When you build a golf course feature, the idea is to make it appear as if it was never built at all.  A lifelong interest in geology and soil is a helpful first step in understanding natural looking landforms and then being able to implement them through tools big and small.  Get the forms close with the machine, but get the final look and texture right with the sand pro and hand tools. 

Orinda Country Club, Orinda, CA (William Watson Original 1924, restoration/renovation by Todd Eckenrode 2015)

Orinda was a special project for me personally as the course is only 10 miles from Hochstein Design's home office.  Furthermore, then-local George Waters would also be helping with the shaping, and still-local Josh Smith would be taking over the superintendent role during the course of the project.  With them and Todd, we had a great like-minded, artistic team that wanted to push the envelope and make this unique William Watson East Bay layout be the best it can be and take advantage of the many great natural features found throughout the property.  Six greens were reworked, with two of them being restorations of the famous par 3 8th and 15th holes.  More greens were expanded, and short grass was added almost everywhere around the greens, bringing Watson's funky greenside mounding much more into play.  Tree removal and brush cleanup has opened up long lost vistas as well as bring golfers visually closer to the numerous creeks around the property.  All the bunkers were redone to a Northern California aesthetic, and many of them were moved to make play more interesting as well as open up the ground game.  All in all, Orinda Country Club is now a much more fun and visually striking place to play, likely much the same as it was in Watson's day.

  The second green was once surrounded by trees and containment mounding added much after the course's original design.  By removing non-indigenous trees and the mass of earth back and right, the view from one of the best spots on the course has been opened up 180 degrees, including a look through to the distant 4th green and bunkers.

The second green was once surrounded by trees and containment mounding added much after the course's original design.  By removing non-indigenous trees and the mass of earth back and right, the view from one of the best spots on the course has been opened up 180 degrees, including a look through to the distant 4th green and bunkers.

  The green on the 2nd was also extended back and right to create more drama as well as engage golfers with the views.   

The green on the 2nd was also extended back and right to create more drama as well as engage golfers with the views.   

  The 4th hole, named "Meteor" for the rocky outcrop next to the green, now has bunkering that fits better within both Watson's original style and the context of Golden Age Northern California golf.

The 4th hole, named "Meteor" for the rocky outcrop next to the green, now has bunkering that fits better within both Watson's original style and the context of Golden Age Northern California golf.

  The treacherous short 8th was one of the closest true restorations.  In touching the entire area, we were able to make little enhancements while staying true to the original design, which was and is excellent.

The treacherous short 8th was one of the closest true restorations.  In touching the entire area, we were able to make little enhancements while staying true to the original design, which was and is excellent.

  The 14th angled 14th green, one re-worked after A.W. Tillinghast visited the course, involved one of the more subtle but appealing changes.  By lowering the front left of the green, raising the the back of the left bunker, and dialing the horizon lines, the green is now profiled against the bunker and appears to "hover."

The 14th angled 14th green, one re-worked after A.W. Tillinghast visited the course, involved one of the more subtle but appealing changes.  By lowering the front left of the green, raising the the back of the left bunker, and dialing the horizon lines, the green is now profiled against the bunker and appears to "hover."

  Another view of the 14th from further back in the fairway

Another view of the 14th from further back in the fairway

  The medium-long par 3 13th was one of the bigger changes from the previous version of the course.  The replacement of two large left bunkers with short grass and reshaping of the front right has made this green possible to reach for players who need to hit a ground shot to reach it.

The medium-long par 3 13th was one of the bigger changes from the previous version of the course.  The replacement of two large left bunkers with short grass and reshaping of the front right has made this green possible to reach for players who need to hit a ground shot to reach it.

  The 5th hole, which has a boomerang green unlike any other I've seen, shows an example of a redesigned bunker that flows with the ground and tumbles its way downhill.

The 5th hole, which has a boomerang green unlike any other I've seen, shows an example of a redesigned bunker that flows with the ground and tumbles its way downhill.

  A view from the right side of the newly built 12th green, which was shifted ~45 yards further away from the 3rd green.  The contours provide plenty of defense on this medium-long par 4--no need for a bunker here!

A view from the right side of the newly built 12th green, which was shifted ~45 yards further away from the 3rd green.  The contours provide plenty of defense on this medium-long par 4--no need for a bunker here!

  A view from the right side of the rebuilt 18th green, which was lowered to sit better on its landform as well as play more receptively.  Bunkers were added for both aesthetics and strategy.  With the right side O.B. eliminated and play encouraged that way, the short right bunker makes one think a little more about their shot.

A view from the right side of the rebuilt 18th green, which was lowered to sit better on its landform as well as play more receptively.  Bunkers were added for both aesthetics and strategy.  With the right side O.B. eliminated and play encouraged that way, the short right bunker makes one think a little more about their shot.

  The view looking head on to the 18th green.

The view looking head on to the 18th green.