RSF Golf Club hopes to begin next phase of course renovation in January

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club's short game area will be enhanced in the next phase of the renovation.
(Karen Billing)

Improvements to short, long game areas contingent on county, FEMA approval


The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club is teeing up to begin the third phase of its complete course renovation, which will include an update to the short and long game areas.

The first phases of the $6.4 million renovation were completed in April, including the full turf replacement on the fairways, a new irrigation system and reshaped bunkers.

The upgrades to the putting green and driving range areas were part of the original plans for the course remodel but the work was halted when informed by the county that further grading permits were required.

At its Nov. 3 meeting, the Rancho Santa Fe Association board approved the $2,593,000 in golf club funds for the third phase of the project. The funds exceed the approved budget of $1.5 million.

RSF Golf Club General Manager Todd Huizinga said as they reviewed the original Phase 3 scope from three years ago, they identified additional elements that were critical for the project to be as successful as it could be: “As many projects do, they evolve over time.” The updated Phase 3 budget includes costs for the general contractor, grassing and sod, feature sand, a new cart path and fencing, and a $397,000 contingency as part of the Association’s new capital project policy.

Grassing and sod is one area where costs have increased: “A year ago when we were grassing the golf course it was about 49 cents a square foot and now we’re up to 68 cents a square foot so there’s been some inflationary costs there,” Huizinga said.

The golf cart path was one area that they felt was a necessary part of the improvements in the long game practice area. Huizinga said members may have bumped along the cart path enough times to notice that it has reached the end of its useful life, as has the adjacent interior chain link fence. The plan is to replace the fencing and the asphalt path, as well as widen it from 5 to 10 feet wide. As many parts of the path have been lifted by tree roots it will be replaced with a StayLock, a natural, decomposed granite material that is meant to flex with a tree’s root system.

This next phase of work is tentatively scheduled for January through April—a timeline that Huizinga said would least impact playing time for members.

All of this is pending final permit approval from the county and FEMA, “the real unknown at this time.”

One of the requirements for the county grading permit was to perform a map revision of the FEMA floodplain. The floodplain comes down from the front nine in front of the Players Clubhouse and intersects with the long game practice area and continues to the maintenance facility at the far end of the property.

The last time the floodplain map was looked at was the early 1970s and, as Huizinga said, the flow rates have decreased over the last 50 years. Currently the clubhouse buildings and the snack bar sit in the floodplain but the revision will take the buildings out of the floodplain. The floodplain continues further west and five property owners of six adjacent properties have been notified of the map change through FEMA and the county.

“It’s been a longer than expected process, going through the permitting but I think we’ve learned a lot as well and part of the delay has been this flood map revision,” Huizinga said.

The work is expected to take 90 days to complete, however, much will hinge on the county approval process. As the contractor is not available after April 10, the golf club is hoping to get that county approval as soon as possible.

In June, the Association approved a new capital funding policy that is triggered for any project with total costs over $500,000. As Treasurer Rick Sapp noted, per the policy two board directors will become liaisons for project oversight.