Ridgemark refines new business plan

For Sierra Golf, managers of Ridgemark Golf Club and Resort, working the short game to improve the golf course, restaurant and lodge is the best approach rather than going for the big tee shot.

It’s been two years since Sierra Golf Management took over, and general manager Chad Jackson said he plans to renovate the lodging and the restaurant and keep golfers teeing up on the course.

“We make small improvements every day; you won’t see the grand overnight improvements,” Jackson said. “We’ve made improvements to the rooms to make them feel more modern along with walk-in shows. The greens have started to grow, and the grass is greener thanks to our watering program.”

Sierra Golf Management, based in Chowchilla, took over the management of Ridgemark Golf Club and Resort following John Wynn’s purchase of the course for $11.5 million from former owners JMK Golf LLC. In May 2016, Sierra Golf Management signed a five-year deal for $1 million a year to manage the club.

Sierra Golf Management concerns itself only with managing the golf course at Ridgemark and has no role in decisions about the Ridgemark residential community. In 2014, partially because of ongoing difficulty getting water due to the drought, Ridgemark scaled back from 36 holes to a single 18-hole course.

Ridgemark Golf Club is a par-72, 18-hole course with a U.S. Golf Association men’s rating of 70.7, women’s rating of 76.2 from the white tees, and a slope rating of 125 and 133.

One major challenge for most golf courses is maintaining grass quality. Ridgemark uses kikuyu grass on the fairway, rye grass for the rough, and poa and bent grass for the greens. Golf courses are notoriously high consumers of water, and at Ridgemark the groundskeepers water the greens every day and the fairway and rough every other day.

Water for the restaurant, lodge and clubhouse is provided by Sunnyslope Water District, and water used for the course is pumped in from the San Benito Water District. Ridgemark uses more than 600 gallons of water a day.

Ridgemark offers memberships for unlimited golfing, but the course is by no means a country club; it’s a public golf course. Sierra Golf offers various memberships to help keep golfers on the course. Golf Revolution memberships start at $79.95 a month, and up to $109.95 a month for the Independence Seven-Day Unlimited Package, which offers unlimited golf at the golfers home course along with cart rental fees.  

“I wouldn’t say they’re hotel rooms; it’s more like cottages,” Jackson said. “We are remodeling one or two rooms a month, and we hope to be finished by the US Open at Pebble Beach (June 13-16, 2019). Sierra Golf Management also is working to remodel the bar, including installing new paneling on the walls.

Spring/Summer rates for weekdays are $109 for a single king, $129 for a double king, and weekend single kings cost $139, and double kings cost $159. The Stay and Play package offers discounted prices for lodgers, with prime time rates of $29 on weekdays, $39 on weekends, and twilight rates of $25 prime time, and $35 twilight.

A quick survey of hotel prices on hotels.com for hotels in Hollister Ridgemark compares favorably to Fairfield Inn and Suites, $179, the Baymont by Wyndham, $131, in Hollister.

Among the numerous activities that millennials are accused of avoiding, from sitcoms to the diamond industry, millennials play golf less often than their baby boomer parents. In 2013 the National Golf Foundation reported that out of 400,000 fewer golfers who played rounds of golf that year, 200,000 were millennials.

“I’m not sure what keeps millennials away,” Jackson said. “There’s a lack of experience for those who haven’t experienced it. You can get reduced pricing online to get lower rates, or you can become a member with us. You get the discount, and you can see what you’re missing.”

For tee times or to check out memberships go to ridgemarkgolfclub.com.

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