NCGA Golf

Winter 2019

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NCGA.ORG | WINTER 2019 59 save for the wicked breaks on the greens. Distances are measured to the middle of the greens, but they are large enough that the hole location will affect club selection. The back-right pin on the 140-yard sev- enth, for instance, added at least 12 yards to the shot for those going flag-hunting, and the deceptive slope requires a deft touch for birdie-seekers. In short, it is a short course that will appeal to beginners and short-game fanat- ics alike, a charming encounter with the game. Non-residents pay $16, those 17- and-under $5. Corica also makes it possi- ble to combine nine holes on the par-3 layout with nine more on the North Course for as little as $10 (ages 19 and under), and is a Youth on Course facility. [Editor's note: NCGA members receive preferred rates at the 18-hole courses. Simply identify yourself as an NCGA member when book- ing or look for the NCGA rate online on the Corica Park website. Proof of NCGA membership card or GHIN number is required once per year when you check-in at the golf shop for play.] "We see a lot of families out there, which is great," said Brett Morrison, operations manager at Corica Park. "There are no rules really – fivesomes, groups, as long as people keep up and are not abusive." Last June, Corica Park (named for the city's former mayor) unveiled its re- designed South Course, an 18-hole layout credited to designer Rees Jones with insight from Logan, an Australian native. Particu- larly on the back nine, the South Course transports people to the firm, eucalyptus- lined fairways and large, contoured greens common to the Sandbelt region of Melbourne, Australia, where Logan apprenticed. The restoration of this unique complex continues on the North Course, another 18-hole project due to be finished in 2020. When completed, Corica Park could rival storied facilities like Bethpage State Park in New York as one of the country's best municipally run, multi-course golf facilities. Getting Their Kicks Few areas can match the diversity of the Oakland-Alameda region. For many locals, golf is not a part of their heritage. Soccer is their preferred game and so some partici- pants are getting a kick out of playing Foot Golf, a game that combines elements of soccer and golf on a modified course with 21-inch holes designed to accommodate soccer balls. "A lot of people have never played golf," Kelley added, "nor have they spent time on a golf course, and Foot Golf changes that. They can integrate right in with the golfers. It works out really well." The vortex of this unique complex consists of a spacious plaza framed by a large putting green, a revamped pro shop that looks like a high-end New York City boutique, and a full-sized restaurant. "We spent a lot of money in the patio and courtyard because our weather might be the best in the world," Kelley said. "Most days, you can just hang outside." Coming Full Spectrum Kelley said during the height of golf's popularity in the late 1990s the Corica complex of two 18-hole courses and the par-3 layout recorded 240,000 "starts," making it one of the busiest municipalities in the country. It always has been known for its junior golf program, and counts PGA Tour veteran James Hahn and Symetra Tour pros Grace Na and Emily Childs, who won the 2010 NCGA Women's Amateur, among its alumni. Rising star Yealimi Noh, winner of the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship, keeps her trophy on display in the clubhouse and is the latest with Corica connections. In 2018, "The Mif," as locals dubbed it, was named to a list of the 12-best par-3 courses in America by Golf.com, who called it "as fun for beginners as it is challenging for serious sticks." The dramatic transfor- mation of the South Course attracted the attention of the PGA Tour, which consid- ered Corica Park as a site for a new Bay Area event headed by Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star guard and golf nut. While sponsorship issues reportedly may delay its launch until 2021 and the event could be played at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco or nearby Lake Merced GC, Kelley thinks the extra time will allow Corica Park to prepare to some- day host a first-rate pro event. "Having the North Course under con- struction kind of spooked the Tour, but we will have all the facilities," said Kelley refer- ring to the full-sized driving range named for Lucius Bateman, an East Bay legend who left his mark on the game as a teaching pro, and the ability to convert The North into parking space and grounds for mer- chandising and corporate tents. Alameda's ferry port is less than five minutes away, which would make for a stunning commute across San Francisco Bay. "The par-3 course would be perfect for a celebrity shoot-out," said Kelley, noting it would be apropos to highlight the project that started it all. "To think that some kid could take his first swing there and then, say, 20 years later, tee it up against the world's best on the South Course – that says a lot about what a golf facility can be." Another vision waiting to come true. Ted Johnson lives in Danville, where he is in constant search for the perfect wedge.

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