It promises to be a premier attraction for Birmingham, AL: a championship 18-hole, par-72 golf course designed by world renowned architect Rees Jones. The Legacy at Greystone (the site of next year’s Senior PGA tour) will be ready for play this summer after more than a year of construction.
"This was a high-end project for us. The golf business means a lot of specialty work. As the general contractor, we definitely had plenty to do," said Scott Veazey, owner of Southeastern Golf in Tifton, GA.
The Birmingham-based company H.N. Donahoo first had to clear the property, which is located in a wooded area just off Alabama 119 in Shelby County. Trees and other debris were removed before grading could begin.
According to Veazey, the project involved around 274,320 meters (300,000 yds.) of dirt.
“For most of the cut and fill dirt we used a Caterpillar D8R and a Caterpillar D6R. Other equipment used throughout the job included a John Deere 850, a John Deere 750, two John Deere 550s, a Hyundai 290 LC3, a leased Komatsu 200 trackhoe, two Volvo 830 off-road trucks, two Volvo 825 trucks, a number of general utility tractors, and John Deere models 3930, 2355 and 5400 for prepping the dirt,” Veazey said.
Two Hyundai 55LC3 small excavators were utilized to do the actual bunker construction. A 444 John Deere loader and two 310 four-wheel drive John Deere backhoes were used for putting in pipe.
“As for the dirt, the job involved two basic types of cuts. The first was cut and fill balance dirt, where on a particular hole we’d take dozers and push dirt in the correct direction. Second, where there was too much dirt on a hole, we had to pick it up and take it on back of articulated trucks and haul it to another fairway. It’s a good bit of work,” said Veazey.
The delicate job of shaping the course was handled by Calgolf Inc. of New Jersey, affiliated with Rees Jones Incorporated. That work began in January of last year and continued through September. Foreman Austin Gibson and his crew of four men were responsible for shaping all of the fairways and roughs, etc. The equipment used included a John Deere 750B, a John Deere 750C, a John Deere 550G and a Caterpillar D6M bulldozer. The drainage was installed with a John Deere 290D excavator, while the green and tee surfaces were finished with two Ford tractors with hydraulic box blade attachments. Greens construction and sand bunker work is considered very sophisticated and specific to meet USGA specifications.
“The process involves laying 4-inch drain tile under the greens [to keep the water out and the sand dry] on 15-foot centers, using a herringbone-style drainage system,” added Veazey. It took about six months to complete. Next, 4-inch rock was placed on top of the drainage. About a 2-inch layer of rock was put on the bottom of the bunker, followed by a fabric liner and then, on top, 6-inch white bunker sand brought in from North Alabama. Next, 12-inch greens mix is mixed off site and hauled in by truck. Approximately 16,000 tons of greens mix was used.”
Another complex phase of the construction involved irrigation, which was handled by Tanto Construction and Supply of Pittsburgh.
“We’re talking about 1,479 sprinkler heads, which can be turned on individually,” explained owner Tamas Tanto.
“It required 1,750,000 feet of control wire. The project also called for 30,000 feet of additional wire, which goes to the controllers. We also installed 32,000 feet of main line and 98,000 feet of additional lines which are 2 inches in size.”
In addition, Tanto oversaw a pump station that is capable of pulling out 9084 liters (2,400 gal.) a minute at 125 psi. Equipment for the job, which involved a crew of nine and took six months to complete, included a John Deere 310 backhoe, a Caterpillar 120 trackhoe, Ditch Witch 3500, 4010 and 7610 trenchers, a Komatsu D31E small dozer for backfilling and a Ford tractor for distribution of pipe and wire.
One especially challenging aspect of the assignment was the sod work.
“Bringing in the grass was a major production. We had about 300 truckloads of grass from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Tifton, Georgia. Coordinating everything was tough at times,” said Veazey.
“You have to deal with your own weather and weather conditions elsewhere. There were times when we would arrive in Birmingham and it would be soaking wet. We’d have to unload grass in the road and wait a day or two before we could get it all down. We started at the end of June and didn’t finish until November. We had about two dozen men on the job.
“Another big problem,” continued Veazey, “was how hot and dry it was this past summer. We would lay the turf and it would almost scorch. Some of it will probably have to be replaced in the spring.
Other tasks for work crews included the construction of golf cart paths, which involved about 7,666 linear meters (23,000 linear ft.) of concrete paths. Three 12.2-meter (40 ft.) wooden bridges were also installed. This stage of the project took about five months to finish.
Harvey Burch, project manager with Daniel Realty Corporation in Birmingham, helped coordinate the overall construction assignment. The more than $14-million project also includes a cart barn and luxury clubhouse, which are currently being built.
Play on the course should begin this summer. Having been designed specifically for tournament use, the S-shaped course features subtle greens and long fairways and makes full use of the community’s streams and natural vegetation.
“The natural terrain produces a challenging and diversified golf experience with a classic feel,” added architect Jones.