Robert Trent Jones, Jr. picked to finish renovation at California's legendary Corica Park municipal golf complex

Golf course news & notes: May, 2023.
Beware the large sodwall bunker fronting the green of the par-5 second hole on the North Course at Corica Park.

After construction delays and multiple lawsuits, the "Munaissance" continues apace in the Bay Area.

On April 26, Greenway Golf, which manages Corica Park in the town of Alameda, south of Oakland, announced it had hired Robert Trent Jones, II's course design firm to finish the stalled redesign of the North Course at the historic municipal complex.

The announcement tees up a new chapter in two separate stories: that of one of America's most influential golf families and that of one of America's oldest municipal golf places.

The Jones name has had as large an impact on the history of golf course development as any in the game's history. From the late 1930s until his death in 2000, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. oversaw the post-World War II evolution of the practice of golf course design from a niche business to a potentially worldwide undertaking. He built or reshaped more than 500 courses in 35 countries over the course of his career.

He also made golf course design into a family business, with his sons, Robert Trent Jones, II and Rees Jones, forging their own successful careers spreading golf across America and the wider world.

The brothers Jones have worked on as many or more courses combined than their father did, but in only one place does their work currently sit within the same facility: at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Florida. There, Robert Trent Jones II's Raven course and Rees Jones' Burnt Pine course comprise half of the resort's four courses, with Burnt Pine being a mostly-private layout that only resort guests and members may play.

Robert Trent Jones, II's latest commission figures to make Corica Park the second place to sample his and Rees Jones' work side-by-side, and the first at a municipal facility. With nine holes open since 2020, Corica Park's North Course is set to fully reopen sometime in the fall of 2024.

The brother-vs.-brother story at Corica Park means the apparent end of a more contentious story. A story in the San Jose Mercury-News about the announcement sheds light on a lengthy conflict between Corica Park's operating company and one of their own, as well as between the company and the City of Alameda.

Rees Jones' overhauled South Course at Corica Park debuted in 2018.

The first conflict was with Marc Logan, an Australian native who had initially founded Greenway Golf and worked as its chief agronomist, overseeing Rees Jones' renovation of Corica Park's South Course while also agreeing to be the architect in charge of renovating the North Course. But a legal dispute arose between Logan and Greenway's current majority owner, Umesh Patel, over more than $700,000 in unpaid labor by Logan. This conflict raised the eyebrows of the City of Alameda, who also went into legal proceedings against Patel in order to get a clearer look at the finances of their golf concession holder.

As a result, the North Course has been half-renovated for nearly three years, all the while gathering mostly positive reviews from golfers, who laud its open, firm-and-fast conditions and linksy design characteristics, including bunkers with revetted sod walls.

"They did a great job overhauling this course. Albeit only 9 holes, the vision and execution is very well done," wrote reviewer 'marvinw916' last fall. "Pure, quick greens, fast, firm fairways, outstanding [bunkers]….great test of golf! Can’t wait for the second 9 to be completed."

A fully-realized version of Corica Park - Rees Jones' popular South Course, his brother's North Course, plus a forthcoming short course - figures to be one of California's great public golf amenities, and another meaningful step toward raising the bar for accessible golf in America.

Corica Park honors legendary local pro

Golf legend Tony Lema works on the golf swing with Lucius Bateman, a legendary pro at Corica Park.

Lucius Bateman may not be a household name in golf, but to Bay Area residents, he's a key figure in the game. Born in Mississippi in 1901, Bateman was a legendary player, but professional golf's policy of segregation at the time kept him from being able to compete at the highest level. He ultimately settled into the role of teaching pro at a driving range in Oakland, and played golf at Corica Park until he passed away in 1972. His students were known as "Bateman Boys," and they included 1964 Open Champion Tony Lema, as well as countless area youth. In 2022, Bateman was inducted into both the National African American Golf Hall of Fame and the Northern California Golf Association Hall of Fame. In January 2023, the Lucius Bateman Foundation was begun in order to continue Bateman's work, serving junior golfers throughout the community. Corica Park is creating a gallery of photos inside the clubhouse to honor his legacy. Learn more about Bateman here.

More golf course news & notes

A new 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course at Jack's Bay Club in Eleuthera, Bahamas, will pair with the Tiger Woods-designed Playgrounds short course built in 2020.

NEW NICKLAUS DESIGN IN THE BAHAMAS - Jack's Bay Club, a private residential golf club overlooking pink-sand beaches on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, with a Tiger Woods-designed Playgrounds short course, will add a Nicklaus Design layout, which is expected to open in 2025. As a "Nicklaus Heritage" property, the surrounding real estate community will be branded with the Golden Bear's logo. [LINK: Nicklaus Design]

PGA FRISCO OPENS - May 2 was the official opening of the golf facility at the PGA of America's new headquarters in Frisco, Texas, about 45 minutes north of Dallas. The Fields Ranch West course, designed by Beau Welling, opened on May 2 to public play and guests of the on-site Omni PGA Frisco Resort, while the Fields Ranch East course, designed by Gil Hanse, will open on May 30, after it has hosted the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. [LINK: The Golf Wire]

'HISTORIC' TAG FOR MINNEAPOLIS MUNI - Hiawatha Golf Course, a Minneapolis muni that opened in 1934, was recently awarded a place in the National Register of Historic Places for its legacy as a home of Black golf in the Twin Cities. [LINK: Star Tribune]

LEBANON'S LAST GOLF COURSE SEIZED - Hezbollah, the Islamist political/militant group, has seized control of the Golf Club of Lebanon, with the intent to convert the land into a power plant. The course, which dates back to 1923, is the last surviving links of four that used to exist in the Middle Eastern country. [LINK: The Jerusalem Post]

GOLF-ADJACENT - PopStroke, the putting golfertainment concept whose backers include Tiger Woods, plans to open more than a dozen new locations in the next two years, including in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Las Vegas. [LINK: The Golf Wire]

July 27, 2018
Get the latest golf course and travel news here.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
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Robert Trent Jones, Jr. picked to finish renovation at California's legendary Corica Park municipal golf complex