San Luis Obispo finishes renovation


Sean Dudley

San Luis Obispo Country Club in California’s central coast region has recently completed an extensive renovation programme under the supervision of golf architect Neal Meagher.

Originally designed by Bert Stamps in 1959, San Luis Obispo was in need of renovation because of ongoing maintenance issues. Steep faces on many of the existing bunkers caused washouts during heavy rain. The project focused on reducing the steepness of the slopes leading into many bunkers, overall reshaping and improved sub-surface drainage. “The increased drainage served to minimise the saturation point of the sand, reducing the number of washouts,” Meagher said. 

Meagher’s project involved the redesign and renovation of fairway and greenside bunkers along with the complete reconstruction of the existing ninth green. “Much of the original strategy was still valid even with today’s superior playing equipment, so we were able to improve strategic decision-making by relocating only a few bunkers, leaving the majority where they were,” the architect said. 

The club and Meagher chose a bunker sand also used at Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. Given the heavy clay soils of the area, it was important to protect the new white sand so the team used a ‘green’ solution using a carpet of turf to minimise the migration of existing soil particles into the new sand. “This provided a very reasonable cost per square foot,” said Meagher.

A total of 46 bunkers were rebuilt. One solution for bunkers especially prone to washing out was to replace them with sculpted landforms. This created ridges and hollows which were worked into the course’s existing terrain to provide more strategic playing options, Meagher explained. “By mowing many of these new landforms to fairway or approach height of about a quarter of an inch, we created a new type of recovery shot, one that is more playful and creative. This complements the new sand bunkers as does the selective removal of some existing trees,” he expained.

Work at San Luis Obispo began in June 2011 and was complete by late November. California firm Specialized Shaping oversaw construction of Meagher’s work.