They skipped the presentations and got straight into renovating the bunkers.

In a world of private clubs often filled with design and construction rolling, the Sewickley Heights Golf Club in suburban Pittsburgh represents a laudable exception. When a team arrived to begin work on September 7, five key project figures had previously worked together to improve the playing surfaces of the 60-year-old club.

Sewickley Heights successfully executed renovation of complex greens in 2016 which involved stripping Poa annua scrapping the surfaces, rebuilding the elements of the basement and placing the Poa annua turf on the reconstructed greens. The effort has been orchestrated to ensure the club has the proper infrastructure to support the elite Poa annua green vegetables. Members who demand ultra-slick Poa annua greens are as Pittsburgh as black, gold, and sandwiches topped with fries.

When Sewickley Heights executives started thinking about a bunker renovation late last year, they told the golf director David Malatak and superintendent Randall Pinckney to manage planning and logistics. The pair turned to the Western Pennsylvania-based architect Jim cervone and Aspen Corporation, a West Virginia-based company with a significant presence in Pittsburgh, for design and construction. Aspen attributed Justin chapman as a project manager. A former mining ventilation engineer, Chapman joined the Aspen team in 2016. His first golf project? The renovation of the greens at Sewickley Heights guided by… yes, Cervone.

Pinckney and Malatak held the same roles in 2016 as well. And another sign of continuity in Sewickley Heights: Deputy Superintendent Corey cheza has been with the club since 2016.

“A lot of Aspen’s work is niche and we have a lot of loyal customers,” says Chapman, “but when we come back to a club it’s never the same team. I think that says a lot about Randall and Dave.

Pinckney and Cheza worked together at Treesdale Golf & Country Club, where Pinckney led the maintenance of 27 holes before arriving at Sewickley Heights. Pinckney reports to Malatak, who started working in the Pro Shop in 1990 and has served as Director of Golf since 2015. Pinckney’s first Chief Superintendent position was at the Piney Branch (Maryland) Golf Club, where Cervone led. a renovation in the early 2000s.

Even the writer who covered the renovation of the greens is the same. Five years after visiting Sewickley Heights for the initial story, I returned to the club in October to see the construction. I stood in a semi-circle with Pinckney, Cheza, Malatak, Cervone and Chapman on the green to discuss the project before touring the course. Trust and continuity were the themes of our conversation.

“We all know each other well enough to have a heart to heart if something happens that we don’t like,” Pinckney says. “We just had one recently. We have to trust each other and doing it right from the start of the project is important for the club. “

Cervone is a deeply informed and ubiquitous figure on project sites. He visited Sewickley Heights over 40 times during the greens renovation and was approaching 10 visits in the first month of the bunker project. During these occasions he may not be in Sewickley Heights, he relies on the familiar quartet to provide updates and candid commentary.

“We all make ourselves look good,” says Cervone. “It’s the confidence factor. I’m not here hoping they’ll do something right. It’s always fair.

Unfortunately, the architect, the contractor, the committee and even the superintendent’s ego are part of the industry. Sometimes the consequences of ego renovation negatively affect a club’s morale and finances. Malatak succinctly says that “me first” attitudes don’t benefit anyone involved in club building: “What’s the point of this? What would it be for? “

The renovation of the bunker at Sewickley Heights should make a Jim harrison-The carefully designed course maintained by Pinckney, Cheza and his team sets themselves apart more in Pittsburgh’s crowded private club market. Sewickley – 3,761 residents – is home to three private clubs built in different eras, making it one of the best private club-to-resident ratios in the country.

Cervone’s plan is about maintenance, gameplay and strategy. Softening the stern noses and raising the floors will allow the Pinckney team to use power rakes more frequently for daily maintenance. A few bunkers will be surrounded by fairways on the low side, while an approach bunker on the 13th par-3 hole will be surrounded by fairways on all sides. Sewickley Heights will have 66 bunkers upon completion.

The Aspen team rebuilt the bunkers around the game this fall. Thoughtful communication such as weekly Malatak updates and digital cart messages alerting golfers to approaching a hole with active construction has benefited all parties on the course. The work also includes the addition of 10 new tees.

“One thing we had to tell people is that it’s not a greens project, it’s a bunker project, and we won’t be as intrusive as this project,” says Malatak. “It made a lot of people comfortable with what we were doing.”

Construction, golf-friendly temperatures and maintaining mature, new turf resulted in an eventful fall for both Pinckney and Cheza, although the pair appear built to handle continuous activity. “To keep doing these projects and to raise the level of this club… we are proud of it,” said Cheza.

Being busy, especially when you are surrounded by good people, beats the alternative.

“The monotony of daily maintenance can be boring and I don’t want to be bored,” says Pinckney. “It’s one thing when you just maintain, but when the club wants to invest money in something and put it in place with the right people, it’s fun to watch it fall into place.”

Guy Cipriano is the editor-in-chief of Golf Course Industry.