LIVERMORE, Calif. – June 19, 2012 – Last Sunday, when 156 of the world’s best golfers gathered together at The Olympic Club Lake course in San Francisco, California to compete in the 2012 Men’s U.S. Open golf tournament, it signaled the culmination of years of work at The Olympic Club Lake course that included the complete tear-down and reconstruction of all 18 green complexes using Topcon’s precision measurement technology.
Over the course of many months in 2008 and 2009, all 18 green complexes were completely torn down and rebuilt in preparation for the 2012 U.S. Open. Roundworms were eating away at the greens and drainage needed to be fine-tuned. The challenge was issued: members at the privately held Olympic Club were happy with the slopes and contours of fourteen of the eighteen greens at the Lake course. That meant fourteen greens had to be torn down and rebuilt exactly the same. Every contour, every slope and every shape had to be precisely recreated in order for a golf ball to roll the same.
The Lake Course superintendent Brian Koffler said “the membership was happy with those 14 surfaces. The club was very adamant about putting the exact contours back on those putting surfaces, exactly as-is.”
In order to precisely rebuild the greens, high-precision construction equipment capable of vertical and horizontal measurement precision within six millimeters was required.
Golf course builder Frontier Golf of Jones Mills, Pennsylvania was selected as the contractor to perform the work. Frontier’s support team included Topcon sales consultant Dave Krautz of Productivity Products and Services, Inc (PPS). Krautz recommended Topcon’s high-precision GPS/GNSS receiver technology as well as Topcon’s patented Millimeter GPS laser leveling technology. Krautz recommended Topcon’s Millimeter GPS technology because it improves vertical precision up to 300 percent over existing GPS-based systems.
“The whole process moved much quicker than we originally had planned”, said superintendent Koffler. He said other contractors who had expressed interest in the project were forecasting two to three times the manpower to complete the project than what Frontier accomplished with Topcon equipment.
With the success at the Olympic Club’s Lake course, Topcon’s Millimeter GPS technology left Nicholas Scigliano, president and CEO of Frontier Golf, suitably impressed. "On our next greens restoration project, I’m going to turn to (Topcon’s) Millimeter GPS right out of the gate. The vertical accuracy is right on," he said. "It’s pretty neat stuff," he said of the Lake Course project. "We are doing stuff here that’s unique in our field."
In addition to rebuilding 14 greens, Topcon’s Millimeter GPS technology was used to reshape the 18th green at the Olympic Club Lake course that was the source of controversy at the end of the 1998 U.S. Open. With the pin placed on a ridge at No. 18, a number of putts were rolling well past the pin. As a result, the green was flattened in 2000, but as Koffler explained, Olympic Club members felt it had become a little too flat; it had gone from perhaps too challenging to not challenging enough – they could two-putt from anywhere on the green, so the Olympic Club decided to return some of the challenge on the 18th green.
Left: A Topcon GNSS receiver recording one of the 2,500 measurements required to accurately model the green complexes at the Olympic Club Lake course, site of the 2012 U.S. Open.
Right: The storied 18th hole under construction at the Olympic Club Lake course.