ASGCA Past President Robert Trent Jones Jr., has completed an extensive remodel of Contra Costa Country Club (CCCC) in Pleasant Hill, California. In an effort to revitalize the club, improve playing conditions, and reduce current water consumption, CCCC hired RTJ II in advance of its 90th anniversary to completely remodel the golf course in the spirit of Arthur Vernon Macan’s original design philosophies.
In addition to reshaping all greens, bunkers, tees, RTJ II specified re-grassing the entire course, with more drought-tolerant grasses on the fairways, and created a comprehensive network of fairway and bunker infrastructure. Also, non-native tree species were removed which opened up vistas and created wider fairway corridors, while at the same time water requirements were reduced by removing 15 acres of irrigated turf without affecting play.
The remodel returned the course to its classic design—including bringing back the wild, rugged bunkering and making the course firmer, faster, and more fun to play. Golfers can now employ a great variety of ground-game strategy that gives the golf course a new-found flexibility in shot options. The engaging nuances and playability of the CCCC have rejuvenated the spirit of this legendary course, making it one of the premier venues in the East Bay.
“These projects conserve the precious commodity of water,” Jones said, “which will result in considerable savings for the ownership in annual water and power costs, while reducing the overall yearly maintenance costs of their facilities.”
At CCCC, the firm restored the natural rolling Northern California landscape by planting wispy native grasses as backdrop to the stately native oaks and reopened views toward Mt. Diablo and the surrounding hills. The new grasses are better at tolerating reclaimed water, which is a significant benefit for the health of the golf course.
As a further amenity to the club, RTJ II expanded and redesigned the practice facility, which created flexible tee distances and shot angles. It includes a newly designed 40,000 sq. ft. practice tee, dedicated practice greens, and chipping greens and allows the members to practice all types of shots they may encounter on the golf course.
Robert Trent Jones II has earned a reputation for working with the land to create unique golf courses that fit each specific site, rather than imposing its own design style. The work at Contra Costa Country Club brought the original golden-era design back into play while ensuring that the course shows off the natural beauty of the site and its surroundings.
Jones believes that many courses throughout the U.S. and the world can benefit from the kinds of remodels and renovations that his firm performs. “Golf courses are like classic old houses that need maintenance and repair, and remodeling a course is like repainting a beautiful Victorian mansion,” he says.
The success of such remodels and of the power of the RTJ II brand is reflected in Contra Costa Country Club attracting 60 new members during the renovation period. The membership growth provides an excellent return on the members’ investment and improves the club’s ability to fund future improvements to its facilities.