Phoenix Country Club set to establish master plan – Golf Course Industry Magazine

Arizona-based architect Andy Staples will work closely with director of agronomy Kenton Brunson on modernizing famed Arizona course.
Andy Staples, owner and principal architect of Staples Golf Design, is set to begin work on a strategic plan to upgrade Phoenix Country Club. Originally built in 1899, then moved to its current location in 1921, the Arizona club boasts an extensive tournament history, and a celebrated golf course designed by Harry Collis of Chicago.
“I’m beyond excited about working with this historic property,” Staples said. “Phoenix Country Club is the preeminent club in the Valley and is one of only a handful of courses that possess some really unique design history and interesting design lineage. The construction of this golf course is in line with a period of time of some of the greatest courses ever to be built.”
Master planning will begin this year, including property wide assessments, aerial survey and photo archive research, and a review of past projects. A key aspect of the initial work is to understand how the course was originally laid out and how it has evolved over time.
To see the plan through, Staples will partner with the Phoenix Country Club director of agronomy Kenton Brunson along with key club officials in researching, planning and proposing solutions for the significant areas in need of attention. In the end, the team’s plan will improve daily conditions, restore specific features of years past, accommodate families with kids and beginners, and focus on long-term sustainability.
“The timing of this project is perfect for our growing membership and needed in a big way,” Brunson said. “The course has undergone several renovations over the years, and it time to modernize the golf course components while also highlighting the historical features. Andy has outlined some forward-thinking ideas to show us what’s possible.”
The club is in the process of planning for important capital improvement projects, which will include upgrades to the putting green infrastructure, irrigation system, bunker upgrades, overall teeing ground assessment and sustainable turf choices. Plans will also investigate an upgrade of the practice facility to coincide with the recent technology advancements.
Phoenix Country Club is a premier urban country club where many of the valley’s most influential people have enjoyed the game since 1899. The golf course was home of the Phoenix Open from 1932-86, and has played host to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the PGA Tour Champions season finale.
“Having lived in the Valley now for almost 20 years, it’s exciting to be working with one of the most historic clubs in the state,” Staples said. “I envision a property that will showcase traditional, old-world Phoenix and intend to reimagine the course’s strategy and sustainability. There’s no reason why this place can’t be known as one of the best, most authentic designs that exist in the United States.”
The two-year, $4.2 million project refreshed the former longtime home of the Southern Open.
Southern Trace Country Club in Shreveport, Louisiana recently completed a two-year, $4.2 million golf course renovation and enhancement project. The project focused on irrigation and drainage system upgrades, green complex enhancements and the addition of a new short game practice area.
Golf course designer and Southern Trace member Jim Lipe oversaw the course renovation, with Wadsworth Construction, Black Creek Construction and Winterberry Construction performing the work.
The renovation project included rebuilding all 18 greens and resurfacing with Mach One Bermudagrass; adding and eliminating tee boxes; reshaping fairways; and installing a new state-of-the-art irrigation system. Cart paths were repaired and rerouted, and retaining walls were reinforced, pressure washed and stained. Bridges were also added on holes 5 and 15 to accommodate walking and cart traffic. In addition, the Southern Trace agronomy team completed large drainage projects, and cut tree canopies on several holes to increase playability and enhance the ability to grow healthy turf.
“I’m very pleased with what we’ve accomplished here,” Lipe said. “As a longtime Southern Trace member, I was able to identify areas on the golf course that needed to be changed or updated, and address those during this renovation. We have a wonderful superintendent, Graham Kornmeyer, who brought a lot of expertise and experience to this project.”
The club’s new short game practice area was designed by Lipe and includes nearly four acres of turf, two greens with a combined 13,000 square feet, and four sand traps offering a variety of shots that allow members and guests the opportunity to practice and hone their skills before heading out to the course. 
“With the golf course renovation, we essentially have a brand-new golf course with a new irrigation system and new greens,” said Alexander Mijalis, VP of the club’s board of directors. “We have modernized the architectural features by a renowned golf course architect. It’s an exciting time for the membership of Southern Trace Country Club.”
Established in 1988, Southern Trace features a beautiful Arthur Hills-designed golf course that plays through open meadows and a dense oak forest. The 7,015-yard golf course has a proud history of hosting high-level professional and amateur tournaments, including the Southern Open from 1990 to 2002, multiple state amateur championships and the AJGA David Toms Junior Invitational.
Troon Privé, the private club operating division of Troon, manages golf, club and food & beverage operations, as well golf course agronomy and membership marketing.
With growth in mind, the company expands its turf division with the hiring of Austin Marsteller.
Central Turf & Irrigation Supply, a North American wholesale distributor of irrigation and landscape supplies, announced that Austin Marsteller joined the company as its new Turf Category Director for Chemicals. Marsteller will focus on strategic growth for the chemical category in terms of products, resources, and training.
With nearly a decade of experience in the green industry, a Penn State degree in turfgrass science and an MBA from Louisiana State University-Shreveport, Marsteller is poised to help the company’s growing turf division. His career has been heavily focused in turf and ornamental on the manufacturer side, and most recently in agriculture specifically in bio stimulants, adjuvants and specialty fertilizers.
“I’m excited to join the team,” Marsteller said. “I am eager to work with all the employees and partners of Central to provide superior service and solutions to our turf and ornamental customers.”
Marsteller’s addition to the team is part of Central’s overall growth goal for the turf division and the company, and is the second dedicated category director position for the expanding department. Additional hires will also join the company in the next few months, including a category director for fertility and other support roles. Earlier this year, Austin Lanzarone joined the company as a category director for seed. This was in addition to several key promotions within the division including three new positions.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Austin Marsteller join our team,” sales and marketing VP Anthony Luciano said. “We are always looking to innovate and improve so that we can meet and exceed the needs of our customers. I am confident that Austin will help us do this. As we continue to grow the department and the resources available to our customers, it will be critical for us to have an industry leader like Austin to focus on and execute category-specific strategies for the department.”
Texas A&M sophomores Hailey Tucker and Megan Muesse share their experiences on the all-woman grounds crew at the Little League Softball World Series.
By Kay Ledbetter
Sometimes, the education that takes place off campus is the most memorable and life changing.
Hailey Tucker and Megan Muesse, both Texas A&M sophomores enrolled in the turfgrass sciences program in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently landed a great opportunity when they were selected to be a part of an all-woman grounds crew for the Little League Softball World Series at Stallings Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina.
Tucker is in her second year in the turfgrass science program. Muesse is in her first year as a turfgrass sciences student after starting as a plant and environmental soil science major.
The students work at the Turfgrass Research Lab for research specialist Weston Floyd and Dr. Chase Straw, Ph.D., AgriLife Research turfgrass scientist and assistant professor, both in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Floyd and Straw helped Tucker and Muesse earn their spots on the LLSWS grounds crew, where they spent four days gaining field staff experience and industry connections.
“We strive to put our turfgrass science students in situations that will benefit them outside of the classroom to gain hands-on experience and network with professionals across the industry,” Straw said. “Megan and Hailey have taken full advantage of these opportunities early in their undergraduate career and it will no doubt benefit them after graduation.”
The grounds crew included 16 women with different turf industry backgrounds. Among other responsibilities, they packed the pitcher’s mound, bullpens and home plate with clay, helped paint foul lines and batter’s and catcher’s boxes, dragged the field and switched bases.
What was the highlight of your time on the grounds crew?
Tucker: My highlight was meeting all the women in turf and hearing their stories. It was so amazing to learn from them and gain industry knowledge. Being a part of that group made me hopeful for my career in the industry and gave me confidence, knowing I had a community behind me.

Muesse: The highlight of my time at the LLSWS was painting the lines for the championship game. As the younger students on the grounds crew, we had practiced painting the lines and had done the lines for the scrimmage game at East Carolina University. It was such an amazing experience as well as a confidence booster to have veteran groundskeeping women trust us with leading the setup for the championship game.
What was the biggest thing you learned that will help your future career?
Tucker: The biggest thing that I learned is that there will always be people there to guide me on my journey. All the volunteers were so insightful and made it very clear to both of us that they were just a phone call away.
Muesse: Aside from learning new skills that deal with sports fields, something I learned for my career is the importance of the connections I made. I talked to so many women with backgrounds in sports fields, golf, and research, as well as other positions within the industry. It was amazing just to hear their stories and experiences, considering I am new to this world. It was very eye-opening, and I know that I will have friends in these women for the rest of my life.
Did you share any of your Texas A&M knowledge with the grounds crew?
Tucker: Most of the knowledge I have gained at Texas A&M has been in the field of research. Being that this is my first semester as a true turf student, I am excited to gain more knowledge, grow, and network with other people in the industry.
Muesse: I have taken a couple of classes specific to my turf major, which helped me understand what certain things are and why we did certain things. I knew that when we cut a chunk out of the grass to pump standing water away, when that chunk of grass was replaced it would live and be just fine because of the soil, rhizomes and stolons. I also had the opportunity to volunteer and work at the baseball Regionals and Super Regionals under (Texas A&M assistant athletics director) Nick McKenna. It was there that I had my first experience with sports fields, and I learned from him and the other Texas A&M field staff. I was able to apply what I learned at the LLSWS and teach others there about what I knew.
What’s your dream job?
Tucker: My dream job is to be a sports field designer. I would love to move on to receive my master’s in landscape architecture after my undergraduate degree. Being a sports field designer would allow me to travel all over the world and be in the field as well as the office.
Muesse: I’m not quite sure what my dream job is. I am just starting out in this industry, and it has been utterly fantastic. But if I give an answer, it would be to either become a golf course superintendent or work as the head groundskeeper of a sports field, specifically baseball, because it is the sport I enjoy the most.
How has your time at Texas A&M prepared you for that job?
Tucker: My time at A&M has given me the confidence to network with important professionals in the turf industry. I have learned basic skills at the turf farm that I know I will use for the rest of my life. Things as small as learning how to operate a large mower, measure fertilizer and collect data are useful skills I can build on to make me a better professional.
Muesse: Texas A&M has prepared me in so many ways for either of those jobs. In my classes, I learn the foundation of information and what everything is. Then, through working at the Turfgrass Research lab, I can apply what I have learned in a real-world setting, whether it be mowing, fertilizer applications, watering or even growing conditions of grasses.
The management deal includes three courses and is highlighted by a significant profitability turnaround since 2017.
Landscapes Golf Management has been granted a multi-year extension to continue operating three golf courses owned by the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Under the company’s leadership since 2018, Elmwood, Prairie Green and Kuehn Park golf courses have each realized up to 400 percent increases in cart and green fees, food and beverage, pro shop, driving range and annual pass revenue — a seven-figure turnaround in profitability.
Landscapes Golf Management’s turnkey operation includes staff recruitment and training, property maintenance, marketing and sales, clubhouse operations, merchandising, food and beverage, IT and financial management.
“Perfecting course conditions, country club-like service and community building are keys to high performance,” Landscapes Golf Management president Tom Everett said. “Our talented corporate and on-site teams continue to make playing Sioux Falls courses phenomenal experiences time and again.”
“Outsourcing operations to Landscapes Golf Management has been a terrific decision,” said Don Kearney, the director of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation. “The company has done a tremendous job engaging the residents in the Sioux Falls region by providing outstanding customer service, great value and exceptional playing conditions while driving incredible bottom line results.”
Sioux Fall’s flagship Elmwood Golf Course presents a 27-hole, parkland-style layout with tree-lined fairways, domed greens and small, classic bunkers. In recent years, the course was re-grassed tee to green, new irrigation installed and practice facilities expanded. A new five-hole, par-3 course was also constructed.
Prairie Green Golf Course lies amid rolling, generous fairways lined with sprawling bunkers, stunning prairie wetlands and wide, lipped greens guarded by bunkers. Kuehn Park Golf Course, meanwhile, is the area’s only public, nine-hole executive layout.


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