Orinda Country Club dates back to 1924, when Willie Watson set out a course for the members in the picturesque foothills to the northeast of San Francisco, with the Lauterwasser and San Pablo creeks coming into play at more than half the holes.
Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design was called in during 2015 to upgrade the layout and he used a variety of images from the club’s archives during research to guide his thoughts on recapturing the feel of how the course looked a hundred years previously.
The project involved the installation of drainage and irrigation systems, the building of six new greens, the expansion of ten other putting surfaces, the renovation of all the bunkers, and the re-construction of green surrounds and approaches.
“Watson utilized the hills in a multitude of ways, as turtlebacks, banking side slopes, reversing slopes, and in a fine mix of both uphill and downhill play,” said Eckenrode. “The aesthetics and strategy of play in this regard is ever-changing and offers wonderful variety.
The canvas was inspiring with plenty of memorable holes: from the wild reverse-boomerang green of the 5th to the drop-shot 8th; from the funneling effect of the 10th to the wild roller-coaster uphill 18th set beneath the grand clubhouse.”
“The photograph of Orinda’s short 15th hole in Robert Hunter’s book has long intrigued me,” wrote Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, “and it seems I should make the trip to see it now that my cover artist Josh Smith has taken up residence as superintendent here.”