Pro Turf International Completes Unique Sod-Wall Bunkers Project At SunRidge Canyon GC
When Pro Turf International Principal Kip Wolfe first heard golf course owner Don Misheff’s idea for bunkering at SunRidge Canyon Golf Club, his initial reaction was a scratch of the head.
“He came to us with his vision of adding sod walls to his bunkers, and my first thought was, “You do realize you are smack dab in the middle of the desert?” said Wolfe. “Don showed Ron and I pictures of the style and look he was wanting. Don has always been an outside-the-box thinker, and he convinced us that this could work.
“Now that the job is completed, I am so happy that he did. We’re very proud of doing something different, especially in the desert. I don’t know of any course in the southwest that has done anything quite like this. What a unique concept.”
Misheff, an Ohio resident who purchased the course in 2010, knew his idea would raise some eyebrows. But he also believed it could work, and would enhance the playing experience for his golfers.
“I always thought our golf course had a links-style look to it,” said Misheff. “And when we decided that our bunkers needed work, I recalled a conversation I had with the architect, Keith Foster. He said that if he had it to do over again he wouldn’t have made such severe facing in the bunkers.
“So I thought about that and came up with the idea of sod-walled bunkers. I ran it by some friends in the industry who thought it was a good idea. So we decided to give it a try.”
One of those friends was former PGA Tour player and current golf commentator Gary McCord, who provided a lot of input. Not only did he give a thumbs-up to the sod wall idea, he also suggested shrinking some of the bunkers, and totally eliminating others.
“Don is always looking to make the course a little more user friendly and to keep play moving,” said Wolfe. “He is always tweaking and making enhancements to better the golf course for the golfers.”
Wolfe and his PTI crew worked side-by-side with SunRidge golf course superintendent Ron Ruppert and his team. Ruppert and Wolfe actually worked together on the original construction of the golf course 20 years ago.
“It was an interesting job,” said Wolfe. “We utilized the outside elevations of the original bunker face, so the tie-ins would be more natural. We stacked the Bermuda grass, and it just tacks into the bunker walls and creeps down to the bunker floor itself. It really has made a tremendous difference to the look of the course.”
The team also re-shaped some bunkers and filled in others, significantly cutting down on the total square footage of bunkers throughout the golf course.
“Bunkers have always been the No. 1 problem at Sun Ridge,” said Wolfe. “After a rainstorm or dust storm, they would be difficult to restore. This work will solve that problem. The sod-wall bunkers are now one of the best features of a great golf course.”
Sod-wall bunkers provide a viable, cost-saving solution to what is often a serious issue for desert golf courses, according to Wolfe.
“What we are finding in today’s market is that bunkers are the number one maintenance issue for most golf courses,” said Wolfe. “In most cases, the maintenance staff has been reduced so the attention to bunker detail is difficult to achieve. With the bunker sod wall work that we did at SunRidge Canyon, it helps reduce the cost of restoring the bunkers after a rain event and further contamination from trying to keep the sand on the steep faces. The sand is predominately on the bunker floor which eliminated the need for a bunker liner and made maintenance much easier for Ron and his staff.”
Misheff, and more importantly his golfers, are ecstatic with the results.
“It was an excellent team effort between Kip and Ron and the crews,” said Misheff. “Pro Turf was great to work with. They treat you like a partner, not a client. They work with you on cost and design. I couldn’t be happier with PTI, would highly recommend them, and will definitely use their services in the future.”
ABOUT PRO TURF INTERNATIONAL
With offices in Las Vegas, NV, Phoenix AZ and La Quinta, CA, Pro Turf International, Inc. is an innovative golf course maintenance, construction and renovation company that offers solutions to protect and improve the appearance, functionality, playability and value of our clients’ golf courses. From complete turnkey daily golf course maintenance programs to bunker refurbishing to full-scale construction and renovation projects, Pro Turf International has the expertise to deliver on time and under budget. PTI has been improving golf courses, resort landscaping, park districts and sports facilities for over 25 years, with a team of industry professionals with over 75 years of collective industry experience to handle the most complex maintenance, construction and renovation projects – whatever the project scope. For more information, visit www.ptigolf.com, or call (702) 315-5121.
ABOUT SUNRIDGE CANYON GOLF CLUB
SunRidge Canyon’s 6,823-yard, par-71, Keith Foster-designed golf course unfolds around the rugged ridges and shady canyons unique to the desert mountains that divide Fountain Hills from Scottsdale, Arizona. This golf course gradually descends on the way out before doubling back to climb up the slope on the way in. This subtle elevation change lies at the heart of the dramatic golf experience at SunRidge Canyon. Golfers also discover that it wasn’t so much created by a bulldozer as it was carved out over eons by the relentless pressure of wind and water. Foster had the good sense to follow Mother Nature’s lead, and in the end, the beauty and challenge of SunRidge Canyon is unlike any other desert golf experience in the Valley of the Sun. The layout includes six outstanding finishing holes – two par 3s, par 4s and par 5s – known as the Wicked 6. SunRidge is also home to Hot Stix Golf club fitters and Mann Krafted Kustom Milled Putters.