Four scores the deal. Gather a foursome to play Trilogy at Rio Vista and the group pays $119 total, including a cart—a 36 percent savings. (Regular price per person is $47.) Play on a weekday, and pay $109 (regular rates are $37 per person). Trilogy at Rio Vista, 1000 Summerset Drive, Rio Vista; (707) 374-2900; trilogygolfclub.com
Fashion police. Are you a fool when it comes to fashion? Do you pair plaid pants with striped shirts? You could score a coupon for some free duds off the pro shop sales rack if you wear your fashion faux pas while golfing at Stevinson Ranch Golf Club. “Winners” are determined by Stevinson Ranch staff. Stevinson Ranch Golf Club, 2700 N. Van Clief Road, Stevinson; (209) 668-8200; stevinsonranch.com
It’s all in the cards. Purchase a Resort at Squaw Creek Creek Card for $100 and get half off daily rates at the resort’s course. (Regular rates start at $90 for resort guests, $100 for the public, so you save $45 to $50 per round.) The cards also entitle holders to golf carts, valet parking and a bucket of range balls (one per round), and the offer is good all season. “It’s our most popular discount program,” says Marc Sapoznik, marketing and PR manager for the resort. The Resort at Squaw Creek, 400 Squaw Creek Road, Olympic Valley; (530) 581-6637; visitsquawcreek.com
Golf gear on the cheap. TaylorMade is offering an incredible deal this summer: Buy a 2009 Burner Driver or r7 Limited Driver and get a pair of Powerband Sport Adidas golf shoes free (with mail-in form). That’s about a $120 value. Available at area TaylorMade retailers including Golf Etc. Folsom, 2690 E. Bidwell, Folsom; (916) 983-3660; golfetcfolsom.com
Lookin’ fine at $29.99. After 1 p.m., golfers at Bing Maloney and Bartley Cavanaugh golf courses can enjoy a round of golf, a cart and a coke for $29.99. Rather play at Haggin Oaks? You’ll get the same deal for three bucks more. Bing Maloney Golf Course, 6801 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 808-2283; bingmaloney.com; Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course, 8301 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 665-2020; bartleycavanaughgolf.com; Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, 3645 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 481-4653; hagginoaks.com
Make a day of it. For $85, golfers at Yocha-De-He Golf Club at Cache Creek Casino Resort get 18 holes of golf, a cart, and access to the driving range and putting greens Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday. (Friday and Saturday rates are $105.) Players also can enjoy the club’s brand-new 18,000-square-foot clubhouse, with its restaurant, lounge, pro shop and more. “It still has the new-car smell,” says Jason Gilbert, assistant golf professional at the club. Yocha-De-He Golf Club, Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks; (530) 796-4653; yocha-de-hegolfclub.com
Membership has its privileges. Become a member of The Bridges Golf Club and get unlimited greens fees—any time, any day—unlimited range balls, discounts in the pro shop, discounts for your guests and more. Membership to the public club is $1,000 per individual, $1,500 per family; monthly dues range from $325 to $430. The Bridges Golf Club, 9000 S. Gale Ridge Road, San Ramon; (925) 735-4253; thebridgesgolf.com
Play a round, support a good cause. All proceeds from William Land Park Golf Course support The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, which utilizes the game of golf to help promote character development and values among young people. Rates for the nine-hole course—the oldest in Sacramento, established in 1924—range from $15 to $17, with senior, junior and twilight specials available. William Land Park Golf Course, 1701 Sutterville Road, Sacramento; (916) 277-1207; tftgs.org
The early bird gets the deal. Play D’Andrea Golf Club first thing Monday through Friday for $45, including a cart, based on availability, and save. Play starts the first hour of the day, which varies depending on the month (for June, it’s 6 to 7 a.m.) Not an early bird? Play the course from noon onward for $55 Monday through Thursday, $65 Friday through Sunday. “Both of the rates range from $30 to $50 in savings,” says Nate Kelley, PGA head professional at the club. D’Andrea Golf Club, 2900 S. D’Andrea Parkway, Sparks, Nev.; (775) 331-6363; dandreagolf.com
Happy birthday to you! It’s your birthday, and you can golf if you want to—for free at Poppy Ridge. Just bring three paying pals along with you. Can’t make it on the big day? No worries—the offer is good both the week before and after your birthday. Poppy Ridge Golf Course, 4280 Greenville Road, Livermore; (925) 447-6779; poppyridgegolf.com
Go as a group. Up until June 4, any group of nine or more players can play Coyote Moon and/or Old Greenwood for $100 per person. (Typical daily rates are $160 at Coyote Moon, $185 at Old Greenwood.) “We are really trying to be sensitive to the times,” says Mike Milligan, tournament and sales manager for both Truckee courses. “We understand that people are looking for deals and they are expecting some response to challenging business times.” Coyote Moon, 10685 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee; (530) 550-0886; coyotemoongolf.com; Old Greenwood, 12915 Fairway Drive, Truckee; (530) 550-7010; oldgreenwoodgolf.com
Salute to those in service. Firefighters, law enforcement officials and those serving in the military can receive the DarkHorse Golf Club’s Twilight Rate of $45 to $54 any time of the day or the week. (Regular rates are $59–$79.) DarkHorse Golf Club, 24150 DarkHorse Drive, Auburn; (530) 269-7900; darkhorsegolf.com
A dirty good deal. Golfers save big at Haggin Oaks’ Down and Dirty Dozen Sale. “We select 12 items in the store and just put a rockin’ great price on them,” says Ken Morton Jr., director of retail and marketing. What constitutes a “rockin’ great price”? Some examples from past sales: $99 shoes, on sale for $49.99, and ladies’ golf clubs, regularly $300, marked down to $99. Dirty Dozen deals change monthly and are good for the entire month. Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, 3645 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 481-4653; hagginoaks.com
Golf a golden-era course. Play 80-year-old Pasatiempo Golf Club, and step back in time. “We offer a traditional golf experience,” says general manager Jay Walkinshaw. A course guide tells players what each hole looks like, gives yardages and even some history on the Alister MacKenzie-designed course, which opened Sept. 8, 1929, under the vision and leadership of Marion Hollins, winner of the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. “The walk from green to tee isn’t long,” Walkinshaw says. “It’s pretty much straightforward: Play golf and enjoy the experience.” Rates start at $220. Pasatiempo Golf Club, 20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz; (831) 459-9155; pasatiempo.com
Dine and drive. Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 2 p.m., golfers at The Ridge Golf Course can enjoy lunch at the club’s bar and grill, then head out to play the course—all for just $45. Rates for a round of golf alone, Thursday through Sunday, range from $50 to $70. The Ridge Golf Course, 2020 Golf Course Road, Auburn; (530) 888-7888; ridgegc.com
Furloughed? Fret not! As part of their Furlough Friday Special, Empire Ranch, Turkey Creek and Teal Bend golf courses are inviting city and state workers with ID to come play on Friday—any Friday—at the senior rate, which ranges from $39 to $41 depending on the club. (Regular rates run $56–$58.) Now that some furloughs can be taken on days other than Friday, you may want to take the day off to enjoy this deal. Empire Ranch Golf Club, 1620 E. Natoma St., Folsom; (916) 817-8100; empireranchgolfclub.com; Teal Bend Golf Club, 7200 Garden Highway, Sacramento; (916) 922-5209; tealbendgolf.com; Turkey Creek Golf Club, 1525 Highway 193, Lincoln; (916) 434-9100; turkeycreekgc.com
It’s worth packing the golf bag and the suitcase for these stay-and-play deals.
• Live on the edge. Enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe this June. Play a round of golf at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course and a stay at a participating Tahoe-area resort such as Horizon Casino Resort, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe. Rates range from $245 to $279 per person (based on double occupancy), depending on resort. (Greens fees alone normally start at $200 to $220, with twilight rates available.) Edgewood Tahoe, 100 Lake Parkway, Stateline, Nev.; (775) 588-3566; edgewoodtahoe.com
• Stay the night, play 18 holes. Book the Golf Classic package at the Silverado Resort in Napa and you’ll get a complimentary round of golf (one round per person, per day) at one of two Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed courses. Rates range from $285 to $790 Sunday through Thursday, $330 to $880 Friday and Saturday. Round of golf alone? $160. Silverado Resort, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa; (707) 257-0200; silveradoresort.com
• Yahoo Yocha! Stay the night at Cache Creek Casino Resort and get two rounds of golf (18 holes) at Yocha-De-He Golf Club, use of the practice facilities including range balls, a yardage book, divot tool and unlimited bottled water. Rates start at $269 Tuesday and Wednesday, $369 Thursday through Sunday. Wanna just play for the day? Rates range from $85 to $105. Yocha- De-He Golf Club at Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks; (530) 796-4653; yocha-de-hegolfclub.com
• Double the fun. Get two rounds of golf per person (including a cart at Sevillano Links at Rolling Hills Casino), one night at the Ramada Inn (located on the premises) and breakfast, all for $179 based on double occupancy. Flying solo? You’ll pay $229. Sevillano Links at Rolling Hills Casino, 2657 Barham Ave., Corning; (530) 528-4600; sevillanolinks.com
• Room with a view. Half Moon Bay Golf Links and The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay have teamed up to offer a spectacular stay-and-play package: Stay in one of the luxury hotel’s courtyard or ocean-view rooms and get a round of golf, including valet parking. Rates vary depending on when you book; when we called in March, rates ranged from $350 to $500. (A round of golf alone at Half Moon Bay Golf Links plus valet normally runs $205–$265.) Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Two Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay; (650) 726-1800; hmbgolf links.com; The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, One Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay; (650) 712-7000; ritzcarlton.com
For the serious golfer, the desire to join a private golf club is understandable.
The perks are numerous: greater availability of tee times, a faster pace of play, myriad social activities, social and business networking opportunities with other members, and less traffic on the course, to name few. Memberships include access to the club’s amenities, which may include swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, fitness facilities, restaurants and more. “It’s as much a social environment as it is golf related,” says Deke Kastner, general manager and chief operating officer for Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln.
Until recently, such memberships did not come cheap, with initiation fees running in the mid- to- high-five figures, and monthly dues in the low to mid hundreds, not including food and beverage minimums, where applicable.
But these days, many private golf clubs are feeling the pinch of the economic slump. Due to an oversupply of clubs and an undersupply of members, some clubs are offering specials, lowering their initiation fees and even, gulp, opening their doors to public play on certain days as a way of surviving financially testy times.
Catta Verdera is taking a cue from the economic downturn and reducing initiation fees. Once as high as $45,000, the fee to join the club today can run as low as $20,000. On top of that, Catta Verdera is currently running a special: Pay $5,000 up front and the remaining $15,000 is deferred until January 2013. In Kastner’s opinion, the club is simply responding to the times. “In today’s economy, no one needs a private club membership,” he says. “People want one, but they don’t need one.”
At Grizzly Ranch Club in Portola, initiation fees are $20,000, down from $40,000 just a few years ago. Monthly dues are $475, “which is a screaming good deal in this area,” says Rob Young, vice president and general manager of the club, which he says is geared to “someone who is looking for a true mountain golf experience.” In addition, mem- berships extend beyond the immediate family and include members’ parents, adult children, grandchildren, siblings and their families.
Many clubs, such as Somersett Country Club in Reno, offer a variety of memberships to fit the needs—and pocketbooks—of potential members. The club’s Preview Membership allows individuals to try the club out for one year for $2,500, plus dues of $365 a month. If, after a year, they decide they like the club, the $2,500 goes toward one of the club’s two permanent memberships, which range from $10,000 to $40,000.
Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills also offers different levels of memberships, from Golf and Associate Golf memberships, which allow members access to all of the club’s amenities, to a Social Membership, which allows access only to dining and social amenities to better meet its members’ needs. “We’re not just a golf club,” says Cindy Koch, the club’s membership director. “We cater to our members. We have a lot of great social activities.”
In an effort to stay afloat amid dwindling memberships, some private clubs are opening to the public part time. Although still considered a private club, Grizzly Ranch books the occasional group or nonmember as it continues to build memberships. “People are watching their wallets these days,” Young says. “A course that wants to survive has got to look at ways to get more rounds other than member rounds.” As it builds up its membership base, Catta Verdera allows public play weekdays after 11 a.m. and Saturdays after noon. But it’s temporary. “As membership continues to grow, availability for outside play will diminish,” Kastner says.
On the other hand, some clubs, such as Ruby Hill golf Club in Pleasanton, view dropping their prices as sending the wrong message to members and potential members. Golf memberships at Ruby Hill start at $55,000, with $480 a month in dues. “If we dropped the fees, it would say something about our product,” says Debbie Leonardo, membership director. “We wouldn’t change the pricing of our club because we don’t feel we’ve changed the level of service to our members,” she says, noting the club does offer member referral discounts and other incentives for members such as more social activities and occasional food and beverage discounts.
Bob Kunz, general manager of Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, echoes Leonardo’s sentiment. “The value is that you should have a comfort level [about] what you are getting into—there is a solvency to it,” says Kunz. “We will be here next year and the year after that. We have a strong membership base now. We are not in a panic mode.” Initiation fees for the 92-year-old club, which underwent a $10 million renovation a few years ago, remain at $75,000, but members can pay over a period of time, says Kunz.
Still, deals are out there for private club memberships and—much like it is with the housing market—if you’ve got the cash, now’s the time to buy. Prices, after all, are not expected to stay low forever. “[We] have some memberships under $30,000, which is the lowest price in the history of the club,” says Janice Graves, membership director at Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose, which opened in 1992. “[It’s] an incredible opportunity for people who have the interest and the cash to join a private club. When the economy becomes more robust, the prices will go away.”