flight balls off mats for half the week,” Wagner
said. “Now we have the best practice facility in
Santa Ana’s new Jay Blasi-designed course,
which uses 40 percent less water than its pre-
decessor, has been a hit for marketing. The
club has added 100 members since the project
was approved, even while raising initiation fees
The ultimate seal of approval came from
a group of golfers led by Hall of Famer Fred
Couples who played the course the week
before The Masters.
Couples, who lives in nearby Newport
Beach, called the pro shop and asked if he
could play the following morning with the club
champion from Big Canyon Country Club and
PGA Champions Tour player John Cook.
“He said he wanted to come out because our
new bentgrass green complexes are now more
similar to Augusta National than anybody else
in Orange County,” Wagner said.
Santa Ana Country Club
Santa Ana, Calif.
General Manager: J.J. Wagner
Teardowns are common in real estate, especially on prime properties. When it comes to
golf, however, it’s a big step for a course owner
to completely rebuild an 18-hole layout.
In the case of Santa Ana Country Club, a
member-owned club in Southern California,
members chose not only to renovate the property but to tear up the layout that dated to 1923
and built a whole new course with state-of-the-art practice facilities and an indoor teaching
The fact Santa Ana’s recently completed $9
million capital improvement projects were
mostly golf-centric is remarkable in today’s
evolving private golf club business.
“It was a really bold move for sure,” said
General Manager J.J. Wagner, who’s in his
fourth year at the club after running Bel-Air
Country Club in Los Angeles from 1998 to
2013. “But now we have a golf course that’s
exploded in popularity, because it can be
played and appreciated in so many ways by
Wagner described the new practice facility
as another game-changer for the club.
“We no longer have a 220- to 230-yard
practice range where we’re hitting reduced-
The Clubs of Prestonwood
General Manager: Duane Brown
ClubCorp has been one of the industry’s
most active golf course buyers in recent
years, and one of its most prized pickups
was The Clubs of Prestonwood. At the time
of the acquisition, in 2014, Prestonwood’s
two clubs, situated nine miles apart near
ClubCorp’s home base in Dallas, had dated
facilities and amenities and declining membership.
But ClubCorp saw an opportunity,
noting that Prestonwood’s surrounding
neighborhoods were becoming an “
above-average, affluent, high-density market that
was turning over with young families seeking good public schools and easy access to
downtown,” according to a company statement. The one thing residents were missing,
ClubCorp Communications Manager Patty
Jerde said, was a private-club that fit their
So, ClubCorp initiated a multimillion-dollar reinvention of Prestonwood, ultimately making it more relevant to its market.
The company introduced more modern and
stylish décor, along with new dining, social
and family features. This included a popular
new Oasis outdoor patio bar and grill that
overlooks the driving range and features
mini-golf and family lawn space.
The three-year capital-improvement plan