Golf Course Architecture - Issue 54: October 2018

47 Apart from anything else, Richardson has grassed the course with platinum paspalum, everywhere except the greens, which are creeping bent. The soil is not sandy and in no sense is this a genuine links ecosystem. But that doesn’t matter; from the golfer’s perspective, he is by the sea, playing in a largely open environment, with cool movement of the ground, and right next to the water. This linksy feel is most evident at the far end of the course, notably on the par-five thirteenth, which gets closest to the water and furthest away from civilisation. At this point of the course, the ground is suitably lumpy, the fairways are wide and there is a beautifully placed central bunker about thirty yards short of the green (on a short par five of only 510 yards from the back tee). The bunkerless fourteenth, a mid-length par four that begins the journey back to the clubhouse, is another good hole; here, Richardson has built two greens, a lower left one tucked close to a water hazard and a higher right one separated from the other by a large mound (I prefer the left green). I like too the third hole, a par five with two doglegs, created by bunkers and by native rough. There is something very appealing about dogleg holes where you can see the flag all the way along; perhaps it is the mental strain of being able to see your destination, but having to aim away from it. The hole plays to the left half of a double green (the other half is occupied by the par-three fifteenth) which, in the severity of its cross-slope, has a little hint of the green occupied by the eleventh and seventh at St Andrews – not, by any stretch of the imagination as severe, but just as a tee ball on the Eden hole that leaks right will catch the slope and swing a long way from the hole, so with an approach here. The routing is complex, governed I guess by a desire to have returning nines and the narrowness of the site near the clubhouse and the entrance. The use of fill is most evident on the tenth and eleventh, where the course borders the creek, and across it the neighbourhood of East Palo Alto. But even here it is not intrusive; a fine job by Richardson and his construction team. Baylands is not long – 6,680 yards from the back black tees, and is rated for play both from its four sets of tees, and three sets of combos. It is hard to imagine there isn’t a good game for most every golfer out there. All in all, then, the Palo Alto muni looks to be in good shape for its second half century. GCA Above, the fourteenth hole has two greens separated by a large mound. Left, the par-four eleventh hole. Top, the par-three fifteenth and par-five third holes share a green As with all successful projects, the team worked through and overcame many significant obstacles throughout the process of construction, not to mention the obstacles that had been overcome just to get to the starting line. Working alongside the delicate ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay as well as the San Francisquito Creek, nearly 400,000 cubic yards of imported fill material was placed and shaped throughout the property to create previously non-existent topographic changes and beautiful vistas across the site. Basically, a completely new state-of-the-art environmentally sensitive golf facility was created where previously an older, worn out property existed for many years. Flood management throughout the site was a major consideration in the implementation of the golf course design. Prior to the redevelopment of the course, significant rain events, common in the Bay Area during the winter months, created unplayable conditions and often was the cause of course closure for several consecutive days. As part of the reconstruction of the course, dozens of acres of existing high quality wetlands were preserved and dozens more were developed within the site as a means to assist in the management of heavy rain events. Invasive plant species were replaced with a population of native plants in an effort to increase the long term sustainability of the properties’ ecosystem. The entire property is now being irrigated with a state-of-the-art pump station and irrigation system delivering recycled water provided by the city’s wastewater treatment plants. CONSTRUCTION INSIGHT Sustainable design Patrick Karnick of Wadsworth Golf describes the Baylands build Photos: Dave Sansom, courtesy of Forrest Richardson & Assoc.