How Denver Hart strives for consistency as PGA West hosts The American Express

By |  April 29, 2024 0 Comments

Since hosting the PGA Tour’s The American Express in 2016, Head Superintendent Denver Hart and his team have encountered one challenge in particular: the short timeline between overseeding and tournament week.

After all, in the Coachella Valley — home to the tournament’s hosts, La Quinta Country Club, PGA West Pete Dye Stadium Course and PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course — overseeding tends to occur in mid-October. Each course is thoroughly renovated for roughly four weeks every year, prior to being reopened in mid-November. There is a two-month period between the courses’ opening day and the start of The American Express.

“Because of the short window, the team works off of a very calculated weekly schedule, in order to enhance the golf courses’ various details, adjust mowing heights and promote the playing surfaces’ maturity,” Hart says.

This short window is challenging in another way: unlike most professional golf tournaments that have one host course, The American Express has three, and they must be consistent, especially with regard to their playing surfaces. Hart oversees PGA West’s Pete Dye Stadium Course’s and Nicklaus Tournament Course’s agronomy practices.

Home to six golf courses, PGA West sits at the base of Martinez Mountain, part of the 30-mile Santa Rosa mountain range. (Photo: PGA West)

Home to six golf courses, PGA West sits at the base of Martinez Mountain, part of the 30-mile Santa Rosa mountain range. (Photo: PGA West)

“We need a lot of time and resources to ensure 54 holes are consistent,” Hart says. “We strive to provide competitors playing surfaces that have little to no variation in greens pace, smoothness, trueness and firmness. Working alongside the PGA Tour, we achieve this by dedicating multiple teams — in the weeks before and during the tournament — to collect morning and afternoon data across all three courses.”

Hart adds that the courses utilize the latest in the industry’s technologies — the GS3 ball, drones, robotic mowers and soil moisture scanners, to name a few.

“With data, we’re able to make any necessary adjustments to our maintenance practices and provide PGA Tour members the consistency we’re looking for,” he says.

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About the Author: Chris Lewis

Michigan-based writer Chris Lewis specializes in reporting on golf in the U.S. He wrote about White Pine National Golf Resort for Golfdom in 2013, and part two of the magazine’s annual Plant Health Series in 2014.

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