Let Sleeping Peat Lie - Joe Jemsek

Joe Jemsek has contributed to Turfhugger before. In his latest post Joe discusses renovation work at a Chicago area course where old peat bog construction caused for an unsteady ground.

When I was first asked to participate in the remodel of the 6th tees at Long Beach Country Club, I questioned why it had become such a priority to the club. But after my first inspection I quickly realized the tees had as much contour as the greens at the club. I also noticed that the tee were lined players left of the fairway directly into hazard.

View from previous back tee
View of back tee after

LBCC was built during the roaring twenties as a resort destination and today is beach front community for well heeled Southsiders from Chicago. The course plays from atop 50’ tall sand dunes, through mature hardwood forests and down into flat peat bogs just inches above the water table. Over the years features created in the peat bogs have settled creating difficult maintenance conditions. Only ten years previously they had completely rebuilt this tee complex and covered the tees with 6” of sand capping, but without a stable footing the tees began to settle, making tee areas uneven.

Line represents 233 yd drive from white tee.

My first suggestion to the club and Nick Sinnot of Serviscape, a golf course maintenance company that has beautifully maintained the course for over 25 years, was a full removal of all the peat in the teeing area. But after discovering the peat was nearly 5 feet deep and it would require over 2500 yds3 of excavation and replacement with clean fill, I knew a more cost effective solution needed to be devised.

I proposed to level the existing teeing area, salvaging the sand capping for re-use, and the installation of a geo-textile fabric over the prepared ground. Made from woven polypropylene slit film yarns, these ground stabilizing geo-textiles have an incredible tensile strength and provide stable footing even on soft ground. I had used these types of products previously under cart paths, but never specified it for use under an entire tee complex.

The new tees would be re-aligned and constructed on top of this fabric with clean fill material, then capped with the re-use sand. I prepared construction documents from which Serviscape was able to build a budget and the project was approved by the club’s board in the beginning of October. Work began around October 15 with final sod was laid before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Stripping of tee surrounds
Spreading the clean fill on the fabric
In addition to the rebuilding the existing tees, we clear out areas around the lake to increase airflow and added a new back tee. Like most every project we made adjustments to the design in the field, re-routed the cart path tees, but for the most part the project went smoothly and most importantly was completed on time and budget. Today the members are enjoying the excitement of a new back tee and solid footing on this challenging par five tee shot.

Note: Clearing and realignment of tees has highlighted the lake along fairway.

Joe Jemsek – Golf Course Designer

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