It started as an organic conversation with four buddies — one former pro and three scratch golfers — who roomed together after college who decided it was time to give a new draw to golf in Arizona. In 2018, Pete Wilson and his three friends created Grass Clippings, a golf clothing company set to honor the greenskeepers who keep the courses open.
Shortly thereafter, they hosted their inaugural Grass Clippings amateur tournament at Mountain Shadows golf course. While the tournaments were successful, Wilson realized the layout of the course was not ideal, so the search for the perfect venue began. Wilson’s vision to give Arizona golf a makeover involved grandstands, stadium lights for night golf, live music and entertainment.
However, nearly all courses are encapsulated by houses and have ordinances — except for Rolling Hills, which is an executive course situated between the Phoenix Zoo, Papago Buttes and Downtown Tempe. After two years of negotiating with the city of Tempe, and $15 million later, he got his course.
“We went looking around the greater Phoenix area looking for properties that would be able to check those boxes,” Wilson said. “And there was really one property. We were like, wow, Rolling Hills is right here and right under our noses.”
Wilson and Grass Clippings inked a 30-year lease with a pair of 10-year extensions with the City of Tempe. They also partnered with Troon Golf to renovate and put a new spin on golf in Tempe. Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills is opening Arizona’s first-ever 18-hole lighted course.
“The goals of the public-private partnership are to ensure the longterm viability of public golf, address capital improvement needs at the course, provide revenue to the city, and expand golf and recreational amenities to wide and diverse audiences,” Tempe spokesperson Savannah Harrelson said. Also on board is the “greatest greenskeeper in Arizona,” former Phoenix Open greenskeeper Scott Hebert. Wilson said Hebert jumped at the opportunity to join the Grass Clippings team, adding one more notch into the company’s already impressive run.
The group will continue to host tournaments, with hopes that high school, amateur and eventually professional golf tournaments are hosted at their new course, whether that be during the day or under the lights. Not only will Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills offer a unique experience to golf, but a section called “the lawn” will allow up to 7,000 to enjoy live music and events with a jumbotron, paired with a new restaurant and pro shop.
While night golf will be set to tee off by December of 2023, all renovations will be complete by the end of 2024 and tee times will remain low