With a new look, Palo Alto golf course set for fall reopening | News | Palo Alto Online |


With a new look, Palo Alto golf course set for fall reopening

After early permitting stumbles, construction set to be completed in November

It took a few years to get past the permitting hazards, but the reconstruction of Palo Alto's municipal golf course in the Baylands now appears to be proceeding smoothly toward a November completion.

Approved in 2011, the project calls for transforming the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course into a links-style course with native grasses, a new irrigation system and enhanced practice areas. The project was mired for years in permitting limbo while the Regional Water Quality Control Board was reviewing the impacts of both the golf course reconstruction and the nearby flood-control project that will use some of the golf course space.

Construction finally began in July and, so far at least, work on the $12.5-million project remains on budget and on schedule, according to a report from the Community Services Department. The contractor, Wadsworth Golf Construction Company, had completed the excavation and grading, installed a new pump station for potable and recycled water and expanded the driving range, which reopened in April after a brief closure.

This month, workers were adding sand to the golf greens, forming bunkers and building paths for golf carts, according to the report. They were also building a new practice area along Embarcadero Road, including an area for youth development.

Despite the rainy winter, city staff work remains "close to schedule," with an estimated reopening set for November.

While the construction is moving ahead, city staff is also shopping around for service contracts for the new facility. Existing contracts with BrightView Golf (which provides maintenance services), Brad Lozares (who manages the golf course and the pro shop) and R&T Restaurant (which has the food-and-beverage contract for Bay Cafe) are all set to expire in April 2018. This summer, staff will be reviewing requests for proposals from various service providers, with the goal of bringing a new contract to the City Council by the end of the year.

Community Services Department staff is also exploring the possibility of terminating the existing contracts early, thus allowing a new providers to begin managing the course as soon as it reopens. This, according to the staff report, would allow the awardee to "develop and deliver marketing and promotion campaigns leading up to and throughout the re-opening period, and to provide consistent service rather than turning over operations only a few months after re-opening."

Even as the reconstruction proceeds apace, city officials are already looking ahead to future improvements that are not part of the project. The city's new Parks, Trails, Natural Open Space and Recreation Plan notes that the renovation does not include improvements to the pro shop, the clubhouse or the parking lot.

"Each of these facilities needs improvements to maintain the viability of the overall golf course facility," the plan states. "Improvements would include a full remodel of the existing clubhouse and pro shop building with an expansion of a larger multi-purpose room that could be used for community and private events."

While these improvements are considered relatively non-urgent (the plan places a higher priority on new dog parks and new restrooms at local parks), Mayor Greg Scharff noted earlier this week, during the council's discussion of the new park plan, that it might be worthwhile to pursue the clubhouse improvements sooner rather than later. Delaying them, he said, could be "pennywise but pound foolish."

"If people don't go play rounds there, it wouldn't be successful and we will have spent money we shouldn't have spent. … I just want the golf course to be successful and I'm concerned about that," Scharff said.


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12 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2017 at 10:11 am

The golf course has been a boondoggle over the last four years or so. The city has lost millions in revenue due the dirt they dumped on it and then the extended time it was out of service. The city was still paying for the last upgrade before they started his one. The city needs to accept that they are basically dealing with a swamp and not a golf course.

21 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 29, 2017 at 10:22 am

Golf courses are closing all over the US. The younger generation has no time or desire to play golf. Older golfers are dying off. Not to mention, the land has become too valuable not to be used for housing or commercial. Only a matter of time before some Developer offers the city a price that they can't refuse. Look what happen to the Santa Clara golf course.

17 people like this
Posted by Dog owner
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

The city is wasting millions on this course for a minority of residents who still play golf, but dog owners can't get a decent dog park with grass to have their dogs run on. There is probably at least one dog in every third house in this town and we still can't get a large piece of land to run our dogs free. The pitiful dog parks that we do have are dirt and small. It explains why so many dog owners ignore the rules and just let their dogs off leash at the schools. Dog owners would rather have a great dog park, but the city is forcing them to use the schools. Turn over part of the baylands/golf course to the dogs with a nice grass run! It will be good for the dogs and good for our schools!!!

19 people like this
Posted by Dog Owner II
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Absolutely outrageous that the city wants to raise taxes for new parks, esp. dog parks, while they proceed with golf courses and helicopter lessons at the PA airport. And of course the city can't "waste" money on the animal shelter even though so many of us have dogs.

And they've still done nothing about letting dogs on the city shuttles while they continue to complain about traffic. I'd drive a lot less if I didn't have to drive my dog to the dog parks that are too far away for us to walk.

9 people like this
Posted by i worry
a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2017 at 2:30 pm

As much as I like to play golf once in awhile, I really wonder if this is a good use of funds. Golf participation is declining in the US as millenials and younger find it too time consuming and such a difficult sport to learn and master. In hindsight, I wish it was used to expand soccer fields, park land etc.

That being said i look forward to trying it out when it's finished

10 people like this
Posted by Walking_alive
a resident of Mayfield
on May 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm

I walk in that area very often. I have watched the development since the start of the project. I wittiness the massive amount of soil that was moved to shape the hills. The heavy duty construction machinery probably released tons and tons of CO2. There is a good environment impact document for this project (Web Link). It does mention GHG emission from construction equipment. But it is not clear what is the relative percentage compared to the emission of expected increased traffic.

I have to admit that the result is actually nice. You should walk around the park and see it for yourself. I hope the city can generate some revenue from the few players who still play golf.

5 people like this
Posted by PhotoOp
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 30, 2017 at 6:49 am

I look forward to enjoying my time on this course...... I hope what they deliver matches up tot he promise of the design, if so, we will have a little jewel of a house in our own backyard !

3 people like this
Posted by Priorities
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 9:05 am

A clubhouse at the golf course should be paid for by raising private donations. If the City is going to spend more money for community space, it should do so where community space is lacking and desperately needed on the South side of town. The Council lets Alma Plaza retail area be destroyed and lets a strip of grass stand as the park people were promised, but fines the developer on the North side of town when they don't keep a grocery there until they comply. The amenities on the North side are increasingly inaccessible to residents on the South side, even though there are just as many residents and their residential areas have been even more encroached on by development and traffic. In fact, the traffic has created more than just an Oregon divide, El Camino and the tracjs are another - Mitchell Park doesn't really serve the populations on the Gunn side equally. We need open space to offset development as promised in the code. We need amenities for youth to offset what has been lost to development. We need walkable community spaces accessible to the majority of residents who have none. We need local retail areas, since the Council has literally crushed our thriving local retail with office development. The City spends millions on track watch but fails to take a holistic approach to youth where the youth live. We used to be able to get around town but now don't/can't go downtown unless it's a necessity.

We do need dog parks, but we need the Council to find ways to add them, not try to divide residents by trying to take away already heavily utilized spaces, but this manipulation already seems inevitable. We have a Council stacked with members bought and paid for by developers who will represent more of the users of a golf clubhouse that is almost inaccessible for residents on the far side of town because of their development impacts - they should at least be good to ask them for donations to build it.

10 people like this
Posted by MikeCrescentPark
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2017 at 9:30 am

Despite some opinions expressed above Palo Alto Muni has had many many years of consistent play by golfers of all ages and from communities all around the Bay. I have played there for 30 years and met golfers from not only the East Bay, San Jose and San Francisco but folks visiting from out of town and business people in town for a few days. The course previously had ambiance and challenges at a good price. The teaching and practice facilities have helped thousands learn the game. The friendliness and skills of the staff are exceptional- I know because I play many other courses from Monterey to Sonoma that lack on or more of these qualities.

Also, many school teams use PA for the practice facilities and rounds as well. Among those are Castileja and East Palo Alto. Golf is not an elite activity as thought by some who have beer been around muni courses. And declining play around the country is not a great predictor for play here. Palo Alto has provided a major service to residents like me as well as surrounding towns. Kids that learn golf will possibly play for a lifetime. Only the smallest minority of adults continue to play soccer after college but vast sums are spent in our communities providing soccer facilities.

The many years of government discussions, arguments, false starts and permitting issues have caused a lot of problems for the course, golfers and staff. With a bit of luck this will still produce a positive outcome when the course is complete later this year.

The Brad Lazarus Pro Shop and teaching professionals have been exceptional in their interaction with golfers and the community. In my 30 years in PA I notice the stability and level of competence of the staff at the course which is not something I see at any other public courses in our area. They are an asset. I hope they get a fair shake in winning the new management contract. Recent history has shown our local government officials capable of unexplainable decisions which produce unforeseen consequences later on. Let's hope we can enjoy the same previous high standards when this new course opens.

10 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on May 30, 2017 at 9:40 am

To anyone that considers golf an elite activity / sport for the rich, I invite you to join me at the PA driving range (course is closed now obviously, but range is still open) and we can hit a few balls together, on me. Since Tiger Woods came onto the scene, golf has become a sport for all people. PA golf course was a decent / beginner friendly course before construction, and it looks to become even better, with the renovations. It may become a profit center for your city, if you run it correctly. Sunnyvale and Mountain View golf courses are both revenue contributors (not takers) for those cities.

7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 30, 2017 at 9:49 am

And the Bay Cafe is open to all, not just golfers.
The last place in Palo Alto with plenty of parking.
For special events, their banquet room can seat a hundred.
Few people know this restaurant exists.

3 people like this
Posted by Dog owner
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2017 at 11:37 am

@MikeCrescentPark Why is the city using millions of money of our tax dollars to refurbish and keep up a golf course for people from all over the bay area when they can't even provide a decent dog park for the thousands of dog owners who live in Palo Alto? The dog parks we have are a disgrace and hardly anyone uses them, instead they head to the schools where there is plenty of grass for dogs to run on. I'd like to take someone from parks and rec out and show them the difference in what happens at a dog park vs. a big expanse of lawn with dogs. Dogs are happier, behave better and so are their owners. It's nice that you have met folks from the East Bay and elsewhere on the course, but I'd like to see an analysis of how many Palo Altans use the golf course (not the driving range -- which I'm fine with) and how much money the city of Palo Alto is paying/subsidizing these golfers for each round.

2 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2017 at 12:41 pm

My husband and I are sooo looking forward to the re-opening of PA Muni. Thanks to MikeCrescentPark for his posting!! Obviously, one can't please all of the people all of the time -- GO PA Muni!! Hopefully, Brad Lozares will stay on and keep the Pro Shop!

4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm

I played Paly for the first time back in 1961 when we moved here. I bought a starter set at Shopper's World and played when the roughs were nothing but wood chips. That was when our woods were also made of real wood. Pat Mahoney was the pro and shop manager. A feisty guy (wish I could remember his name) cooked up some good grub for us in the small space adjacent to the pro shop. I remember seeing Willie Mays there one day.

I played occasionally on weekends, and for a while on an industrial league team (Kaiser Electronics) in the late 60's-early 70's, but didn't start playing on a regular basis until 1991. Then I played with two neighbors once or twice a week for years. When they stopped...eventually died...I stopped. I'd like to give it another shot when it re-opens. I always carried my bag before. If I play again I'll rent a cart.

I've lived thru all the changes...tweaking of the layout of certain holes, etc. I've played many other courses, maybe 20 in all in the Bay Area (Almaden when it was still a public course), a few in the Monterrey area, and a dozen or so in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, and South Carolina. And a few in Germany and France.

Memorable moments: I think I birdied every hole over the course of all my years and rounds. I had a birdie sandy on #3. I made a 75 foot left bending uphill birdie putt on #15. I broke 80, just barely, but it took a par on 17 and a birdie on 18 to do it. I was in the zone that day...never had a higher confidence level. I thought/willed the ball into the hole. Never got a hole-in-one. Watched neighbor, Bill Overton, get two of them. Got an eagle tho, on #16 that I didn't even see go in. That's when they had the nasty front-side bunker. I hit my second shot, but my view was blocked by a short tree on the left. I went up and looked in all the bunkers. Then my playing partner said, "Go look in the hole". Nice surprise.

Good memories. Brad and his crew did a great job. Hope to see them again.

14 people like this
Posted by Big Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Golf courses are maintenance-intense, and require a lot of water.

The drought is over, but only temporarily. There are more to come, intensified by too many people drawing on a limited supply of water in this semi-arid zone.

Building a golf course in a time of low interest in the sport, and an uncertain water supply, was a big mistake!

10 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on May 30, 2017 at 1:47 pm

The new course is a sustainable design with native vegetation in the roughs, reducing watering while eliminating pesticide and fertilizer use. The entire course will use recycled water and it has been reduced in size by 20 acres.

7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2017 at 1:49 pm

What's with all the people pointing out that golf is "declining in popularity"? So is library usage (see: Web Link) but yet we just spent a king's ransom on renovations at Mitchell Park and elsewhere.
Sports participation ebbs and flows. Maybe the same millenials who today are today shunning golf will pick it up when robots automate most of their activities and they have more time for unhurried pursuits? Might that happen? Perhaps.
As for the dog issue, there are plenty of places in Palo Alto for a dog park. Why does it have to be an either/or, especially when one alternative involves taking away something that many in the community prize?!?

1 person likes this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 30, 2017 at 1:53 pm

@Big Mistake: I take it you're not a golfer. I was surprised, but I guess I shouldn't have been, by the the fact that golfing is not as popular now as it used to be...courses shutting down, going out of business, selling the land to developers for housing and office buildings, etc. I guess I started at the upswing, pun intended, of the sport. That's when Arnie's Army was marching. But, I have to admit, I don't watch it on TV much at all anymore. Just the Majors. So my interest is fading also.

Good memories tho! I think, at one time, the yearly rounds at Paly numbered over 100,000, when Diaz was in charge, and it brought in a net income to the city coffers. What will the green fees be for the new layout?? Will residents/seniors/monthly card holders get a discount??

9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Golf Course profits will pay off the construction bonds, so this project isn't spending "taxpayer money".

The new golf course will be irrigated with 100% recycled water, so it isn't using any drinkable water.

5 people like this
Posted by GuessIllLearn
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Well, with all the nay sayers, boondoggle implying, and CO2 emission watchdogs, I guess I'll just have to do my civic duty and start playing golf on our new local course!

13 people like this
Posted by Yes on OpenSpace
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Any project that keeps large areas of land from developers, density, traffic and pollution is awesome...fore!

Like this comment
Posted by Thanks, Mr Scharff
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Greg Scharff wants to spend money on the Clubhouse. Gee what a surprise, Scharff wants more construction money for builders, architects, and developers.
No surprises there.

Not MY money, thank you Mr Scharff.

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Any money spent on the clubhouse would certainly be made back. Have you seen how many parties and corporate events are held at the Mountain View golf course? There is no good lunch place east of 101, so a new PA clubhouse should also draw a good lunch crowd.

If a private company owned that land, they would have put up a nice clubhouse years ago. Why doesn't the City?

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm

I am not a golfer, but I do like the Baylands. Any upgrade to that area that makes it easier for people like me to grab a lunchtime sandwich and walk around the Baylands in one stop seems to be a plus to me.

3 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, I remember reading the golf course was a MONEY MAKER for the city before this remodel. I believe it was one million a year. If you want to sell a piece of city land how 'bout flippin' the trailer park...

Dog park:

Head over to Stanford across from the Sheraton. Lots of room. Just wear a mask because you wouldn't want to be seen taking advantage of Stanford after bashing them here on PAonline...

Like this comment
Posted by jc
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Prior to the actions of water boards the golf course was a profitable operation. Golfers covered all the expenses including paying for all the bonds issued over the years. Up to the problems caused by the water boards the course was creating $200,000 and more per year in cash flow to the city. ESSENTIALLY IN ALL THE YEARS OF OPERATION PRIOR TO THE WATER BOARD ACTIONS NO TAXPAYER HAD PAID ONE DIME FOR THE COURSE!!!!!!. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that the course will again become profitable when it reopens. Gripe about golf and dog parks etc all you want BUT
THE GOLF COURSE SHOULD CREATE PROFITS FOR THE CITY FOR YOUR BENEFIT!!!!!. Maybe the city might use some of the profit for a dog park....

4 people like this
Posted by dee
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2017 at 6:24 pm

What's big deal about new golf course. Hey we all needs their own hobby and activities. I've been living Palo Alto +30 years and played golf all along, Brad Lozares pro shop staffs are out standing to everyone.compare other golf course, they don't even care about regular players at all but not Paly pro shop staff. I hope Brad extend new contract with city. I was so proud of all pro shop staff and new course. I can't wait till November to hit my first tee shot.Thank you city and construction crews. We all wants to do own way of activities. Hay by the way they sure do use 100% recycled water.

2 people like this
Posted by Lily
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2017 at 7:57 pm

I am Captain of the Ladies golf club in Palo Alto, for the past year we have been playing at Moffett Field GC. We certainly miss our Thursday mornings for our get together and play golf just like the ladies have since 1965. We are hoping we can get our Thursdays back and also our 8:30 tee time,
Delighted to read that it will be officially open in November!!

Lily Hagan

5 people like this
Posted by Marlene Glez.
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 30, 2017 at 8:45 pm

We don't need a dog park where some or a lot of irresponsible dog owners will leaving "poop" everywhere. We don't need a "Golf course" that is an old fashioned rich sport that nobody like anymore. We do need an open space!! I'm tired of massive constructions all around the Bay Area !! So please let at least Baylands "LIKE IT", like an open space for the nature!! For wildlife!! For people who enjoys walking or biking around of green wild areas !! Do you still know what do that mean?

5 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Green Acres
on May 31, 2017 at 7:08 am

"Do you still know what do that mean? "

not sure

7 people like this
Posted by Marlene Glez
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2017 at 9:04 am

To : "Hmm" Well, I was very exited writing so I didn't check my spelling, sorry, since Im a Spanish speaker Im trying to learn English but I'm still not perfect. We humans are not perfect but at least I'm trying to learn a second language. You should try to do the same instead to criticize my spelling.

"Teach if you know, learn if you don't"

Do you still know what that means ?

My children are my English teachers, they are fluent in English and Spanish and now learning French.

6 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Green Acres
on May 31, 2017 at 10:00 am


My apologies.
Though it was not my intention, I can see in retrospect, that my post was hurtful and not appropriate. I am sorry for my post.


6 people like this
Posted by Marlene Glez
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2017 at 10:11 am

Apologies accepted !! :)

2 people like this
Posted by Bonnie Miller
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2017 at 7:58 am

Our family has played golf at Palo Alto for many years and are looking forward to the new course. My husband played opening day of the new course. I have been playing fifty years and have a daughter and son-in-law that play and belong to Palo Alto golf clubs.

I do want to remind Palo Alto citizens that the golfing community has a history of cooperation with the City of Palo Alto. The City had a Golf Course Corporation Committee in the early years and this committee had to approve the land swap of a portion of the course in order to save the skating rink on Middlefield Road. I am the only living member of that committee and was the deciding vote in favor of the swap. I love the fact the skaters still have their rink. Golfers and skaters pay to participate in their sports, as they should.

More of the golf course land is set aside for soccer fields. They will be built in the near future.

Like this comment
Posted by Jeff Segol
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2017 at 9:22 am

I doubt the golf course land could be developed for housing or commercial, because it is in the flight path of the airport, which is the only reason, I suspect, that the golf course was put there in the first place. Of course, if the City ever decides to close the airport, that entire area is up for grabs. Also, I believe there are deed restrictions on the property that require it to be used for park purposes.

2 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm

There's no point in complaining about the money spent on the golf course - that had been budgeted and approved long ago, it's not going to change now. This new iteration of the golf course will use considerably less (recycled) water, and be the first truly new golf course in the greater Bay Area in quite some time, which should bring in a lot of players (assuming the design and playability ends up being good). While it's true that golf courses nationwide are closing, that figure is much MUCH smaller here in the Bay Area - only Roddy Ranch (in Brentwood), and Sunol Valley have closed in recent times. Go to any golf course on a weekend and you'll see packed courses - the sport is alive and well (at least here in the BA).

1 person likes this
Posted by Marlene Glez.
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm

That's fine ! I'm ok with my nice, handsome riches people playing golf there but please, help to preserve and keep intact the rest of Baylands! I do not have money but at least I want to contribute leaving a nice piece of nature to my grandkids before "The builders " turn it to mounds of cement...!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Palo Alto Hills

on Sep 26, 2017 at 4:09 am

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