Sacramento golfers helped save the ‘friendliest course on Earth’ from closing. But for how long?

Fly over this Paso Robles golf course on the market for $4.24 million

Hunter Ranch Golf Course off Highway 46 East in Paso Robles is up for sale after 25 years in business.
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Hunter Ranch Golf Course off Highway 46 East in Paso Robles is up for sale after 25 years in business.

Cordova Golf Course has survived talks of closure, but officials must now find new revenue sources for the family-friendly course in the Rosemont area of Sacramento County that has struggled to break even for a decade.

Last month, the Cordova Recreation and Park District’s Board of Directors considered closing the course (temporarily or permanently), or continuing to run the property at a deficit. The course cost about $800,000 to operate in the last fiscal year, according to the district.

After more than an hour of public comment from local golfers and residents, the board did not take action on the proposals. It instead directed staff to “explore other ways of making the golf course viable,” board member Terri Leimbach said at the meeting.

“We’re working to find new partners and sponsorships to give it new life for communities who love it so much,” said district spokeswoman Cady Nagy-Chow. “But money doesn’t grow on trees.”

About $11 million is needed to fully replace and upgrade the course, according to Patrick Larkin, the district’s general manager.

District staff is now looking for grants to apply for, and hopes to secure more sponsorships from local businesses and to host more youth and senior tournaments at the course to increase traffic.

Over the years, officials have attempted to improve the course to boost revenue, such as adding new tee boxes and an irrigation pond, renovating bathrooms and creating new programming such as FootGolf, a combination of soccer and golf.

“You’d think that would translate to an increase in revenue, that’s our goal,” district finance manager Matt Goodell told the board in March. “But that hasn’t been the case.”

Part of the reason the course may be experiencing a revenue decline is the oversaturated golf course market in the Sacramento region. Cordova Golf Course is one of 44 courses within a 30-minute drive of downtown Sacramento.

But locals who spoke at public comment argued that Cordova Golf Course stands out as a family-friendly golf course, where young and new golfers can take their time and learn the game in a more relaxed environment.

“If you put a golf club in a kid’s hand, they love it. You’re going to be missing a lot of opportunities to watch these young people grow” if the course closes, said David Arroyo, president of the local Latino Junior Golf Association. “You just got to keep it open. Where are the kids going to go now?”

The course is now open and operational after a particularly rainy winter closed it for weeks, Nagy-Chow said. There is no timeline for when district staff will return to the board with finance proposals, she said.

“It’s like your happy place. That needs to be our tag line,” board member Rick Sloan said at the meeting. “The friendliest course on Earth.”

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Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers Sacramento County and the cities and suburbs beyond the capital. She’s previously worked at The New York Times and NPR, and is a former Bee intern. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she was the managing editor of The Daily Californian.
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