THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – In 1989, Jack Nicklaus hit a ceremonial tee shot to officially open Sherwood Country Club, a course he designed at the request of then-owner David Murdoch.
On Thursday afternoon, Nicklaus was back on the same 10th tee box, where ripped another ceremonial shot to officially re-open the course, which has been closed since last March while the Golden Bear and his crew made much-needed renovations.
Thursday's gathering gave members like Wayne Gretzky, Craig T. Nelson, Jon Lovitz and Caitlyn Jenner a chance to celebrate the re-opening of their beloved course.
Nelson, fellow actor Dennis Haybert and former Westlake High and current Cal Lutheran golfer Nick Dallas also hit tee shots as part of the ceremony. Dallas said hitting a tee shot in front of one of golf's greatest players was more nerve-wracking than anything he's ever done in the game.
Nelson, who is one of the original members of the club, was overjoyed about the renovations.
"I was here when (Nicklaus) opened the course the first time, and I have to say I think the new course is even better," Nelson said.
The course and practice facilities were shut down for a major overhaul to upgrade the infrastructure, including the irrigation system, drainage and soil conditions.
Sherwood's board of directors were thinking about making some small changes, but with Nicklaus joining the makeover, the board decided it would be more cost effective and proactive to do more work.
"We really didn't do a whole lot of things to the course," Nicklaus said. "We did some things to bring it up to today's modern standards.
"We changed some of the bunkering and did some things that I think makes the golf course better. They have a good crew here that did a great job of finishing off the work. It looks beautiful."
While members and other familiar with the course will notice some of the changes, the majority of the upgrades are below the ground.
One of those is "sand capping," which puts a base of sand under fairways and greens to help drainage. The process not only helps the soil retain water, it also reduces the amounts of water needed by the grass.
"It will reduce the amount of water needed by 25 percent," Nicklaus said. "Reducing the amount of water used was one of the charges from the membership when we took on the project."
Nicklaus said when he saw the property he believed it might be the most beautiful piece of land he was ever handed to build a course on. During the initial build, they moved 1,200 oak trees, with only one of them not surviving.
"This whole property was covered with gorgeous trees and other gorgeous spots, it's always been special in my heart."
This article was written by Bob Buttitta from Ventura County Star and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.