Inside a tee box restoration at Medford Village Country Club

An assistant superintendent shares his experience on a game-changing project at the Medford, N.J. course.


Tee box under construction
Tee boxes being restored at Medford Village Country Club in Medford, N.J. Photos by Brett Schiesser

I was the assistant superintendent at Medford Village Country Club in Medford, N.J. from May 2020-March 2022, and a senior assistant there from April 2023- March 2024. After my first season as assistant superintendent, it became obvious that course renovations needed to be made. After Covid 19, the course struggled to handle the overwhelming increase in play. The 1964 design was very traditional, with tree lined fairways, push up greens and small tee boxes.

Many of the tee boxes were small, narrow, and had no room to allow for variety and proper yardages for the holes to play differently. Another major factor was the wear and tear building up from the uptick in rounds from previous years. Many of the par three teeing grounds were becoming overwhelmed with divots. Even with devoting extra time, money and labor hours to maintenance, the tees simply were not recovering quickly enough. An additional obstacle was the fact that the course was not closed in the wintertime, and there were minimal measures taken to reduce wear and tear. Temporary mats and tees were not an option. It was clear changes needed to be made.

The first task was deciding which tees were the worst and determining how to make them better. Medford Village is a private golf club with a championship-style course that has hosted several U.S. Open qualifiers. That meant changes needed to be made the correct way. We knew we didn’t have the crew size to do the whole project in-house, so we first had to decide who to contract the project out to. The outside hire would be responsible for stripping the old turf, moving soil, adding new soil, looking at tree removal for new teeing ground and laser leveling/grading the new tees before grassing. 

The next task was figuring out which tees were the biggest priority and how many we could do in the off season without disrupting play, while also knowing we had to be ready by the start of the upcoming season. Time is always the enemy in these situations. Along with making changes to the tees already on the course, the club wanted to add new areas on several tees, including expanding the driving range tee complex. With this expansion came the idea to make the new upper tier of the range tee warm season bermudagrass (tahoma 31). The idea was this would help with recovery in the peak of the season and would enable quicker healing and growth for the turf. The two lower-level tees would then be low-mow blue grass tees. Once everything was approved, the project was set to begin in October 2021.

Tee box before renovation
One of the tee boxes after renovation.

The plan was to make updates to eight total teeing areas: the driving range renovation, expanding five old tees, and adding two new tees. Three of these projects were on par 3 teeing grounds, where most of the problems originated. According to golf course design and construction principles, teeing grounds should have 100-200 square feet of usable space for every 1000 rounds played annually. So, for example, if a course hosts 40,000 rounds a year, the tees should range from 4000-8000 square feet. Our course was close to that number and some of our existing tee boxes were under 3000 square feet. 

I had never been part of a project like this before in my turf management career, so I was excited when it began. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but one thing I quickly noticed was all the attention to detail mixed with a sense of urgency. The goal was to complete the project before cold weather came so we could keep our irrigation system on to water the new sod several times before blowing the system out and covering the new tees for the wintertime. We also had to move old irrigation heads, add new heads and pipe and add several quick couplers and valve boxes to accommodate the new tees.

The process went smoothly and by mid-December we had completed almost all the tees, and even had the new tees watered several times and covered with tarps ready for the northeast winter that was coming quickly. It was amazing to see how much was accomplished in such short period, and how smoothly things went. There’s always going to be a couple bumps in the road, but with good communication and a great staff, we did a tremendous job overall.

The knowledge and experience gained from this project was incredible. Getting to do things and using new equipment outside of the everyday tasks we normally do was an absolute blast. Seeing all the new types of equipment and technology available from GPS grading to installing new irrigation was a great experience. The most rewarding part was that it didn’t take long for the changes to get praise and be noticed by members. People were immediately blown away by the transformation. Even though we didn’t open the new tees until just before Memorial Day 2022, the members and upper management approved. Plans were quickly put in place to do more renovations in the upcoming offseason. To me that proved that the job was well done and showed that making these important investments can make all the difference.

Brett Schiesser is an assistant superintendent at Pine Valley Golf Club in Pine Hill, N.J., and a four-year GCSAA member.