Reader Comments

Course Conditions Won Riverside Golf Course NGCOA Award Says Course Owner

by Meghan Nisbet (2020-06-08)

When it comes to accepting credit for his award winning Riverside golf course, owner Jay Miller prefers to broaden the limelight. When asked how he transformed his Hidden Valley Golf Club from a blot on the Riverside golf landscape into a course meriting this past year's National Golf Course of the Year distinction, Miller downplayed his personal contribution and instead pointed to the efforts of his team, in particular 32-year old Ian Sturge, course superintendent.

Miller's Riverside golf club certainly has gone through an incredible metamorphosis since Sturge came onto the scene. With seven years experience as assistant superintendent, Ian joined the Hidden Valley team as superintendent in 2007. At that time, the course conditions were sub-par at best, having been neglected for years.

Miller is quick to praise Sturge's commitment to restoring the course and couldn't be more pleased with the final results of his tremendous efforts. "The course is so consistent and the greens are awesome," Miller says about the current condition of his Riverside golf club. "I trust him [Sturge] with every blade of grass".

The grueling process of reconditioning the Riverside golf course was not an easy one, according to Sturge, and seemed an impossibility when the original $1.2 million allocated for the project had to be tapped before budget plans were set for repairing equipment and getting the pumping station and irrigation system working properly. It was then that Sturge's talent and expertise came into play and may have made all of the difference in turning the community "patch" into the award-winning course Riverside golf club clearly is today.

"When I arrived, the fairways ranged from 75 percent to 100 percent Poa Annua," Sturge says. In order to change that, Sturge began to let the Poa Annua on the Riverside golf course die off, opting instead for a Bermuda mix. He then topdressed some of the bare areas, hand-raking in a special mixture of half composted cow manure and half plaster sand, being careful not to overseed with ryegrass so as not to stress the Bermuda.

Sturge used his very limited chemicals budget to purchase urea for the Riverside golf club's greens. He also applied 1/3 a pound of nitrogen about once a week. He was able to create what he calls "lean greens" with a small amount of nitrogen and a greater portion of calcium.

Whether Ian Sturge's course-scaping expertise outweighs Miller's unmatched golf course management strategies that earned his Riverside golf club the National Golf Course of the Year award win is still up for debate. The association did take other factors into consideration. The other criteria included quality of the ownership and management, contribution to the community, and contribution to the game of golf, but if you ask Jay Miller why his Riverside golf course is doing so well, he'll tell you that his young superintendent's blood, sweat, and ingenuity are the keys to Hidden Valley's leap onto the national stage.

Hidden Valley Golf Club is near Riverside. From its unique design, to its natural beauty, the Golf Club has all the elements necessary to ensure a memorable golf experience.