NCGA Golf

FALL 2017

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S implifying those settings into design themes is especially difficult for an outsider like myself, a born and bred East Coaster whose first experience with the great Northern California courses didn't come until age 28. But like Mark Twain, who was deprived of the pleasures of a cigar for his first 14 years and spent the rest of his life making up for it, I've since returned many times and on each occasion have found myself inspired. That first trip came in June 1982, when I set out West to caddy for Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links. I was your basic poor graduate student, pursuing occasional work on the PGA Tour, and arrived dead broke in San Francisco. I headed first to the Olympic Club and managed—I have no idea how— to land two days of caddying in a member- guest at the club's Lakeside and Ocean Courses. I had read about the great California golf courses and seen drawings and black and white photography of them in such classic books as George C. Thomas' Golf Architecture in America and Robert Hunter's The Links. For a kid who thought the flat, tidal marshland courses of Long Island, N.Y., were interesting—they were! —the imagery I saw in those books of barrancas and vast rolling hillsides opened up an entirely new world to me. When I saw the scale of the landforms of Olympic's Lakeside Course and how they were terraced in and overlooked hill- sides into which the city had grown, I began to appreciate how powerful such landforms could be. That effect was heightened one afternoon when I walked over to the coastal grounds where the old Ocean Course holes had once flowed and saw the grandeur of that meeting of land and water. You don't get landforms like that anywhere else in the U.S. but in Northern California. My hope now is that the club's wonderful nine-hole Cliffs Course on the west side of Skyline Drive holds steady against the coastal erosion that is threatening to undercut the ground there. Experiencing Pebble Beach Golf Links the next week simply heightened my sense of the power that a native landscape can provide. Nothing from watching the old Bing Crosby National Pro-Am on TV could prepare me for the scale of drama provided by the coastal stretch of holes six through ten. I also had not anticipated the way the routing teased you—starting off innocuously inland, then providing a feel for the coastline on the short, par-4 fourth hole before turning inwards—this was back in the day when the par-3 fifth hole was just an inland snoozer, having not yet been moved to the coast. And then there was the 24 FALL 2017 | NCGA.ORG Olympic (Lake) THE ART OF DESIGN Northern California is blessed with some of America's finest courses, from Pebble Beach to Cypress Point to The Olympic Club. It's also home to some golden age inspired hole designs. We asked Golfweek senior writer Bradley Klein to select three of his personal favorites. Cape Hole: California Golf Club of South San Francisco, par-4 7th hole, 402 yards. Kyle Phillips's stylish restoration involved consider- able creativity—with one of the few new holes being this totally retro, boomerang dogleg right on the previously unused high point of the site around a steep canyon. Redan: Monterey Peninsula Country Club— Dunes Course, par-3 4th hole, 232 yards. Most of the copies that Charles Blair Mac- donald and Seth Raynor came up with a cen- tury ago are better than the original—the 15th at North Berwick in Scotland. This one, a Tim Jackson-David Kahn creative restora- tion of the Raynor original, is no exception— although it's a mirror image of a conventional Redan in that it bends elegantly left-to-right. Punch Bowl: CordeValle Golf Club, par-4 8th hole, 358 yards. A perfectly concave, saucer-like putting surface eluded us in Northern California—until we stumbled upon this gem at the resort's semi-private layout 31 miles southeast of San Jose Airport that was home to the 2016 U.S. Women's Open. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. hole caps off a relatively short, downhill par-4 by presenting a putting surface with a high surrounding backstop that funnels anything hit past the front into the middle of the green. —B.K. JIM MANDEVILLE

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