Could the California Coastal Commission be out of the golf course ruination business?

By David R. Holland, Contributor

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Anyone who has ever played Pebble Beach Golf Links and enjoyed the awesome, rugged California coastline must cringe every time they hear about the California Coastal Commission, the agency empowered to regulate development along the state's 1,150-mile coastline.

Thank God these folks weren't around to mess things up in 1919 when Pebble Beach opened.

Ask any golf course architect about building a golf course in California and they will tell you it is hard work just jumping through the environmental hoops and dodging delays created by tree-hugging lawsuits.

But wait a minute -- a state court of appeals ruled in early January that the California Coastal Commission is unconstitutional. Naturally, the 12 members of the commission immediately voted to appeal the ruling. More red tape.

Stay tuned -- most likely the commission will weasel itself back into the business of ruining golf course projects.

It has been 11 years that developers of Dos Pueblos Golf Links, a Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore 18-hole design with the final three holes on the Gaviota coast in Santa Barbara County, have struggled with red tape and other environmentalists. A lawsuit stopped the project, wanting to protect red-legged frogs, monarch butterflies, white-tailed kites and a rare herb.

For more than 50 years the Dos Pueblos Golf Links projected property site functioned as an industrial oil and gas production facility. It was closed off to the public by chain-link fences, locked gates and security patrols.

But this project wanted to provide golf, youth golf programs, increased beach access and hiking trails as well as eliminating eyesores the oil and gas folks left behind. Development was to include removal of those industrial oil facilities and preservation of the natural habitat,

For now the project is dead, but they still have a website up and running asking for support. Log on to

San Simeon growth

The beautiful coastal area around Cambria where publisher William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon is located on 83,000 acres of the Hearst Ranch also felt the bite of the California Coastal Commission.

Developers wanted a luxury golf resort with a 650-room hotel, but the final plan was slashed to a few homesites and a possible Inn in Old San Simeon Village. More than 850,000 tourists a year pass through here to visit The Hearst Castle surrounded by the Santa Lucia Mountains.

GPS at Pebble Beach?

GolfLogix has signed an agreement with the Pebble Beach Company to install the GPS-based xCaddie system at the historic Pebble Beach Golf Links. The xCaddie system is a small hand-held device that gives golfers instant distance to the green as well as green depth, distance to major hazards and pro tips. Bet the real caddies love that announcement.

West Coast Swing

Tiger Woods can't make it, he's recovering from knee surgery, but Ernie Els certainly looks like he's ready for golf in 2003, after he moved to No. 2 in the world with his record-breaking 31-under-par victory in the Mercedes Championship at Kapalua on Maui.

The 2003 PGA Tour West Coast Swing presented by The St. Paul company, awards a $1 million bonus to an individual player and supplements the purses of eight West Coast events. The Mercedes was the first on the swing.

The West Coast Swing has nine tournaments ending the week of Feb. 24-March 2 with the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and Chrysler Classic of Tucson.

Past winners include Chris DiMarco in 2002, Davis Love III in 2001, Tiger Woods in 1999 and Phil Mickelson in 1998.

Here's a capsule look at the California tournaments:

Jan. 27 - Feb. 2, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, PGA West-Arnold Palmer Private Course, La Quinta, Bermuda Dunes, Indian Wells, La Quinta.

Feb. 3 - 9, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills, Pebble Beach.

Feb. 10 - 16, Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines Golf Course, South and North Courses, San Diego.

Feb. 17 - 23, Nissan Open, Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades.

Feb. 24 - March 2, WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, La Costa Resort and Spa, Carlsbad.

Country Club of Desert name change

The Hideaway, an equity-membership, 36-hole golf community in La Quinta, is the new name for the Country Club of the Desert.

San Francisco-based Discovery Land Company acquired the project, which occupies 600 acres in the heart of La Quinta. It includes two 18-hole courses designed by Clive Clark and Pete Dye. Eighteen holes opened in November 2001, but these holes are being redone. The Hideaway is capping its membership at 280 members per course, thus ensuring an intimate, low-density environment. Memberships are priced at $75,000. Meldman's other projects include CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., Estancia and Mirabel in Scottsdale, Ariz., Vaquero north of Dallas, Iron Horse in Whitefish, Mont., and Kukio Beach Club on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Ventura Courses set for remodeling

Olivas Park and Buenaventura, two Ventura munys designed by architect, William F. Bell, are scheduled for facelifts. Forrest Richardson of Phoenix was hired for the job, which will include multi-million dollar improvements.

The 1932 Buenaventura layout will receive an overall facelift and upgrading. Olivas Park will get an expansion of the driving range as well as extensive remodeling of the course. Check out these golf courses at

Riviera Country Club's restoration

Riviera Country Club was aced out for the 2008 U.S. Open, which selected the renovated Torrey Pines South Course, but Tom Fazio is putting a new face on the famous LA layout, early home to movie stars and the elite of Southern California.

Fazio is using aerial photos taken in 1927 to help restore Riviera to that older look. George Thomas' original layout was blasted in 1939 by a storm and flood, but the photos show the original features. Fazio will add length to the course and enlarge some greens. Check out Riviera at

Wine lockers and golf -- Mayacama Golf Club

The Jack Nicklaus-designed private Mayacama Golf Club in Sonoma's wine country is going to have a unique amenity to its $14-million clubhouse, set to open this summer -- your own wine locker.

No other golf clubhouse in the world includes a 48-bottle wine locker for each member. It is located in an underground wine cave accessible via a grotto off the 18th green. A knowledgeable staff will assist members in selecting the perfect wine for any occasion.

Golfweek rates Mayacama Golf Club among the Top 100 modern courses in America, and recently rated Mayacama the No. 2 golf course community in the west. It is located in the heart of Sonoma County wine country, a short drive from the Shiloh Road exit off Highway 101. It is a one-hour drive from San Francisco, just south of Healdsburg, and only a few miles from Sonoma County's jet-served airport in Santa Rosa.

Mountain View Country Club in La Quinta

Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay designed the new Mountain View Country Club in La Quinta. A tentative opening of November 2003 has been set.

Mountain View Country Club is one of 38 courses designed or remodeled in California by Palmer Course Design. The private golf course community will include use of natural arroyos, elevation changes and water features.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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