Making the rounds: Bass Lake Golf Course to close, Rocklin faces reduction

The drought conditions might spur a contraction of Sacramento-area golf courses that has been predicted because of business challenges for the past decade.

Lack of water is the reason Bass Lake owner Sabrina Ho cited for the scheduled July 1 closure of the Rescue course she has owned since 2002. Stevinson Ranch, about 15 miles south of Turlock, will close July 18, also because of drought and declining revenue.

“I had no choice,” Ho said. “The government keeps saying cut down, cut down (water use).”

Bass Lake, which opened as a nine-hole course in 1993 and expanded to 18 holes in 1999, will continue to operate its driving range. The other 140 acres will be minimally maintained in case a wet winter and an improved financial climate make a spring reopening feasible, Ho said.

“If rain comes back, maybe I reopen,” she said.

A third area course could partially close soon, although the drought isn’t being blamed.

The future of Rocklin Golf Club could be determined Tuesday when the Rocklin City Council is slated to decide whether to allow development on course property.

Club owner Charlie Gibson said the 18-hole course, known as Sunset Whitney since its 1964 opening until a few years ago, will be reduced to nine holes July 1 unless he’s given the go-ahead to build 38 homes on five acres of the 187-acre parcel. The city’s planning commission voted unanimously against the rezoning proposal.

The homes would be built near the fourth green and fifth tee and the site of the parking lot and abandoned tennis courts. The profit, Gibson said, would fund repairs on the aging course and its facilities.

“If I were to raise $1.5 million in this deal, it would not be near enough, but it would be a cog in the wheel to keep us going where we need to go,” said Gibson, who with a partner bought the bank-owned property four years ago for $2.5 million and converted the club from private to public.

Homeowners near and next to the course want it to remain open for aesthetic and property-value purposes, but they are split about the the development proposal.

Craig Hoffhines has lived near the third green – along the nine holes slated to close – since 1974 and is favor of development.

“I say give this guy a chance because it’s our only chance to keep the course,” Hoffhines said.

A group called Friends of Open Space is opposed. Members say new homes will lessen the quality of life, increase traffic and potentially open the door to more homes at the expense of recreation area. Threats to close part or all of the course are counterproductive, they say, and alternatives to enhance the course and its operations should be pursued.

If his proposal is rejected, Gibson said he also will allow the front nine to turn to thistle and re-evaluate whether to remain open at all at the end of the season.

“Maybe I can make a run at it,” he said. “Make a nice driving range (where the front nine is current located).”

Gibson insisted he’s not bluffing.

“I’ve literally been paying to work there for four straight years,” Gibson said. “Something has to change.”

Senior Open looms

▪ Tickets are still available for next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club ( Single-day ($39 in advance, $49 at the gate) and weekly tickets remain, but the Trophy Club upgrade is sold out.

▪ A kids clinic with Kings coach George Karl and pro Mark Wiebe is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the driving range.

▪ With the Senior Open the week after the U.S. Open for the first time, it’s going to go one of two ways for fans watching on TV: The exposure to the quirkiness of Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., will either make Del Paso seem boring beyond belief or a welcome return to fair and traditional golf.

▪ “Tee Time: U.S. Senior Open” debuts Wednesday night at 7 on KVIE. Frank LaRosa hosts.

Et cetera

▪ Evan Knight won the Sacramento City championship with a birdie-eagle playoff finish over the weekend at Haggin Oaks. Knight, a UC Davis freshman from Novato, finished with a two-round 5-under-par 139, tying Scott Raber, Pedro Oviedo, Nick Yell and Seungjae Maeng. Knight birdied No. 1, then eagled No. 18.

▪ The reaction to Sunday’s list of the 27 best golfers in Sacramento’s history did not produce any oversights, thank goodness. There were quibbles with the order, which is expected when comparing players from different generations, men and women, pros and amateurs. One addition: Judy Ghilarducci, 76, (seven Sacramento City titles and a quarterfinal appearance in the U.S. Women’s Amateur) merited “part of the conversation” mention.

▪ Checked out the debut episodes of Golf Channel’s “Altered Course” reality series and Comcast SportsNet’s “Driven” that chronicles the adventures of 2012 world long-drive champion Ryan Winther of Sacramento and Folsom pro Isaac “Sasquatch” Sanchez. Not must-see golf TV to start, but interesting enough to merit another look.

Steve Pajak: (916) 326-5526.