NCGA Golf

FALL 2017

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Club into the at-times steep ground of woodlands above the East Bay. It was al- ways a tightly cloistered set of holes thanks to the native oaks and sycamores. Lately, a restoration by architect Todd Eckenrode has recaptured the interior views of Orinda CC's twisting fairway corridors. Some tree thinning plus reclamation of Watson's orig- inal lace-edged bunkering coupled with greens expansion back to the original ex- tent of the putting surfaces have brought back the classical luster of the place and provided a reminder of what Golden Age Northern California design could look like. The most dramatic version of that retro- fitting came a decade ago at the California Golf Club in South San Francisco. There, an original A. Vernon Macan routing from 1926 adorned with MacKenzie's trade- mark scallop bunkering two years later had slid in its elegance, due in part to a com- promised routing when a road impinged upon the front nine. In came Kyle Phillips, and with a little nerve to induce a partial rerouting of the front nine he opened up the place, includ- ing making use of an old dump site for a dramatic par-4 Cape Hole seventh on the club's highest ground. He also re-joined fairways laterally that had once upon a time been seamlessly interlaced until modernist sensibilities overtook the place and encased each hole in isolating coffins of trees. The result? A stunning eye opener of a throwback layout, yet one that played fast and firm. For those who don't have the stomach to close for a full year, as did Cal Club, there's always the example of what's going on at The Meadow Club in Fairfax, 18 miles northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. There, superintendent Sean Tully 26 FALL 2017 | NCGA.ORG Poppy Hills Pasatiempo ARCHITECT'S CORNER: JAY BLASI Q: How did you get started as a golf course architect? Blasi: My dad fell in love with golf as a caddie at Beverly CC in Chicago, and built a putting green in the backyard of our first house. I started playing when I was 3 and was doodling golf holes soon after. Then I majored in landscape architecture at the University of Wisconsin, and upon gradua- tion I was lucky to land a job with Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in Palo Alto. What is a project you've worked on in Northern California that you are most proud of? The Siebel Varsity Golf Training Complex at Stanford University is a unique project that I've worked on twice. The original facility featured six green complexes—modeled after different architects—as well as differ- ent grass types, different bunker sands and more. I reconfigured the facility six years later, and it now features five green com- plexes, a team clubhouse, an indoor hitting bay/lab, and a large putting course. The other project is Sharp Park—the municipal course in Pacifica designed by Alister MacKenzie. We're planning to restore the layout and bring back the MacKenzie look that has been masked over time. What Northern California course have you learned the most from and applied elsewhere? Pasatiempo. It is my favorite Bay Area course and perhaps my favorite green com- plexes anywhere. I love the big, bold green slopes—which taught me how to make a course challenging for top players, and how everyday players can use the contours as a backstop or feeder slope. The green com- plexes at Pasatiempo were my biggest source of inspiration at Chambers Bay. ABOUT JAY Age: 39 Residence: Los Gatos Company: Jay Blasi Design Favorite course: Shinnecock Hills —By Adam Schupak

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