materials, golf course access and scholarship offerings.
Seagrave is not yet sure how much funding his program will receive, but hopes to begin an indoor program at the Carver Center this winter.
This is the last golf column for the season. If there are topics you would like to see covered next year, please contact me. Until next time, have more fun playing more golf!
Jon Kelley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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