May 1st Update on Morris Williams Golf Course

 The Morris Williams Golf Course is undergoing a $4 million rennovation.  It's the largest expenditure on a municipal golf course since the city built it's last golf course.  The rennovation includes a new proshop and cart barn, new chipping and putting greens, a complete reworking of the green complexes, replanting fairways, adding contouring in landing areas and around the green complexes, reshaping some of the fairways, re-routing a few cart paths and some other tweaks.

The following notes come from a conversation with Kevin Gomillion, who indicated that the city staff was working their tails off on the project and were excited and tired all at the same time.  The tentative time table for the project is as follows.  Construction started February 15th.  The green complexes and fairway work should be completed in early June to allow planting by mid-June.  July, August, and Septemper will be allocated to growing grass and tweaking irrigation.  If all goes well, there may be a soft opening before the clubhouse is scheduled to be completed in December but it will all depend on how things go.  As anyone knows who has been involved in a home renovation or any kind of construction project, there are usually unintended delays encountered along the way.

What follows is a summary of the comments made to GolfAustin.Org by Kevin Gomillion.  Any errors or inaccuracies in the following should be interpreted as poor note taking skills by the reporter and not inaccurate statements by Mr. Gomillion.

Jep Wille, a lifelong Austin resident, landscape and golf course architect as well as the winner of the City Championship, the Firecracker Open, the Harvey Penick Invitational, and the Bluebonnet Cup, has been employed by the city as a consultant to assist in the design layout of the golf course.  Gomillion indicated that the design process has been inclusive of many people and ideas have evolved as the groundwork was undertaken. 

There have been some surprises along the way.  For example, when the work began on the green complexes, it was hoped that it would be primarily reshaping, enlarging, replanting, trimming up bunkers around the greens.  But, when the digging began, the subsurface gravel and drainage on the greens proved to be so inadequate that the greens had to be bulldozed and completely rebuilt. 

Some good things have happened as well.  All the dirt for the project has come from on the site.  With the reshaping of some of the fairways and an excavation behind #3 green there has been plenty of material to add mounding in the landing areas and around the greens as well as redo some areas that needed material, such as the tree area to the right between #16 and # 17 fairways. 

The green complexes have been significantly enlarged and have gone from about 85,000 square feet to around 115,000 square feet in total green surface area.   Gomillion indicated with the pin placements that  will be available, the city staff should be able to make the golf course easy for daily play so that the speed of play will be as desired.  Or, in tournament situations, the golf course can be made very difficult.  

The greens will be dwarf tiff grass, similar to what is found on Roy Kizer and out at Bluebonnet Hills.  Gomillion indicated that the choice was because the grass was a know quantity, had proven stable over the years, that some new strains of the grass were better, and that the maintenance of the grass was not as complicated as with some other grasses.  The fairways will be replanted with 419.

With respect to the individual holes, the following notes were taken:

  1. The green has been enlarged and moved to the right
  2. Green lowered about three feet and not as sloped from back to front
  3. Green in same location, there is a thumbprint in the middle, mounds to the right, a new tee complex slightly left of the current tee, with the cart path running to the right of the tee
  4. New tee complex, green slightly left of old location, green complex sloped slightly from back to front, with mounding around the back portion of the green
  5. Longer tee by expanding it back into the trees, mounding in the landing areas off the tee, green complex moved back and to the right, bunker to the right of the green
  6. New tee further back, green moved back about 45 yards and to the right about 40 yards.  The hole is about 80 yards longer in total. The fairway has been reshaped to some extent.
  7. New tee complex,  the fairway has been lowered and widened, green moved right and lowered.
  8. Added 25 yards to the hole with a new tee and moved the green slightly right, removed the right hand bunker, green still slopes right to left but not as severly.
  9. Extended tee back into the trees, placed mounds in the landing areas to the right, moved green closer to the tee and slightly left, and placed bunker left of the green.
  10. Green moved right and enlarged signicantly, undulation added to the green
  11. Green in same location with better contouring to allow pin locations in the front and back of the green, fairway will have three tiers of flat areas and be lowered slightly.
  12. Added mounding behind green, reshaped to oval shape with not as much slope
  13. Tee moved back & right.  Big change to the fairway to include a split fairway.  Added a ditch paralled to the fairway to take water from the springs on the left and funnel it to the water hazard in front of the green.  Green will be two tiers with mounding to the right of the green. Gomillion indicated that a steady stream of spring water is flowing in the drainage ditch and would be a benefit for their irrigation efforts on the course.
  14.  Lowered the left side of the green and added mounding in the front and left of the green
  15. Moved tee left and moved green to the right and into the trees.  Added mounding in the landing areas
  16. Same tee, added more elevation and slope back to front.  The green will have a tier at the front and back with a small valley in the middle.
  17. New tee complex, green left and extended, green doubled in size, bunker to the right of green, fairway routed to the right, lowered the green
  18. Tee moved back, moved green toward tee and left, bunker to the right of the green

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