Following two years of negotiations, approval has been given for renovations to the Goat Hill Park golf course in Oceanside, California.
The Goat Hill Partners LLC group has received approval from the Oceanside City Council to take over operations and carry out the improvements at the 18-hole course.
GCA spoke to John Ashworth, the man behind the renowned golf apparel and footwear company Linksoul Golf and head of Goat Hill Partners LLC, to find out what the future holds for the course.
“Basically, me and some friends saved a really cool working class muni from getting paved over,” he said. “Now the plan is to put a little elbow grease and love in and turn it into a very cool place to play and a safe haven for kids. We are the home of the North County Junior Golf Association and plan to have a caddie academy much like the one at Common Ground in Denver.”
Ashworth has brought in architect Tom Doak to oversee the planned improvements to the Goat Hill Park course.
“I’ve been friends with Tom Doak and his crew for many years,” Ashworth said. “When I decided to take this on I knew the course needed a bit of a face lift in some areas. So I called Tom and his guys to see if they might lend a hand. I hope some time this winter we can make a few changes and slight renovations.”
Ashworth confirmed that the routing would not be altered, but that a couple of the greens would be reworked and ‘minor tweaks’ would be carried out to many holes.
He also described Goat Hill Park as a ‘very sporty’ par 66, 5,000 yard layout, and that the upcoming work would include the conversion of one of the par four holes into a par three, thus changing the course’s par to 65.
The recent drought in California has meant the group behind the project are in the process of developing a turf reduction programme, which will involve taking on a centre line fairway concept, similar to that seen at Pinehurst #2 for last year’s US Open.
The course first opened as a nine-hole facility in 1952 as Center City Golf Course. The course was redesigned and redeveloped by Ludwig Keehn in the early 1990s, who helped create an 18-hole short course at the site.
Goat Hill Park became protected ‘public land’ in the 1980s, meaning no redevelopment could take place without the consent of a vote of the public. A recent town meeting saw the local community and golfing public unite to stop redevelopments of the land and restore the course. Ashworth and his team are now looking to turn their vision for Goat Hill Park into a reality.
“This is just the type of facility we need in this country – a place for kids, beginners and the working class that’s affordable and fun and not intimidating,” added Ashworth. “We have an uphill battle because the course was fairly neglected over the past few years and in order to get back to sustainability and profitability, we are in the process of raising money to make the necessary changes and enhancements to the course.”
The course will remain open for play while improvements are carried out.