Dove Mountain greens face a do-over

It didn’t take long for the newly opened Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Dove Mountain Course in Marana, Ariz., to get tweaked.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed course debuted as home to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February and drew heavy criticism from players and the media for its exaggerated green contours (“A desert beauty,’’ Golfweek, Feb. 14). Now the Saguaro and Tortolita nines that comprise the championship routing of the 27-hole resort and residential complex will be closed so that the putting surfaces can be tamed.

The work is being undertaken at the behest of owner/developer David Mehl, the Ritz-Carlton Group and the PGA Tour. They were concerned enough about the green contours that for Accenture, green speeds were braked somewhat from normal velocity, with the course playing to 9.5-10 on the Stimpmeter. During a combined grand opening, walkthrough and play of five holes on March 28, Nicklaus grudgingly acknowledged the greens renovation, but defended his basic approach in building complex putting surfaces for championship speeds and hole locations. He said “as far as these guys hit the golf ball today, you have to try to – your only defense of a golf course anymore is its greens.”

The greens work involves peeling back the bentgrass turf cover and removing some of the underlying material comprising the body of the greens base, then putting the bentgrass back. The hope is to pick up additional hole locations and to ease transitions from one hole location to the next. Plans call for the course to reopen by June 1. Until then, only the facility’s Burro nine will be open for play. The resort’s 250-room luxury resort is not slated to open until November.

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