Kauai Lagoons: Hawaii's Latest Treasure Golfers must drive over this densely-planted ravine on the Klele course to reach the green on an oceanside bluff. W hen Jack Nicklaus first laid eyes on 800 'oceanside acres in Lihue on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, his reponse was, "This is the most magnifi- cent piece of property I have ever seen," The amazing part is that he made this remark before he and developer Chris Hemmeter began to redefine the term "exotic" in golf resorts. "These two men could reinvent the wheel," remarks Gaylon Coates, who designed the irrigation system for the massive complex. The product of their vivid imaginations, the Westin Kauai Golf & Racquet Club, is 14 Golf & Sports TURF now winning accolades from the major national golf publications. Golf Digest named the resort's Kiele course the best new resort course in America for 1989. Golf magazine called Kiele the most varied and beautiful course Nicklaus has built to date, and recently named the lagoons course one of the top ten resort courses in America. And Hemmeter and Nicklaus still have another course to build. Kauai lagoons is a "destination resort," meaning that it is the perfect place to visit whether or not you are a hotel guest. It's all there: the tournament-quality golf course, luxurious hotel and restaurant accomoda- tions, golf and racquet club, a spectacular beach, the largest swimming pool in Hawaii, and a complete European spa and health center featuring aerobics, mas- sages, and many other types of pampering. That would more than satisfy the typical vacationer, but not the type of individual Hemmeter had in mind. The spectacular coastal cliffs, the lush tropical vegetation, the backdrop of moun- tains born from volcanoes, and the sugar plantations on the slopes are all distinct treasures of Kauai. To this Hemmeter

Kauai Lagoons: Hawaii's Latest Treasure - About SportsTurfsturf.lib.msu.edu/article/1990feb14.pdf · Kauai Lagoons: Hawaii's Latest Treasure ... Kauai lagoons is a "destination resort,"

Embed Size (px)

Citation preview

Kauai Lagoons:Hawaii's Latest Treasure

Golfers must drive over this densely-planted ravine on the Klele course to reach the green on an oceanside bluff.

When Jack Nicklaus first laid eyeson 800 'oceanside acres in Lihueon the Hawaiian island of Kauai,

his reponse was, "This is the most magnifi-cent piece of property I have ever seen,"The amazing part is that he made thisremark before he and developer ChrisHemmeter began to redefine the term"exotic" in golf resorts. "These two mencould reinvent the wheel," remarks GaylonCoates, who designed the irrigation systemfor the massive complex.

The product of their vivid imaginations,the Westin Kauai Golf & Racquet Club, is14 Golf & Sports TURF

now winning accolades from the majornational golf publications. Golf Digestnamed the resort's Kiele course the bestnew resort course in America for 1989. Golfmagazine called Kiele the most varied andbeautiful course Nicklaus has built to date,and recently named the lagoons courseone of the top ten resort courses inAmerica. And Hemmeter and Nicklaus stillhave another course to build.

Kauai lagoons is a "destination resort,"meaning that it is the perfect place to visitwhether or not you are a hotel guest. It's allthere: the tournament-quality golf course,

luxurious hotel and restaurant accomoda-tions, golf and racquet club, a spectacularbeach, the largest swimming pool inHawaii, and a complete European spa andhealth center featuring aerobics, mas-sages, and many other types of pampering.That would more than satisfy the typicalvacationer, but not the type of individualHemmeter had in mind.

The spectacular coastal cliffs, the lushtropical vegetation, the backdrop of moun-tains born from volcanoes, and the sugarplantations on the slopes are all distincttreasures of Kauai. To this Hemmeter

While theHawaiian settingand the uniqueopulence of the

facility would piquethe interest of any

well-healedtraveler, it is thetwo golf courses

carrying Nicklaus'signature that have

attracted theattention of the


added touches from Italy, Australia, Africaand Europe.

William Randolph Hearst would have feltat home on one of the mahogany launchesor outrigger canoes on the resort's 40-acrelagoon. He also v«>uld have liked riding oneof 35 carriages drawn by Clydesdales, Bel-gians, or Percherons over eight miles ofcrushed coral trails. He would have beencomfortable ill the 26,OOo-square-foot poolhandcrafted with imported tile and sur-rounded by Grecian columns.

But not even Hearst, the creator of SanSimeon, could boast of islands stocked with

Aerial phot4) of resort with golf course In background.

wildlife representing countries from aroundthe world. Protected and contained by thelagoons, monkeys, kangaroos, gazelles,zebras, and other exotic animals and birdslive in a style that exceeds "creature com-forts." Flamingos and swans frolic in themanmade system of waterways. In fact, theKiele course has animals as its theme.Each hole is named for a particular animalor bird.

While the Hawaiian setting and theunique opulence of the facility would piquethe interest of any well-heeled traveler, it isthe two golf courses carrying Nicklaus's sig-

nature that have attracted the attention ofthe world. Perched on oceanside bluffsabove Nawiliwili Bay and sculpted from anold sugar plantation, the Kiele course andthe Lagoons course offer a challenge andbeauty rivaled by few other courses in theworld.

Wadsworth Golf Course ConstructionCompany built both courses under theguidance of Nicklaus and irrigationdesigner Coates. The resort landscape wasdesigned by Tongg, Clark & Mechler ofOahu and installed by Kauai Nursery and

oontinued on page 18

February, 1990 15

KauaiLagoonsrontinued from page 15

Landscaping, Inc. The extensive Rain Birdirrigation system was provided by ParadiseSupply in Honolulu. But the grow-in andsubsequent care of both has been theresponsiblity of Earl Sanders since 198?

A project the size and complexity ofKauai Lagoons vvould boggle the mind ofmany superintendents. You'd expectSanders to be a little arrogant and high-strung. Instead, he is very down-to-earthand unselfish, almost shy. But there is awell-organized and highly dedicated personbehind this calm exterior. There has to be.

The 40-year-old Sanders started hiscareer 18 years ago raking sand traps andtrimming on a golf course in Phoenix, AZ.He didn't play golf, but he was captivated bythe agronomics of the huge facilities, espe-cially when it came to construction. Hisdedication was rewarded with assignmentsfor irrigation maintenance and reshapinggreens and tees. Before long he was on theconstruction crew at Royal Palms, a nine-hole executive course in Mesa, AZ. Whenthe job was finished, he was asked to stayon to help manage the grow-in.

Sanders wanted to learn more about thetechnical side of golf course constructionand maintenance. Dr. Bob Kneebone,professor at the University of Arizona in Tuc-son, convinced Sanders to study agro-nomics and plant genetics under him at theuniversity. After completing his bachelor'sdegree in 1979, Sanders longed to get backout on a golf course to continue buildingand reshaping. He found the opportunity atEdgewood Country Club in Lake Tahoe, CA.

An offer to help build Camelback GolfClub in Scottsdale as assistant superinten-dent proved too good to pass up. Followingthe grow-in of that course, Sanders movedup to become superintendent at MountainShadows Country Club in Scottsdale. Aftera brief attempt at building his own land-scape maintenance company in Phoenix,

The lagoons course gets it name for the manmade water hazards which come into play on thispeninsula green.

he realized that he belonged on a golfcourse.

Had it not been for Sanders' next job, hemight never have latched onto the opportu-nity of a lifetime, the position at KauaiLagoons. Phil Shoemaker, then superinten-dent at Desert Highlands, hired Sanders tobe his assistant superintendent duringgrow-in. This was his entree into the realmof Nicklaus-designed golf courses.

Nicklaus is a strong believer in practicemakes perfect. He surrounds himself withpeople who have experience and a proventrack record. Once you've demonstrated askill that's important to him, you becomepart of his team.

Sanders became a member of the Nick-laus team during the grow-in of DesertHighlands. When Shoemaker left to attendto the first of three courses at MountainShadows, Sanders moved up the ladder to

Large bunkers and heavily mounded fairways and roughs give the lagoons course a thecharacter of a SCottish links.18 Goff & Sports TURF

superintendent. Shoemaker has sincebecome the superintendent at the Nicklaus-designed Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, FL.

In 1987, when Nicklaus and Wadsworthwere making progress on the Kiele course,the call went out among his cadre ofsuperintendents for the job at KauaiLagoons. Sanders took the bait, applied forthe position, and got it. Hemmeter hiredhim primarily to monitor the various sub-contractors on the project and supervisethe grow-in of both courses.

"I'd been to Hawaii before," Sandersremarked, "but I was amazed when I sawthe resort for the first time. My parents usedto live on the big island of Hawaii. Kauai ismuch older than the other islands. Windand rain over millions of years have brokenthe lava down into a thick layer of red clay:'

The irrigation was just going in on the firsthole of Kiele when Sanders arrived in July."The pump station hadn't been installedand this was my first exposure to the MAXI[Rain Bird] system," he recalls. "The tradewinds blew between 10 and 30 miles perhour most of the time. Some days we got upto six inches of rain! All these things werenew to me:'

The wind and rain were a constantchallenge when seeding the common ber-mudagrass roughs and sprigging the Tif-green fairways. Nicklaus designed theLagoons course in "links" fashion with anabundance of mounds and undulations. Onthe Kiele course he used the crags and val-leys near the ocean to create drops 50 feetor greater between tees and greens. Fromthe top of the Lagoons course to the ocean-side hole of the Kiele the elevation changesby nearly 500 feet! More than once theseed was washed off the slopes by rain-storms.

The elevation, wind, and rain alsopresented Coates with an exceptionalchallenge during design and construction

rontinued on page 20

KauaiLagoonscontinued from page 18

of the irrigation system. But first he had tocontend with the sheer size of the project."The climate on one end of the property isconsiderably different from that on theother," Coates states. "It's enormous! Thetop of the Lagoons is windy, warmer, anddrier. The Kiele is less windy and morehumid. Even then, the weather can changein ten minutes from rain to bright sunshine.I'd never experienced anything like it beforeeven though I've done other courses inHawaii. ET [evapotranspiration] rates varygreatly within the resort'

Coates suggested that each course haveits own computerized central control systemand pump station. A weather station (RainBird) was placed between the two coursesat approximately the midpoint in elevation.After all refinements were made, there wasa total of more than 3,000 valve-in-head DRrotors per course. This compares toperhaps 600 heads for a typical 18-holecourse in the Midwest. or 1,500 heads percourse in the Southwest, he explained.Head spacing was limited to between 60and 65 feet on fairways to counteract thewind. An additional 4,000 sprinklers of var-ious types for the resort landscape weretied into the two MAXis. All 10,000 headswere staked by Coates during construction.

"We had to allow for any changesrequired during construction in addition to

Earl Sanders.

the resort's needs in the future," saidCoates. "We had to create pressure zonesthat worked with the differences in elevationand then adapt these to changes made byNicklaus during construction." For example,after the 16th hole on Kiele was graded andthe irrigation installed, Nicklaus and Hem-meter didn't like the fact that you couldn'tsee the ocean from the tee. The green waslowered nearly 50 feet, requiring removal,redesign and replacement of the irrigation.

"The team made it come off," Coatesreflects. "Everyone knew they were dealing

with something special and wanted to makeit as perfect as possible. We made all kindsof field changes. It took tremendouscooperation to pull it off on time:'

Wadsworth and Sanders had only fourmonths to get the bermuda established onKiele before opening. "We were concernedabout the common bermuda invading the328, especially with the weather," Sandersadmits. "We seeded the roughs first withcommon and gave them seven to ten daysto germinate. Then we turned the water offand sprayed the fairways with Roundup tokill any of the common that had beenwashed into them by the rain. After waitinga week, we spot sprayed the fairways andwaited another three days before Wad-sworth sprigged the fairways, tees, andgreen banks with Tltqreen"

Building the two courses required thou-sands of tons of sand. "We used nearly12,000 tons just for the bunkers," saidSanders. Kiele required 6,000 tons for its106 bunkers and the Lagoons courseneeded an equal amount for its 69 bunkers.One bunker on the Lagoons is nearly oneacre!

When Sanders tested the sand from theisland, he discovered it was weatheredlimestone with a pH of almost 9. "If you tryto acidify the sand too rapidly it willdegrade," he points out. For that reason heimported silica sand from California for top-

continued on page 22



\ Amiad Filters are a savings invest-ment. Maintenance costs are dramat-ically cut by these 8" to 14" automatic,electrically or hydraulically operatedfilters that self-clean in "real time"Amiad technology is unsurpassed forits advanced designs, durable qualityand extended efficiencies of its filters.They protect your valves, operatesolely on mains water pressure, auto-matically flush out particles, and aresuccessfully proven around the world.And they can save you countlessdollars in maintenance. Call Amiadand get the facts now!


~ ~~~~!?;AE~~;~~:~~~4~~~!1~!~20 Golf & Sports TURF Circle 110 on Postage Free Card

KauaiLagoonscontinued from page 20

dressing. "The silica sand has a pH of 7. Byincorporating the silica sand into the localsand, we can bring its pH down slowly," headds.

The greens were fumigated and thensprigged with Tifdwarf. Fertigation wasused to help speed up the establishment ofthe greens, tees and green banks.

Sanders applied a new mowing tech-nique on the undulating, Nicklaus-stylegreens. He placed 19-inch reels in the 22-inch frames of his Jacobsen walkinggreensmowers. This reduces scalpingwhen the greens are cut daily at 9/64-inch

during the winter and 1/8-inch during thesummer. Half of the greensmowers areequipped with groomers. Each week halfthe greens are lightly groomed while theother half are topdressed with silica sand.

Some of the tees are walk-mowed aswell. "Jack likes a lot of tees," Sandersstated. "Every hole has at least four. Onepar three has seven! The gold tees areoften too small for our tee mowers." All teesare topdressed at least once a month withsand and verticut every other week duringthe summer. The tees are cut at 5/16-inchyear round.

One thing that bothered Sanders aboutthe grow-in of Kiele is he didn't have time to

22 Golf & Sports TURF Circle 114 on Postage Free Card

verticut the fairways. "I like to stay on top ofthatch from the beginning," he remarked.With only four months to go before opening,he held off verticutting. To encourage den-sity during grow-in, he cross-cut the fair-ways daily with lightweight mowers (Jacob-sen LF-100s) at 1/2-inch. "We'll startverticutting the fairways once or twice ayear," he adds.

The roughs require two different types ofmowers due to their size and topography.Triplex mowers are used on the moundswhile seven-gang units cover theremainder. The common bermuda is kept at1114inch. The close rough and green banksare mowed at 3/4-inch with JacobsenTri-Kings.

To manage the 400-plus acres of golf turf,Sanders needed a skilled staff and an irri-gation system that was flexible and con-venient. He brought irrigation specialistMarty Alexander with him from Arizona.Alexander had experience with the MAXIsystem in Phoenix. Kelly Marvin, whomSanders hired to construct the sand trapson Kiele, is now assistant superintendent ofthat course. Tim Canute from Maui is theassistant on the Lagoons course.

Carolyn O'Connell is the assistantsuperintendent of the extensive resort land-scape. Marvin, Canute, and O'Connell eachhave crews of 15 or more to keep the com-plex in top condition. The entire team con-sists of nearly 100 people hand-picked bySanders and his assistants.

Alexander's experience with the Maxihas helped Kauai Lagoons tap the fullpotential of the MAXI System IV. Duringgrow-in it was imperative that the sprigs becontinually moist without eroding slopedareas or flooding flat terrain. As with anynew course, drainage is relatively unprovenuntil the irrigation system and weather arefully coordinated.

Alexander programmed irrigation sched-ules that provided a total of 40 to 45 minutesof flow every 24 hours. To achieve thiswithout erosion, he called for two and threeminutes of station run time every hour dur-ing daylight and two or three short cycles atnight. "Without computer control, keepingthe entire course continually moist wouldhave required a lot more water and a lotmore people, II he reveals.

The two irrigation systems are linked intwo ways, hydraulically and electronically.Each PSI pump station delivers more than3,100 gallons per minute of water from a sin-gle reservoir. An agreement with the city ofLihue for irrigation-quality effluent providesthe majority of the water needed. The waterhas a pH of 7.1. A well supplements theeffluent when necessary. Both pump sta-tions are linked by a 12-inch main to makesure there is no interruption in irrigation incase of a breakdown.

The electronic link is between theweather station and the computers.Weather data, including temperature, solarradiation, wind, humidity, and rainfall, isdownloaded to both computers. Six addi-

continued on page 24

KauaiLagoonsoontinued from page 22

tional rain gauges located throughout theresort monitor microclimates. All this infor-mation is used to adjust irrigation sched-ules on a daily or more frequent basis.

Golfers and maintenance are not the onlyconstraints on the irrigation system. Thelagoons, carriage trails, roads, and foot-paths are intertwined with the golf courses.As a result, irrigation cannot begin in manyareas until midnight and must be com-pleted by 5:30 a.m., when the maintenancecrew arrives. Scheduling the two huge sys-tems to match this time frame in light of theerratic weather would be impossible withoutcomputers. Even then, balancing the flowrequirements of the pump stations to con-trol energy costs is a herculean task.

After the completion of the Kiele courseand while the Lagoons course was growingin, Rain Bird introduced a more advancedversion of its MAXI software. The new Sys-tem IV software gave the computers thepower to program irrigation schedules tomaximize energy use by the pumps. It alsorefined the process of dividing water timesup into segments which more closelymatched the ability of slopes and other sen-sitive areas to absorb water.

Based upon ET data for the preced ingday, Alexander can let the "Flo-Manager"software arrange the flow requirement ofthousands of heads and valves to create aconsistent demand on the pump stations.By eliminating peaks and valleys in thedemand on the pumps, they can work atmaximum efficiency No longer do thepumps run above or below their designedpotential. The computer groups the needsof different zones to match the optimumoutput of the pumps.

Alexander realized that in manyinstances he could shut down the jockeypump during the main irrigation schedule.He also discovered that the jockey pumpalone was sufficient to handle fertigation, aswell as drip programs for thousands ofexotic plants, separately from the mainschedule.

"The important factor," notes Sanders, "is

Horse-drawn carriages transport guests over eight miles of trails.

Golfers andmaintenance are notthe only constraints

on the irrigationsystems. The

lagoons, carriagetrails, roads, andfootpaths are

intertwined with thegolf courses.

24 Golf & $portsTURF

Mahogany launches navigate the manmade waterways of the Westin complex.

that now the pumps are running at theirmost efficient rates. We are able to pump anaverage of 662 gallons per kilowatt, com-pared to 570 gallons per killowatt on theoriginal system program. This enables us topump approximately five to six million gal-lons per month for the same cost as before.And the overall watering time has beenreduced from ten hours to essentiallyseven:'

Alexander figures that the new softwarehas reduced pump run time by 26 percentand cut electric bills by 29 percent.Projected over one year, these will amountto a savings of nearly $40,000, he adds.

Sanders believes that the second featureof the new software, "Cycle & Soak," hasimproved the condition and appearance ofthe heavily mounded Lagoons course. "Ithas been a help while we work on refiningour drainage system," he explained. "Ittakes a few years to locate and correct wetspots on any new golf course. Since we canadjust slope irrigation effectively, we canschedule drainage improvements to fit intoou r workload:'

It took Alexander only three days to addthe new software to his existing system."Computer-controlled irrigation systemshave a high initial cost," Sanders admits,"but the cost is justified when you considerthe simplicity and economy of upgradingirrigation with advancing technology:'

Hemmeter has plans to add a third 18-hole course to Kauai Lagoons in the comingyears. Nicklaus, Coates, and Sanders arealready working on the details. The plannedcourse will be close to Lihue airport, whereanother unique microclimate will have to beconsidered. A third MAXI, a second reser-voir, and possibly a second weather stationmay be required to meet the growing needsof the mega-resort.

"This is the largest resort in acreage inthe world!" boasts Coates. "To think it is alsoone of the most recognized for quality is areal tribute to Chris Hemmeter, Jack Nick-laus, their staff and suppliers. You have tosee it to believe it!" i)