The future of Auburn Valley Golf Club hangs in the balance

Cameron Champ, seen in 2014 at Morgan Creek Golf Club in Roseville, was recently honored on Golfweek’s top 150 list. The Texas A&M junior was ranked the No. 22 men’s collegiate golfer by the magazine.
Cameron Champ, seen in 2014 at Morgan Creek Golf Club in Roseville, was recently honored on Golfweek’s top 150 list. The Texas A&M junior was ranked the No. 22 men’s collegiate golfer by the magazine.

Depending on who buys the 175 acres on which a tradition-rich golf course has operated since 1960, things could go one of two ways:

▪ It could remain the Auburn Valley Golf Club, which seems to be most everyone’s preference.

▪ It could be returned to its natural state.

Fred Yeager, president of Placer Land Trust, recently appeared before the North Auburn Municipal Advisory Council to say his organization has made an offer to acquire the property, which is listed on sale for $3.2 million. He said other parties are in negotiations to buy the parcel, which was confirmed by Darrel Lowe, vice president of real estate assets for Owens Financial Group, the company that foreclosed upon Auburn Valley.

Yeager said Placer Land Trust is interested in buying the land and returning it to its natural state only if a viable golf course owner doesn’t emerge.

“If that’s the case, we might be a good owner of the property,” Yeager said last week. “We certainly don’t want to be the cause of the course going away.”

Placer Land Trust, a private, nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of wild open spaces, finds the parcel attractive because it could provide access to the adjacent Harvego Bear River Preserve, a 3,000-acre parcel the group acquired in 2010.

Lowe said he hasn’t addressed agendas with potential buyers but knows that homeowners alongside the property are watching closely. Some moved there specifically to live on a golf course, while others worry about what increased access to the Harvego Preserve would bring.

Yeager referenced Rocklin Golf Club, which was closed in 2015 when a limited development plan was rejected. The property has become overgrown and, amid resident complaints, development plans on a larger scale are being explored.

“In fact, we want the continued operation of a golf course,” Yeager said. “We don’t want to compete with (other potential buyers). Our interest is only if it can no longer be operated as a golf course.”

In the meantime, it’s golf business as usual at Auburn Valley.

Mountain golf – If you’re eager to play some mountain golf this spring, limit your sights to an elevation of 5,000 feet and the Graeagle area for at least another month.

While Tahoe-Truckee courses are digging out from a Sierra snowpack 85 percent greater than normal that will delay most season openings until June, Whitehawk, the Dragon at Nakoma and Plumas Pines will open Friday. Grizzly Ranch will open May 5.

The caveat “weather permitting,” however, has rarely been more necessary.

Whitehawk, at 4,400 feet, was covered in 3 feet of snow at one point this past winter, much more than usual, said associate pro Michael Reid. Nakoma, at 5,030 feet, was covered in as much as 5 feet, said director of golf Wes Hull. Nakoma was home to snow-driven activities such as cross country skiing, tube riding and snowshoeing like never before, Hull said.

The Graeagle courses are sprouting grass but dealing with wet conditions. Graeagle Meadows, at 4,500 feet, has been open for three weeks but is not allowing power carts until things dry out.

At Coyote Moon in Truckee, greens and cart paths have been cleared of snow, but an early June opening appears likely. The latest the course, at 6,300 feet, has opened in the past was June 1.

“I think we’ll probably set a record this year,” said Ed McGargill, the director of golf.

Old Greenwood (May 19) is scheduled to be the first Tahoe-Truckee course to open this spring, as is usual. Gray’s Crossing is targeting June 2.

Then there’s Tahoe Donner, up the hill from Coyote Moon. In a season that five Tahoe ski resorts received more than 700 inches of snow and Squaw Valley is contemplating staying open all year, Tahoe Donner remains buried in white stuff.

“I drove up there just to make myself feel better,” McGargill said.

College scene

Local men in the top 150 of Golfweek’s college rankings – Texas A&M’s Cameron Champ (No. 22), Sacramento State’s Aaron Beverly (81), Washington’s Corey Pereira (106) and New Mexico’s Andrej Bevins (126).

Local women in the top 150 – Texas’ Emilee Hoffman (113), who led the Longhorns to their first Big 12 Conference championship since 2011 with a second-place individual finish.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak