The fourth edition of the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship is being played this week, and for the first time since its inception, the event is being held at The Saticoy Club in Somis, California. Located a little over 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles and originally known as Ventura Country Club, Saticoy was established in 1921 and designed by the duo of George C. Thomas, Jr. and William P. Bell, who also helped build other prominent courses in the L.A. suburbs, most notably Riviera Country Club, home of the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational.
While the property has played host to a handful of USGA qualifiers and plenty of Southern California Golf Association events, it’s the first time the venue will welcome a professional golf tournament. Tim Paulson, Saticoy’s superintendent, is excited for the opportunity to showcase everything the club has to offer on a global stage as the world’s best on the LPGA Tour tee it up for the first time in Somis.
“This would be our biggest event definitely to date. We've held a lot of USGA qualifiers and stuff like that but nothing to this caliber, nothing to this degree,” Paulson explained. “Saticoy is built up into the foothills. It's a Billy Bell course, who was George C. Thomas's right-hand man. We're known for our really treacherous greens. We have two distinct nines – one runs down into the valley, towards the ocean – and you do have ocean views depending on the time of year.”
Paulson has worked at The Saticoy Club for nine years now, and in that time, he’s made important strides in sustainability, working to temper the facility’s water usage. But he has also forged a new partnership with John Deere, a relationship that’s been invaluable to both his water conservation efforts and pre-tournament setup ahead of MEDIHEAL.
“When I got here, we were mostly red and since I've been here, we've been slowly going almost all green. I got a lot of green,” said Paulson of his equipment fleet. “At this point, everybody can make a good machine. Now, I am partial to John Deere and I think they are the best machines, but even if they weren't, the service that Deere has provided me and Stotz as our local distributor and Gren Draper my salesman with Stotz, it's just been top notch. It's so above and beyond anything that I could ask for.
“Our buffalo blower went down I think (last) Monday and I texted Gren and I think he’s getting ready to go out of town or something and he's like, ‘I'll get you one there.’ Sure enough, there was one there tomorrow. That's everything.”
When it comes to his irrigation needs, it’s the revolutionary GPS technology that John Deere provides that’s been most valuable to Paulson in his maintenance of the Saticoy grounds. The property features a handful of different grass types, including Bermuda, Bentgrass, Poa annua and Kikuyu, all of which require different levels of attention and care in order to properly thrive.
“We have a new GPS sprayer and to be able to put that amount of precision out into the field and spray exactly what we want to spray and have absolute control over the rates that we're putting out and put it precisely where we need to put it out and promoting the certain grasses that we want and eliminating the other grasses that we don't want (is important),” Paulson said. “We're 100% Bermuda fairways and we get contamination. We get Poa. We aren’t that far from the coast. The ability just to apply what we want to promote though and keep areas clean, it's been it's everything for us. It has given us a new level of control.”
That precision and control has been important as Saticoy has readied itself for its first professional event, a process that began months in advance of tournament week. Now, with all the hard work done in the weeks leading up, Paulson and his staff are focused on shoring up the little details, making sure that everything is ready to roll ahead of each competition day. And they are all anxiously awaiting the reactions of fans and players alike as The Saticoy Club will finally be showcased to the world, when all of their efforts will be on full display, ready to challenge the LPGA Tour’s and pro golf’s best for the very first time.
“We're just tidying things up just a little bit more, tightening everything up a little bit more, going through the mowers one more time, making sure that we know exactly what we're doing each and every day,” said Paulson ahead of the beginning of play. “I'm a planner and so just making sure that we are checking all of our boxes and we are dotting all of our i’s and crossing all of our t’s.”
“It's this nervous anticipation. I just want to get it going. It's nervous and excited both, but I just don't want anything to go wrong. The members, the management team and the ownership all couldn't be happier. This is a real feather in our cap for sure.”