The historic William Watson-designed course has received six completely new greens, ten green enlargements or restorations, a complete bunker renovation, updated tees, re-construction of green surrounds and approaches, tree removals, and a new irrigation system.
Orinda (Calif.) Country Club has renovated its historic William Watson-designed course (circa 1924).
The design team poured through the club’s archives and came across images and data from the original construction, through the 1920’s, ’30’s and ’40’s. They were able to source a multitude of aerials from the early years, and also had the support of noted golf historian Tom Naccarato, who located a substantial number of other early collections that proved valuable.
The project updated bunkers, green surrounds and approaches, green restorations and select new greens, and restored holes No. 8, No.11 and No. 15, making them as close as a possible to the original historical images. Two talented golf course superintendents also played a huge role as well. Bob Lapic saw through the beginning of the renovation/restoration project before retirement, and Josh Smith came on board to oversee construction and take the helm from there.
“With (Todd Eckenrode, of Origins Golf Design) leading the way, our project stayed focused on all the right things, more shortgrass, more water savings with natives, impactful and thoughtful bunkers, fun recaptured hole locations, and quiet moments throughout the course,” said Golf Course Superintendent Josh Smith. “He continued to show just the right amount of restraint that a golden age-design, like Orinda deserved. We went from a cluttered, tired and forced looking design, to a much more natural and visually pleasing golfing experience. We look forward to future improvements under his guidance.”
Besides six completely new greens, ten green enlargements or restorations, and a complete bunker renovation, other course improvements included completely renovated tees to a more natural shape, total re-construction of green surrounds and approaches (including full sand amendments), implementation of vast areas of fairway and short-cut surrounds, select drainage, tree removals and a new irrigation system.
“Whether it meant restoration, renovation or a combination of both, our design team was committed to improving each hole to its best possible measure,” said Eckenrode. “The membership is delighted with the result and from our standpoint, we feel we were able to turn the clock back a bit, and allow all who play to experience the glories of a classic, 1920’s designed gem.”