LAS VEGAS, NV – The year 2020 was off to a rocking start at Red Rock Country Club. All three of its courses were in great shape and covered with happy golfers. The restaurants were full and the large clubhouse was buzzing with member social activities.
Then COVID-19 happened. The Coronavirus Pandemic that blanketed the world and brought life as we know it to a grinding halt did not spare this beautiful club in Las Vegas. On March 17 Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down, hitting the light switch on America’s City of Lights.
And on April 8 he added golf courses to the non-essential list, putting the clamps on the golf industry in Nevada.
Like many businesses across the world that were shut down by the novel coronavirus, Red Rock Country Club could have locked the doors and waited it out. Instead, management saw an opportunity.
“The government closed us down, so we had to react,” said Red Rock Regional General Manager Thom Blinkinsop.
One of the first things Blinkinsop did was meet with Red Rock’s golf course maintenance company, Pro Turf International, to discuss a course conditioning strategy during the down time.
“We decided to do some projects we don’t normally have time to do,” said Blinkinsop. “I looked at this as a grand reopening opportunity, and wanted the course to be in the best shape as possible.”
The first order of business for PTI Director of Maintenance Jared Bumpus was creating a safe work environment for his employees. He divided the crew into groups, split start times and enforced appropriate social distancing and sanitizing procedures.
Then the focus turned to beautification and tune-up.
“What we tried to do was condense maintenance procedures that would affect playability,” said Bumpus. “For instance, we did wall to wall aerification, something that would normally be done later and be disruptive to play. But since the course was closed, we decided to get it done so when golfers return they won’t see maintenance people all over the course.
“Also we focused on high profile areas to really clean them up and make the course look good. Like re-doing tee areas, cleaning up plant areas, adding rocks. These were beautification projects that we wouldn’t normally have time to get to. And without golfers on the course, we could go at it full steam eight hours a day.”
The Red Rock beautification projects didn’t stop with the maintenance crew. Blinkinsop utilized employees who would normally be dealing with customers in the clubhouse to sharpen the appearance of the property. Many of these employees had been furloughed early on, but were brought back once the club’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds began flowing in.
“We did furlough some people but brought them back as soon as we received the PPP funds,” said Blinkinsop. “They then painted and did improvements to the properties.”
Bumpus and his team were thankful for the help.
“The golf shop employees actually helped us in areas around the clubhouse and did a great job pruning plants, removing weeds – mundane jobs we didn’t have time to do,” said Bumpus. “We all looked at this as a grand re-opening opportunity. We wanted to raise the ‘wow factor’ for golfers when we finally reopened.”
That day came May 1, when Sisolak lifted the shutdown order. The pent up demand for golf quickly became obvious.
“The golf course has been slammed,” said Blinkinsop. “F&B has been busy but not back to normal yet for lunches. Everything we have opened has been busy. The only thing that is still tough is weddings and events. Until we get less restrictions they will be slow to return.”
The customers seem happy with the extra effort put in by PTI and the Red Rock team. Maybe not as excited as kids ripping open presents at Christmas, but close.
“We’ve had nothing but compliments,” said Bumpus. “The golf courses are in excellent shape right now. We see a lot of new players we haven’t seen before playing our golf courses. Right now it is mostly local players, but those numbers have surged. More people have come into the game because they couldn’t do other things. We are amazed at the number of locals coming out. And we’re glad to have them. The flow of vacationing golfers we normally attract just hasn’t been there for obvious reasons.”
Blinkinsop once said that contracting with PTI to do maintenance on his golf courses was “probably the best decision I’ve ever made.” He still feels the same way after their work during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“Yes, we are happy,” he said. “They have been very flexible during the current situation.”
ABOUT PRO TURF INTERNATIONAL
Pro Turf International is a family owned construction, landscape and golf maintenance company with over 30 years of hands-on experience in the Southwest. They proudly serve the golf, sports and landscape industry to enhance quality and improve conditions in a safe, environmentally friendly manner. For more information call (702) 315-5121, or visit www.ptigolf.com.
ABOUT RED ROCK COUNTRY CLUB
Members of Red Rock Country Club have access to three golf courses, all maintained by Pro Turf International. Arnold Palmer’s two signature courses, the private Mountain Course and the public Arroyo Course, offer a prism of challenge, beauty, and escape. The Siena Course, designed by Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt, is a very playable layout that provides a peaceful setting surrounded by the towering Spring Mountains. The 44,000-square-foot clubhouse is the center stage for a full social calendar and special member events. Along with the three golf courses, members have access to spa services, tennis, dining choices and so much more. Visitwww.redrockcountryclub.com.
Mike Jamison (407-474-0531)