Winter 2018

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Gorman and his team also created some fairway banks and hollows around the putting surfaces, rather than only rough and bunkers. Their idea, essentially: make the course more enjoyable for high-handi- cap players and present more options to low-handicap players. That's perpetually the challenge for architects. They must appease the majority without alienating the vocal minority. No easy chore. The removal of approximately 215 trees should help. Gorman wanted to high- light North Ridge's grand, sprawling oak trees, but the streamlining also should make recovery shots more realistic. "Now if you hit a shot off line, instead of being buried in trees you have a chance to advance the ball to the green," said Mike Galli, the club's head pro for the past 11 years. And we can all agree that's a good thing. • • • • • Longtime PGA Tour pro Kevin Suther- land knows all about North Ridge. Suther- land, winner of the 2017 Charles Schwab Cup on the PGA Tour Champions, grew up in Sacramento and returned there after graduating from Fresno State in 1987. North Ridge soon gave him an hon- orary membership, which he used for more than 10 years. He showed up almost every day when he was in town, either playing the course or working on his wedge shots in the practice area. "I liked the course because you had to think your way around it and keep your ball below the hole," Sutherland said. "You had to be aware of where you were hitting the ball on the greens. It's pretty tight and tree-lined, so you had to hit it straight." Not much has changed, even with fewer trees. The redesign merely makes the course look more sophisticated, including the long retaining wall guarding the green at No. 16, a cool short par-4; and the par-5 closing hole, twisting uphill past a new, large fairway bunker on the left side. Galli compared North Ridge to Lake Merced Golf Club in some respects: an old-school layout with trees, rolling hills and challenging greens. The new greens will have a wider variety of subtle slopes. North Ridge still sails below the radar, possibly because it hasn't hosted many mar- quee events beyond occasional USGA mid-amateur or junior amateur qualifying. "I think North Ridge is definitely a hidden gem," Galli said. "Maybe it gets overlooked because of the yardage on the scorecard (6,553 before the redesign), or it doesn't have new, modern greens. But we're fixing both of those." Ron Kroichick covers golf for the San Francisco Chronicle. 26 WINTER 2018 | NCGA.ORG It is holes such as No.16 (above) that make North Ridge an oasis of serenity. Summer 1954, the locker room-office-pro shop wing of North Ridge's f irst clubhouse under construction. Inset: Quonset Hut in the maintenance yard, the first building constructed by the club in 1953.

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