Best New Public, No. 5: Corica Park Golf Complex (South Course)
Alameda, Calif.; 6,874 yards, par 72;
Rees Jones, designer with Steve Weisser, design associate
When George Kelley’s Greenway Co. took out a long-term lease on the Chuck Corica Golf Complex from the city of Alameda, Calif., it promised to revamp the 45-hole complex, which sits on an island in San Francisco Bay adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. With Australian Marc Logan serving as project manager, Kelley hired Rees Jones to redesign the tournament-venue Jack Clark Course. But before Rees could begin, fill had to be brought in to elevate the property, which had sunk below sea level in some places. Sand excavated from the Bart Rapid Transit System’s new bay tunnel was trucked in, 400 truckloads a day, 12 cubic yards per truck. It took three years to deposit all the sand that Rees and the construction crew then pushed around to develop the brand new Corica Park South Course.
PANELISTS COMMENTS: “Virtually unrecognizable compared to the tired muny it used to be. It is now an absolute gem and a terrific value…Another great addition to the Bay area and a great value…The makeover of Corica is remarkable. The course has been transformed into one of the finest public-access courses I have played on the West Coast. The addition of sand to provide contour to the fairways turned a flat golf course that lacked character into a course that contains a number of distinctive holes…A links-style course with a reasonable amount of open area to recover, but punitive if too far off line…Now described as an Australian Sandbelt layout, it is a super-fun track, but by no means a pushover…Starts off with a rather sublime par 5. When you step onto the first green, you quickly see contours and levels that will require accuracy to get close to pin positions. Such contours are representative of all the green complexes…Jones gave low-stress options for higher handicappers on virtually every hole, but there are risk/reward lines as well for the stronger players. There are birdies to be had for sure. There also are demanding par 4s in the mix and the par-3 11th measures 240 yards…For the most part, the course is very open and offers a lot of shot options. With firm greens, you actually need to anticipate the ball releasing and running out. However, holes 10-14 put a premium on target golf with very narrow landing areas…Holes 13 and 14 felt very cramped-in and were disappointing, given that the rest of the back nine was really solid and had more creativity than the front… If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, get out there…If you have time, venture over and play the par-3 course as well…Overall, a course a lot of people will enjoy for years and years.”
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