Gallery: SC Golf Course HIstorical [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
by Donia Moore
When renowned golf course architect and designer William “Billy” Bell began work on the San Clemente Municipal Golf Course in 1928, he was impressed by the beautiful ocean vistas surrounding the land donated by city founder Ole Hanson. Already considered an important golf course architect, most of Bell's courses were designed and built in southern California. Today, he is believed to be one of the most important golf course architects in the state, with more than fifty courses credited to his portfolio. They include courses in Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Hawaii, but San Clemente’s course remains one of his most impressive. Bell worked closely with famous designer and fellow Pennsylvanian George C. Thomas, Jr., on courses which included the Riviera Country Club, often cited as one of the world's best courses.
Bell served as a turf consultant to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the war, and was awarded a commendation by the Southern California chapter of the PGA, in honor of his work creating golf courses for wounded servicemen. He was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1952.
Pride of the Pacific
Although a specialty within landscape design or landscape architecture, golf course architecture is considered a separate field of study. Some golf course architects become celebrities in their own right, such as Robert Trent Jones, Jr.. Others are professional golfers of high standing and demonstrated appreciation for golf course composition, such as Jack Nicklaus. Many of the finest golf course architects in the world choose not to become members of any group, as associations of architects are not government-sanctioned licensing bodies, but private groups.
While golf courses often follow the original landscape, some modification is unavoidable. This is increasingly the case as new courses are more likely to be sited on less optimal land.
The layout of a fairway follows certain traditional principles, such as the number of holes (nine and eighteen being most common), their par values, and the number of holes of each par value per course. It is also preferable to vary the mix of shorter and longer holes. City-owned and operated since its inception, the 6,447 yards of golf at San Clemente Municipal boasts an 18-hole, 72 par experience, aptly known as the “Pride of the Pacific.” It originally consisted of nine holes on opening day in 1930. In 1955, what is now the “back nine” were added.
Its original Spanish-style club-house was torn down in the 1970’s when the city sold the property. Ray McCaslin built a new Polynesian-style clubhouse and restaurant, pretty much where it sits today. That structure was replaced in November 2007 as the clubhouse returned to its original Spanish style roots. The current clubhouse evokes the warmth of early California’s Spanish mission style.
No Cons, Just Pros
Pro-shops are often managed by a “house pro,” a professional player, and overseen by a General Manager. House pros are often available to advise on game-related issues such as rules, details, or the proper equipment for particular needs and conditions, and for instruction such as group lessons or one-on-one training.
San Clemente Golf Club’s Pro Shop opened in 1967, with PGA Pro Alan Cook at its head. Alan had 20 years of experience under his belt when the opportunity arose to take on this new challenge. He had formerly served as head pro at the Glendora Country Club from 1955 to 1966. Prior to that, he held the head pro position at the Santa Anita Golf Course from 1946-1955. Son Dave worked for his father in a variety of capacities from golf course maintenance to range picker to Head Pro in 1981. Sister Linda turned Pro in 1991. Although Dave still works five to six days a week, Vinnie Poncino moved to Head Pro in 2016. Dave Cook’s Golf Shop offers a full line of products and services, including a fully stocked pro shop with the latest in equipment and apparel. Private and group lessons are available seven days a week. Club fitting specialists, expert club repair & re-gripping are available. Serving the community since 1967, the Cook family and staff are pros at providing quality customer service 365 days a year.
San Clemente Municipal Golf Club
150 E. Avenida Magdalena, 949-361-8380