Golf Course Architecture - Issue 67, January 2022

32 El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, California, has reopened its golf course following a nine-month restoration project by Rees Jones. All turfgrass on the 18-hole El Cab layout has been replaced with hybrid bermuda grass that, alongside the expansion of native landscaping areas, will save the club more than 35 million gallons of water per year, a 30 per cent decrease. Jones and his design associate Steve Weisser sought to retain the challenge originally laid out by Robert Trent Jones Sr, while adapting the course to modern players, equipment and maintenance practises. “Steve and I looked at every feature and made decisions on what we should modestly change, dramatically change and what we should just leave alone,” said Jones, in a panel discussion to celebrate the course’s grand reopening. Comparing the restored course to his father’s original design, Jones said: “I think our green contours are much like how my father would have intended: sections, with contours and sweeps. But some of the harder holes don’t have severe contours, so it’s a change of pace, whereas I think my father built tough contours in his greens on every hole. Green contours are what the members will find different, probably more manageable. The green speeds when my dad worked here in the 1960s were around six or seven on the Stimpmeter. Now they will be around nine-and-a-half to 12, so you have to really consider the contours of greens when you restore a golf course like this.” Construction work, which was completed by contractor Wadsworth Golf and lead shaper Steve Crotty, included some tree removal, regrading fairways, repositioning bunkers and redesigning all greens. The total length of the course has increased to just over 7,000 yards. Jones highlighted changes that were designed to make the layout more playable. “We opened the entrances to a lot of greens because we wanted to allow, for the player that doesn’t hit the ball very far, a better chance to access the greens.” El Caballero restoration expected to make 30 per cent water saving TEE BOX “ There are a lot of minor changes that make a big difference”