SAN FRANCISCO – From the first tee to the 18th green, golfers will notice plenty of differences on the recently renovated Lake Course at the Olympic Club, a layout that already had seen plenty of changes since it was first designed in 1924.
In 2020, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner were hired to renovate the Lake Course, which has several top-tier professional and amateur events scheduled for coming years. The layout ranked No. 8 on Golfweek’s Best 2023 ranking of top private courses in California, and it was No. 44 on Golfweek’s Best 2023 list of all classic courses built before 1960 in the U.S.
As they did at several other major championship courses including 2023 U.S. Open host Los Angeles Country Club, Hanse and Wagner planned for the future by studying the past.
Hanse Design associate Tommy Naccarato said that meant researching old aerial photos from the 1920s and ‘30s as well as Spring Valley Water Company’s plans. That allowed the team to identify fairway bunkers that had been abandoned over the decades, and the historic research also provided clues on fairway widths, approaches and green surrounds.
Ultimately the Hanse plan would call for the reintroduction of fairway bunkers on Nos. 4, 9, 14, 16, 17 and 18. Other refinements included the expansion of greens by roughly 33 percent to provide more pinnable space, widening fairways by roughly 25 percent to better fit the land, expanding approaches to greens to offer more ground-game options and converting numerous green surrounds from fairway to rough for consistency course-wide.
The final piece of the plan was the creation of a new seventh hole to better connect Nos. 6 and 8 after the 2009 shifting of the tees on No. 8. The new No. 7 remains an uphill and drivable par 4, but the green was shifted down a hill to the right. The tee shot offers numerous options, the best of which come when players challenge a new fairway bunker about 50 yards from the green, Hanse said via zoom at a September reopening event.