NCGA Golf

Winter 2019

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Nearly a decade ago, the city of Alameda had a political battle on its hands. Corica's par-3 course had deteriorated to the point it had to be closed. For more than a year, it sat unused as a local developer eyed the 13 acres as a poten- tial site for homes, igniting spirited discourse in City Hall. The local community forced city administrators to find a way to keep the site golf-centric. That's when George Kelley, owner of Greenway Golf, a golf mainte- nance and restoration firm, fielded a call about the flat, untended parcel that had become what Kelley termed "basically a pasture." Adding Elevation Kelley envisioned something better. So, he took Alameda officials to Stevinson Ranch, a course he built in the Central Valley that, alas, closed in 2015 due to spiking water costs, to sell his vision for Corica Park. A once-aspiring pro golfer who played on the PGA Tour of Australasia, Kelley knew the short course begged for better drainage since much of the land sat at or below sea level and was part of a tidal marsh that was filled in when Oakland International Airport was built in the 1920s. "There is no way to drain water when there's no place for the water to go," said Kelley, whose firm began managing the entire Corica Park golf facility in 2012. During winter months, the Corica courses were known for sodden conditions topped by kikuyu grass, which acted as Velcro to golf balls. To remedy the situa- tion, Kelly's team trucked in sand to cap the site, raising the entire par-3 layout and adding long mounds to define each hole. The sand enabled water to filter into drainage pipes that led to canals. Better drainage improved the condi- tion of the grass, especially on the greens, which Marc Logan, the head agronomist at Greenway Golf, shaped with a devilish touch. The Mif 9 Leads to Something Better The result is a "Divine Nine" that re-opened in 2014 and whose longest hole is 147 yards, the shortest about 75. Each hole starts with a tee shot from a small mat of artificial turf. Some holes have greenside bunkers but for the most part the course plays straight away, 58 WINTER 2019 | NCGA.ORG D I V I N E N I N E T he rejuvenation of The Mif Albright Nine at Corica Park began with a simple phone call. The story behind that phone call, well, that's a bit more complicated. They've been playing golf on this stretch of city-owned parkland adjacent to the Oakland International Airport dating to 1927. Above, top left: Looking back at the third green with the second hole in background; Through the eucalyptus at second green (circle); Opposite page, above: Looking back at the ninth green; Lower right: The seventh green. Corica Park's Par-3 Course Adds to Unique Golf Complex By Ted Johnson Photography by Leah Johnson

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