February 4, 2015 – The University of Central Missouri is set to begin a major golf course renovation at Keth Memorial Golf Course, the university owned course. Construction is expected to begin late January and be completed by this summer. New greens, tees and Zoysiagrass fairways are just part of the scheduled work that will transform Keth Memorial into a nearly new golf course.
Todd Clark, ASGCA of CE Golf Design completed a master plan for the course over this past summer and, along with engineer Burns & MacDonnell, issued the project for bid in October of 2014. The successful bidder on the project was Frontier Golf of Jones Mills, Pa.
Keth Memorial Golf Course, home to the UCM Mules and Jennies golf teams, was originally a nine-hole course with sand greens and was expanded to 18 holes in 1972 and converted to sand greens. To meet the demands of today’s collegiate golfers, athletic director Jerry Hughes decided it was time for an upgrade to the facilities. While the practice facilities had been recently upgraded to accommodate practice for both the men’s and women’s golf teams, the golf course had remained relatively untouched over the years.
“Some of the goals of the new design were to increase the overall course length, improve the routing from a safety standpoint, rebuild the greens, add tees for better variety and playability, and convert the fairways from cool season grass to zoysia grass for improved playability and ease of maintenance,” Clark said.
The existing course has a three-tee system and plays from 6,029 yards to 4,826 yards as a par 71. The new design will stretch the yardage to 6,404 yards from the back tee and lose one to par, playing as a par 70. The new course will play, on average, 12 yards longer per full shot. The other tees will play at 5,848, 5,155 and 4,476 yards to create flexibility to accommodate golfers of all skill levels.
Several holes are being re-routed to improve the golf course circulation and eliminate some areas where the golf cart path crossed in front of tees of other holes. The new routing will solve many of the safety problems while also allowing for some of the increased distance for the course.
In addition to the routing changes to the course, all the greens will be rebuilt. The new greens will be built to USGA recommendations with new 90/10 mix, a gravel layer and internal sub-surface drainage. The new greens should help the maintenance staff offer more consistent playing conditions with a healthier stand of turf.
Currently, there are only eight sand bunkers on the existing course. The new plan calls for a total of 26 bunkers spread throughout the 18-holes. “We have to find ways to defend the course from these long, collegiate golfers,” Clark said. “With limited options to add distance, the new bunkers and the green contouring will create the challenge for the low handicappers.”
Approximately 17 acres of zoysia grass sod are going to be used to convert the fairways from cool season grass. The new fairways will help ease maintenance and should provide a superior year round playing surface.
With construction scheduled to wrap up this summer, the course could re-open as soon as fall of 2015. The re-opening of the course will be dictated by the weather conditions throughout the construction and grow-in periods.