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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A few site visits and several days on site have brought us to a point where 4 of the greens have bent grass seed germinating and the last green is close to being ready for seed and sod as well.

Pictured to the left is hole 2 green as it is being prepared for seed and sod.
To the left is hole 3 green. Much of the hole has been sodded and the bent grass on the greens has germinated.
Pictured to the left is hole 16 green. The irrigation spray somewhat conceals the bunker in back of the green.
Here is hole 17 green to the left. This is probably the most popular green with the membership.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Las Misiones Club Campestre was originally designed by Robert von Hagge and was constructed from 1988 to 1991 when it opened. During that time I was the lead architect on the project. This year I am returning to help them recover from damage caused by Hurricane Alex. Several greens were destroyed; some fairways suffered erosion damage. We have enlisted the services of James Beke of Global Earthmovers and Shapers, Inc. (, to organize the work and perform the rough and fine shaping of all features. Kelly visited the site recently to work with James on the detail shaping of three of the greens.

Before discussing the current project, the following pictures are from the early days of the club.

Pictured to the left standing in front the hole 2 green are Alejandra Aviles, Fernando Aviles (the first and only green superintendent at LMCC), Robert von Hagge, and Lauren Moran.

Pictured to the left are Robert von Hagge, Renato Veronesi, Ignacio Santos, and Kelly Blake Moran at the 1992 von Hagge Cup held at Las Misiones.







Ignacio Santos, Renato Veronesi, and Robert von Hagge standing in front of the clubhouse.
Posing with Robert is the first club manager at Las Misiones, Paulino Canseco.
The renovation work involves five greens, and work in some fairways. The following is a hole by hole accounting of the design and construction for each of the three greens where work has been implemented the past few weeks.  
HOLE 2  
Pictured to the left is hole 2 green probably taken in the early 1990's. The hole is a straight away par 5 featuring a carry over the "dry" creek bed that became a frightening conduit of flood waters caused by the heavy rains that accompanied Hurricane Alex as it came on land.
Pictured to the left is the green as it appeared in December 2010. The grass on the putting surface was stripped by the flood waters, but the bermuda grass surrounds remained mostly intact. Other damages not depicted in the photograph are eroded banks, washed out bridges, and bunkers exposed after the sand was washed out of them.
This is a colored sketch of the new design. The sketch has been overlaid on an actual photograph. The green will be raised approximately one meter. It will shift to the left in order to fit at its new height between the steep hillside behind and the arroyo in front. Variety and strategy are paramount in the design of the green. The player is required to consider carefully where to place their second shot in order to have the best angle from which to approach the pin. Each portion of the green requires different skills and considerations. This is the highest order of strategic design.

The shape of the green resembles a boomerang. One wing of the green sweeps to the left where it is fronted by the arroyo, and toward the back sandwiched by bunkers. The approach shot into here is best made from the right side of the fairway along the long axis of this part of the green.

The right wing of the green presents a different challenge. It is definitely best to approach this portion of the green from the left fairway.  An approach from this angle allows the player plenty of depth, and avoids being blocked by the large cypress trees on the right side of the green. A shot of precise distance must be played to avoid the bunker in back of the green, and one must guard against a careless shot which could be reprimanded by the right greenside bunker. An approach from the right side of the fairway to the right portion of the green is most difficult because the green is very narrow from this angle, and the cypress trees will require a very high approach. The middle portion of the green allows more latitude to the left and right but requires a very precise approach shot in order to avoid the arroyo in front.

The photograph to the left shows progress being made with the construction and shaping of the green.
HOLE 3  
Pictured to the left is the green as it looked in the early 1990's. It is a par 3 playing about 50 to 60 feet down hill. There was a single bunker in the back and the green sat right on the creek.
Here is the green after it was damaged by flood waters. As with hole 2 the grass on the green was stripped away, bridges were damaged, and banks were eroded.

The new green, while about in the same position as the old green, presents to the player a more strategic challenge. Although the hole plays approximately 25 yards longer, there is still the same amount of safe area to place the tee shot as before because of the receptive fairway area in front of the green. However, a single bunker is positioned off the left side of the green requiring an accurate tee shot between it and the arroyo on the opposite side.

Additional construction details include raising the green approximately 2 meters, and additional shaping behind the green to hide the residential road in the background.

Pictured left is the green under construction at the end of January 2011. There are some great pin areas along side the bunker and in the back, right next to the bank that descends steeply to the creek. James Beke did a magnificent job working with Kelly in contouring the putting surface. He also was very adept at creating the von Hagge look with additional mounding around the green.
HOLE 17  
Pictured to the left is hole 17 green after it was damaged from the flooding. The front portion of the green was eroded by the floodwaters. Although the sketch below does not show the back, right bunker that exists in the original green (see picture to the left) it was determined to keep that bunker after James did the rough grading of the green site.
The strategic concepts for the new green pictured to the left are influenced by raising the green one meter which creates some interesting elevation changes that can be incorporated into the design strategy. The raised green creates a bank that is placed diagonally to the line of play. A weak shot along the direct line to the center or left side of the green could be deflected and left in the lower fairway area below the green. An average player is best served by playing to the upper fairway on the right side and rolling their ball onto the green. The ground ball is helped onto the green by the pronounced slopes clothed in short grass. A good player who wants to take a direct line at a pin in the center or left side of the green must be precise with distance to avoid the steep banks in front of the green. During shaping of the green and surrounds it was determined that the steep banks with fairway below it would cause a more difficult recovery shot as compared to the sand bunker that was depicted in the sketch.
James Beke is starting to give the green its final shape under Kelly's direction. You can see the diagonal slope starting in the fairway out front and to the right,  and forming the left, front of the green. There are some nice separations between the various pin areas on the green. Slopes and sharp rises will require the player to place their shot near the pin if they want to take only one putt to finish.
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