Sugarloaf Golf Club took on a three-year, $20 million renovation project, which included new grass for all the greens, tees and fairways. The result earned the club first place in the 2020 Renovation of the Year competition from Golf Inc. Magazines. The renovation included a shift to NG Turf’s Zeon® Zoysia for the tees and fairways, which will help Sugarloaf’s superintendent Kyle Worthy keep the course looking its best for years to come.
About the Course
Sugarloaf is a private club in Duluth, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. The 27-hole course was designed by Greg Norman and belongs to the TPC network, owned by the PGA Tour. In addition to the three 9-hole courses — The Pines, The Meadows and The Stables — the club offers a 10-acre practice facility.
Prior to the renovation, the existing GN1™ Bermudagrass had been struggling due to shade on several tees, so the decision was made to switch those tees to Zeon zoysia, for its superior shade tolerance. Worthy says the switch gave the club an opportunity to audition the premium zoysia before investing in the re-grassing of an entire course, “and it seemed to perform really well.”
Worthy came to Sugarloaf in 2018 from a previous position at TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville, Florida. The Pines had already been renovated and The Meadows project was underway. “I had seen pictures and heard stories, and some of the areas they always struggled with were definitely better year round with the Zeon.”
Additional Zeon Benefits
“Zeon has proven to be one of the better zoysiagrasses, providing a good, dense playing surface,” Worthy pointed out. “A little bit thinner leaf blade, it just makes a really good surface on the fairways, a really tight lie.”
Because it is slower growing, Zeon is also a lower maintenance grass. It outperforms Bermuda with lower mowing and fertilizing requirements. For the golf course, buying less fertilizer will provide significant savings each year. Zeon was developed for low thatch production and higher shade tolerance compared to other zoysias as well.
“There are a lot of attractive things about the Zeon,” Worthy pointed out, “such as holding its color longer through the winter and greening up a little quicker in the spring, all the while being able to survive the winters with its cold tolerance and still allowing us to manage it at a really high level.” He also appreciates the improved wear tolerance. “It will take more of a beating than the GN1 Bermuda.”
In addition to the new grass on the tees and fairways, the greens got an upgrade as well, replacing bentgrass with Bermuda for better heat tolerance. Work on the The Stables, the third and final stage of the project, fortuitously wrapped up in the fall of 2019.
“We had everything renovated and established, almost a brand new golf course, and then the pandemic hit. The renovation got us back in line with other high end clubs in the area and, by pure luck, positioned us perfectly for the sudden spike in golf.”