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February 19 2013

3:40 PM

Turf Talk: Dove Mountain

The edge of the fairway should be easier to spot at this year's WGC-Accenture Match Play.
(Kinnaird/Getty Images)

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

Though golf fans might not notice the cleaner look around this week’s World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, regular participants at Dove Mountain almost certainly will.

Work to clean up desert overgrowth around the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club has yielded cleaner sight lines off the tee -- something that could prove valuable in 18-hole match play where there’s little time to overcome an error.

“Maybe players weren’t able to see a fairway edge or fairway cut, where they might want to identify what the carry is,” said course superintendent Mike Mefford. “Maybe they need to identify the end of a fairway bunker.

“We just want to make sure they’re seeing a (clean) view of the golf course, so they can make the best decision on the tee box."

The Jack Nicklaus design meanders through high desert just northwest of Tucson, Ariz., requiring several carries across desert washes. Though the course has been open just five years, some of nature’s growth was starting to encroach on players’ view.

“It’s just something that has to be paid attention to and make sure we don’t get too overgrown,” said Mefford, in his first year at the 27-hole complex.

Despite some early challenges from a warm fall and cold winter, delaying the winter ryegrass from overtaking the dormant summer grasses, Mefford said the overseed has filled in nicely in recent weeks.

“All reports are that we’re better than we were last year,” he said.

The only disappointment might be that Dove Mountain’s desert foliage, which blazed with color during Hunter Mahan’s run to the title last year, was lost during a recent cold snap.

Though frost hasn’t created as much of a problem through the winter as seen at PGA West or TPC Scottsdale, it could be a factor in Thursday’s second round as overnight lows dip into the mid-30s.

Of more immediate concern will be a cold rain that’s forecast to arrive in the hours just before the opening round begins, with showers lingering until the early evening.

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