AHWAHNEE – Staff at Sierra Meadows Golf and Country Club are reporting they’ve received good news: the club will stay open for the near future after members voted on a proposal that will have them paying a little bit more to play a whole lot longer, they hope.
Last month Sierra Meadows owner Robert Bard sent out a letter telling members that the only 18-hole golf course in the foothills would close as of Monday, Dec. 15.
He cited California’s severe drought and years of economic recession as reasons the club would cease operation. A planned development failed to materialize around the golf course, Bard said, while millions of dollars were pumped into the club house and other features, for renovation and maintenance.
Almost immediately, members and other concerned citizens coalesced in order to save the area-favorite amenity from shutting its doors permanently. They formed the Save Sierra Meadows committee, and now, club members have voted to accept a proposal in which they will pony up more on a monthly basis to keep the operation solvent or nearly-so. Ideally, that will be long enough to attract the right buyer for the 142-acre gem snuggled under the oaks and pines in the hills of Ahwahnee.
“Just wanted to pass along the great news that Sierra Meadows will remain open,” says committee member and golf course homeowner Maria Manning-Chapman in a recent email. Manning-Chapman is not a golfer but her husband Doug is a Sierra Meadows member.
She explains that both members and management had crafted proposals to improve cash flow to the club during the off-season, carrying them through to the busy time of year which starts again in spring. The proposal up for recent vote by Sierra Meadows membership was that submitted by management.
“Mr. Bard felt that there was enough support from membership to guarantee the club remains open through April 30 and then, as manager Mike Best said, we go into the busy season May to October,” explains the homeowner. “Hopefully by that time we’ll have a buyer/new owner.”
Membership voted to accept a proposal which, among other points, states that effective Jan. 1, all member players, regardless of membership type, will pay $20 per round in cart fees. The amount will be capped at $100 (five rounds) per person. For those individual members playing six rounds or more per month, there will be no additional cart fee, as the cart fee will then be included as part of the monthy dues. This added fee is on top of current monthly dues.
According to the Sierra Meadows website, monthly membership can range from a low of $60 per month for an Individual Social membership, to $340 per month for an Associate Golf membership. Initiation fees range from $300 for Social to $8,500 for a Full Golf Membership.
Sierra Meadows member and Yosemite High School golf coach Rusty Oetinger is bouyed by the news that Sierra Meadows is safe for the time being.
“I was pleased to see the community come together to help keep the course open,” says Oetinger. “There were many people involved that I don’t see often at Sierra Meadows. It is nice to know that even though the course is out and away from town, people still consider it an important part of our community.”
Oetinger says he’d like to see the greater golf community support both local facilities, referring to Sierra Meadows along with 9-hole River Creek Golf Course nearby.
“Of course I am a little biased, but both courses have an impact on the youth of our community.”
The 8-10 member Save Sierra Meadows committee will continue to meet with the goal of increasing club membership and course play by non-members.
“Having a community voice is important,” Manning-Chapman says. “I am glad that the committee was able to influence Sierra Meadows residents and club members to vote affirmatively for the proposal. Club ownership, club management, and club members all want the same thing and that’s to see Sierra Meadows thrive, both now, and into the future.”
The community is asked to spread the good news that Sierra Meadows is open for business.