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52 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.17 The back nine, which had been added on a cleared mangrove swamp in 1962, was so completely different from the front nine that it felt like you were playing two separate golf courses. Adjacent to the Intracoastal Wa - terway, the back nine sat so close to sea level that half an inch of rain would mean limit - ing golf on that side to walking-only for about 48 hours. The course's greens, which had been some of the first planted with TifEagle back in 1998, were push-up style, and soil analy - sis showed that no two greens' profiles were the same, which created some manage- ment challenges. Prelude to a transformation In 2013, as part of the exploratory phase of the project, the club's board of directors had brought in golf course architect Ron Forse to examine the property and offer suggestions on how the course could be improved. Forse had assembled a plan that included elevating the greens to capture the ocean views, rais - ing the fairways on the back nine to improve drainage, and converting the fairways from a Heinz 57 mix of bermudagrass to Celebra - tion bermudagrass. Around this time, Jim Callaghan, the club's storied superintendent of 37 years, an - nounced he would be retiring. With the ren- ovation looming, Riomar set out to find the right blend of experience and ambition to fill the void left by Callaghan and to spearhead the course upgrades. I was fortunate to be selected as Riomar's next superintendent — a fraternity of fewer than 10 throughout the club's 98-year history — and in June 2014, I officially joined forces with green committee chairman Dick Haverland and general manager Mark Bad - ertscher, who had already begun searching for an architect and putting together budget ex - pectations for the renovation. Mark had previously worked with Tom Fazio II, and suggested to the board that he be invited in and interviewed for the posi - tion. I had a few close colleagues who had also worked with Fazio, so I picked up the phone to do a bit of research. From those conversations, two points stuck out to me: He's not your typ - ical architect, and he watches the construction budget and club's money as if it were coming out of his own pocket. When Fazio arrived for his interview, I realized right away that my friends had been right about one thing: With his shorts, tennis shoes and long hair, he didn't fit the golf course architect mold. After spend - ing just a little time with Fazio, I could see his energy and passion for the job matched mine, and I knew we would hit it out of the park. He was hired. We next set out to determine a desired scope of work, a construction timetable, and, with the help of the board, an appropriate budget. All greens would be demolished and rebuilt to USGA specifications. Subsurface drainage would be installed throughout the back nine, and fairways would be raised by an average of 1 foot to solve the drainage prob - lems that would occur following insignificant rainfall events. New ponds would be exca - vated to increase irrigation storage capacity, reducing reliance on reclaimed water as an ir - rigation source. Bunkers would be fitted with The third green at Riomar CC, before (top) and after renovation work. As part of the project, volunteer palm trees were moved from the property line and transplanted to other areas of the course that needed screening, restoring the original ocean views from greens and tees. Photos by PJ Salter (top) and Jared Blais