Work Begins on Restoration of Papago Golf Course

The Arizona Golf Foundation (AGF) in partnership with the city of Phoenix, kicked off its restoration of Papago Golf Course on April 4. The city signed a contract with the Foundation to restore the course and to operate it when restoration is completed.

"Today we embark on a tremendous endeavor to restore the character of Papago Golf Course, a true gem, while preserving the integrity of the original design," said Dave Barnes, president of the Arizona Golf Foundation at a closing ceremony held Friday. "It is our goal for Papago to be back on the national stage as a source of pride for the city and the community. Over the last few months, we have developed a close working relationship with the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department that has grown into a true partnership. Together, we will have a bright future that will benefit the golfing community as a whole."

The renovation is expected to be completed in early November. Billy Fuller has been retained as the architect for the project. His background includes 20 years of design consultation and a term as superintendent-agronomist for the Augusta National Golf Club. Marvin French, a founding partner, developer and president of Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland, will oversee the restoration and golf course operations.

Weitz Golf International headquartered in Palm Beach, Fla, has been selected as the restoration general contractor. Harvey Mills Design has been retained for irrigation consultation with Rainbird Corporation providing the irrigation system and Horizon Distributors, Inc as the primary parts supplier. Karl Olson of Desert Forest Golf Club will serve as an agronomy consultant and architect John Peterson providing computer design graphics.

The Foundation has committed $9.75 million to the project, funded through Industrial Development Authority bonds. As part of the project, the Foundation will replace the original irrigation system and pump station with a new computerized system that is more efficient. Additionally, the green complexes will be restored, along with rebuilding bunkers and tees, as well as adding teeing options to many holes. All turf areas will be re-grassed with more drought-tolerant varieties.

Special attention will be given to the course's lagoons and water hazards that have been severely neglected over the years, along with the trees and vegetation that will be pruned, removed or enhanced. The practice facility and the clubhouse will be upgraded.

"With our strong commitment to growing the game and providing opportunities for all, the AGF and its association partners (Arizona Women's Golf Association, Junior Golf Association of Arizona; The First Tee, and the USGA/LPGA Girls Golf Club) will bring both developmental programs and national attention to Papago," said Ed Gowan, executive director of the AGF. "We eagerly anticipate its grand re-opening with a full spectrum of programs and services that others will point to as a model for a public-private partnership."

The city chose the Foundation for the project earlier this year over other bidders after a competitive process. As part of their operating agreement with the city, the Foundation will be required to hire a general manager, a golf superintendent, a director of golf/head golf professional; and a sales and marketing manager. In addition, the city's golf staff will continue to be involved in the operations at Papago through the establishment of an oversight committee made up of two city golf personnel and two AGA Management LLC personnel. The city of Phoenix will have financial oversight during the entire term of the agreement and perform regular audits of all financial documents and transactions.

More information on Papago’s restoration can be found by visiting the Arizona Golf Association website at