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Update: Carmel Mountain Ranch will re-open Dec. 20. Go to www.jcgolf.com to book your tee time.
Brown is the new green in golf. You started hearing that adage at the U.S. Open, played on the native areas and sandy soils of the renovated Pinehurst No. 2.
Largely in response to the state’s severe drought, that turf reduction movement is now coming to California, and JC Golf’s Carmel Mountain Ranch is to be amongst the state’s first courses to be transformed by the process and reduce its footprint.
Roughly 50 acres of turf have been targeted for removal at Carmel Mountain Ranch, which will be closed until nearly the end of December during its $4.4 million renovation.
When the course re-opens, Carmel Mountain Ranch General Manager Kevin Hwang, says it will be lower-maintenance and therefore help conserve community water resources.
“We’re looking at saving nearly 30 million gallons a year by removing turf and replacing it with native plant material and ground cover,” he says. “After three or four years, that number will go up to 40 million gallons because the plants will be established and no longer need water except in cases of extreme drought.
“The water we’re saving goes back to the people and the community so they can use the water and it can stay in the reservoirs.”
Hwang used a comparison to put into perspective how aggressive a 50-acre removal is.
“The average golf course in Arizona is 60 or 70 acres total,” he says.
Hwang says every hole on the course was touched by the process, with much of the reduction coming between the tee boxes and the fairway.
“You’re going to see native material in the first 40 to 50 yards leading up to every fairway, and that’s a theme you’ll see on every hole,” he says.
Tee boxes are also being moved around as a part of the renovation process, which Hwang says is going to impact levels of players differently.
“The course will be equally challenging, if not more challenging, from the back tees,” he says. “As you move to the forward tees, the course should become more playable once we’re done with the renovations.”
Higher handicap players in particular will benefit for more generous landing areas, Hwang says.
In 2015, Hwang says golfers can anticipate an enhanced playing experience and a greater value for their rounds at Carmel Mountain Ranch.
“We want to establish a new level of service and make the experience for golfers that much better,” he says. “Also what we’re doing is very community-centric and we’re hoping to have more involvement with the community.”