BME’s project portfolio includes several outstanding and well known golf courses, which highlight the firm’s diversity of “all under one roof” project experience. New golf course engineering design and construction services were provided on Cobblestone Creek Country Club, Greystone, and Ravenwood in the Greater Rochester area, and Seneca Hickory Stick in Lewiston, New York. BME has also provided a wide range of site engineering services for numerous well-established golf courses including Oak Hill and Irondequoit Country Clubs, and the Country Club of Rochester.
For the new construction courses, BME was responsible for the full range of site development services, each starting with the initial due-diligence and feasibility analysis. All courses included a significant wetland permitting issue that required creative problem solving to resolve. And special use permits were also required for each course by the host municipality, long before detailed site engineering design and construction could occur.
Cobblestone Creek differed from the others in that it was a golf course as a part of an overall residential community of 282 upscale homes that were to be constructed after the completion of the course. BME’s services for Cobblestone also included the land planning design of the overall community master plan in collaboration with Hurdzan Design Associates, the golf course architect. All of these projects were alike in one way: they all had significant challenges to overcome—from environmental to engineering to neighborhood opposition to economic viability.
For the existing golf courses, BME’s work experience has included miscellaneous problem solving for drainage and stormwater flooding resolution, expansion of project facilities and amenities, and long-term capital improvement programming support.
Dealing with Federal Wetlands at Cobblestone
Wetlands Services Manager
The Cobblestone site included regulated wetlands that are protected by the federal Rivers and Harbors Act as a “Water of the United States.” The United States Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the review and approval of work performed on regulated waterways such as this. Our challenge was to create a natural pond that would provide a source of irrigation for the golf course in the most environmentally and functionally appropriate location, within the federal guidelines.
As we studied the Rivers and Harbors Act, we recognized that the regulations only addressed wetland fill, not excavation. Therefore, we recommended removal of soil within the wetland limits, and hauling the material elsewhere on the project site in non-wetland locations. As such, this soil removal process had to be completed via top-loading construction methodology from backhoe to truck. Typical bulldozer earthwork “furrowing” would have been considered “fill” under the Act, and therefore not permitted.
Today, a picturesque pond exists as the focal point for the clubhouse and community, and it also provides water quality benefits for the treatment of upland stormwater runoff. The pond provides a diversity of fish and wildlife habitat as well as a strategic challenge for the playability (and enjoyability) of the golf course—although many golfers may use other adjectives to describe the experience of dealing with the pond as it swallows up their balls.
Tying Into Another Project Overcame an Initial Water Supply Challenge
Another significant challenge at Cobblestone Creek was that we had to address a means of supplying enough water for the initial “grow-in” period of the golf course, as the normal projected rainfall amount was not sufficient. To further compound the water supply issue, the year the course was built, the Rochester region was experiencing a considerable drought. Furthermore, the Town of Victor was not enamored with the idea of utilizing the public water supply for this purpose.
However, at the same time that Wilmorite was constructing Cobblestone Creek, it was also constructing a major expansion to Eastview Mall, along with a mile of not-yet-in-service sanitary sewer which connected both projects via a series of pump stations. Our solution: pump water from existing spring-fed ponds at Eastview through the as-yet-unused sewer system with discharge into the Cobblestone Creek irrigation pond during this critical grow-in period. And that’s how we solved the temporary “water shortage” problem.
Getting Creative at Hickory Stick
Unlike the natural sloping conditions at Greystone, Cobblestone Creek, and Ravenwood, the terrain at Seneca Hickory Stick was extremely flat. The site also included many New York State regulated wetland areas that had to be dealt with in order to move forward with the project.
The first problem concerned the timing for the completion of the topographical survey. The project schedule demanded that the golf course design begin immediately with a level of survey accuracy that was critical for grading and earthwork considerations. In addition to the topography and the requirement to define and locate approximately 20 separate wetland areas, the survey also had to locate approximately 100 mature Shellbark Hickory trees. In New York State, Shellbark Hickories are a protected species and the State DEC was intent on preserving them.
The 250 acre survey, wetlands delineation, and tree location was completed in approximately four weeks by BME survey and environmental services personnel, who worked 12-hour days in 90-plus degree weather to keep the project on schedule. We worked with the architect to design the golf course around the Shellbark Hickories where possible, and, when not, coordinated the onsite relocation of the trees.
In working with the design team, we also recognized that we could derive several benefits if we could raise the terrain in various parts of the site. By getting creative with the grading design, we could provide natural pond hazards that were envisioned by the golf course architect and would also serve as sources of water for irrigation.
We also knew we would have to get creative in order to generate enough fill material for a balanced earthwork design to achieve the desired results. By over-excavating the wetland areas to create ponds, we were able to generate a source of fill to move to other areas of the site. This meant the owner did not have to incur additional expense by trucking material to the site. It also allowed for a much improved overall drainage condition for the design and playability of the course.
As we were working with the local municipality for approval of the development permits, we also recognized another problem-solving opportunity that would benefit both the Town and the new golf course. The existing road that runs along one side of the golf course had been plagued by drainage issues for many years. We recommended that the roadside ditches be re-graded to redirect the water into the ponds on the golf course. That proposal greatly improved the existing flooding conditions and provided additional contributing drainage area to help stabilize the water supply for Seneca Hickory Stick.