New bentgrass greens introduced at Donalda Club


New bentgrass greens introduced at Donalda Club
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

New bentgrass greens have been introduced to the course at the Donalda Club near Toronto, Canada.

The club’s membership made the decision to rebuild the club’s greens in order to meet modern USGA standards in 2011.

“We were out there laying the last of the bentgrass sod on 18 November 2013 in the snow,” said Scott White, Golf Course and Grounds manager at Donalda Club. “The ground froze just as we were laying the final rolls on the last green, and I was a little worried the new sod wouldn’t take. Then the winter freeze hit and I got a little more nervous, but all the greens came through the winter in amazing shape. There wasn’t an inch of the new bentgrass that didn’t survive and we just let them mature throughout the spring.”

The team at Donalda aerified the greens on four occasions during the spring period, with 25 per cent of the original turf being removed and replaced with sand to encourage new growth. A further aeration is planned for August.

The club started a series of hole closures last August and the entire course has been shut since 2 September 2013 to allow for the greens to rebuild.

“I don’t think the golf course has ever been in better shape,” said White. “A few members have been walking around watching the progress, but there hasn’t been a shot played out there in nearly ten months.”

The course was originally designed by golf professional Jimmie Johnstone and opened for play in 1962. Tom McBroom led a redesign of the course in 1994 and rebuilt 14 of the 20 putting surfaces, including two practice greens, leaving six original greens in the mix. McBroom returned to Donalda Club in 2005 to renovate the courses bunkers.

McBroom was instrumental in the recently-completed work, and said: “What you will find today is that we have created subtle internal contours through the use of soft crowns, muffins and subtle transition slopes within the green complexes, as well as adding some bold contours that will really capture your eye and make reading a putt more challenging.”

White said that the original greens had a ‘roly-poly’ feel, while the McBroom designs were more tiered and regionalised.

“We needed to find a middle-ground between the two styles to give us some consistency throughout the entire layout,” he said. “Our 1960’s greens had too much roll and slope and the 1990’s greens were too flat in spots.”

Other work carried out at Donalda Club during the period of closure includes a new back tee deck on the sixth hole which adds 70 yards to its length, as well as anew fairway landing area on the course’s eighth hole.

The club will host a series of events for its members on 28 June to celebrate the course’s reopening.