Making the Rounds: Country club golf report – Cameron Park, Winchester, North Ridge, El Macero

Cameron Park Country Club sign showing that they are taking new members.
Cameron Park Country Club sign showing that they are taking new members.

For that special golfer in your life, a Christmas gift so out of the box that it may have never been given before: A membership to a private golf club.

Go big or go home, they say.

Cameron Park Country Club is offering a chance for last-minute shoppers to look like creative geniuses with memberships at a reduced initiation fee, with lower monthly dues and limited commitment.

Through February, nonproprietary family memberships are available for $500 with monthly dues of $397. There is a 14-month commitment, after which the obligation is month to month.

The club has offered a nonproprietary option for three years, said Cameron Park general manager Jason Poindexter. The idea was to provide a less-binding alternative for employees of nearby Intel and other professionals whose career paths might take them elsewhere.

“Flexibility was the guiding force behind that decision,” Poindexter said.

Cameron Park offers proprietary family memberships for $1,700 with monthly dues of $492. The dues structure for both types of memberships is set for two years for those who make the leap through February.

Proprietary members can serve on the club’s board and vote on club issues. Both membership categories get priority tee times.

Elsewhere around the region’s private-club scene:

▪ Winchester Country Club in Meadow Vista is inching back toward exclusivity a little more than one year removed from being closed for seven months to redo greens damaged by a faulty chemical application.

There is public play daily after 11 a.m. at a fee of $225, but, “The primary goal is to be a private facility,” said managing director David Bennett.

Winchester reseeded its greens with a new bent grass variety called Pure Distinction, Bennett said. The course is the first in California to do so, he said. Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Dunes Course, currently being renovated, will be the second.

The strain is intended to thrive in damp climates and have a high tolerance to chemicals used to thwart poa annua, Bennett said.

“We looked at different grasses at farms around the country,” he said. “We checked it out in Southern California and decided to take a chance on it. It’s been absolutely fantastic.”

Winchester family memberships have an initiation fee of $12,500 with monthly dues of $600.

▪ North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks was using all 18 greens as of last weekend after needing as many as seven temporary greens since fall aerification.

North Ridge still has its original push-up greens since opening in 1954 and the root structure isn’t ideal, which can lead to problems, said general manager Rink Sanford.

A task force has been created to explore North Ridge’s options, which include leaving the greens the way they are, resurfacing them or renovating them to United States Golf Association standards.

“We’re always looking at different ways to improve the course,” Sanford said. “We’re just looking a little harder right now.”

North Ridge has renovated its clubhouse, and more recently upgraded its drainage system and doubled the size of its driving range. Addressing the greens is inevitable, said Jim McMurtrey, a former club president now on the greens committee.

“The USGA has told us we’ve reached our limit on the greens,” he said. “They’re not bad right now, a little slower than normal. If you try to speed them up, they’re tough to deal with. But if you leave them slow, 8 (on the Stimpmeter) or something like that, they’re OK.”

▪ Construction is complete on a 10,000-square-foot practice area for wedge play at the back of the range at El Macero Country Club. The club opened a short-game practice area 14 months ago.

UC Davis golf teams will be among the users. They had better take advantage because things aren’t going to get easier in the Big West Conference with the Cal Poly golf program receiving a $10 million donation from alumnus and retired Raytheon Co. Chairman Bill Swanson.

The donation is the largest single gift in the history of Cal Poly athletics and among the largest ever cash donations to a collegiate golf program in the United States, according to Cal Poly.

Et cetera

▪ Chico’s Kurt Kitayama, UC Davis’ Matt Hansen and Arbuckle’s Ben Geyer earned conditional Tour status for 2106 during qualifying last week in Florida.

▪ Elk Grove’s Jayden Lizama, 7, and Manteca’s Ty Griggs, 13, are among the 80 qualifiers for the 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt national finals at Augusta National Golf Club on the eve of the Masters.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak