Todd Eckenrode, ASGCA, and Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design recently completed a major renovation of the picturesque golf course at the venerable Quail Lodge & Golf Club, in Carmel, California. The renovation reflects a profound improvement in golf course strategy, sustainability and playability.

Eckenrode reports the renovation includes updates to tees, bunkers, fairway features and chipping areas, plus drought-tolerant landscaping which encourages resource efficiency.

“The new bunkers are incredibly memorable and unique, lending a distinct identity to the course that seemed to be lacking prior to the renovation”, says Eckenrode.

With the renovation of all green surrounds, it made way for the introduction of new short-cut chipping areas, ones previously occupied by rough. As a result, the change provides variety and increases playability.

“We opened up the approaches to many of the green complexes by removing or thoughtfully shifting various bunkers”, says Eckenrode.   “The stronger players are challenged still, but there is now an option of bounding the ball into the greens. The game is so much more interesting when choices need to be made, whether to hit a lob shot, a bump-and-run or possibly a putt. It certainly elevates the level of interest to approach shots, where some will now kick onto the green, or run farther away, depending on the slopes.

According to critics, the most unique and significant change to the course was the introduction of deep, grass swales in strategic locations. ” The concept was fully utilized on holes No.1-3, with the new feature now defining the left side of the drive on No.1, crossing the fairway in front of the second shot, then traversing across No.2 before meandering up through the third hole. These previously pancaked-flat holes now feature a more dynamic, highly esthetic design – the end result is a far more interesting on-course experience for players of all skill levels. “This is sure to be what stands out most to members and guests when they re-experience Quail Lodge as a newly renovated course. It is amazing what an effect this new feature has had on this collection of holes”, shared Eckenrode. “Having grown up playing the nearby Pasatiempo and experiencing the powerful effect of the grass swale on hole No.14, it left a strong and lasting impression on me as a player and has influenced me as a designer as well. Simple features such as this can profoundly improve the quality of play in a serene but subtle way”, says Eckenrode.

The same concept was utilized on the back nine, with the new grass swale replacing two lakes. The swale begins on the right side of No.16 (where a lake used to be), crosses the No.16 fairway in front of the green, and runs down alongside No.17, which now is tagged as the courses’ feature hole.

“When it comes to a heightened re-design of an individual hole, No.17 is certainly one that is newsworthy”, said resident Golf Course Superintendent, Denis Kerr. “What was once a typical par-3 with a green adjacent to a lake, with the help of Todd Eckenrode-Origins Golf Design, has now been transformed into a strategic and fun par-3 where anything can happen, yet the golfer is always ‘in the game’ and able to recover.”

Several lakes were removed entirely and replaced with drought-tolerant, native friendly landscaping, thereby reducing water usage. Additionally, with the conversion from turf grasses to Fescue grasses in many areas, the golf course captured a more natural look while also reducing maintenance cost. Those lakes which remained within the design were completely reconstructed enhancing future sustainability.

Teaming with Todd Eckenrode and Origins’ Senior Designer Andy Frank, was a talented team at Kemper Sports along with Quail Lodge & Golf Club General Manager Sarah Cruse and her team of experts, golf course contractor Earth Sculptures, long-time Golf Course Superintendent Denis Kerr and his capable staff and independent shapers Jonathon Reisetter and Blake Conant, hand-picked for their talent by Eckenrode himself.