(LAS VEGAS, NV) – For golf trip and tournament planners like Jeff Johnson and Tommy Thomas, success often depends on circumstances outside their control. They can be perfect on their end: Secure the prime tee times, make sure transportation is smooth and timely, create appealing formats, and communicate consistently with their clients.
But if the golf course they choose fails to deliver on service and/or conditioning, all their fine work goes for naught. Their customers will probably look elsewhere when it comes time to book their next trip.
That’s why the Tommy Thomas Pro-Ams regularly book many of their renowned competitions at Red Rock Country Club in Las Vegas. The private Mountain Course and the Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock host the four-day events on four to six different occasions throughout the year, attracting an average of 20 five-player teams for each one.
The Red Rock courses are maintained by Pro Turf International, a family owned construction, landscape and golf course maintenance company with over 30 years of hands-on experience in the Southwest. PTI has maintained the Red Rock courses since 2013, and the company has a big fan in Jeff Johnson.
“The courses are always in tip-top shape for our tournaments,” said Johnson, based in Nashville. “PTI insures that, and that is why we continue to go back there year in and year out. The courses are great layouts, but if they weren’t in outstanding condition, it wouldn't work for us.”
What pleases Johnson the most is the day-to-day personal attention he and his group receive from the staff at Red Rock and Pro Turf.
“It’s the little things that mean the most,” said Johnson. “The PTI guys on site making the day-to-day decisions bend over backwards to make sure our courses are set up to our liking. It’s not good enough for them that they simply have the course in top shelf condition for us. They want to have the setup perfect for us on a daily basis.”
Johnson gave the following example. Say the winds kicked up unexpectedly one on of their tournament days. The impeccably manicured greens are smooth, fast and undulating, so in certain wind conditions a few planned pin placements might prove to be extremely difficult. PTI staff is there to make adjustments if needed.
“The staff is the main reason why the golf courses are so great and why working with those facilities is so great,” said Johnson.
Jared Bumpus is the Regional Superintendent for PTI. He understands the importance of groups like these to the success of golf courses, especially in a destination market such as Las Vegas.
“It is always important to have our golf courses in the very best condition possible,” said Bumpus. “It is vital, however, to be available on a daily basis for groups like this, to respond to their daily needs on the spot. Their job as planners is to make their customers as happy as possible. That is also our top responsibility.”
Two Arnold Palmer designs – the Mountain and Arroyo – are regular hosts to the Tommy Thomas Pro-Ams. The Mountain Course plays over 7,000 yards from the tips. That includes the dramatic 615-yard finishing hole. Water, a large fairway bunker and the bordering native desert areas make this a difficult driving hole, and the well-bunkered green makes going for it in two a real risk. Head golf course superintendent there is George Folopoulos.
Arroyo provides a slightly different challenge. There are 68 bunkers throughout the course, but most fairways provide ample room off the tee. Golfers need to save their best for last at Arroyo. The 401-yard finishing hole requires accuracy and length, with a tee shot that must carry water. The approach shot should avoid two deep bunkers left of the green. Heading the crew at Arroyo is Jerry Tidball.
This year the Tommy Thomas Pro-Ams schedule in November will add a third course to the rotation, Siena, which is available for Red Rock members to play on a year-round basis.