East Gull Lake
Matt McKinnon has constructed and grown something every year but one since 1997.
McKinnon, the course superintendent for the Legacy Courses at Cragun’s, has worked at the Legacy since construction began on the Dutch Course in 1997. He’s seen the opening of two 18-hole resort courses and a par 3 reversible 9-hole course.
The second of the two courses, Bobby’s, was completed in 2002. After that McKinnon and his crew have been fine tuning, reconstructing and improving the layout of the golf complex in East Gull Lake.
This year McKinnon’s major project, and last one for a while, involves the 417-yard par 4 second hole on Bobby’s.
Last year the hole’s fairway was widened. As the new grass grows into place, workers will begin work on a new green, the transformation of a wetland into a pond and the construction of bunkers around the green.
The project will start as soon as Cragun’s receives approval from Cass County, which could be Wednesday.
The project’s design is actually the original by Robert Trent Jones Jr. During the initial construction period, room wasn’t available for the first plan.
With room available now, the green will grow nearly three times in size to 6,500 square feet. This will allow for more pin placements and a more accepting green for the longer hole.
McKinnon said construction of the green, with the help of Rardin Excavating Inc., will be done in two weeks. His crew will plant the grass and the growth period should be 10 to 12 weeks. He expects the green to be ready for play in 15 weeks.
“First, we have to take out the old green and build up a new green,” said McKinnon. “We have to get our dirt levels correct, carve out the cavity of the green and do the drainage work. Then we add our green mix and along with that we do our drainage of our bunkers and get everything done. After that it’s just seeding.”
Because the area already has sandy soil, the Legacy greens consist of two layers. The first level is sand and the top of the green, about 12 to 14 inches, is a 90-percent sand, 10-percent peat mixture.
Along with construction of the green, the wetland that currently sits left of the green will be expanded and turned into a shallow pond. The three large bunkers to the right of the green will be redone and maybe another bunker will be added.
“With the length of the hole and the angle of the approach shot, it was a difficult green to hit,” said Legacy director of golf Chuck Klecatsky. “Due to its narrow design there wasn’t a lot of places to put the pin. It didn’t give the golfers that many options.”
Legacy Courses at Cragun’s
Type: Resort Courses
Number of holes: 46
Clubhouse phone: (800) 272-4867
Director of golf: Chuck Klecatsky
PGA professional: Brian Erickson
Superintendent: Matt McKinnon
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr.
The hope is this hole turns into a signature-type hole for the Legacy.
A temporary green will be used during reconstruction. While Bobby’s does have the Gamblers hole at the end of it, because the hole is on the front nine, Klecatsky said it wouldn’t be fair to those just playing nine holes on Bobby’s.
This will be the final major construction process at the Legacy. McKinnon and his crew will then concentrate on the beautification process, things like planting flowers, curbing, working on cart paths, adding steps to certain holes and maybe the addition of tee boxes.
While McKinnon said he likes the construction process, he said he’ll enjoy working with the existing course.