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Members Try to Save Their California Club

February 08, 2009

Lots of stories these days about golf clubs in economic distress. Here is one of those stories -- with a twist. The struggling club has a small but dedicated band of members determined to keep it operating.

As recently as four or five years ago, The Golf Club of California in Fallbrook had as many as 250 members. But a series of calamaties -- charges that parts of its golf course was built on restricted land, a poorly timed sale of the facility, a falling-out between the new owner and a group of members and, of course, the economic downturn -- led to the club's closure last November.

Golf Club of California's current owner is trying to sell the property. In the meantime a group of members have banded together to reopen the club -- or at least parts of it. Golf Club of California's 17,000 square foot clubhouse may be closed, but the course and the golf shop are open for business. The membership group is paying the operating expenses of the club out of their collective pockets.

They have even managed to attract new members. The group is offering a family membership that costs $500 a month -- with no initiation fee -- and is also allowing the public to play the course for $50 on weekdays, and $65 on the weekends. They claim to have added 15 new members since reopening last month. (The club currently has 55 members.)

"We're not involved in negotiations, we're not involved in back-office operations," Parker Mahnke, a spokesman for the membership group, told the North County (Calif.) Times. "What we're trying to do is put together a revenue stream that supports the club."

-- G.R.