Palos Verdes Golf Club opened on November 15, 1924
The golf course was designed and built by the team of William P. “Billy” Bell and George C. Thomas. It is a classic example of courses built during the era that has become known as the “Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture”. Other examples of their work in Southern Calif. include, the North Course at Los Angeles CC, Riviera CC, Bel Air CC, as well as the Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course.
The course is located in the middle of an 800-acre parkland preserve overlooking Santa Monica Bay with ocean views visible from several holes. It underwent a complete renovation in 2013 to restore it to its original design under the supervision of golf course Architect Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design. All bunkers were re-built, three greens were re-built while adding chipping areas around all greens, three new fairway bunkers, new back tees were added to holes where appropriate, and several trees were removed to restore ocean views that had been lost over the years.
While not long in length by modern standards at 6219 yards par 71 (6490 from the black tees), four sets of tees provide a challenge for all level of golfers. The combination of barrancas, creeks, and 74 bunkers requires strategically placed tee shots and accurate approach shots to small well-manicured greens. The front nine is one of the few courses with what is called a “perfect nine” in that there are no two consecutive holes with the same par.
The Mediterranean style clubhouse, with unsurpassed views, underwent an $11,000,000 renovation in 2007 restoring it to its 1924 design with an understated yet elegantly appointed early California interior. It has become the favorite social gathering place for the entire Palos Verdes peninsula.
While the golf course has long been referred to as “a hidden gem”, the new clubhouse, designated a Historical Building by the Palos Verdes Historical Society, has now earned the same distinction.
PVGC CLUBHOUSE RENOVATION 1993 – 2006
The genesis of the Clubhouse renovation dates back to May of 1993 when in anticipation of the Club’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 1999, a committee was formed named “PROJECT 75 Committee”. The purpose of the Committee was ”to study all possible alternatives to either tear down, remodel, or enlarge the existing facility, the costs involved, and method of financing. The Committee was to remain intact until a plan was finalized and presented to the Board of Directors for their approval.”
The original building was built in 1924. Over the years, periodic additions were made to accommodate increases in membership from 200 to 560 in 1993. Many of these additions did not conform to the original Mediterranean architecture. Moreover, the building infrastructure had become functionally obsolete. The lease agreement with the city required the club to make the clubhouse available to the public and local civic and social organizations for social gatherings such as weddings, charity events, luncheon events, etc. Because of its limited size, whenever gatherings of over 125 guests were held, the membership lost the use of the upper level (including the Bar!!). In other words, like many old things, the old building had lost its charm.
A prominent local architect and member of the Art Jury, Roy Bayer, was persuaded to help the Committee on a pro bono basis during its conceptual planning phase. After much deliberation, after studying all alternatives, while far from an architectural masterpiece, since the building had been declared a “historical building” by the Local Historical society, it was decided to renovate the existing building. After approximately 3 – 4 years and scores of meetings, a proposal was turned over to the Long Range Planning Committee to determine alternative methods of financing. The LRP approved the plan and submitted it to the Board in 1998 for their approval. Originally planned for implementation in 3 phases over a period of time (perhaps years), for various reasons, it was put on hold until a new sprinkler system was installed and paid for. In 2004, The Board voted to proceed and implement the plan all at once rather than in 3 phases.
Now it became a matter of how to pay for it. There had been 3 earlier assessments over the years. ranging from $500 to $2,000, all refundable
upon the Member’s resignation. In 1999 members approved a $3,400 assessment for a new sprinkler system/lake expansion to be refunded over the next 4 years rather than upon resigning
their membership. It was repaid in 2 years. However, this would require a significantly larger assessment The cost of the project was estimated to be in the neighborhood of $10,000,000 requiring an $18,000 / member assessment. The Committee was highly skeptical of the which they had no equity. For political reasons the City was reluctant to finance improvements
to a building used by “Country Club” members. The Committee was left with no choice except to
propose financing through the membership. Methods considered included:
1. A bank loan – ruled out since the city owned the property the Club had no collateral as required by banking regulators and the City would not guarantee the loan.
2. Municipal Bonds - City participation was ruled out on the advice of Bond counsel because of conditions and limitations required would not be in the best interest of the Club.
3. A private Bond offering available to members only – ruled out because consensus was that the size of the offering ($10,000,000) and the uncertainty of selling such a large sum to a limited number (560 members) on a voluntary basis was determined to be unlikely.
4. An Interest Bearing Refundable Assessment was selected as the most viable option.
Unlike a voluntary bond issue, if 51% of the membership approved, the entire membership was obligated. It was determined that the low interest rate environment at the time presented a window of opportunity for both members and the club. Members had an opportunity to earn a premium over prevailing rates, while the club would have the necessary funds to proceed. The Committee sought legal counsel to determine its legality. The reply was that an “interest bearing refundable assessment” concept had no precedent and in counsel’s opinion would be allowed. With this in mind, the Committee proceeded.
A Club Improvement Fund Cash Flow estimate, based on certain assumptions, revealed that enough cash would be generated over 12 years to pay a 6% interest rate on an “interest bearing refundable assessment”. This was a 2½ point premium over the prevailing 5 Year Treasury bond rate at the time. It is interesting to note that the original cash flow projection made in1993 estimated that after the assessment had been fully repaid, the CIF 2016 Year-Ending Balance would be $1,617,300. The actual CIF balance at 2016 Year-end was $1,527,809). The assessment was repaid in full in 2017, exactly as projected. It was a win-win situation for both the membership and the City of PVE.
Nevertheless, it still had to be sold by convincing the membership of its merits an benefits. Four presentations explaining the proposed project and answer all questions were made at different times to accommodate all members’ schedules. A brochure designed by a local advertising agency was printed and mailed out to all members. In addition, a packet summarizing the live presentations for members who could not attend the presentations was mailed to all members.
Eleven years in the planning, a vote was finally held in May of 2004 with 58% of the membership voting in favor. In spite of the vote, legal challenges by a small group had to be addressed causing construction to be delayed for approximately 6 months until their concerns were resolved.
Actual construction began in July of 2005 and was completed in December 2006. The newly renovated clubhouse opened the first week in 2007, exactly as estimated. During construction, the club operated in a large tent erected at the far eastern end of the golf parking lot with food and beverage service while the administrative offices operated out of a trailer in the golf plaza outside the men’s locker room. It is interesting to note, the entire project was done with local contractors. In addition to Roy Bayer who did the conceptual drawings and preliminary plans, Malcolm-Withee Architects did the construction drawings, Del Amo Construction were the contractors, and Steve Hosa & Associates, Interior Designs, located in Malaga Cove, did the interior, and thanks to their help, the entire project came in within Budget.
Thirteen years from inception to completion, it truly was a WIN – WIN project. Members were fully paid on schedule as promised while earning a very attractive rate of interest during a low interest rate period. Members now have a facility members can be proud of and enjoy without interference by non-member events. In fact most of the time, the membership are not even aware one is being held. The City won by inheriting a vastly improved building at no cost to its residents, and the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula community won in that we now have a building that will serve as a social gathering spot to be enjoyed for generations to come. Members can be proud of the fact they left it in a little better condition than they found it. This confirms once again that PVGC is and remains “A Work in Progress” in pursuit of excellence.