Prepared By
Michael J. Hurdzan, Ph.D., ASGCA Fellow
Christopher M. Hurdzan, Ph.D., MBA

October 2014

On October 21, 2014, an observation tour of Parkersburg Country Club golf course was
conducted by Hurdzan Golf Design, accompanied by J. T. Thomas, General Manager Kate Swisher,
Superintendent Phil Fetzner, and Golf Professional Scott Davidson. The purpose was to make a
professional and fresh assessment of the golf course and golf learning facilities with the goal to
evaluate existing facilities and recommend both long and short term improvements. The weather
was cool and cloudy with intermittent rain showers; however the golf course property was carefully

Parkersburg Country Club golf course has the reputation of having the best golf course in the
region and is the heaviest played. The golf course plays to a par 73 for men at a maximum yardage of
6,927 yards, and a par 74 for women at a yardage of 5,387. The golf course could be generally
characterized as a “parkland” golf course concept, with most of the property maintained as turfgrass,
with holes separated by larger trees consisting of about 90% pin oaks, and punctuated with some
maples, and flowering trees. The golf course has 18 active holes, and three holes that are seldom used
except in club competitions or outings, but with few exceptions the golf holes are safely separated,
and cross-over’s between holes are clearly evident and marked. Overall the golf course is of a good
design and is very well maintained with a smaller than average maintenance staff.

Parkersburg Country Club golf course greatest asset which is also its greatest liability is its
location on the floodplain of the Ohio River, which has a history of periodic flooding. The
inundation of several golf holes is generally from back water from an unnamed creek that flows along
the southwest boundary of the property, although on occasion of record high water the Ohio River
will breach its banks and deposit a heavy silt layer. Although nothing can be done to stop this
flooding, being able to recover quickly from it is a high priority. Most of the golf course features such
as tees and greens are above average flood levels, so it is mainly a few fairways and bunkers that are
most affected by flooding. Two fairways most severely impacted are #1 and #18, although 13, 14 and
16 are also an issue. It would be ideal if these areas that flood could be raised above the high water
but this is not easily accomplished in a regulated and jurisdictional floodplain like where the golf
course is located.

Rules for working in such a floodplain generally state that the flood storage volume cannot be
lessened, nor can the direction or velocity of flood water be substantially altered. This means no
importing of fill material onto the floodplain or obstructing of flows, and water filled features can
only count as flood storage from their static pool elevation upward. In short, soils or fill material in a
floodplain can be rearranged but not added to, all of which goes to seriously limit available options
for improving the flooding of the golf course.

The Parkersburg Country Club Board of Governors on 22 September 2014 issued a “Draft
Position Policy Regarding Golf Course Maintenance vs. Architectural Change,” consisting of eight
bullet points. Basically it states no substantial changes can occur on the golf course without approval
by the Board of Governors, and although there is no mention of learning facilities it is assumed these
are also included. Commonly these provisions are implicit in club leadership responsibilities, so it is
not clear the motivation for so specifically spelling them out. However Hurdzan Golf Design is
sensitive to the Board’s policies, and sees our role as only offering recommendations based upon our
50-years of training, knowledge and experience having worked on over 400 golf course projects
worldwide. This report is simply a reiteration of observations, recommendations and discussion made
during our 21 October visit.


Hole Number One - Par 4, 419 - 400 yards
Drainage of this and #18 fairway is a major issue because these are the starting and finishing
holes. Proper drainage of any golf feature has two components: 1) surface drainage and 2) subsurface
drainage that should be mutually supportive. To have one or the other is better than nothing but
having them both is ideal. Surface drainage requires about three percent (3%) slope, or a change in
elevation of three feet (3’) over a length of one hundred feet (100’) (slope = rise/run). Since these two
fairways are relatively flat and are both probably in the floodplain and hence restricted from
importing fill material, the only way to achieve a three percent (3%) slope is to lower areas of the
adjacent rough and raise areas of the fairway, to cause the flood water to move to and accumulate off
the fairway. An extreme example of this is at Cook’s Creek Golf Course in Circleville, Ohio along the
Scioto River, where tees, greens and fairways were raised four to six feet (4’ - 6’) in the air to put
them above the 500 year flood level. At Parkersburg this may only require elevating the fairways to
half that height, but it would still require stripping off all sod, raising or lowering sprinkler heads,
doing required cuts and fills, and then replanting fairways. The estimated cost of this would be
approximately $25,000 to 30,000 per acre. The fairway from the golf car path to the green is about
2.0 to 2.5 acres.

Subsurface drainage is a series of tile, pipes and catch basins that reduce the volumetric water
content of the soils driven by the mass of the water and gravitational pull. Fairway subsurface
drainage is generally installed on forty foot (40’) centers and several feet deep depending on the soil
texture and the elevation of the outfall of the drainage pipe. Parkersburg Country Club is blessed to
have an already functioning large diameter, deep catch basin and outfall system already installed just
north of the golf car path on the first hole. This catch basin will be critical in tile draining of the
fairway and/or rough. Because tile or subsurface drainage is less intrusive than surface drainage
modifications, the inclination will be to want to install subsurface drainage without correcting
surface drainage, which will help dry out the fairways somewhat faster after flooding, but will not
improve the flooding impact. Cost of subsurface fairway drainage is about $10,000 to $12,000 per
acre when installed by a professional drainage contractor. Drainage corrections will not only
improve the playability of the hole, it will shorten the closure time for the holes, and will permit
improving the turf quality of the fairway and rough.

Flooding is a result of not only the river and creeks adjacent to the golf course, it is also a
function of excess water running off adjacent land and drainage patterns to the east (south?) of the
course, including streets and developments. There is no practical way to eliminate this runoff, so the
next best thing is to see if it can be better controlled. The idea is to direct water running onto the
golf course to areas that will less negatively impact the golf course, and this is beyond the scope of our
expertise. To discover any such options will require a civil engineer familiar with local conditions. If
an engineer is retained, Hurdzan Golf Design would be happy to discuss how such measures might
interface with the golf course and its drainage.

Generally sand bunkers have a lifecycle of five to seven years (see attached life cycle chart)
because the sand becomes contaminated with soil from edging, flooding, wind deposition, etc.
Anything that can be done to limit contamination will effectively extend the playable life of the
bunker, as well as reduce maintenance, and make the golf course more visually attractive. Within
the past 15 years or so, one of the best innovations in golf course construction was bunker liner, a
synthetic mat like a furnace filter that is ½” to ¾” thick and comes in 10’ - 15’ wide rolls. To use it
the sand is removed from the bunker, the floor of the bunker is made smooth and compact, drainage
is added or checked to be functioning, the liner is laid over the bunker floor and pinned down, and
sand added over the liner to a depth of six inches (6”) loose. The edge of the bunker liner can be laid
up the face, and over the edge of the bunker, and sod placed over the liner so the grass roots will
grow thru it and into the soil layers below, thus anchoring it. A properly built bunker as described
above will last twice as long as one without a liner or proper construction. Simply adding fresh sand
is masking the problem and not fixing it.

Bunkers are the most expensive part of the golf course to build and maintain on a per square
foot basis - more than tees, greens, or fairways - so getting rid of excess sand is a common practice
with the golf industry. Therefore each bunker should have one of five identifiable purposes (penal,
directional, safety, retaining or aesthetic), be of the optimum size to fulfill that purpose, and properly
constructed to maximize playability and minimize maintenance.

Nearly all of the bunkers at Parkersburg Country Club need to be refreshed or rebuilt, and
bunker liner is highly recommended when that is done. However not all of these bunkers should be
rebuilt to their current size, shape or location, and some bunkers should be totally removed, such as
the driving bunker on hole #5. Specific bunker modifications or recommendations on a hole-by-hole
basis are as follows, otherwise the bunkers can be rebuilt as is.

Hole #1    Remove back, right bunker
                Lower front of front bunkers
Hole #3    Remove right rear bunker, make grassy hollow
                make left, front bunker 50% smaller
Hole #5    Remove fairway bunker, expand fairway to minimum of 30 yards wide, soften remaining earthwork
                Add left front bunker to protect hole locations
                Reduce size of back right bunker by 75%
Hole #6    Remove right rear bunker
                Move left front to front of green and make 50% smaller
Hole #7    Make bunker in front of green 30% smaller
                Totally rebuild, soften, deep back bunker
                Raise far edge of stream with a wall for visibility
Hole #10  Remove second right bunker by pond to allow widening fairway
Hole #11  Reduce size of first right bunker by 50% by getting rid of right half
                Reduce size of left bunker by 40% by getting rid of left half
Hole #12  Drainage is bad in all bunkers so rebuild all of them
Hole #18  Remove right rear bunker
                 Rebuild and simplify left front bunker and widen fairway to the right by 2x - 3x


Tee Design Guidelines:
Typically tees are located and sized in the following manner. Once a back tee location is
determined, a centerline of play is drawn from three steps off of the back of the tee deck out to the
design landing area. This “A” player centerline of play is drawn at different yardages for various
membership ranging from perhaps 250 yards for most clubs out to as long as 300 yards for courses
holding national championships. Whatever this distance, this point is considered in the center of the
landing area or driving zone. Then from the center of the driving zone, designers usually measure
backwards towards the tees to determine where other sets of tees should go. Hurdzan Golf Design
uses a guideline for centerline distances of 270, 240, 210, 180 and 150 yards. Back tees are 270 from
the landing zone and forward ones at 150 yards. This is a commonly accepted guideline among most
golf course designers.

The size of each tee at these individual distances depends upon the number of rounds
expected from that tee, so tees that are less used are smaller, and more well used tees are larger. To
maintain tees that are either too small or too large is not a good use of resources and offers room for
improvement by matching the size to use. Similarly, it is a good practice to relevel tees every 7 - 10
years especially ones that get a lot of abuse like on par 3s, or areas that flood and receive silt

It was our observation that many tees at Parkersburg Country Club are too large and could be
reduced, and thereby requiring less maintenance. At times the least used tee is equal or larger in size
to the most used one. To correct this unbalance would mean stripping excess bentgrass sod off of the
too large ones and replacing it with bluegrass, and vice versa. The general rules of thumb are that on
par 4 and par 5 holes, there should be 150 square feet for every thousand rounds of golf played from it
annually, and on par 3 holes that number goes up 200 square feet per thousand rounds annually. In
other words, assuming 20,000 annual rounds that a par 4 or 5 should have a minimum of
20 x 150 = 3,000 square feet of useable tee space and a par 3 have 20 x 200 or 4,000 square feet. If
10% of those rounds are on forward tees, that tee should be 10% of the total or 300 feet square on par
4 or 5, and 400 square feet on par 3s; and so on. There seems to be no consistency among tee sizes at
Parkersburg Country Club.

Hole Number Five
Most golf holes are pretty challenging and fair except perhaps for hole #5 which has a too
restricted and severe driving zone and should be widened as previously explained. The other bunker
modifications will keep the strategic nature of the hole and make it a good deal more fair and fun. A
new white tee is suggested at the top of the hill in front of the old and seldom used #5 tees, giving a
middle distance of about 425 or 430 yards. This would be a rather simple add because the irrigation is
nearby and very little earthwork is required to create a tee. Naturally this tee could not be used
when old #5 the par 3 was in play.

Hole Number Eleven
There is a great opportunity to expand the back tee on hole #11 off to the left along the edge
of the pond wall. This may only add a few yards to the hole but would give an interesting play angle
to certain hole locations, especially back ones.

Hole Number Sixteen
This hole is almost too hard for front tee players even though it is a par 5. What could help
mitigate this unfairness is a forward tee making the hole play to a more reasonable 415 - 420 yards.
Besides the 18th hole plays within 3 yards of #16 giving these golfers two out of three monster
finishing holes.

Hole Number Seventeen
This par 3 simply needs more tee space and the way to achieve it would be to combine all of
the back tees into one large tee. This will give more tee space, allow for subtle change in angles, and
make maintenance a little easier.

Greens are the most important part of any golf course and drainage is the most important
physical feature of greens - both surface and subsurface. Surface drainage should be between 2.5%
and 1.5% in hole location area (2.5 feet or 1.5 feet in 100 feet of length). Properly installed
subsurface drainage should be installed every 10 to 20 feet depending upon how porous is the
rootzone. When greens lack drainage the soils stay too wet not allowing room for oxygen to enter
the soil for the grass roots, and essentially the plant goes into a stress similar to water boarding torture
technique or worse yet drown. Excellent drainage is essential and can best be realized by building
greens to USGA recommendations for performance characteristic. In lieu of rebuilding greens a
somewhat effective method is to add “Existing Green Drainage” or “XGD.” Experience suggests that
greens #1, #2, #7, #9 and #18 should either be rebuilt or have XGD added. The newer greens on the
course are built to the USGA performance standards. The cost for XGD is about $10,000 - $12,000
per green as opposed to rebuilding the green at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000.

When greens get flooded and silt gets deposited on them, they can seal up at the soil surface
which slows down water from percolating into the rootzone. Frequent aerification and topdressing
can help overcome this condition.

Currently the majority of the greens have a good stand of bentgrass called L-93 or LS-93,
along with the ever present Poa annua. Any over-seeding should continue with L-93 or LS-93, or
another bentgrass compatible with those grasses such as Penncross. Penncross is an older and well
proven performer.

Par 73 to Par 72:
Par 72 is the most common par for a full size 18-hole golf course, whereas Parkersburg
Country Club has a par 73, because it has six par 5s and five par 3s instead of the more common
balance of four each of par 5s and par 3s. Shortening one par 5 to a par 4 is the easiest way to bring
the par down and the two most likely holes are #10 or #16.

 Hole #10 - Shortening this hole to a par 4 of about 425 from the back tee would require
using the current front tee as the back tee, then constructing three or four new tees
proportionately forward of that. Tees cost about $2,500 to $3,000 each depending upon
size and closeness to existing irrigation sources. Tees are not difficult to construct and
might be able to be done in-house. As mentioned in the discussion of bunkers, the
second right side bunker should be eliminated and the fairway by the pond widened.
Cost of removing the bunker and widening the fairway is also about $2,500 to $3,000.

Total cost to convert #10 to a par 4 would be approximately $10,000, and easy to do.

 Hole #16 - The same sort of process would be required to shorten #16 to a par 4 - use
front tee as back tee, build forward tees, remove large center fairway bunker and first left
rough bunker. Although the process is the same, the scope of work on #16 would be
greater than on hole #10, and hence have a greater cost. The forward tees would still be
in the range of $2,500 - $3,000 each, but the bunker work could be nearly double in
volume and cost. Therefore the total cost to convert #16 might be $15,000 to $18,000.

Given that both would be strong par 4s, we would recommend that hole #10 be the one
to be shortened.


Today’s and future golf members want and expect outstanding golf learning centers,
especially at a top ranked club like Parkersburg Country Club. This means a huge grass tee (at least
one acre in size), an all-weather artificial turf strip, long enough to accommodate the crush of golfers
warming up for a shotgun start (ideally at least 450 feet long or room for 45 golfers at once), welldefined
target greens or target fairways, possibly a sheltered and heated area for a few golfers, a
multilevel short game center, practice bunkers, and practice putting green. All of this takes a good
deal of space for the range should be at least 300 yards from the front of the tee to the end, 150 to 200
yards wide for safety to adjoining property, and room for the short game, putting greens and
sheltered tee area.

The current range is too short requiring the use of limited flight golf balls that allow a person
to swing the club and warm up, but not very satisfying to watch the ball in flight or seriously practice
the golf swing. The members call the limited flight golf balls “pumpkin ball” because they fly so
mushy. Getting rid of the limited flight golf balls is and should be a major objective for Parkersburg
Country Club. A really strong hitter can make the ball fly and hence having a net at the end of the
range to protect the highway is a good idea until a better solution is found. As it is now the end of
the current range is only 700 feet (233 yards) from the front edge of the grass tee and ideally it should
be 900 feet.

Parkersburg Country Club has little or no room for a full size range except in two potential
locations; 1) the current range and car parking lot, and 2) on vacant land between the railroad tracks
and the river north of holes #13 and #14. All other potential locations are either too short or too
narrow or are occupied by golf holes.

Option: “Left-Right Range”
To make the current range area possibly work means making several major compromises but
it does also have a major advantage in that it is close to the clubhouse, parking lot, proshop, and first
tee. To make this area acceptable requires losing a line of parking for 13 - 15 cars adjacent to the tee
and adding a similar number of spaces to the south end of the parking lot. This will then permit
pulling the back edge of the range tee for an artificial turf tee to be about 800’ from the end of the
property. From the artificial turf strip real golf balls could be hit toward the road as long as the safety
nets were kept in place. From the grass tee in front of the artificial turf tee, only iron shots would be
permitted from the real turf except for weaker hitters. Target greens and fairways are measured from
the center of the real turf tee so this could now be a reasonable practice area and be called “left

The “right range” could be another longer but smaller practice area built on the fairway of the
old finish hole #18. The tee would be built about where the green is now, and from the artificial turf
strip at its back to the road would be 900 feet or 300 yards, or quite safe to the road, although keeping
a small 30’ net along the road is a good idea because from the front of the tee it is only 800’ or 233
yards. From the “right range” golfers could use real golf balls and hit only woods, drivers and utility
clubs to keep from chewing up the turf with divots from irons.

The left and right range tees would be physically separated by a net that starts near the left
rear of the right range tee and extends up to the right front of the left range tee. This net or ball
barrier fence could be only 10’ higher and have shrubs or low growing trees planted along its bottom
to hide it. This ball barrier is to protect golfers using the left range from golfers using the right range
tee and hitting woods. The trees that separate the two range’s landing area may have to be thinned
out or limbed up, or both, but the trees can stay if desired.

There would be two target fairways built on either side of the tree line separator, one for the
irons only range and one for the woods only range.

The total tee area would be over an acre with a total width of 480’ with 340 of it on the left
range tee and 140 of it on the left. This would allow 34 golfers to hit at once on the left and 14 on the
right, which is an adequate number for outings, shotguns, and serious practicing and teaching. A
small short game center could be added as well as a practice bunker.

This location for a range is great but not ideal for the limited space requires quite a few
compromises, but it could work. No other angling or reshaping of this area works so the ranges must
play to the east. The cost to build this range complex including adding parking might be in the range
of $150,000 to $200,000 since so much of it is already there.

Option: “Down By The River”
The other location for a range is located about 2,000’ away from the clubhouse, which is
much closer than the range at Pine Valley Golf Club which is 3,000’ away from the clubhouse. There
is no question this is not ideal either and also requires many compromises as well, but has some

The access to the range labeled “down by the river” would be along the road bordering
current hole #4, past old hole #5, and then to an existing access road that crosses the railroad tracks
and heads towards the river, past a small oil tank. This range would be a standalone with its own
parking lot, small range building for storage and administration if necessary, and service area for a
dumpster. The range tee itself would be over an acre in size, being 450’ wide and 100’ deep, with an
artificial turf strip at the back that could accommodate 45 golfers at once. The range itself is the ideal
of 900’ (300 yards) long from the front of the grass tee deck to any other area, which in this case is the
golf car path from #13 green to #14 tee. Consideration was given to reversing the proposed southern
direction of play to be northerly by placing the range tee behind #13 green and #14 tee, but there was
no access across the railroad tracks and there would be lots of activity behind #13 green and #14 tee.
From an administrative point of view the north facing range is preferred for security and shorter
access from the clubhouse, but no practical access route was identified. The south facing range is far
better in colder weather, has room for parking up to 22 automobiles, and can be used as a public
range if an operator/investor could be found.
The “pumpkin ball” range in use now by the clubhouse could then be used as strictly a warmup
range before golf, and “down by the river” used for serious practice.
The cost to build the “down by the river” range could be perhaps twice the cost of “left right”
option because it would require more paving, irrigation, range building, earthmoving, drainage and
planting. On the other hand it might be that this range could be lighted and made into a commercial

Option: “Current #4 & #5”
The only other conceivable place for a range at Parkersburg Country Club would be to
reactivate the two old holes #17 and #18 that then become #8 and #9, and convert current holes #4
and #5 into the range area. We would be happy to investigate this option if anyone believed that the
club would give up holes #4 and #5 in exchange for old #17 and #18, along with a range.

Parkersburg Country Club golf course is a fine facility except for a couple of holes that can be
easily made better, but the issues of flooding which cannot be easily solved. The greatest weakness is
its golf learning center which will become increasingly important to attract and retain younger
members in the future. This is a big ticket item and there are no perfect solutions. Most bunkers
need to be rebuilt and drainage in old greens is important as well. With a few changes the course can
retain its current status, but with major changes it could vastly improve its ranking and prestige.

Michael J. Hurdzan, Ph.D., ASGCA Fellow
Christopher M. Hurdzan, Ph.D., MBA
Attachment: Life Cycle Cart (open pdf document to view attachments)

1270 Old Henderson Road | Columbus, OH 43220
Ph. 614 457 9955 | Fax 614 573 7180
[email protected]
1270 Old Henderson Road | Columbus, OH 43220
Ph. 614 457 9955 | Fax 614 573 7180
[email protected]
1270 Old Henderson Road | Columbus, OH 43220
Ph. 614 457 9955 | Fax 614 573 7180
[email protected]