By Diane Borden
They blend into the landscape so well and so effortlessly that a golfer might not notice them at first. But, a closer look will reveal that the seven newly renovated bridges on the championship golf course at Rancho Bernardo Inn are more than just functional; they also are aesthetically creative and an important part of the course’s continuing charm.
The replacement bridges are just the latest improvements being made to the course – a years-long renovation envisioned by Chris Hayman, RBI’s golf course superintendent, when he arrived at the Inn in the summer of 2009.
“The goal was to develop a multi-year plan to bring the course back,” Hayman said. “We started this latest project – the bridge replacements – in 2017, and it should be completed in the next few weeks with the painting of the bridge girders and bases.”
The new bridges – located at holes No. 1, 2, 3, 12, 12 (foot bridge), 14 and 18 – are constructed of treated brown Douglas fir, specially ordered for its durability and aesthetic appeal, combined with sturdy steel girders for strength and stability.
Hayman, a graduate of Cal Poly-Pomona with a bachelor of science in plant science and a minor in ornamental horticulture, said the first project in his RBI renovation plan eight years ago was to rebuild the greens (2009-2011), followed by the installation of a $1.7 million, state-of-the-art irrigation system in 2012-13.
Another major improvement has been the drilling of the first course wells, one in fall 2013 and another in spring 2014. Hayman said the wells are used to water the course in the summertime; potable (city) water is used for only 2 percent of the course (the greens).
Other renovations have included: rebuilding all 54 bunkers, reconfiguring the water hazard on No. 11, and dredging “Lake Colachis,” the natural lake on No. 4.
“Our long-time members often remark about the positive improvements made to the course over the last several years,” said Dena Marvel, president of the Rancho Bernardo Inn Women’s Golf Club. “The beautiful new bridges are just the latest example, and we are all very appreciative of the efforts of the RBI grounds crew to keep this beautiful course in top form.”
“We are always delighted,” she added, “when we can brag about the excellent condition of the course, which is consistently one of the best in San Diego County.”
Course Superintendent Hayman said that future work would attempt to “put the shine on the apple.” Projects will focus on good grass coverage in the fairways, conversion to warm-season grasses, and creating uniform turf and aesthetically pleasing planters. The crew also will be thinning out the more than 800 trees on the course.
“The course improvements we’ve made over the years would not have been possible without a strong commitment from the owners and senior management,” Hayman said. “Plus, we have a wonderful crew and a great collaborative relationship with other RBI departments, such as Engineering, which leads to project success.”