NCGA Golf

Spring 2018

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But complacency is a silent killer. Years of deferred maintenance, cost cutting and the fiddling of arm-chair architects finally caught up to the course. It took a con- troversial restoration by Granite Bay's Kyle Phillips of Kyle Phillips Course Design to remind us that this museum piece of a golf course still very much could be in vogue. Phillips returned the best playing attributes of Cal Club's original design. As the membership celebrates the club's centennial this year, Cal Club once again offers unmatched playing conditions – from fine fescue turf to fast-running fairways to the firmness of the putting surfaces and their surrounds – making it one of the best maintained golf courses not just in the state, but the country. This is the story of how Cal Club got its groove back. Or as Arron Oberholser, the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner and an honorary club member, so elegantly put it, "Kyle gave Cal Club its character back." The proud history of California Golf Club of San Francisco begins with its incorporation as a private club in 1918. Its original Ingleside location was just north of San Francisco Golf Club on land leased from the Spring Valley water company. On Feb. 19, 1924, the membership purchased 436 acres of rolling farm- land (the grounds of the former Baden Farm) in South San Francisco in San Mateo County to build a perma- nent home. On Sept. 22, 1924, at the groundbreaking ceremony, club president W.H. Taylor posed with a shovel in hand and board member Archie Duncan hit the first shot. A photograph from the day shows men wearing jackets and ties and women dressed elegantly in fur coats. The club hired Scot Willie Locke, who designed nearby Lake Merced Golf Club, to do the original rout- ing, but he was replaced by Arthur Vernon Macan, an Irishman, when construction began in 1924. The course opened for play in 1926, and one year later, the club hired MacKenzie to re-design the bunkering and at least two of the greens. An advertisement that appeared in a 1928 edition of Fairway Magazine by MacKenzie's design firm boasted of his work at the 10th hole at Cal Club and noted that he was in the NCGA.ORG | SPRING 2018 43 C E N T E N N I A L W hen a club goes by as ambitious a name as the California Golf Club of San Francisco, expectations of greatness are inflated. For many decades, Cal Club, as it is better known, lived up to its billing as a layout that personified golf's Golden Age of course architecture. The iconic bunkering of Alister MacKenzie cemented the club's repu- tation as one of the finest in the land. Framed pictures on the clubhouse wall are reminders that the likes of Lawson Little and Ben Hogan competed there. Trophies of Ken Venturi and the locker of Byron Nelson identify these Hall of Famers as honorary members. Simply step foot inside its stately white colonial clubhouse, an Angus McSweeny design that dominates the surrounding landscape like the crown on the head of a queen, and you knew you were someplace special. How Cal Club Got Its Groove Back A decade after a successful restoration by architect Kyle Phillips, the California Golf Club of San Francisco celebrates its 100th birthday, and it has never looked better. BYADAM SCHUPAK PHOTOS COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA GOLF CLUB A montage of photos of Cal Club through the years from rolling farmland to ranked among the country's finest golf courses.

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