While some work is being delayed or affected by employees electing to quarantine during the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many projects are either still on schedule or have been pushed up to take advantage of empty golf courses.
While some golf course projects have been put on hold amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many continue to progress. Members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) have been updating each other on the status of projects. As in all areas, travel, meetings, in-person gatherings and construction projects are closely adhering to local guidelines and full safety precautions.
One architect broke down progress state-by-state:
-Connecticut: We just finished Phase One of the “Shared Vision Plan.” Full 18-hole bunker renovation and supplemental drainage installation;
-Colorado: Active construction of Phase One of the Master Plan. Completion date May 1. Major renovation of all bunkers, some tees and a few greens;
-New York: Master Plan work. Just completed the addition of five forward tees and the renovation of one green approach; and
-Utah: Active construction of Phase One of the Master Plan. Completion date is June 15. Major renovation of all sand bunkers and major renovation and expansion of the practice facilities.
That architect is also working on plans for a couple of international projects. While there’s no indication these projects will be scrapped, they could be delayed, the architect reported.
“I have five projects under construction, and all are continuing,” another architect shared. “One of them took about 10 days off because a clubhouse contractor’s girlfriend got the virus, so they shut down everything, but we started back there this week.”
A third architect shared news of “smaller projects” planned for later in the year.
“They are still very much alive,” the architect wrote. “Given their scale and investment, it is not surprising that they are still a go and I would be surprised if they do not go on as planned .I’m producing a large set of construction drawings right now for a major renovation (to be constructed in either ’21 or ’22). This is full steam ahead.”
Plans for possibly several bunker renovation projects in 2021 show no indication by those clubs of any delay, another architect shared.
“Bottom line: From what I’m seeing / hearing from my current clients, none of them have completely aborted or delayed due to Covid-19 at this stage, but they are also watching very closely,” the architect wrote. “Everyone I am in contact with now is more bullish and confident that we will either continue our planning and projects as projected on the current schedule or near it – or simply pick up again at some point where we left off when this all started.”
A complete redo of a practice range, short-game area and relocating the first tee complex to make room for the range tee enlargement began a couple weeks ago.
“We are in the shaping phase and should be through with that portion by the end of the week,” the architect wrote. “The plans are to continue to work through grassing. It is a pretty remote area and a small crew without a lot of interaction with members or staff.
“Meetings involve three or four people, all outdoors and easy to maintain social distancing,” they continued. “We don’t handle plans between us.
“The second project, we have been working there almost a month on course renovations, new bunkers and green on one hole and three new holes,” the architect added. “The third project is under construction [bunker and tee renovations]. I am using the same contractor on all three projects and they know me well and do not require the same amount of visits as I may normally make.”
An architect who lives / works in the Northeast, said there is no consistency between the states—each has different rules and requirements.
“This is challenging and sometimes hard to understand,” the architect wrote. “I have three projects in New Jersey just outside New York City. The one under construction has shut down. They worked until the beginning of last week. They are still allowed to work, but the contractor couldn’t get his guys to come in any longer. There is a lot of sickness in the area.
“My other two projects in New Jersey are in the planning stages,” the added. “Both are saying they want to continue, but the projects have slowed because everyone is working remotely. I met with another contractor last week. He told me three of his guys went back to Long Island two weeks ago to see family and couldn’t return, and now another four guys including his shaper have decided they aren’t comfortable being out. He is continuing to work, but is down to a five-man crew from a dozen.”
A contractor from Michigan is having trouble with lodging, as most hotels have shut down, and is down to three workers.
In a conference call with ASGCA members, several golf course builders discussed how projects are able to continue amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Representatives of ASGCA-supporters Landscapes Unlimited, Duininck Golf, Heritage Links and Wadsworth Construction spoke with ASGCA on April 6.
Kurt Huseman of Landscapes Unlimited said everyone at the company is taking safety seriously.
“Clients are impressed by what we’re doing and how we’re keeping projects going. We’re collaborating closely with architects to serve the interests of golf courses,” Huseman said. “The amount of monitoring we are doing on a nationwide basis because of municipal restrictions has created a whole new layer within the organization to make sure workers and clients are protected.
“We have seen clients want to take advantage of course closures to move up the timetable on projects, which is good,” he added.
Judd Duininck of Duininck Golf said now is an opportune time for projects that are on hold for architects and builders to work with the owner to figure out ways the project can be better.
“We’re definitely better together than apart,” he said. “We are doing more daily washing of our carts, holding meetings outside and spread out, which can be a challenge with 20 people. Our housing at project locations has not changed since we do not have a lot of people at one site at one time.”
Jon O’Donnell of Heritage Links said projects scheduled to start in August / September have contacted the company to start earlier. Some planned for fall, however, are putting brakes on due to uncertainty and discussions with their boards.
“We are seeing some savings on fuel that are balancing out some added costs for things like hand-washing stations,” O’Donnell added.
Pat Karnick of Wadsworth Construction said the company has projects in nine different states.
“You have executive orders in each by governors and counties. We need to continue to do things legally in each area,” Karnick said. “No job started has shut down; those not started are suspended. We take safety extremely seriously and are concentrating on COVID-19 in spreading out physically, adding more trucks on site, more wash stations, etc.
“We are fortunate to be working in multiple states, with a few projects even looking to speed up to take advantage of courses that do not currently have golfers on them.”
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