Greenway kicks off golf complex renovations

Greenway kicks off golf complex renovations

Michele Ellson

Greenway Golf kicked off a $6.7 million overhaul of the Chuck Corica Golf Complex last week, which started with turf removal and grading at the Lucious Bateman driving range. Photos courtesy of Rose Agracewicz, Greenway Golf.

The Chuck Corica Golf Complex’s driving range closed on Monday – but that’s good news. Renovations at the 86-year-old municipal golf complex have begun.

Renovations at the Lucious Bateman Driving Range, which will take an estimated four to six weeks depending on weather, are the start of a planned $6.7 million facelift for the golf complex. The renovations will include a makeover for the Mif Albright short course and a $5.1 million redesign of the Jack Clark South Course that will turn it into a links-style course.

“People are enthusiastic that this time has finally come,” said Ken Campbell, chief operating officer for Greenway Golf, Chuck Corica’s new manager. “It’s fun seeing that excitement and enthusiasm around the club.”

Golf course architect Rees Jones, who will design the new Jack Clark course, will discuss his plans at a special Golf Commission meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public, and is also scheduled to include a construction update.

Campbell said the presentation, which will include drawings and preliminary plans, will show that Greenway is on track with the proposal his company offered in seeking a long-term lease deal at the golf complex.

Greenway plans to replace the driving range’s artificial turf with real grass, which Campbell said will be better for the environment and more aesthetically pleasing than the turf. Greenway is also planning to reshape the range’s contours and add target greens and a grass tee line as a hitting option; the company will also install new rubber range mats that Campbell said are designed to play more like real grass.

Just as the driving range renovations are nearing completion – Campbell said he’s hoping they’ll be done by mid-May – the company plans to start work on the nine-hole Mif course. Chuck Corica’s general manager, John Vest, said Greenway plans to upgrade the par-3’s tees, greens and irrigation system and to add a short game practice area on the course’s back corner – work that will take five to six months.

Campbell said Greenway is finalizing programs for youths and other golfers who use the Mif that will accommodate them on the complex’s two 18-hole courses “at the price point they’re used to.”

“Over the last few years we’ve gone from almost closing to getting a complete facelift,” Campbell said. “We’re going to reshape it, regrass it and really come out with something that’s going to be fun for people to play.”

The South Course renovations are expected to begin at the end of this year or the start of 2014. Jones, a top golf course architect, will reshape the old Jack Clark into a links-style course with open fairways, and it will get fresh grass and a soil cap that is expected to dramatically improve drainage issues on the course. Campbell said the course renovations will impact few of the trees on the course, which was an early concern.

“I think our team felt a great sense of responsibility and pride in restoring this golf course,” Campbell said. In picking Jones, he said the company selected an architect who they believe can revamp the course while restoring the things longtime golfers love about it.

Meanwhile, the Earl Fry North Course is slated to receive new cart paths and improvements to drainage and grass.

During the first week of driving range renovations, the company pulled up piles old turf – along with thousands of bright yellow range balls packed into the dirt underneath – and began shaping and contouring new target greens. Pulling up the turf took four days, a process detailed on the golf complex’s Facebook page. Campbell said the turf and mats will be recycled and reused in the renovation effort.

During the renovation, Greenway has set up hitting nets so players on the North and South courses can warm up.

The City Council picked Greenway as its long-term operator for the golf complex last May and signed a lease with the company in September following a five-year effort to find a private operator who they hoped could fund millions in needed fixes and generate more revenue from its 45 holes. Council members said their choice was motivated by the prospect of increased play on a redesigned South Course, along with what they saw as the company’s ability to address the complex’s drainage issues and its environmentally friendly practices.

In a recent report to the council, City Manager John Russo said Greenway reduced chemical usage at the golf complex by 62 percent over the past four months. He said the company’s turf management program is the only one to lower water and chemical usage while significantly improving playing conditions.

In addition to recycling turf, mats and range balls, Campbell said the company will plant grasses that need less chemicals to thrive and that Greenway will feed it with well water on site, instead of city water.

Jones, who has himself advocated for more environmentally friendly golf courses, has designed or redesigned more than 170 golf courses over his nearly 50-year career, including nearly two dozen championship courses; he has won a raft of awards for his work and is second on Golf Digest magazine’s list of golf course architects. California courses he has designed include Poppy Ridge in Livermore and San Diego’s Santaluz.

City Hall is at 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, and the meeting will be held in council chambers. For those who can’t attend, Vest said the meeting will be videotaped.


Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Mon, Apr 1, 2013

I have never played golf and do not intend to ever take it up, but I am thrilled that the City of Alameda finally chose Greenway, and that Greenway's work will--at long, long last--significantly improve the Chuck Corica Golf Complex.

The decisions to move forward were--in the end--the correct ones, but moving city officials to act appropriately took far longer and required far more public "protest" than should have been necessary for intelligent choices to be made. Let's hope that these improvements create their own momentum in terms of continued good stewardship of public resources like the golf complex.

After all, we still have to get redevelopment of Alameda Point right--on the third or fourth try. And the city's collective intelligence and wisdom in decision-making (witness the history of the Corica Complex's mismanagement and use as a "cash cow" for over a decade, as well as our fumbles at AP) is sometimes disconcerting as I look at "moving forward."

Have we learned to "get smart" yet?