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Thursday, April 13, 2023

New Greens for improvement all around


Reflection Bay Golf Club      

New Greens for improvement all around

Story by Bill Bowman

Photography provided by Reflection Bay Golf Club


If you’ve played, seen, or read about Reflection Bay Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature layout, get ready for a new and improved version set to be rolled out this fall. Reflection Bay Golf Club, located at Lake Las Vegas just 30 minutes from the famed Las Vegas Strip, is in the process of redoing all 18 greens at the course that burst onto the Las Vegas golf scene in 1998. 

Eric Dutt, the manager of operations at Reflection Bay, said the process is costly and time-consuming, but that it’s time—especially with new water restrictions in and around Las Vegas.

“Reflection Bay and The Falls Golf Course shut down in 2009,” Dutt says. “When Reflection Bay reopened in 2014, they did redo the greens but didn’t do an extensive renovation and the Bermuda grass that was in the fairways and rough ran rampant in the greens. Fast-forward seven or eight years and we’ve got Bermuda coming up through the greens rather than the Bentgrass. It’s just time for another renovation.”

That change won’t stop with just the resort course’s greens. In fact, there will be changes everywhere on the course but the greens will be the star going forward.

“With those water restrictions and water cuts we decided to put a more water-conservative type of turf in,” Dutt says. “We’re going to Paspalum. It’s a little more drought-tolerant and is typically used on coast courses.” The Paspalum will allow the grounds crew to breathe a little easier. “A lot of golf courses cross their fingers in the summer with all the heat. With Bentgrass, at times you’ve really got to baby it. This Paspalum will thrive.”

The changes at Reflection Bay will start May 1 when the course shuts down and the project gets under way. The reopening of the course is scheduled for Sept. 15.

“We’re going to start stripping the greens May 1 and strip the old sod off the greens,” he said. “We’re going to use sod (rather than seeding) and we’re going to do a total of 23 greens—18 on the course, the current practice green, a new practice green, and three greens at the Falls practice facility. It’s going to be quite the job. With 23 greens and the average size of the greens being 6,000-to-7,000-square-feet, it’s going to be a lot of turf.”

There is a wide range of reasoning between going to the Paspalum turf. “It’s a hardier grass,” according to Dutt. “And what I really like about it is it can handle the high heat very well. When everyone was crossing their fingers once summer gets here, this Paspalum will thrive. It’s also resistant to ball marks.”

The changes will also help out with maintenance. “We’ll only have to aerate them once a year which will give us some operational advantages,” Dutt says. He says that golfers will notice the change when they are on the greens, but adds those changes will also open the greens to more pin options. “It’s hard to get a lot of speed with Paspalum greens. But as a resort course, I’m not sure we need real fast greens. We’ll be content to get them 10 to 10.5 or 11. The speed and the Paspalum will also give us more flexibility when it comes to pin placements. Fast greens take away some pin placement options here so this will also help with more variety for pins.”

The new greens aren’t the only changes on the horizon. “We went hole-by-hole checking out the edging, the bunkers, the trees, just about everything. The course is 25 years old. There are going to be a lot of updates, and when we reopen we will have the appearance of a new course. We’re also going to have a new car fleet, so we’re working on everything around the resort.”

But it’s the greens that will be the most impressive part of the updates. “The blade of Paspalum is a coarser blade, not a fine leaf. It’s a little bit different surface, and it’s going to take people a little time to get used to it. It’s going to be smooth, and we’re bringing in specialized mowers out of Japan to make sure we give players the best surfaces possible.”

The good news is the surface gets the seal of approval for an on-staff former PGA Tour player.

Craig Barlow, who works in their High Performance Golf Institute, played in tour events on Paspalum. Plus, Paspalum is in use around the world.

The bottom line is this is a win-win situation for the course and for golfers. “It’s going to give us more choices for pin placements and to give more golfers the chance to play Reflection Bay,” Dutt says. “It will also give players the chance to play a surface they may not have played yet.”

In the end, players will be impressed by the greens. “Golfers will just need to spend a little time on the practice green to get the feel,” Dutt says. “Once they start playing, they’ll see it’s a great surface. We’re excited to show off everything we’re planning at Reflection Bay to everyone.”


Reflection Bay Golf Club

75 Montelago Blvd., Henderson



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