YUMA, Arizona – At first glance it appeared to be a simple turf conversion project at Mesa Del Sol Golf Club, the type of job PTI Golf has done dozens of times before. Replace the existing grass with a type that requires less water and labor – a win/win/win for the course owner, the maintenance crew and the environment.
However, after a few more glances, the project proved to be a “one thing leads to another” job for PTI principal Kip Wolfe and his team, but one they took on with excitement.
“We went there thinking we were just doing the greens, but the job expanded in scope as we went along,” said PTI Principal Kip Wolfe. “But this was such a good group of people to work with, and they really worked their tail off with us. We think it turned out very well.”
“The group” included golf course owner Steve Olafson, a roll-up-his-sleeves type of owner who was there most days working alongside his and PTI’s crews. His Arnold Palmer-designed course, located in the southwest corner of Arizona, is extremely popular during winter months but play slows dramatically when the thermometer rises in the summer. That’s when most of this work was done.
“We were overseeding every year, putting $150,000 to $200,000 worth of seed down then spending a few weeks growing it in so we would have beautiful green grass in the winter. But it takes a lot of water to make that happen,” said Olafson.
After a visit with a USGA consultant, Olafson had decided to switch to a more sturdy type of grass that requires less water and no overseed.
“This was a big gamble with a lot of risks for an operation of our size, but we decided to do it for the long-term benefits,” said Olafson, who switched to TifTuf in the fairways and TifEagle on the greens. “We reached out to PTI to help us with the project, and I am glad we did.”
It quickly became obvious that structural changes in the greens complexes would be necessary with the new TifEagle grass.
“Many of the greens were severely pitched from back to front,” said Wolfe. “Some of them were so severe that the balls wouldn’t stay on the greens with this new type grass. So we recontoured the greens, in some cases adding tiers, so they would receive shots better and not be so severe to putt. We also enlarged some of the greens, providing more pin placements.”
The job didn’t end there, however. Early on during the work Olafson decided that some of the tee boxes needed to be reshaped.
“A lot of the tee boxes were shaped such that they weren’t aimed in the proper direction,” he said. “So we reshaped them and re-directed them slightly. It was a big improvement.”
Since well water is used to irrigate Mesa Del Sol, there was not enough water to complete the grow-in process in one season. Half of it was done this past year and the other half was overseeded. By the end of this year the entire course will be covered with the new grasses, with no need to overseed.
Wolfe and Olafson both had high praise of the teamwork between the two crews. And Olafson was thrilled with his choice of PTI Golf.
“PTI was incredible,” he said. “The project was logistically well planned out, and they provided a lot of expertise in re-shaping the greens. If they came upon a problem that wasn’t part of their job, they would do it anyway. They were just a very professional crew and a pleasure to work with.
“This was a very big budget project for a course like ours, but PTI certainly more than met my expectations.”