Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

Del Paso's 18th fairway, as seen from above the 18th green, is among those that have been significantly narrowed in anticipation of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open.

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Making the Rounds: Del Paso prepares for 2015 U.S. Senior Open

Published: Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 - 7:56 am

How does a golf course get prepared to host a major championship?

Not at the last minute.

The 2015 U.S. Senior Open is two years away, yet much of everything done at Del Paso Country Club these days is with an eye on June 25-28 of that year.

The fairways, previously a generous 50 to 60 yards wide, were reshaped and narrowed to 24 to 30 yards in March so that those carved-into areas that previously were rough and rough in areas that previously were fairway can mature.

The rough, typically a manageable two inches, is being thickened and grown to three inches over the next 18 months. It is also being grown against the collar of most greens. With the exception of four holes, which play more difficult with closely shaven green complexes that carry wayward shots away from the hole or toward a hazard, putting from off the greens is over.

A "dry down" is scheduled for June 16-18, when moisture levels in the greens will be reduced to replicate championship conditions. The head United States Golf Association agronomist will be at Del Paso during that time.

"We want to establish benchmarks in understanding the behavior and characteristics of the greens in those conditions at that time of year," said Del Paso general manager Bob Kunz.

The changes have been collaborative with USGA officials and Del Paso, said Dan Spector, general chairman for the 2015 Senior Open.

"It's been cool to have them bare their eyes on the golf course," Spector said. "Their suggestions have been well-received by the membership and have brought out the special character that Kyle Phillips had in mind when he designed the course."

On the business side, 12 of the 16 hospitality "villas" that will line the 17th and 18th holes have been sold. That puts sales ahead of projections, said Brian Flajole, championship director for Bruno Event Team, which has run 20 of the past 24 Senior and Women's U.S. Opens.

The villas, which are air-conditioned with a mahogany bar and flat-screen TVs, seat about 90. Depending on the location and size (some come with 125 daily passes and some 175), the villas go for between $125,000 and $400,000 for the week.

Buyers are "almost exclusively single companies that are supporting the city and the championship," Flajole said.

Smaller hospitality tents with fewer amenities and less desirable locations, as well as tables within the clubhouse, will go on sale later this year.

"It's kind of like we're selling the lakefront property first, then a little farther back in the neighborhood," Flajole said.

The USGA is responsible for the purse and television; Del Paso is responsible for all other expenses. The bulk of the club's revenue will come from hospitality sales and a split of ticket revenue.

Upward of 3,000 volunteers will be needed, with signups expected to begin early next year. Tickets typically go on sale 12 to 18 months in advance of the championship.

Jesuit romps at Masters

Jesuit High School was impressive Monday in winning the Masters tournament at the Reserve at Spanos Park. Led by Austen Sandoval and Mark Cobey, who each shot 1-under-par 71s, the Marauders were 18 shots best and figure to be a force next Monday in the Northern California championships at Diablo Grande.

The drama was in the battle for the second and third qualifying berths, where two strokes separated three teams. Oak Ridge (385), led by Charlie Cameron's 72, and Del Oro (386), led by Justin Raskin's 72, advanced. Granite Bay (387), returning five players from last year's state championship team, did not.

Raskin, a senior who started playing golf just four years ago, persevered after being 4 over through seven holes. The Golden Eagles needed every one of his four back-nine birdies. Del Oro freshman Josh Sedeno was clutch with a 75.

Pondersosa's Corey Pereira (medalist with a 68), Christian Brothers' Andrej Bevins (70), Woodcreek's Bryce Johnson (70) and East Union's Will Brink (71) advanced as individuals.

Et cetera

Robert Trent Jones Jr., the designer of Winchester, returned to the Meadow Vista club Friday as the semiprivate course's new owners threw a party to introduce themselves to members and residents. Real Capital Solutions, a Colorado-based real estate investor of distressed assets, bought the course and 136 home sites in January.

• Amateur Eric Ash (Loomis) advanced through U.S. Open local qualifying Monday in Pleasanton.

Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

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