The University of Central Missouri is set to begin a major renovation at its Keth Memorial Golf Course. Construction is expected to begin in late January and be completed by this summer, with new greens and tees and fairways being grassed with zoysia.
Architect Todd Clark of CE Golf Design completed a masterplan for the course last summer and, along with engineer Burns & MacDonnell, issued the project for bid in October 2014. The successful bidder on the project was Frontier Golf.
Keth Memorial, home to the UCM Mules and Jennies golf teams, was originally a nine hole course with sand greens and was expanded to eighteen holes with grass greens in 1972. To meet the demands of today’s collegiate golfers, athletic director Jerry Hughes decided it was time for an upgrade to the facilities. While the practice facilities had been recently upgraded to accommodate practice for both the men’s and women’s golf teams, the golf course itself had remained relatively untouched over the years.
“Some of the goals of the new design are to increase the overall course length, improve the routing from a safety standpoint, rebuild the greens, add tees for better variety and playability, and convert the fairways from cool season grass to zoysia grass for improved playability and ease of maintenance,” said Clark.
The existing course has a three tee system and plays from 6,029-4,826 yards, par 71. The new design will stretch the yardage to 6,404 yards from the back tees, par 70. “The other tees will play at 5,848, 5,155 and 4,476 yards to create flexibility to accommodate golfers of all skill levels,” said Clark.
“Several holes are being rerouted to improve the golf course circulation and eliminate some areas where the cart path crossed in front of tees of other holes,” he added. “The new routing will solve many of the safety problems while also allowing for some of the increased distance for the course.”
In addition to the routing changes to the course, all the greens will be rebuilt. The new greens will be built to USGA recommendations with new 90/10 mix, a gravel layer and internal subsurface drainage. “The new greens should help the maintenance staff offer more consistent playing conditions with a healthier stand of turf,” the architect said.
Currently, there are only eight sand bunkers on the course. The new plan calls for a total of 26 bunkers. “We have to find ways to defend the course from these long collegiate golfers,” said Clark. “With limited options to add distance, the new bunkers and the green contouring will create the challenge for the low handicappers.” Approximately 17 acres of zoysia grass turf are going to be used to convert the fairways from cool season grass. “The new fairways will help ease maintenance and should provide a superior year round playing surface,” Clark said. The course could reopen before the end of the 2015 season.