- Bunkers will be renovated and some will be eliminated or relocated
- Fairways, rough and tee boxes will be re-grassed using Celebration Bermudagrass
- Green surrounds, and approaches will be refined to create more options for hole locations (without changing the contours of the greens)
- All existing tee boxes will be rebuilt and additional tees will be added, including a significant number of new forward/family tees.
Andy Staples, owner and principal architect of Staples Golf Design, has been selected as the consulting course architect for FireRock Country Club in Fountain Hills, Ariz., whose members overwhelmingly approved a multimillion-dollar golf course enhancement project that will take place this summer. The 430-member club will close the golf course May 13 to undergo this exciting project aimed at refining and revitalizing the 19-year-old, Gary Panks-designed golf course.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me,” Staples said. “When I first walked onto the property, I was struck by the dramatic nature of the site, and the quality routing. My plan is to bring out the best of the site by instilling a more strategic, natural style of bunkering, filled with drama for every level of player. We’ll also look to the future by finding ways to make the Club’s operation much more sustainable.”
Course enhancements will include:
“All of the course improvements are focused on building upon the great course that exists today. The changes will provide our members with better playing conditions in this amazing setting that fits so naturally within the elevation changes and desert scenery of FireRock,” general manager Tim Geesey said. “The membership support that we received is a significant statement about the position of our Club just a few years after transitioning from the original developer.”
Planning for the course is currently well underway, as Staples will work closely with superintendent Craig Werline and other key staff and club stakeholders. FireRock will also continue to make improvements in and around the clubhouse to further enhance the experience for the members.
There are superintendents who say they dread the first full week of April each year because they know their members are glued to their televisions watching the Masters and wondering why their course isn’t also perfect.
If they needed someone to blame for the condition known as Masters envy, they could look no further than Jim James, the senior director for club and hospitality operations at the Augusta National Golf Club. If they did, they would see someone whose commitment to excellence goes far beyond flora and course conditions.
“We simply try every single day to be the absolute best we can at everything thing we do,” says James, who has been on the job at Augusta National since 1995. “We look at every single day as an opportunity to improve. When we find we are not the best, we are relentless and incredibly focused to make sure that we improve.”
Of course, there also are those superintendents who watch the tournament and find inspiration and challenge amidst the azaleas, dogwoods and meticulously groomed grounds.
It is the attention to detail that inspires Jon Jennings, the superintendent at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, host of last year’s U.S. Open. “My takeaway each visit is that no matter how inconsequential a detail, they are extremely important for the overall success of the Masters,” he says. “Upon returning home, I try to instill that level of quality with our staff and have them visualize that everything we do in course preparation is important in the grand scheme of things from a player-experience perspective.”
The Masters provides professionals with instructive and insightful examples that guide innovation, brand management and continuous improvement.
Keith Wood, director of greens and grounds at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte N.C., is no stranger to big-time golf, having hosted the 2017 PGA Championship. But he recognizes something special when he sees it.
“I learned early on that if there was a week or two to have my greens as good as they could be, I needed to peak around the Masters,” Wood says. “There is nothing better than getting compliments on how your course is playing while everyone is buzzing from the excitement of a great Masters tournament.”
Wood, who is preparing Quail Hollow for the 2021 President’s Cup, says the Masters’ grounds and agronomy team set the bar for tournament golf each season. “I am in awe of the horticulture and the health and beauty of the landscaping they do,” he says. “All shrubs and trees on the property are perfectly placed and maintained. They do a wonderful job of embracing the heritage of being a plant nursery and then take it to the next level with world-class horticulture skills.”
Carlos Arraya, director of grounds and agronomy at historic Bellerive Country Club near St. Louis, finds motivation in the history of the club that has played host to some of golf’s most memorable tournaments.
“The Masters inspires me to communicate and focus on Bellerive’s great traditions and championship history,” says Arraya, who prepared Bellerive for the 2018 PGA Championship. “Even though the Masters is one-of-a-kind, every course has its character and own story.”
The attention to detail and the steady progress on new solutions – from technology to labor deployment – serve as guidance for Arraya’s planning purposes. “The takeaway that resonates in my mind every year while watching the tournament is that a vision accompanied by a strategic plan can produce golfing excellence for the players and patrons,” he says.
While some may dread Masters week for the envy it produces, the great ones welcome golf’s first major as a learning experience. They know that even though they don’t have Augusta National’s budget or staff (more than 2,000 during tournament week), they can make their own commitment to excellence, looking at each day as an opportunity to improve.
Henry DeLozier is a principal at Global Golf Advisors consultancy and a monthly GCI columnist.
The names on the staff box of our printed magazine represent only a small part of the terrific team responsible for producing Golf Course Industry.
Our internal support network at GIE Media includes an impressive collection of audience development specialists, email savants, web developers, market and production coordinators, sales gurus, marketing magicians, accounting and human resource personnel, and editors and designers from sister publications. Without their knowledge and dedication, we don’t reach the proper audience with carefully targeted and timely content.
To prepare for expanded roles, publisher Dave Szy and I recently met with Kevin Caslow, our enthusiastic and passionate search engine optimization specialist. Somebody like Caslow is the publishing version of an irrigation consultant or arborist. He cares deeply about his area of expertise – and he owns a colorful “I am SEO” mug to prove it. Caslow’s job involves helping us direct you to content created to assist, inspire and inform.
Caslow asked us multiple overarching questions about Golf Course Industry. Our preoccupation with day-to-day tasks often prevent us from assessing about our own products, whether it’s a magazine or a golf course, in a broader context. The probing forced us to think critically and analytically, stretching our minds as we pondered the following question: Who are we?
Answering this question represents one of my first official tasks as editor. Following careful self-analysis, we determined three words succinctly describe Golf Course Industry.
We’re operated independently of an association. Our columnists opine on whatever they want. Think of how many times you have reached the end of a Pat Jones column and wondered, “He actually went there!” Tim Moraghan wrote a column this month based on a conversation with a superintendent blindsided by his dismissal. A tough topic tackled by a gutsy writer. Pat and Tim also hold industry decision-makers accountable for misguided flubs.
Our annual “Turfheads Take Over” allows readers to write about whatever topic they deem fit. Last year’s issue featured six submissions crafted by your peers to raise awareness and offer solutions for the mental anguish the job afflicts.
We don’t have a happy narrative to protect or event space to sell. We have readers to serve. Our format removes barriers to best serving them.
Bethpage State Park director of agronomy Andrew Wilson told me in a Q&A running this month his staff relishes the “People’s Country Club” moniker. Well, if somebody calls us “The People’s Publication,” we’ll consider it a giant compliment.
We receive dozens of news releases, announcements and article submissions from readers and partners each month. We don’t like adding unnecessary layers to getting something you care about published. Unless they are overly commercial, unprofessional or poorly crafted, we will find a spot for your submission. Print space might be limited, but our website, social media feeds, Fast & Firm enewsletters and podcast network offer vast editorial acreage. Anybody with a zest for the industry – superintendents, assistant superintendents, crew members, equipment technicians, architects, builders, sales professionals, general, pros, your course dog – are encouraged to submit articles or images.
We’re also boosters of numerous industry organizations and efforts. Ever complete one of our State of the Industry surveys? If so, you have donated to the Wee One Foundation.
Jim Blayney is our creative director. Everything he touches becomes punchier and easier to consume. His presence and determination allow us to push boundaries.
Superintendent ingenuity will always be showcased on our pages. We even have a popular monthly feature, Terry Buchen’s “Travels with Terry,” celebrating the reader-to-reader idea exchange.
Depth further boosts creativity. Columnists Henry DeLozier and Matthew Wharton are always looking for unique ways to help and inspire readers, while talented contributing writers Trent Bouts, Ron Furlong, Anthony Williams, Rick Woelfel, Judd Spicer, John Torsiello and Kurt Kleinham put distinct twists on stories.
We also have a newcomer who will help us push more boundaries and present useful information to readers: managing editor Matt LaWell. Matt has visited and conducted multimedia tours of every full-season Minor League Baseball ballpark, created and hosted live trivia shows, covered professional, college and high school sports, and produced compelling content for manufacturing and business publications. We’re thrilled he’s part of our team.
Add the pieces together, and I’m entering a terrific situation as editor.
Guy Cipriano is GCI's editor.
OB Sports currently manages more than 70 golf courses and private clubs throughout the United States and internationally from the Bahamas to Scotland. Founded in 1972 by Orrin Vincent, OB Sports has grown through the years delivering comprehensive and personalized services to golf courses, country clubs and resorts.
OB Sports will continue to operate under the OB Sports brand with the same business relationship with its existing clients. The OB Sports’ corporate office in Scottsdale will continue to serve as its headquarters with the current executive team continuing to support OB Sports’ courses and clients. OB Sports joins Troon’s portfolio of companies that includes Troon Golf, Honours Golf, Troon Privé, CADDIEMASTER, Troon International, True Club Solutions, Cliff Drysdale Management and RealFood Consulting.
“We are delighted to have OB Sports as part of Troon, continuing our growth and reach in the industry,” said Dana Garmany, executive chairman, Troon. “With the addition of OB Sports, Troon now reaches or provides managed services to over 460 18-hole equivalents at 440-plus locations around the world.”
The acquisition of OB Sports follows Troon’s acquisition of Boston-based RealFood Consulting in February, and the July 2018 purchase of Cliff Drysdale Management, the nation’s largest tennis management company.
“OB Sports is an exceptional addition to our Troon family of brands,” Troon CEO Tim Schantz said. “Orrin, Phil, C.A. and the associates of OB Sports have built an outstanding collection of properties, clients and service offerings. Our alliance with OB Sports will support their continued growth, bring additional support and resources to bear and will combine expertise and capabilities for current and prospective clients.”
"We are truly excited about the new collaboration and for the opportunity to advance and grow with Troon,” OB Sports CEO Phil Green said. “Our companies have always shared similar values with a focus on providing the highest level of service to our clients, guests and members. Troon’s resources, combined with the company’s worldwide marketing reach, will help our existing clients, while also providing a wonderful opportunity for our OB Sports associates to grow and prosper."
Team UGA at the University of Georgia launched GAPaspalum.com, a new website dedicated to seashore paspalum turfgrass. Originally created in 2016 to serve as a resource on the proper use, maintenance, and research of this highly salt-tolerant family of grasses, the new site has a new domain and updated content to better serve the members of the turf industry who want to learn about this salt tolerant turf. Team UGA consists of experts in warm-season turfgrass breeding, pest resistance, management, licensing, certification and foundation plant material production.
The website was developed by Team UGA, utilizing the expertise of turfgrass researchers at the University of Georgia, led by Dr. Paul Raymer, renowned breeder of seashore paspalum turfgrass varieties and director of the turfgrass breeding and genetics research program at the University of Georgia campus in Griffin.
“We are pleased to launch the website at a new domain for two reasons,” Raymer said. “First, this makes it easier to find Team UGA on the web, and secondly, it more clearly identifies our research program as the source of the site’s information.”
The website serves as a comprehensive, one-stop-shop for turfgrass professionals who are looking for information on planting, growing and maintaining seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) turfgrass. The website provides information on the benefits of seashore paspalum turf, as well as management tips for fertilization, mowing, disease control, insect control, and weed control, plus links to articles about the grass. The website also features a history of the Team UGA turfgrass breeding program, and a blog managed by Raymer.
Seashore paspalum turfgrass is widely used on golf courses, sports fields and lawns around the world. This warm-season family of grasses is highly desired for its salt tolerance, ability to withstand varying levels of water quality, for its environmentally friendly low fertilization requirements, and for its beauty and playability. The University of Georgia has released four varieties of seashore paspalum: SeaIsle 1, Sea Isle 2000, SeaIsle Supreme, and SeaStar seashore paspalum. Links to sod producers growing Team UGA varieties are also included on the site.
Cooperating entities responsible for the website are: Innovation Gateway, UGA’s commercialization arm; Georgia Seed Development; and Georgia Crop Improvement Association.
GAPaspalum.com was created by the team at the What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations based in Mount Vernon, Wash.