NCGA Golf

FALL 2017

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Nakoma Golf Resort: Tucked in the Mohawk Valley of Plumas County, Nakoma is home to an authentic Frank Lloyd Wright design that he sketched in 1923. It was originally meant for a project in Madison, Wis., but the design didn't come to fruition for over 75 years, when Nakoma's owners purchased the plan and opened it in 2001. The resort also includes villas that echo the spirit of the clubhouse—featuring octagonal pitched roofs and sculptural stone fireplaces. The Olympic Club: The beauty of this Mediterranean-themed, 70,000- square-foot building is how its three stories provide a terraced transition from the entry level down to the golf course. Inside it's a museum of club memorabilia, including historical routing maps and art-quality prints, as well as the collected wisdom from hosting five U.S. Opens. Sonoma Golf Club: Fifty miles due north of San Francisco sits a 1920s- era Sam Whiting-designed course with a new clubhouse that looks centuries old. As part of a rebranding in 2005, Marsh & Associates, Inc. crafted this Mission-style lodge—replete with intimate stone corridors, covered courtyards, open patios, loggia and fire pits. Sharp Park Golf Course: Architect Willis Polk designed this Spanish hacienda clubhouse. A disciple of classic San Francisco building, Polk championed a utilitarian version of Beaux-Arts design. The 14,000- square-foot clubhouse was built by the federal Works Progress Admin- istration in 1932 and today conveys the same tasteful sensibility of its original, interlocking/overlapping rectangles—replete with clay tiled roof and a simple, if comfortable, main room that can easily accommo- date 100 people gathered for a "Save Sharp Park" fundraising dinner. Claremont Country Club: The stately Tudor-style clubhouse stands sentinel over this Alister MacKenzie gem located in the Rockridge neigh- borhood of Oakland. Built in 1929 and renovated over the years, the venerable clubhouse features a shale roof and is finished in brown stucco with a typical English gabled roof—and consists of a main build- ing with four angled wings that give the maximum outside exposure. Recent additions—such as an aquatic center and exercise room—have been detailed in a manner indistinguishable from the original Tudor manor house. —B.K. NCGA.ORG | FALL 2017 25 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CLUBHOUSES Nakoma interior sequence—holes 11-16 that served as sturdy tests in their own right, before the course returned to its glorious oceanfront conclusion. That sense of routing sequence and movement of the land registered itself very powerfully down the road at Cypress Point, which I walked on the day after the 1982 U.S. Open with Australian architect Bob Harrison. Ours was a chance meeting, one that proved to be the start of a long-running friendship. And as we walked Cypress Point and talked about it the whole way I became aware of how it ingeniously uti- lized a variety of typical Northern Califor- nia landscape landforms—open rolling meadow; maritime forest; sandy dunesland and rocky coastal crags. Only a few years later did I finally get to see Pasatiempo. At first, the site was some- thing of a disappointment, given how heav- ily developed the surrounding land of the front nine had become. But the back nine really opened my eyes to the ways designer Alister MacKenzie was able to rout fascinating strategic options on some wild terrain that made use of meandering barrancas. The green on the par-4, 16th hole looked as if it was clinging to the hill- side out of sheer desperation. And I realized that the par-3 finishing hole made perfect sense as a way to traverse the arroyo there. Like the artist Vincent Van Gogh, MacKen- zie's work has been better appreciated following his death. An expert in camouflage techniques, MacKenzie intuitively understood that in golf course design you have two opportu- nities for a sense of scale and landform: interior views across the golf course and exterior views that embrace the setting of the entire site. Much of the striking bold- ness of Northern California design was how both "view sheds," as they are called, animated the sensibilities of golfers as they played these older tracts. Pacific Grove Golf Links, the popular municipal tract on the scenic tip of the Monterey Peninsula, provides a classic case in point here. The linear, tree-lined inland front nine provides neither interior view of the site nor any exterior sense of the neigh- borhood that crowds it. The back nine, by dramatic contrast, is wide open, spacious across the interior and exposed to incom- parable oceanfront dunes. Real estate pressures have made it dif- ficult to realize that sense of sustained open- ness today. It takes a very relaxed land plan to do so, such as at Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa, 60 miles north of downtown San Francisco. There in August 2001, Jack Nicklaus unveiled a remarkably restrained layout in the middle of the Sonoma County wine-growing region. This classically- inspired layout winds its way up and down and across broken ground, with dry valleys and live oaks adorning the hole corridors and evidence of homesites pushed well back and behind lines of play. Back in 1924, Willie Watson shoe- horned the fairways of Orinda Country

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