Uncovering dirt at Treviso Bay

Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a series about the TPC at Treviso Bay. On the last Sunday of every month, staff writer Tom Hanson brings you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build a golf course. The TPC at Treviso Bay is expected to be completed in the fall of 2007.

In golf, there’s good and bad shots.

But there’s also good and bad soil. And the difference in dirt is an important element in building a top-notch golf course.

The TPC at Treviso Bay is literally taking shape.

After months of waiting, the core road through Rookery Bay Estuary is complete. The ground on the parcel of land that will host the course has been broken. Back hoes are digging lakes. Dynamite has been set to blast through the thick limestone. And the good and bad soil is separated into various piles throughout.

The lakes are dredged first so that the excess good soil can be utilized to build the tees and the greens.

The course will not be ready for at least another 16 months, but Chris Gray, the project manager for VK Development, says the early groundwork is a vital part of building a quality course.

“People sometimes don’t understand what’s underneath a golf course,” said Gray, who previously worked for the PGA Tour. “The two most important elements of a golf course are drainage and soil.”

On what will be the 175-yard 12th hole, 20-foot piles of Mother Nature’s finest sit on both ends of the hole.

During a recent tour of the new TPC at Treviso Bay golf course in East Naples, project manager Chris Gray hits golf balls from a dirt pile where the tee box for the par-3, 175-yard No. 12 hole will be located.

Photo by DAVID AHNTHOLZ, Daily News

During a recent tour of the new TPC at Treviso Bay golf course in East Naples, project manager Chris Gray hits golf balls from a dirt pile where the tee box for the par-3, 175-yard No. 12 hole will be located.

One large mound is the tee. And the other is the green. There isn’t any grass yet, but with a little imagination you can see the hole taking form.

With his golf bag in tow, Gray climbs to the top of the brown mound that will eventually be the tee. He tees up a ratty, old, dirt-stained ball for one of the first shots in the history of the course.

A practice swing and a waggle sets up to a simple and smooth backswing. But on the downswing, Gray’s right foot slips.

The shot isn’t pretty. The ball slices to the right. It lands in what will eventually be the 15th fairway.

“I guess we’re going to have to reroute the course,” Gray said jokingly.

By the way, his second attempt hit what will be the green. Call it the first mulligan in the course’s history.

The designers, Arthur Hills and PGA Tour player Hal Sutton, will not be getting any extra shots. The 7,200-yard route is finalized — after three different plans. The route of the course has been staked. Blue represents lakes. Yellow shapes the holes.

“We will tweak a bunker or a tee angle but the design is basically a final product,” Hills said. “Even after the course is done we will be making tweaks here and there to make it better, to make it more playable.”

Gray points out that a lake will eventually sit in front of the 12th hole. By the way, his wayward shot would have avoided the water — once again use your imagination.

Right now — with the rainy season just around the corner — every shot is dry. And that has allowed the crews to get back on schedule after a permitting delay.

“We are on schedule and we are getting a lot done because of the dry weather,” Gray said. “This good weather has allowed us to do a lot of the heavy earth moving and the next process will be to bring in some machinery to start shaping the golf course.”

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