SunRidge Canyon Golf Club will join a growing list of East Valley golf courses which have switched from bent-grass greens to Tiff Dwarf Bermuda when the Fountain Hills-area course closes its tee sheet on Monday for a 25-day renovation.
According to Joel Schafer, the director of golf at SunRidge Canyon, the club will re-open to play on July 31.
In the meantime, the practice facility, pro shop and restaurant at SunRidge Canyon will remain open to the public.
“Our owners at SunCor Golf are willing to make the sacrifice at this time for the long-term good of the golf course,’’ said Schafer of the renovation, which will be done by Tempe-based West Coast Sod at a cost of approximately $100,000 — not to mention the loss of about 2,200 green fees.
“I know that there is a perception out there among golfers that bent-grass is better to putt on than Bermuda. But the hybrid Bermuda grasses that they’re creating in laboratories these days are so good, they’re hard to beat when it comes to a smooth putting surface.’’
What has happened to the greens at SunRidge Canyon is fairly typical of the rest of the courses in the East Valley.
Even though the surfaces remain good — even better than most parts of the country — the poa anna starts creeping in and the transition from winter rye to summer Bermuda gets worse each year.
As a result, bent-grass greens often have to be replaced every five to six years.
“(Bent-grass greens) are really not bad to putt on, but they get to looking bad, especially around the collars and the fringe,’’ Schafer noted.
“By closing in July, we’ll be able to establish a strong base of Bermuda before we have to overseed (with rye) in the fall. It’s always easier to grow rye than it is to get the Bermuda to come back in the summer, but we shouldn’t have any problem (next summer) now that we’ve decided to make the switch.’’
There are other benefits to Bermuda over bent-grass, Schafer added.
For one thing, Bermuda tends to respond better to effluent (waste) water, which is becoming the water of choice at most conservation-minded golf courses.
“It’s just one of the many considerations we looked at,’’ said Schafer, pointing across the street to nearby Eagle Mountain as an example of one course that made the switch in the past year from bent to Bermuda with great success.
The list of “name’’ courses which have gone from bent-grass greens to Bermuda in the last few years is an impressive one. Besides Eagle Mountain, they include the Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale, Gold Canyon Golf Resort, Ancala Country Club and Rancho Manana Golf Resort, as well as Phoenix-area courses like the Golf Club at Lookout Mountain (the Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs), Arizona Country Club, Phoenix Country Club and Moon Valley Country Club.
Besides the conversion from bent-grass to Bermuda, several other improvements at SunRidge Canyon are planned, Schafer added.
“We’re going to expand the tee boxes on some of the holes to give the golfers more options,’’ he said.
“And we’re also going to switch our driving range from a three-tiered to a two-tiered facility, and do some work on the cart paths.’’
Even though the putting surfaces will be new, the shape and the slopes of the greens will remain just the way architect Keith Foster designed them in 1995, Schafer said.
“Yeah, (architects) get a little uptight when they hear about a renovation at one of their courses, but we’re keeping all of Mr. Foster’s integrity in the greens,’’ he noted.
For information on the project, or to book a tee time when the “new and improved’’ SunRidge Canyon reopens July 31, call (480) 837-5100.