A short course by Kevin Hargrave is growing-in at racehorse owner Terry Green’s Jackpot Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.
“I got a call in late April of last year from Rob Brown of contractor IntelliTurf,” said Hargrave. “Rob asked if I would be interested in working with them on a project about 25 minutes from my office, doing a practice facility on a thoroughbred horse farm. My ears pricked up immediately!”
Green had originally planned for a practice facility on flattish land at the farm but Hargrave was keen to create a routing that extended further northeast on more interesting ground. “Terry liked the idea, so I put together the routing and sent it to him,” said Hargrave. “He loved the layout and flew in a few days later from his home in Houston to meet with me to walk the routing.”
IntelliTurf began construction in July 2021 and completed work in late October. The course has been growing-in since then and the team is now defining fairway and approach cuts.
Hargrave’s routing provides options for nine different holes playing to the three greens, each of which measures approximately 3,000 square feet. The Jackpot Farm layout is expected to be ready to play in May and will be used by the owner’s family, friends, guests and clients. “It plays from 1,089 to 1,171 yards and each green has two pins, one with a yellow flag and one with a red flag,” said Hargrave. “The player with the honour gets to choose which colour flag they want to play to.”
Holes one and nine play to the southernmost green, which Hargrave says was “built on natural grade” and is protected by two bunkers.
The central green is set on the highest point of the property and is played to four times, for holes two, five, seven and eight. “This green is definitely the most difficult for it is the narrowest of the three greens and has the most movement on the putting surface,” said Hargrave.
The northernmost green is used for holes three, four and six. “This green sits beautifully into the back northeast corner of the farm,” said Hargrave. “Minimal shaping was done to this green complex because everything was already there. All three times one plays to this green it is over a natural creek feature and all three tee shots are from different angles at varying lengths. It’s a great little par-three course with tremendous variety and is a ton of fun!”
Each green has been built with synthetic grass supplied by Grass!365. “The idea of doing a practice facility or short course with synthetic greens and tees has always interested me and I wondered if I could do one to a high quality,” said Hargrave. “I had people come to me in the past about trying it but the projected cost for the synthetic surfaces was way too expensive.
“Most people don’t really want to deal with the hassle of having to mow greens at a minimum of two to three times a week, buy and maintain a greens mower, nor deal with pesticides and fertilisers. If the client wishes to convert the synthetic to traditional greens, we can do that easily.”
Lighting has also been installed so the course can be played during the evenings. “The idea of lighting the course was Terry’s,” said Hargrave. “He asked me if it would be feasible, and I said it was, but would be very expensive and that my main concern would be the number of poles needed to light the facility and whether their visibility would be so prominent that it would take away from the aesthetics of the golf course. We ended up having 10 poles for lighting. They had to be set around tees and greens – I believe we did a pretty good job of placing them out of the way and minimising their visibility as best as possible.”
Hargrave is also particularly pleased with the tee markers and flagsticks, supplied by The Cheesebrough Group from Freeport, Michigan. “The pennant flags have the farm’s logo on them which is also the same as worn on the farm’s jockey silks when racing,” he said. “The sight pole was fashioned to resemble a start/finish pole on a racetrack with a brass sphere on top as well. This pole is placed to the east of the southernmost green.
“The tee markers are my favourite. Each of the nine tees has its own individual post painted to resemble the colours and numbers you find on horse racing silks. A white number one on red for the first hole, a red and black two on white for the second hole, and so on... they are so cool!
“One other feature that I recommended was taking one of the small jockey statues Terry has scattered throughout the farm, which are painted to resemble the farm’s jockey attire, and replace the lantern and bracket with a golf club so that it looks like the jockey is leaning against it. This will be put at the first tee to start the round.”
The course at Jackpot Farm is scheduled to open on the week of the 2022 Kentucky Derby, which will be held on 7 May 2022.