Golf Course Architecture - Issue 72, April 2023

24 Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club in California is entering its first full golfing season since the completion of a renovation by Brian Costello of JMP Golf Design. With construction work completed over two years to allow the club to keep nine holes in play at all times, the front nine reopened in May 2021 and the back nine followed in June 2022. “There were multiple layers to the dramatic transformation of Palo Alto Hills, starting with a totally reimagined course presentation that morphed from a parkland, treelined character to one that is more rustic, open and in tune with the oak savannah and adjacent nature preserve,” Costello told GCA. “We turned up the volume on the wow factor throughout the entire course. A key component to this effort was the removal of non-native and ornamental trees, to recapture the amazing views of San Francisco to the north, of the bay, and the preserve that wraps around nearly half of the course.” Costello, who worked closely with the membership, course superintendent Andrew Morgan and others at the club, says there has been a “complete strategic reset” at Palo Alto Hills. New forward and back tees have been added, and existing tees repositioned for better angles. On the first, tees were shifted away from the clubhouse to allow the club’s staging area to be tripled in size. Many fairways have been reshaped to provide better sightlines, reduce side slopes, and so landforms blend more seamlessly into the landscape. The project has also seen bunkers reshaped and rebuilt, with all now fitted with CapillaryFlow liner and white sand. “All the green complexes were reimagined and enlarged to provide multiple target zones and pin locations,” said Costello. “This is a huge difference from the original greens, where pins were often forced into the same flatter areas day after day. The new putting surfaces also feature some very creative perimeter rolls and ridges, and transitional tiers that add tremendous strategic variety and interest. Whether you are hitting your approach shot, a short pitch or chip, or putting, the contours reward well-executed shots. “A lot of the green complexes were elevated, and many members were hitting lower trajectory shots into these severely sloped ramps which TEE BOX JMP turns up the ‘wow’ factor at Palo Alto Hills