If you find yourself surrounded by tumbleweeds, horny toads and golf balls, you might be in Snyder, Texas. With a population of just over 11,000, the size of the town has no bearing on the amount of talent that can be found in the Snyder High School golf teams. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams have won multiple state championships.

More recently, however, the team experienced challenges from not having their own golf practice facility. Michael Rodriguez, president of the Snyder Public School Golf Booster Club, recognized the team’s need and set out to do something about it.

The elementary schools in the area had recently combined into one large school, leaving behind many empty buildings, including an old gym. The booster club developed a plan that involved purchasing the old gym and transforming it into a golf practice facility.

“This gym was just sitting there,” Rodriguez said. “We thought we’d cut costs and use it.”

They contacted Rick Hunter, the team’s coach, and talked to him about their idea. Hunter was instrumental in laying out the elements that their ideal facility would include, Rodriguez said. With the building attained and a solid idea in place for what they wanted to accomplish, all that was left to do was find the right contractor to build their dream into a reality.

Photo: Michael Rodriguez and Tim Little

Visualization

Tim Little, West Texas territory manager for Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply, was attending a meeting in Houston when he received a call from Rodriguez with the high school golf program.

After hearing more about the project — converting a gym into a golf practice facility — Little was confident he could meet Rodriguez’s needs but needed to find a contractor to partner with him on the job.

Michael Beasley of New Leaf Landscaping had done several synthetic EPS turf jobs before, but converting an elementary school gym to an indoor golf facility was a tall task — the kind of task he said he’d love to be a part of.

“It was an opportunity for me to get more experience with artificial turf and the putting green,” Beasley said.

With Beasley and Little both committed to the project, they began focusing on the materials and plans necessary to convert the gym.

Putting concrete around the putting green. Photo: Michael Rodriguez and Tim Little

The planning process

The gym needed a lot of work before the installations could begin. The plans called for 10 hitting stations measuring 5 feet x 5 feet, walls covered with netting, a Trackman computer simulator (a system that gives automatic feedback on a golfer’s swing) and an enormous 15-foot-x-33-foot putting green in the middle of the facility.

“It had to be very well thought out,” Beasley said. For example, materials needed to adhere to certain delivery windows due to space constraints, and the floors had to be stripped of the waxing and cleaned before they could even start laying turf.

The different backgrounds Beasley and Little provided made a big difference in the outcome of the project.

“Teaming up was a great thing,” Beasley said. “Tim had all the knowledge as far as the supplies and how they should be installed, while I was able to provide tools, labor and best practices as to how to work with the materials.”

“Our teamwork is a great example of a truly beneficial relationship between a contractor and a supplier,” Little said.

Tooth seaming the turf. Photo: Michael Rodriguez and Tim Little

Angle of approach

Altogether, the project took eight days and was completed by Little, Beasley and three additional team members from New Leaf Landscaping.

Beasley detailed out the days as follows:

Day 1

  • Placement of the pond liner, track system and first phase of decomposed granite application
  • Supplies used: Concrete screws, Snap Edge and Landscape Products Grass Cels

Day 2

  • Put down the remaining decomposed granite
  • Supplies used: Decomposed granite, wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes

Day 3

  • Compacted the granite in 2-inch layers and temporarily rolled out putting green carpet to verify smoothness of compaction
  • Supplies used: Gas powered vibratory compactor

Day 4

  • Cemented concrete around the edge of the Snap Edge
  • Supplies used: Wheelbarrow for mixing concrete and a hand trowel

Day 5

  • Placed and secured the cups on the putting green and laid the putting green surface out to stretch
  • Supplies used: Carpet stretcher, putting cups, plastic and a level

Day 6

  • Cut the turf and laid it out inside the building
  • Supplies used: Carpet knife and carpet scissors

Day 7

  • Glued the turf down and seamed the putting green to the pet turf
  • Supplies used: Seam tape, tamper, pump up sprayer, EPS glue, trowel and water roller

Day 8

  • Cut out turf for the driving mats, installed them, sanded and rolled the green, cut the cups and stimpmeter testing the green
  • Supplies used: Carpet knife, water roller, broom, drop spreader, shop vac and stimpmeter

Reading the green

The conversion of the gym presented several challenges, but one of the biggest was building the putting green on an existing concrete surface.

The first thing Beasley and Little did was make sure the base would stay preserved. Little suggested laying down a pond liner to protect the concrete. The liner acted as a moisture barrier between the concrete and the compaction material — protecting the original flooring.

Next, the crew needed to think of a way to stabilize the decomposed granite being poured on the pond liner. Beasley decided to run Snap Edge, a black plastic edge restraint, around the outside of the putting green. He’d used the product on other turf and paver jobs with great success. It helped shape the green and stabilize the decomposed granite they were bringing in to build the green up.

To attach the edging to the floor, Beasley had to drill and install concrete screws, which proved to be quite challenging.

Finally, when the edging was secure, they poured concrete over the top of it to cement it in place.

“It all had to be done by hand,” Beasley said. “I made sure that I had a 6-inch trowel, which allowed me to basically do it in one path.” He had to take special care to make sure that the distance away from the edging was the same all the way around the putting green in order to keep the correct angle.

“Doing this helped us make the transition from the 6-inch height of the putting green down to the floor,” Little said.

The results turned out even better than the team had originally anticipated.

Photo: Michael Rodriguez and Tim Little

Assessing the finished product

New features. New location. Improved practice. Better play. Snyder’s new golf practice facility has created an energy-charged atmosphere that’s bringing the players one step closer to their goals.

For Beasley, the completion of the project grew his industry knowledge and service offerings. He said he would absolutely do this type of project again.

“Transforming a gym into a golf facility was an awesome experience,” he said. “Everything turned out the way we wanted it to.”

To all the contractors out there who would like to start offering services like this one, Little said the best thing you can do is: “Plan, plan, plan. Detail out the drawing and products and be clear about the process.”

For the Snyder golf teams, the future looks bright with potential championships on the horizon.

“We are 100 percent satisfied with the facility,” Rodriguez said. “This facility will take us to the next level and we couldn’t have asked for more.”

Products specified in the project included:

  • Snap Edge, 120 feet
  • Pond Liner, 600 square feet
  • Landscape Products Grass Cel, 500 square feet
  • EPS Nails
  • EPS Pet Turf, 3000 square feet
  • EPS Putting Green, 510 square feet
  • EPS Glue, 40 gallons
  • EPS Seam Kits, 3
  • EPS Sand, 60 bags
  • EPS ULTE 5 x 5 Golf Mats, 9
  • Sod Roller
  • Soil Tac, 5 gallons

Kayli Hanley is the public relations specialist for Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply based in Phoenix, Arizona.