River Oaks Golf Club in Nicolaus, given up for dead after being severely flood damaged and closed four months ago, has been resuscitated.
In an era when even the healthiest courses struggle, such a turnaround borders on miraculous.
“We thought it could be a new little venture we could have,” said Nick Podesta, who will serve as River Oaks’ general manager in ownership partnering with his parents, Carlos and Heather. “We’ll go on with it and see how good we can make it.”
Carlos and Heather live near River Oaks. The family owns Bonanza Seeds in Yuba City. Nick was a standout golfer at Yuba City High School and San Jose State. He will continue to pursue playing as a touring pro in the United States and overseas while overseeing course operations.
In a month’s time, an idea to buy the course turned into a completed purchase, said Podesta, who declined to say how much his family paid. River Oaks was assessed at $1.97 million by Sutter County last year. Alan Scheiber, one of the course’s founders when it opened as Rio La Paz in 2000, lost the course after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing earlier this year.
Susan Briske, the head professional at the time of the course’s closing, is back, as is superintendent Gary Toledo.
The driving range and restaurant could be reopened by late next week. Sept. 1 is the target date for the course reopening, contingent on turf conditions.
The front nine, which runs along the Feather River, became oversaturated and unplayable last winter. The course essentially went unmaintained for four months after its closure.
As the course is worked back into shape, greens fees will be commensurate with conditions, Podesta said. There will be a learning curve to ownership, he said, but he envisions making the course more financially successful by better marketing to younger players and using his influence as a golfer in the community.
“We’re going to make it a more friendly and family-oriented place,” Podesta said.
Grass Valley’s Logan Lowe posted a 36-hole total of 4-under-par 136 after one round each at Riviera and Bel-Air in Los Angeles to tie for third after stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Amateur. Logan, a junior at George Washington University, earned one of 64 match-play spots in the field of 312. Match play begins Wednesday.
None of the five other players with local ties advanced, including Sacramento’s Cameron Champ, who is No. 8 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Champ’s impressive summer that included making the cut at the U.S. Open and a victory at the Trans-Mississippi Amateur still figures to land him a spot on the 10-man U.S. Walker Cup team that will be announced next week.
NCGA Match Play
▪ Jesse Bratz (Davis), Jeff Gilchrist (Rocklin) and Bryan Baumgarten (Granite Bay) were among the stroke-play qualifiers for the Northern California Golf Association Amateur Match Play Championship. They were among the low 32 from 146 players after 36 holes at Spyglass. Each begins match play Wednesday.
▪ Jeff Hoffman (Folsom) has advanced to the round of 16 in the senior division of NCGA Match Play at Poppy Hills. Hoffman won the Senior Valley Amateur last at Del Rio in Modesto.
▪ Herb Jensen (Carmichael) has advanced to the quarterfinals of the super senior division of NCGA Match Play at Poppy Hills.
Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526.