Sunday, August 20, 2017

14th Hole Bunker Rebuild

There was a long trench bunker left of the 14th green that we had been itching to rebuild for some time.  The bunker had fallen into a state of disrepair with low quality grass encroaching.

There was also a section of the cart path left of the green that we felt would make the 14th look and play better if it was grassed over.  There was a plan in place to remove the post & cable fence along Lincoln because it looked bad and the frayed cable can be a hazard.  We decided that the fence posts could add new flair to the 14th.  The fence was ripped out and away we went.

Our skid steer is on its last legs and broke down during prep work, but Westmoreland CC saved the day and loaned us theirs (thank you Superintendent Todd Fyffe), with an assist from our John Deere rep Dave Kloss.  We were also able to borrow a sod cutter from Bryn Mawr CC (thank you Superintendent Brian Bossert) to prep the area.  Our Assistant Super John Lee went to work on prepping the cart path and Jason Way laid out the new bunkers.

We had a stellar crew of golf geek volunteers show up to help with digging out the bunkers, sinking the sleepers, reshaping the path area, and laying sod.  Many thanks to Quinn, Andy, Peter, Brad, Ray, Graylyn, Tony and John.  Thanks also to John and Nick from our staff for putting in extra time on Saturday to assists us.

We are excited about the finished product.  What was once quite bland is now far from it.  Once the bunker sand is in and the sod has established enough that we can mow it, it should look and play great.

Two important notes for our players:

Cart traffic should now head around the green to the right to get to the 15th tee.  Even after the sod is established and we begin mowing it down to fairway height, this cart traffic pattern will be permanent.  No carts left of the green.

The bunkers are open for play as soon as we can fill them with sand.  The entire sodded area left of the green is ground under repair.  Players whose balls end up in this area get a free drop in the fairway.  We appreciate our players respecting this ground under repair designation.  Walking on the sod doesn't disturb it, but playing shots from it will keep the grass from firmly taking root.  When we can begin mowing this area, it will be open for play.

We hope you enjoy the new 14th.  On to next project...

Friday, July 28, 2017

How Far Is It? Tees & Yardages at Canal Shores

Canal Shores is not the typical golf course, which is why we love it.  In recent years, we have been taking steps to highlight what is unique about the course, while also cutting through the clutter of modern American golf to the essence of the game - fun.

Our players might have noticed the new scorecard, the design for which was generously donated by Ian Gilley from Sugarloaf Creative Lab.  The card has been simplified, and reflects changes we have been making to course setup.  Click here to view the scorecard.

Canal Shores now only has two tees - back (white) and forward (red).  For a course the length of Canal Shores, three sets of tees was overkill.  Our tees are not intended to be gender or age specific, but rather correspond to skill and strength level.  If you are a beginner or don't hit the ball very far, play up.  If you can get it out there just fine, play back.  Bottom line, have fun.

Tony and his crew have installed CDGA yardage markers on the tees of every hole.  These markers correspond to the back tee yardage on the card, and in some instances are more accurate than the hole signs.

As part of our effort to expand short grass throughout the course, we are now cutting fairways all the way back to the tees.  The 11th, 12th, 15th, 17th, and 18th are already converted with more to come.  The primary purpose of this change to our mowing patterns is to make the course more fun for our players, but there is a secondary benefit.  More short grass in the teeing area allows us to shed the confines of the tee boxes when setting up the course.  Our regular players will find the tees placed in a wider variety of spots, creating new challenges of distance and angle.  To know how long a hole is playing on any given day, simply find the CDGA marker, and pace off to the tee from there.

In the fairways, the red (100 yards) and white (150 yards) markers are also now accurate to the center of the green.

To really take creativity and fun to the next level, feel free to choose your own spot from which to hit your tee shot.  If you don't like our setup, make your own.  If there is a shot that looks like it might be fun to hit, drop a ball and hit it.  As long as our players are safe and courteous to others, it's all good with us.  Again, the bottom line is fun.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings - Grounds, Board, Eco

The spring and early summer have been keeping us plenty busy.  Dealing with the challenging weather, tuning up the course for our busy season, moving our pilot projects forward, and of course, meetings.  Our apologies for the lack of updates, but we have been busy with progress.

First, a housekeeping item.  Both the Board and Grounds Committee monthly meeting times have changed.  Board meetings are now held on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm at the Legion.  Grounds Committee meetings are now held on the second Saturday of each month at 8:00am.  The standard location for the meeting is the Pro Shop, but we have been holding some meetings at various spots around the course.  Immediately following the Grounds meeting, there is now a work session.  All are welcome at both the Board and Grounds meetings, and we appreciate the support of our work session volunteers.

May 2017 - Board & Grounds

The Grounds committee continues to move forward with neighborhood outreach and volunteerism.  Steve Neumann has successfully recruited several neighborhood Captains to assist us with communication and organizing.  Ecological planning work with Planning Resources, Inc. also moved forward steadily.  Click here for more details in the May Grounds Update.

Our Superintendent Tony Frandria and his crew admirably battled the elements throughout one of the wettest springs on record.  Click here to read Tony's full Superintendent's Report.

The Board meeting was very productive in May, with two key topics covered:

  • As a follow-up to April's First Tee presentation by Lisa Quinn, the Board authorized members of the development team to formally engage the First Tee of Greater Chicago in negotiations to create a youth golf partnership, including a dedicated area for youth practice and play at Canal Shores.
  • Discussions are well underway to formalize the approach to planning for the golf renovation, with a focus on stakeholder outreach.  The Board is resolute, and committed to being methodical and thorough to achieve the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.

June 2017 - Board & Grounds

It was rainy and wet, and then it got sunny and dry.  Tony and his team had a chance to finally catch up on mowing and begin to implement our ideas on grassing lines.  Click here to read Tony's June Superintendent's Report.

At the June meeting, the Board took an important formal step toward renovating the golf course.  A resolution was passed committing to pursuing a Golf Component to our Master Plan, to integrate with the Eco Component that is already in process.  Click here to read the full resolution.  A Golf Planning Committee will be formed and work through formally engaging a golf course architect.

July 2017 - Board & Grounds

With our spring projects largely complete thanks to our staff, neighbors, and volunteers, Tony and his team continue to dial the course in.  The greens have never looked better, and in spite of the challenging weather, the course is shining.  Click here to read Tony's July Superintendent's Report.

The Board meeting focused on plans to take our fundraising efforts to the next level in support of Operations, the Master Planning process, and ultimately, the golf and ecological renovation of the facility.  Near and long term sustainability of Canal Shores is top of mind for our Board, and they are taking action to ensure a solid future for the land and our finances.

The spring and early summer have been filled with progress from a Greens & Grounds perspective, and the future looks very bright.  Stay tuned for updates on or work on grass lines, the Eco plan, the improvements to the 15th hole, and more.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 2017 Meetings - Grounds & Board

April has been a highly productive month for us, both in our meetings and around the Canal Shores grounds.

The April Grounds Committee meeting focused on two main topics:
  1. A report from our Superintendent Tony Frandria on the course infrastructure issues that need to be addressed, specifically drainage, irrigation, agronomy, and equipment.  Tony shared with us his initial impressions, as well as his belief that the optimal path to solving our problems is through a renovation, rather than incremental improvements over time. 
  2. Tony's report segued into a discussion about possible approaches to the renovation and the pros and cons of each.  Many questions were raised and will need to be addressed in the planning process, but the majority opinion in our Committee is that renovation is the only viable path to long term sustainability for the facility. 
We also got great news from Tony that he worked with the rep from John Deere to get us a proposal for the lease of a new rough mower and a new sprayer, within our budget.  These are pieces of equipment that we have greatly needed to improve the playability of the course.  Tony's equipment proposal was approved at the Board Meeting.

As always, we welcome guests to attend our meetings to participate and stay informed.  Click here to read the meeting minutes prepared by Steve Neumann.

From a Greens & Grounds perspective, several important topics were covered at the April Board meeting:
  • In addition to the new equipment lease, Tony updated the Board on both his overall equipment plan and the assembly of his new team.  Tony has hired John Lee as his Assistant Superintendent, and several solid team members.  We are now in great shape to be able to provide quality conditions for our players going into the season.  Click to here read the Superintendent's report.
  • We were joined by Lisa Quinn, the Executive Director of The First Tee of Greater Chicago.  Lisa shared an overview of the great work that her organization is doing for youth golfers in Chicagoland, and also expressed her desire to partner with Canal Shores.  Click to view Lisa's powerpoint
  • A resolution to go forward into a formal planning process for a renovation was discussed, and passed.  Although this is just an initial step, it is a very important step in committing to pursuing a brighter future for this course that we love.  Click here to view the Board Resolution that was passed. 

Outside of the April meetings, we also held several volunteer sessions.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the continuous improvement efforts of our army of volunteers.  For future volunteer dates, check in regularly on our Volunteer Page.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Outreach & Organizing

One of the most popular and iconic golf courses in the world is closed on Sundays, for golfers.  In St. Andrews, Scotland, the community is welcome to come out to The Old Course every Sunday and enjoy the famed links for picnics, walking, running, frisbee or whatever outdoor recreation they prefer.

Photo by Kieran Dodds for the New York Times

This age-old practice (read more about it here) encourages integration between the golf course and the broader community, and mutual respect between golfers and non-golfers.  The course is a central recreational resource for the community, and the entire community benefits from it.  This is the ethos that we wish to bring to Canal Shores, and this is why we continue to spend our personal volunteer time on community outreach and organizing.

Through our year-end survey, we learned that only 46% percent of respondents know that we are a volunteer-driven non-profit organization.

Without the work hours and donations from dedicated members of the community, Canal Shores would likely cease to exist.

This past weekend, a small event was held that represents just the type of community engagement that keeps Canal Shores moving forward.  Board and Grounds Committee member Frank Candioto hosted a gathering of folks from his neighborhood at his home.  Grounds Committee Chairman Steve Neumann, Board President Chris Carey, and Business Manager Dan Bulf gave a presentation on our progress in transforming Canal Shores, as well as a proposed pilot project on the 5th hole.

The Canal Shores property suffers from significant drainage issues that would ideally be fixed through a renovation.  In the meantime, we are attempting to address "hot spots", and one of those spots is west of the 5th tee, near Frank's home.

The landscape architecture firm Ecology+Vision generously donated a native area design with plants specifically chosen to thrive in a wet area, and keep it drier.  

Unfortunately our operating budget is too tight to include funds for implementing this design, but happily, Frank and his neighbors are going to try and make it happen.  Nancy Pavkovic signed on to be a Neighborhood Captain for this area of the course to help us inform the neighborhood and recruit more involvement.  Many thanks to Frank, Nancy, and all who attended the meeting.  With productive engagement like this, we are hopeful that this pilot project can be completed sooner rather than later.

We welcome more of this kind of involvement.  If you are willing to host a gathering or be a Neighborhood Captain, please contact Steve Neumann at  

Although we welcome any and all assistance, our top priority at this time is to complete the Master Plan, which requires more funding.  Please donate to the Master Planning fund HERE, so that we can prepare Canal Shores to be sustainable and thrive for the next 100 years.