Greener on the Island Side | Callawassie Island

The Grass is Greener on the Island Side

Checking in with Callawassie Island’s “Three Courses in Three Years” Total Renovation

ONE YEAR IN, promises are being kept and delivered on in grand form in the total renovation of Callawassie Island’s Tom Fazio designed course, thanks to Director of Agronomy, Billy Bagwell and the teams of associates and vendors who are busy making all things new.

This reworking of all three of the island’s courses reached its first major milestone on schedule last fall with the re-opening of the new and vastly improved Magnolia Course and Practice Facility. Now, this past spring has carried progress well into phase two of renewing and reinforcing Dogwood as the team moves toward the halfway point later this year.

Starting officially on April 4th, 2022, Magnolia’s Grand Opening hit in November later that year just in time to be broken in by the fall FOCI Tournament on day one.

Improvements included these highlights of treatments accomplished for Magnolia and the Practice Facility:

  • Installing over 17 miles of drainpipe from 2-inch to 36-inch pipe for a dramatic improvement in how quickly the course dries after rain events, minimizing path only days and significantly improving course playability.
  • “You can never have enough drainage,” says Bagwell, as evidenced by the extra drainage installed in the 50-yard stretch of the fairway on Magnolia 8…
  • …the same location where we removed the section of the path that crosses the fairway.
  • Nearly 3 miles of concrete paths were installed with curbing at green and tee locations which will help keep tires off the grass, preventing it from thinning along the path edges.
  • New bunkers were completed with the compaction of the new sand performing well through rain events and seeing the playability equally improved.
  • Over 2 million sq. feet of new grass was planted, and the turf’s overall grow-in was a huge success despite the callous weather conditions during the grassing, producing excellent coverage going into the first winter.
  • Magnolia putting greens will perform differently from Palmetto and Dogwood, with new, firmer greens, which means a slower roll of the ball for the first season, while maintaining Magnolia greens at a slightly higher height of cut to prevent stress on the new turf.

Now it’s Dogwood’s turn and there are already milestone developments to celebrate:

  • Dogwood 1 green’s sub-grade has been completed and approved by Billy Fuller and TDI crews have begun the installation of the drainage, gravel layer and greens mix.
  • A combination of 6 inch and 4 inch perforated drain pipes are being trenched into the sub-grade to properly drain the entire putting surface, with a gravel layer being evenly spread over the drain lines and sub-grade to a depth of 4 inches thick.
  • 12 inches of greens mix are spread over the entire putting green, a blend of sand and peat moss creating an ideal soil medium for putting green turf to grow on. The mix is compacted and “floated out” to final grade and left ready for planting.
  • In May, the Dogwood 2 tee complex was the first area of Dogwood to be planted. Because the course is tree lined and tee complexes are in the shade most of the day, zoysia grass has been chosen for the turf in these areas, to provide a great surface for golf while also growing better in shadier conditions compared to bermudagrass. Dogwood’s results with the use of Zeon are expected to mirror Magnolia’s great success with the same approach. All of the tee complexes will be sodded with Zeon with the Tif Turf bermudagrass used to grass the roughs, fairways and around the greens.

Rolling into the summer, momentum continues to grow as Bagwell and crew have made their way through the course’s first 3 holes being planted. This June, according to Bagwell’s Callawassie Island Agronomy blog, “the TDI prep team has moved to Dogwood 4 with the final prep for grassing while the Callawassie Agronomy Team has taken over care of the first 3 holes.  The sprigs on Dogwood 1 and 2 have taken and are really showing signs of life.”

With Dogwood 2 now rolled and ready for fertilizer and its first mowing, Dogwood 1 right behind it, and Dogwood 3 completed, and watering begun, the course is checking every box and target on its way to matching Magnolia’s grand opening and greatly improved play. Nearing the midpoint of this ambitious undertaking, the adage seems to be true that the grass is greener on the other side of the renovation – it’s certainly greener on the island side.