Water restrictions aside, TPC at Treviso Bay turning green

Editor’s note: This is the 14th installment in a series about the TPC at Treviso Bay. At the end of every month, the Daily News brings you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build a golf course. The TPC at Treviso Bay is scheduled to open late this year.

Chris Gray’s voice screeched at a higher octave than normal. The project manager at the TPC at Treviso Bay couldn’t contain his excitement about a new development.

“Yes, we have bunker sand,” Gray said tooling around in a yellow Hummer.

The fine white sand set a perfect contrast to the newly laid sod, something else that has Gray and the crews energized. The TPC at Treviso Bay isn’t close to being finished, but this past week it started turning a bit greener.

Sod pallets of paspalum, the salt-water tolerant grass, have given some color to the once barren citrus farm in East Naples. It’s been added to the lake banks and around the bunkers and teeing areas.

The fairway grass will have to wait. Due to water restrictions in the county, sprigging for the ideal landing areas will be delayed.

Todd Draffen, the newly hired superintendent, spent Friday afternoon aligning irrigation lines along the ninth fairway. He understands that the grass will have to wait while the course adheres to water restrictions.

“We have plenty of other work do in the meantime,” said Draffen, 35, who worked at Old Collier for the past seven years.

The first quadrant of the course, holes Nos. 12 through 16, is coming to life. The tees and the greens have been filled in with a special USGA-approved soil mixture. A plastic border outlines the shape of the greens and keeps the grayish-colored soil separated from the natural sandy brown soil.

The soil underneath the greens is so important that the areas are covered by tarps.

“It’s a very delicate procedure,” Gray said. “To be able to grow grass and maintain it as short as you need for a green, you need a proper base with the proper drainage to protect its integrity.”

Underneath all of the greens and tees is an extensive drainage system that will allow the course to dry quicker and is key to keeping it lush and green.

As for the rest of the course, changes continue to be the trend.

The lake that runs along the 18th hole has been dredged wider and around the green so that there is separation between ninth and the 18th greens.

The biggest changes come on the seventh hole, where architects Arthur Hills and Hal Sutton have decided to split the fairway on the long par 4 with a monster bunker.

Players will have to decide to go left or right of the bunker, which sits at 290 yards from the back tees and extends to 320 yards.

Gray feels the change makes for a better hole.

“It’s going to make them think,” he said. “Which side of the fairway to use will probably depend on the pin placement.”

A subtle move of a mound in the fifth fairway is another significant change, introduced by Sutton to make the short par 4 much more demanding off the tee.

The biggest change made this past month is one that may not be the most noticeable -- and that’s by design.

The cart paths will not be as much of an eyesore. They have been eliminated in some parts of the course. In other areas, what was planned to be concrete paths will now be a soft puka shell mixture that will add to the aesthetics of the course.

“The cart paths only take away from some of the natural beauty of the course,” Gray said. “And this is a very walkable course, where we would like to introduce a caddy program and so the cart paths will not be as needed as much.”

The course is on schedule for a December opening, Gray said.

For now, he’ll have to be content knowing that one bunker has sand.

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