Grass is looking greener for Alameda golf course with upgrade from world-class architect
Corica Park
Avani Patel, Umesh Patel of Greenway with Robert Trent Jones II, Trent Jones, Mike Gorman of RTJII

Grass is looking greener for Alameda golf course with upgrade from world-class architect

The Mercury News

Alameda’s 333-acre public golf complex, Corica Park, will soon undergo renovations by an industry-renowned master architect.

Construction on the North Course is expected to start in June by Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects, which has created 280 courses in 48 countries, on every continent but Antarctica. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and his design company have been lauded by golf industry leaders as among the most respected experts in the world.

In a peculiar twist, Corica Park’s South Course, which was awarded “best municipal course renovation” and recently named one of America’s best city-owned greens, was given a facelift in 2018 by architect Rees Jones — Robert’s brother.

The news marks a “serendipitous first” in the world of golf, according to Avani and Umesh Patel, who operate the complex; Corica Park will be the only location in the world where the Joneses will have their work on display on side-by-side municipal golf courses, according to Greenway Golf Associates, which leases and manages the city-owned facility’s two 18-hole courses, 9-hole course, driving range and clubhouse on Bay Farm Island.

Robert and Rees are the sons of Robert Trent Jones Sr., whose seven-decade career earned him a reputation as the sport’s most prolific architect of the mid-20th-century, until his death in 2000.

Alameda will be added to a long list of California cities where Jones Jr. has designed courses, including local greens in Dublin, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Stanford’s campus and the South Bay village of San Martin.

Greenway increased greens fees across the board two years ago, including costs for several long-standing Alameda golf clubs that previously enjoyed cheap access to prime tee times, which Umesh Patel said not only made Corica Park’s prices more competitive with nearby courses, but would also help fund multi-million dollar renovations and support new programming, including opportunities for underprivileged youth to play for free.

In December, the Patels were able to amicably settle a lawsuit by Marc Logan, who is a former minority shareholder and owner. That legal outcome opened the door to hire a new design and construction team to finish the North Course.

RTJ II’s upcoming renovation of Corica Park, located at 1 Clubhouse Memorial Road, will complete construction on the North Course’s back nine holes, which has been paused since March 2022, in addition to making adjustments to the “Golden Age” style front nine that Logan designed in consultation with Golf Digest’s architecture editor emeritus.

Golfers will be able to play the front nine holes during the upcoming renovation, and the grand opening of the newly revamped North Course is slated for fall 2024.

The Patels, who took over Greenway’s operations in April 2020, said in a statement that they are honored to work with Jones Jr. — who they call a “living legend” — to simultaneously create an exceptional golfing experience and transform the land into a sustainable ecological habitat.

The excitement about the upcoming project is mutual.

“The Patels and Greenway have a remarkable vision for municipal golf courses — one that evolves the role municipal golf can play in mitigating climate change and creating green spaces for everyone to enjoy,” Jones, Jr. said. “Our goal is to deliver on their vision of a memorable, challenging golf experience for players of all levels, while taking a holistic approach to design and sustainability of the natural environment.”

The city of Alameda’s suit filed against the Patels is still pending, but court documents show that the parties started mediation proceedings in March.

“We are excited to put this essential piece in place,” Umesh Patel said in a statement. “Corica Park—like all municipal golf courses and open public spaces—belongs to everybody. Our job—as stewards of this land for decades to come—is to do meaningful, long-lasting work that provides the highest-quality golf destination and also leverages this amazing community asset to create broad benefits for everyone.”