Blow up hole

08/26/2015

We’ve got a full review of the fairways, greens, changes, additions and renovations made to Elmwood Golf Course’s new North Nine, the newest 9 holes of golf Sioux Falls has to offer. (We’ve even got pictures and video!)

Dakota Golf Management President Tom Jansa walked us around on this week to show the new features.

The new back nine at Elmwood is going to pleasantly surprise. And for those who already had high hopes for the golf, I think you’re golfing thirst will be quenched with the result you’ll see.

New golf is almost here!

The North Nine is scheduled to re-open on Friday August 28th, 2015 and the entire staff at Dakota Golf Management and Elmwood are both proud and excited to unveil their new course.

So let’s take a peek at the changes made to the North Nine.

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Fairways

The first thing you’ll notice when stepping foot on the grounds at Elmwood and looking down the 10th hole are the brand-new fairways. The Elmwood re-design team plowed up every fairway and re-planted with a low-mow bluegrass. Visually, they are darker in color and really give the course a “pop.”.

There is now a distinct contrast between the fairways and the rough. To the eye, this is fantastic.

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Hole 13

The landing areas for all tee shots have been bulldozed and re-shaped to eliminate previous bumps. The fairways now have amazing contour, giving golfers an array of lies.

From a playability standpoint, this bluegrass will be easier to maintain and provide more consistent playing surfaces. Prairie Green was the first course in the area to introduce low-mow bluegrass fairways back in the mid-1990s–and Elmwood is now following suit.

This new grass should help the ball to sit up a bit more, giving golfers better lies and reward playing from the fairway.

Greens

The main (and most hostile…) question many people ask about a course design is “how are the greens?” The goal when creating the new greens at Elmwood was to keep the classic feel while improving them completely and entirely.

The greens will all be consistent bent-grass greens with the changes being in the contours to improve drainage and run-off areas. The goal was to give the Elmwood staff more “cuppable” options on the greens for hole locations. Less severity in spots will be easily noticeable, but added are subtle contours to add challenge and keep the same, historic Elmwood feel.

All of the greens have been built to the USGA speculations (with specific top-soil, gravel and sand deposits) to improve condition and make them easier to maintain– like the fairways. With the added hole locations, foot traffic will be spread more evenly throughout the greens, aiding in the maintenance process, keeping these greens beautiful all summer long!

They’ve already done all of this to the East Nine and in Jansa’s words, “you’ll have a hard time finding a better putting surface right now in the area.”

Average green sizes remain in the 5500-6500 square feet range with the new 15th highlighting itself as the biggest surface, coming in at almost 7500 sq. ft.

putting series

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View from behind 16 green (old 15)

Jansa:

“Kevin Norby (the designer) did a fantastic job with the course. And specifically with the elevated greens, he kept them as ‘Elmwood-y’ as possible with the open fronts into circular greens, good undulation, creative fall-offs and much better drainage. He and his team did an unbelievable job and we’re very proud of what we have in the new North Nine.”

Hole 10: North Nine First Impression

The first impression of the new design will be of big changes, as the 10th tee is nothing like what you remember. The old tree in the middle of the fairway? No longer. Par-4? Nope.

The new 10 is a beautifully shaped par-5 that bends around some new fairway bunkering, offering a challenge to the high-skill players while still remaining very playable for high handicap golfers.

From the back tees, the hole will measure 540-550 yards and should provide golfers a good birdie opportunity to start the day.

Hole 10 is going to be one of the most notable changes on the entire nine and should give a great new feel to Elmwood’s new back nine.

Hole 11: A Challenging Four

Hole 11 will be using the same old 11th green (only re-done) and instead of the dog-leg left par-5 around the trees, the new 11th has an entirely different look.  Primarily a straight par-4, awesome mounding in the fairway gives the approach shot character.  A demanding tee shot, the trees on the left used to frame the old 11 fairway at roughly 150 yards out. The fencing on the right will be played as out-of-bounds. 

Hole 12: A Different Look into the Par-3

New blue and black tee boxes were moved to improve the angle into the green on this par-3. The cart path was the main project here, as it works around a new garden to be finished next year.

The green underwent the same changes the rest of the greens did.

Hole 13: That Classic, Great Par-4

I’m sorry to disappoint you in the first sentence, but yes, the right-hand side of the hole is still littered with trees and remains “jail” for anyone who lets their ball stray over there. Jansa calls the hole, “the start of Amen corner,” as it begins a stretch of difficult holes on the north end of the Elmwood property.

The new fairway grass gave me the impression that the tee shot had been narrowed, but it was an illusion. That’s the type of impact these fairways have on the eyes. They are wonderfully defined.

The green no longer has that large false front and the front of the green will now be able to play home to the occasional tough hole location. The right side of the green is guarded by a bunker and the left side is guarded by the same over-hanging trees.

This is a great hole.

Hole 14: Green Improvements Doesn’t Mean Its Easier

For those of you who remember the green on hole 14, you’ll remember the right hand side of the green having a huge run-off which didn’t allow the staff to cut hole locations in that area. You’ll remember that along with a spine that ran through the middle of the green.

This placed limitations on the challenging par-4 and held it back from reaching its potential. They’ve re-done the whole green and it has such a fresh feel. It’s going to play long and more times than not, face a very challenging wind.

They didn’t make 14 any easier, folks.

Hole 15: This is a Brand New Hole!

The north end of the property (north of 14 and old 15 tee) was primarily brush land before the Elmwood team decided to utilize it for a new par-3. The hole will replace the old par-3 17th (that exists no more…). We’ve got more video:

Mounding built on the right and long protect and frame the hole.

Remember I said this was the biggest green on the course?

Hole 16: Wait, This One Looks Familiar?

Yep, the new 16 is actually just the old 15. It’s still got that great tee shot from the backs and with a new green for added hole locations throughout. Jansa pointed out something very unique during our course tour about the change to 15/16:

“Now you’ll notice, everybody who is riding a cart is forced to drive the path from 15 green past all of the back tees on 16. The back tees have an awesome view of this tee shot, hitting from the chute, and now everyone gets to experience it that plays Elmwood.”

 

Hole 17: The New, Old 18

As Jansa explained during our visit, the old 18th used to be the hole everyone would remember if they birdied back in the day. It was long, tough and typically into the wind.

The new 17 will play as a dog-leg par-4 to the left and will play into the old 17 green, only from the angle of the old 16. Do you have your cross country golf memory available?

The bend in this hole will take place around a massive cottonwood which guards the right side of the fairway. Good tee shots into the wind will still leave golfers some distance to negotiate. The designers wanted to make this the most difficult hole on the nine.

They seem to have been successful.

Hole 18: A Great Finishing Par-5

As you may have noticed, I haven’t written about a par-5 in a while. The 18th finishes a nine that started with a par-5, as the North is now bookended with birdie chances.

The old designer of the original Elmwood course was a man named H. Lawrence Packard. He became known for his designs throughout the country, most notably Innisbrook Resort, home of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship in Florida.

The 15th hole at the Innisbrook Coures is a subtle, double dog-leg par-5 and when the Elmwood team looked to redesign 18, they wanted to pay tribute to Packard with the design.

The 18th is a nice, double dog-leg with bunkering on both the tee shot and lay-up zone.

Driving Series

Conclusion

All in all, some 300 trees were removed from the facility. Many spoke up, stating concerns that they’d lost the tree-lined Elmwood they’ve loved for almost 100 years. But after being out there, the loss of almost 300 trees wasn’t evident. Sure, there were thinned out spots, but when the property was home to 3,000-4,000 trees in the first place, Elmwood had plenty of trees to be home to some great Sioux Falls golf holes.

I came away very impressed with the new fairways and the looks they provide from both the tee shots and into the greens. The darker color will add to the visual aesthetics, as balls in the fairways will almost jump out at you.

The rough and added mounding away from the fairways will add to the challenge for shots missed, especially on some of the holes which sacrificed some trees. Once it matures, it will add an emphasis on hitting the fairway.

The greens have been vastly improved and not only will they provide a better test with different undulations, but they will roll better as well. The staff will be able to give us hole locations we’ve never seen placed at Elmwood and it will be a refreshing way to play the golf course.

The new cart paths are moved away from areas with high likelihood for receiving errant shots, making it much more playable. No one wants a scuff on their brand-new ProV1 from a misplaced cart path. The team was very conscientious with the new cart paths, giving new looks while remaining further out of the play of the course.

Overall, I’m excited to take my whole bag out and play some holes. And if you’ve read this far, I’m sure you are too.

See you out there.

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