Tuscany closes in order to regroup

By Brendan McEvoy, Contributor

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Tuscany Golf Club, which opened six months ago after an 18-month delay involving a condemned access road, will close its doors until June for renovations that include growing new greens.

The summer was hotter and more humid than normal, and the bentgrass greens caught rapid blight disease, according to Tom Vold, director of golf at Tuscany. In December, Commerce LLC sold the club to Rhodes Development, who days later decided to close the course from the middle of January until June.

In the downtime, the greens will be changed from bentgrass to Bermuda. Rhodes Development will plant 200 to 300 trees. In an effort to remain environmentally conscious and comply with drought restrictions, they will reduce the amount of turf by 15 to 20 acres.

"It's the right thing to do," Vold said. "It makes a lot of sense to do it in a non-interruptive manner."

Vold and the rest of Tuscany's staff have had to handle one stressful situation after another. The course was ready for play in November of 2001, but it took more than a year to earn official approval of an access road. Problems with the construction of the permanent clubhouse also delayed the course's opening.

Meanwhile, Rhodes Development bought several lots around Tuscany Golf Club to build houses. The group owns another golf course community in the Las Vegas area -- Rhodes Ranch.

Finally, Tuscany opened without much of a national campaign; most of the locals enjoyed the club for a low green fee. It was billed as one of the most mature golf courses to ever open. A rough summer left the greens in dire straits and made irrigating the entire course impossible with the drought restrictions. Then, in a move no one expected, the club was sold five months later to Rhodes Development.

"It was definitely a surprise," Vold said. "Right now, we're organizing our employees and trying to find places for them to work. It's been beyond goofy. Sometimes, you wonder what the heck is going on - the Tuscany curse. But things like this happen all time in any kind of business. This wasn't a lack of effort. Everyone was doing their part to try and make things work. Certain things just happened and that made it unusual, but it will be very rewarding at the same time."

When Rhodes Development took over, they relieved the Scottsdale-based golf management company OB Sports of its duties. Vold will stay on board as the director of golf.

After Tuscany's renovations, the 7,000-yard Ted Robinson design will play a little tighter, but the fairways will still be generous. Coincidentally, Robinson also designed Rhodes Ranch, a course considered similar to Tuscany. And like Rhodes Ranch, Tuscany will be surrounded by 2,000 homes when development is complete.

American Golf relocates sales staff

The American Golf Corporation, managers of over 250 golf courses in the United States and in the United Kingdom, has moved its sales staff from regional offices to golf course sites and in the process, eliminated 10 of its 46 sales positions.

Sources said American Golf severed three-fourths of its sales staff, but those numbers were deemed inaccurate by Mark Friedman, general counsel for the company.

"Out of the 46 positions, 36 were open to redeployment," Friedman said. "The word I'm hearing is that two-thirds of the people have taken the redeployment, but that's not a final number. It was a net reduction of 10 jobs and it didn't have to do with performance."

Friedman said the company simply re-evaluated its marketing strategy and decided to do away with a centralized office and have sales representatives at the golf courses themselves. He also added that employees who were let go or who did not take redeployment were given a severance package with career transition services and continued medical benefits.

The new strategy came as a complete surprise, sources said. But Friedman said the idea was kept quiet to avoid rumors and to show respect to its employees.

American Golf manages five popular golf courses in the Las Vegas area, including Badlands, Las Vegas National, Las Vegas Golf Club, Desert Rose and Painted Desert.

Word about Aliante is spreading

For the first time, a Gary Panks design graces the rocky desert of Las Vegas. Aliante Golf Club opened on Dec. 5, and despite a few hurdles courtesy of Mother Nature, people are talking about this challenging track.

"People love the golf course," said Andy Deiro, Aliante's director of golf. "They really like the layout. It's refreshing and something different."

Panks is a highly-acclaimed, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based architect who has designed a number of courses in the Phoenix area, including Grayhawk and The Raven at South Mountain. At Aliante, Panks routed 14 holes along an arroyo with elevated tee boxes and generous landing areas.

But no architect can protect a club from the unpredictable weather that swooped into Las Vegas during December and early January.

"We started with pretty poor weather," Deiro said. "We had rain, wind and extreme cold that caused a heavy frost delay for a couple of days in a row. But now we're getting 100-plus players out here a day."

Aliante is managed by OB Sports of Scottsdale, Ariz., and is part of a 1,905-acre master planned community by North Valley Enterprises, LLC. The golf course is open to the public and rates for Las Vegas residents range from $70 to $80, and for non-residents, $100 to $110.

Brendan McEvoy, Contributor

Brendan McEvoy spent five years with Times Community Newspapers, a Reston, Va.-based chain of 18 weekly newspapers covering the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

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