Sun City’s North Golf Course Taking on a New Green


Above: TifTuf Bermuda grass “sprigs” are sprayed over the Front 9 fairways at North Golf Course, which are expected to be more drought resistant than traditional grass.

Fresh young grass “sprigs” took the place of golf balls flying over the fairways of North Golf Course on Wednesday morning, as the Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc., continued work to reduce water use on golf courses throughout the community.

Wednesday’s effort is the latest step in a process that RCSC began at North in 2022, to move away from traditional Bermuda grass fairways toward a new turf rated the best for maintaining a bright, brilliant green longer and with far less watering. TifTuf Bermuda was developed by world-renowned University of Georgia’s turf breeding program, and underwent two decades of testing to establish the most drought resistant turf known for use on golf courses. TifTuf is also proven to establish and grow faster than other Bermudas, and is known to offer an attractive bright green color that lasts longer throughout the year.

Sun City’s North Course’s Front 9 has been closed since late April preparing for the new turf and is expected to reopen in October. The front 9 fairways are just the start of summer plans for RCSC turf reduction and water conservation projects.  RCSC will announce any changes to normal play as the next projects begin, but no other closures are expected.

“Our golf courses are important amenities not only to our golfers, but to everyone who enjoys the beauty and the responsible stewardship that RCSC is proud to maintain, “ said Brian Duthu, RCSC Director of Golf. While Members may notice the changes in watering and in the color of the grass as this process moves forward, “the ultimate goal will be a stunning success on many levels.”

TifTuf Bermuda turf is expected to save approximately 25-35% on a front 9 fairway watering, Duthu said. The effort to establish the TifTuf turf, which will continue Thursday at North, is called hydrosprigging, during which the grass is combined with wood shavings (to act as an agent to bind it to the ground) with the help of water then sprayed onto the playing surface.  Once the sprigs are down, RCSC staff will begin a watering program to keep the sprigs moist.

The sprigs will also be pressed into the surface with heavy rollers multiple times during the first few weeks to ensure a strong and long-lasting result.  Though the sprigs are green when first put down, they will turn brown during the grow-in process before turning green again as they become established.  The number of watering cycles applied during the day will be reduced as the TifTuf becomes established.

Lakes West Front 9 tee boxes will also be converted to TifTuf this summer, with the exception of Holes #2 and #8, which were previously converted. During that process at Lakes West, RCSC will utilize temporary tees until the sod has time to establish. On Willowcreek, Riverview and South golf courses, small areas of about 2 acres each have been selected for turf reduction and low water use landscaping.  These include the Hole #2 tee box on Willowcreek Golf Course extending toward the lake, and the left side of Riverview Golf Course Hole #6, as well as the right side of Hole #1 on South Golf Course, extending from the maintenance yard to near the street crossing toward Hole #2.

Golfers who have balls land in possible dry areas, impacted by the process, will gain a “free drop” to keep their games fair.

The majority of the funding for the summer projects came from environmental grants provided by the Visit Arizona Initiative aimed at supporting golf course water conservation efforts.

“We know that our community and our golfers will enjoy the beauty and increased playability that TifTuf Bermuda grass will offer, it is just another enhancement to the lifestyle that is Sun City,” Duthu said.

Interim General Manager Kevin McCurdy said the process this week is just part of RCSC’s overall commitment to using less watering on the courses and staying on top of the latest trends and technology to do so.  “We appreciate the patience of RCSC Cardholders and Members as we undergo this process.  This new grass should not only reduce our water usage, but should also greatly improve the playability of our course.”

LEFT: Bins containing sprigs and wood-shaving bedding materials are kept moist by crew member.
RIGHT: Spray truck filled with water (from on-site well access) has container of material added prior to spray application.
Above: This aerial photo shows the area west of 107th (left of the Oakmont Pool top right) where work took place earlier today (June 28).