Beige Blend Wax Polymer Pathway Mix - Aronomink Golf Club - Newtown Square, PA

How to Properly Maintain Golf Courses through Winter

If you’re lucky enough to own or patronize a golf course somewhere like sunny Florida, you don’t have to worry much about snow, ice, or other cold-weather conditions. But here in the Midwest, golf courses typically have to close up shop during the winter months. 

Come spring, even well-maintained courses will have plenty of prep work to get ready for the golf season. Courses that are ignored or suffer from improper drainage will be significantly worse off. All that melting snow and ice, along with the effects of harsh freeze/thaw cycles, can leave cart paths and the rest of a course a damaged, muddy mess. Let’s take a look at the hard work that goes into maintaining a deceptively quiet-looking course in the wintertime.

Winter Golf Course Needs

Here are just a few of the considerations that golf superintendents and other key managers have to keep in mind as winter approaches and threatens to damage pristine courses. 

Watching the Weather

To maximize the playing season for golfers, courses typically stay open until temperatures get too low or snow covers the greens. They reopen sometime in the spring, when all that snow and ice has melted and the ground has thawed. This requires a number of days with temperatures above freezing, and that can be hard to come by in the Midwest. Because winter weather can be unpredictable, courses must stay closely informed of approaching weather patterns in order to determine when it’s time to close for the season—and when they can safely reopen without risking damage to the grounds. 

Minimizing Turf Loss

Courses that are exposed to severe weather each winter typically suffer damage to their greens. Depending on ground exposure, weather patterns, and other course damage, greens may need to be covered with materials like straw, sand, or even tarps to minimize turf loss. They’ll also likely need applications of fungicide to avoid the risk of snow mold diseases.

Snow can actually protect turf from the ravages of winter winds, low temperatures, and ice. Unbroken ice, in particular, can cause turf loss, due to the lack of oxygen in the soil. If ice persists, it may need to be removed periodically to allow for gas exchange. Some courses even erect a kind of greenhouse over portions of the greens in order to raise temperatures and promote the germination of new grasses.

Preemptive Golf Course Pathway Solutions

Golf course pathway materials like asphalt can freeze, crack, and heave during the winter, leaving groundskeepers with extensive maintenance to get through before play can resume. Other permeable materials will turn pathways into a muddy mess come spring. Some courses are turning to new pathway options to make getting ready to open after winter that much easier. Kafka’s Wax Polymer Pathway Mix is a non-permeable formulation that doesn’t freeze, so you won’t see your cart pathways growing muddy and soft as the weather warms. On top of that, the material’s resistance to erosion makes it the ideal option for courses that cover hilly terrain and want to emerge from the winter with intact pathways. 

Protecting Equipment

Winter weather can badly damage everything from golf carts to pins to maintenance equipment, so it’s essential for courses to store these materials away from the elements. Courses typically also use this time to update or replace older equipment, setting the stage for a better player experience in the springtime. 

Tackling Projects

It can be difficult for golf courses to complete large projects when golfers are playing the course for most of the daylight hours. As such, winter provides an opportunity for courses to take care of more significant projects. That doesn’t mean that groundskeepers will be out in the middle of a snowstorm, but the winter is long here in the Midwest, and the right conditions and an empty course can allow plenty of time to tackle projects or source new materials.

Effective Golf Course Pathway Solutions From Kafka Granite

Here at Kafka Granite, we take great pride in producing high-quality aggregates, while at the same time adapting and developing exciting new applications for these reliable materials. Our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix has proven to be a valuable solution for courses who need cart pathways to stretch across hilly terrain. This product won’t crack, crumble, or heave, and it remains malleable, allowing for easy reworking if necessary. And because this material is non-permeable, it holds up to repetitive freeze/thaw cycles, making it the perfect low-maintenance solution to muddy, eroding, or heaving pathways. The natural look of our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix also makes it less obtrusive than asphalt or concrete pathways. 

In pursuit of other exciting golf course applications, we’ve also developed erosion-resistant bunker sand, which stands up beautifully to heavy rains and severe winds. This product utilizes the same engineered polymeric wax that makes our pathway mix so useful.

Reach out today to learn more about our golf course pathway solutions, Wax Polymer Bunker Sand, and other landscaping materials that will take your course to the next level. We look forward to working with you.

Wax Polymer Pathway Mix for Golf

Keeping Golf Course Pathways Pristine With Kafka Granite

You don’t need us to tell you that golf course pathways are essential to the operation of a course. Whether your terrain is crisscrossed with cart paths or features narrow, walking-only trails, that pathway system enables your entire course to function. When golfers aren’t walking the paths, maintenance workers and caretakers need those pathways to transport material and equipment, seed the greens, and otherwise monitor and maintain the course.   

At Kafka Granite, we put our years of experience in specialty aggregates to work developing customized solutions to age-old problems like erosion and weathering. Often, that involves an innovative application of one of our products—or the creation of something entirely new. Along those lines, we developed our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix to overcome an issue with pathways washing out at the Erin Hills golf course, site of the 2017 U.S. Open. 

We’ve put together some helpful information for golf courses looking to install high-quality pathways or overcome existing terrain issues. Here’s what you need to know when looking for a new pathway material. 

Where Traditional Golf Course Pathways Fall Short

Standard hardscapes like asphalt or concrete might not be the best choice for your course. These pathway materials fail in a number of ways, from small to seemingly insurmountable. Poor design, coupled with inappropriate pathway material, can leave your hardscape cracking and crumbling or more natural solutions messy and muddy – what’s worse? The wrong material can also leave your pathways dusty in summer and mucky in the spring, not at all what your golfers need for a good game. Many path solutions require constant maintenance or expensive repairs – problems Kafka aimed to solve.

When it comes to aesthetics, pathways play a significant role in the look of your course. Concrete may wear fairly well, but it won’t blend in with the rest of your course. And that’s not even going into the care of these hardscapes—some materials will need significant maintenance as they weather under severe temperatures and erosive effects of rain or high winds.

Characteristics of an Effective Golf Course Pathway Mix

You’ve likely run into some of the issues mentioned above while working to keep your course pristine. If you’re searching for a new type of pathway material to install, you should have a few qualifications in mind for a material that will avoid or minimize these problems. 

Your cart pathways require a pathway mix that is durable but doesn’t need extensive maintenance. Golf courses with hilly terrain and steep surfaces will benefit from a versatile pathway material that can resist erosion and withstand foot and cart traffic. And depending on the location of your course, your cart pathways will need to be able to resist the ravages of severe weather patterns and changing temperatures.

In short, your ideal pathway material is:

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Installed simply
  • Easily maintained

So, where can you find a material that fits all of these criteria? It might be time to reach out for an expert opinion. A knowledgeable professional at Kafka Granite can narrow down your options and work to identify the right material that will meet the unique needs of your course. When in doubt, refer back to those material qualifications and examine how a potential pathway mix might either fit in with your existing cart paths—or replace them entirely. 

Kafka Granite’s Golf Course Pathway Solutions and Bunker Sand

At Kafka Granite, we’ve developed a pathway material and bunker sand specifically for tricky golf course terrain. Here’s a look at two popular products that have made their way onto golf courses across the Midwest. 

Wax Polymer Pathway Mix

Our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix fits the bill for a wide variety of golf course needs, but it’s particularly useful for highly erosive pathway systems. Made up of a non-erosive, wax-coated aggregate, this pathway material blends in with the natural beauty of a course while standing up to heavy foot and cart traffic. Its unique composition allows the Wax Polymer Mix to be laid on the steepest of hills and the twistiest of paths. 

Because the material is pre-mixed, installation is simple. The process doesn’t even require water! Your team just needs to lay the mix, level the surface, and compact—and you’ll be left with an attractive, resilient pathway. This material is also impermeable, waterless, and dustless.

Wax Polymer Bunker Sand

Kafka’s Wax Polymer Bunker Sand was originally developed for high maintenance, out of play bunkers at the Whistling Straits course. This material is a great choice for courses looking to cut back on the amount of maintenance required to keep out of play bunkers in good shape. Made to be extremely resistant to erosion, our bunker sand holds up under everything from heavy rain to high winds. And in terms of installation, the product can be easily placed over preexisting bunker sand.   

Before Kafka Wax Polymer Bunker Sand

Immediately following 2″ of Rain with Kafka Wax Polymer Bunker Sand

Transform Your Golf Course Today

Whether you’re looking for a versatile pathway material for the hilliest section of your course or a reliable bunker sand that can stand up to the forces of nature, Kafka Granite can help. We’re dedicated to providing the materials and information you need to make your course truly remarkable. Contact us today to request samples or learn more about how we can help make your pathway project a success.

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Erin Hills Golf Course: A Kafka Case Study

Just over two hours away from Kafka headquarters in nearby Hartford, Wisconsin, sits a beautiful picturesque golf course. Carved from glacier movement thousands of years ago, Erin Hills is a golf venue that cannot be rivaled by many. The 652-acre course still maintains some of the streams that were carved by the last glacier to cover Wisconsin, and it offers visitors exquisite vistas composed of rolling hills and swaying grasses.

Erin Hills is so breathtaking that it has been chosen to play host to the 2017 U.S. Open. The 2017 U.S. Open will host 156 players from all over the world. With so many players coming to the course to play along it’s stunning route, Erin Hills decided to replace their existing walk paths with new highly durable paths that could withstand the harsh Wisconsin winters and the course’s hilly terrain.

Kafka Granite was called in to replace Erin Hills’s highly erosive existing pathway system and replace it with a custom blended aggregate color of both stabilized and wax polymers pathways. With a long history of working with various aggregate binders for these purposes, we at Kafka Granite felt confident that we could deliver a pathway system that would complement the natural beauty of Erin Hills and reduce the maintenance for their grounds crew.

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

WHEN: Fall of 2012 to Spring of 2017

WHERE: Erin Hills Golf Course, 652 acres of property in Hartford, Wisconsin.

WHY: Erin Hills desired natural looking cart and walking paths that blended in with the course, but there were issues with erosion due to the hilly terrain. Their grounds crew was spending far too much time maintaining their walking paths when their valuable time could have been spent maintaining the course. Refusing to settle for obtrusive hardscapes such as asphalt or concrete, they opted for a natural aggregate path blended with wax polymer thanks to Kafka Granite. On flatter terrain, they chose to combine their aggregate with a stabilizing binder. With the first ever U.S. Open to come to Wisconsin to be hosted at their course in 2017, pressure was on to update all of the walking paths with Kafka Granite materials before the June 2017 event.

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

WHO: Our product is designed to be simple to install and maintain, so for this project the Erin Hills ground crew was able to install their new pathway system themselves.

WHAT: Erin Hills decided to use both stabilized and wax polymers pathways. Our stabilized pathway mix consists of decomposed granite or crushed stone screenings blended with a stabilizing binder. This mixture binds and locks the pathway mix to create a durable, permeable natural aggregate surface. Our stabilized decomposed granite surfaces are crafted to better withstand forces that would otherwise lead to erosion, which was the issue with the previous pathway mix that Erin Hills had been using.

Our wax polymer pathway mix combines natural crushed stone screenings or decomposed granite carefully pre-blended with an engineered polymeric wax in an entirely waterless process to create a unique paving alternative. This wax coated aggregate mix creates a dustless, sealed, non-permeable, but yet natural-looking surface that is perfect for use on a golf course as it can stand up to extensive wear and tear and the hilliest of terrain.

Erin Hills was looking for a natural solution that would blend in perfectly with their gorgeous scenery. At Kafka Granite, we offer over 50 different colors of pathway solutions. It was no problem to create a specialized blend for the Erin Hills golf course walking paths that was a perfect color match for what they had envisioned. 

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

HOW: One hurdle that we had to overcome while working on the Erin Hills project was finding the correct binder for the pathway mixes. We choose our binders based on local climate, pathway slope and individual aggregate type. With a property as large as Erin Hills, our dedicated team members worked hard to derive the proper binders needed. During this process our team was able to devise and implement a brand new wax polymer binder that was cleaner and performed better than the planned original binder.

Custom Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI

Joe Sell (North Shore Superintendent), Chris Zugel (Whistling Straits Superintendent), Glenn Kafka (Kafka Granite Owner), and Zach Reineking (Erin Hills Superintendent) during installation at Erin Hills

The wax polymer pathway mixes present much less of a challenge as our wax polymer pathway is pre-blended for easy installation and maintenance. No water is needed for the installation of this product. Crews chose not to compact the new pathways with a one to two ton roller. Since Erin Hills desired a more natural looking pathway system, it was decided to let foot traffic compact the new pathways naturally. Wax polymer pathways were a great alternative for the Erin Hills project because these pathways do not get muddy or dusty like more traditional walkway options. This will help keep all golfers and observers dry and clean during the U.S. Open and will make the pathways ideal for local golfers all season long. Additionally, the Erin Hills grounds crew will no longer be spending large amounts of time maintaining the pathways and will now be able to focus on the course itself. Our wax polymer pathways are easy to maintain and can be easily manipulated if subtle changes are needed. These new pathways won’t have a problem standing up to the harsh freeze/thaw cycles that the course is subjected to in Wisconsin due to their nonpermable composition.

The stabilized pathways used at Erin Hills were chosen for their affordability, permeability, and design. With 50 different color variations, Kafka Granite was able to duplicate the custom aggregate blend already used for the wax polymer pathways that allowed for a seamless transition into the stabilized pathways. The stabilized pathways were used in flatter areas of the course, as the use of Stabilized Pathway Mix is not recommended on slopes over 10%. Kafka Granite stabilized pathways are made to withstand heavy foot traffic, reduce mud, dust, and erosion, while still remaining permeable. Following installation recommendations, Erin Hills installed 3 inches of prehydrated stabilized pathway mixture over a DOT approved base course for proper stability and drainage.

Kafka Granite’s stabilized pathways are a more affordable option than Wax Polymer Pathways, which helped Erin Hills to conserve costs. Because of its affordability and versatility, Erin Hills utilized our unique stabilized pathway mix whenever the more durable wax polymer mix was unneeded. Through a combination of both wax polymer and stabilized pathways a truly remarkable pathway system was created.

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Instead of going with a high-maintenance, easily eroded option, Kafka Granite helped Erin Hills find the perfect pathway mixture for their one-of-a-kind golf course. Thanks to the hard work performed by our team in conjunction with the groundskeepers from the Erin Hills golf course, these new walkways can be enjoyed by all for years to come. Zachary Reineking, Director of Course Maintenance for Erin Hills had this to say about their new pathways at the end of this project,  “Over the years Erin Hills has tried an array of products for our undulating walk paths. The wax polymer and stabilized crushed granite from Kafka Granite provides a superior combination of ease of installation, durability, limited maintenance, and great aesthetics.”

With over 60 colors of specialty crushed aggregates for manufacturing, architecture and landscaping available, we are able to create customs products that will perfectly reflect your design vision. Our knowledgeable sales representatives are eager to help you find the ideal Kafka Granite solution for your next project.