Director: San Ramon Golf Club in danger of closing

Days after pool shutdown, golf director says 18-hole course could be next after housing plan 'rebuffed'

The owners of San Ramon Golf Club are strongly considering closing the 18-hole golf course in the south-central part of the city as a cost-cutting measure, according to the club's golf director.

Elaborating on why the club's pool was shut down days earlier, director of golf Dan Griffin told pool members in an email Tuesday that closing the pool was necessary for financial reasons -- and closure of the golf course could well be the next step -- because ownership's plan to add housing to part of the property appeared unlikely to receive city support.

"With no prospect to be able to add additional homes that would allow substantial investment in the golf course and the pool, (club ownership) recognized that they could not continue to keep the pool, and most likely the golf course, open in their current financial condition," Griffin wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by

Griffin, who did not respond to multiple requests for additional comment, said in his email that the club's ownership had conversations with city officials about a potential housing plan at the course, but "the city rebuffed their proposal plans."

San Ramon City Manager Greg Rogers confirmed Wednesday that two members of the city's Planning Division spoke with a golf club representative about ownership's desire to build homes at the site, but Rogers said no development application has been filed with the city.

"The golf course representative inquired about building residential units on the golf course property, and he was informed by staff that the property is not zoned for residential units so any application for residual units could not be processed," Rogers said.

Any residential development proposal on golf course property would require approval of a general plan amendment to change the site's land-use designation, a rezoning and a full environmental impact report, Rogers said. The general plan amendment would need four-fifths approval by the Planning Commission and City Council.

It wasn't immediately clear how many and what types of homes the club's ownership wants to build and where the residences would sit. In his email, Griffin said the plan called for "some housing on a small portion of the golf course."

Tucked about two miles east of Interstate 680, the 18-hole golf course winds through a residential neighborhood as well as near the Iron Horse Regional Trail and open spaces. The club also features a driving range, swimming pool and the Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center at its main address on Fircrest Lane off Alcosta Boulevard.

Club officials announced to pool membership on Friday that the pool would not open at all this year. The news came two days before the San Ramon Aqua Bears were set to start their 2016 season at the club, the home pool for the youth swim team for nearly three decades, according to Aqua Bears co-chair Sarah Eddings.

Closing the pool was "an agonizing decision for ownership," Griffin said in his email to members. He also said club officials apologized for the "significant inconvenience" the pool shutdown caused.

"When ownership bought the golf course, they did so knowing they would have to make a substantial investment in the infrastructure, as no material capital expenses had been allocated to the surrounding area for decades," Griffin wrote.

"Execution of this (housing) plan would provide the resources needed to make the required capital improvements to keep the golf course and the pool financially viable," he said, adding:

"If circumstances change, and ownership sees a path forward towards allowing some homes on the site, we will let you know. Only then will they be able to secure funds that would allow us to re-open the pool, prevent the golf course from closing and make substantial investment into the property."

As for the possibility of the golf course shutting down, San Ramon's city manager said, "A closure of the golf course would be a loss of a recreational opportunity for the community, as well as having a likely negative impact on homeowners who live around the golf course."

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4 people like this
Posted by save the water
a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2016 at 9:13 am

Good, ALL golf courses should be shut down if they use anything other than recycled waste water to irrigate. That certainly includes the ones in Pleasanton.

3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 11:26 am

This golf course uses well water.

5 people like this
Posted by save the water
a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2016 at 12:38 pm

@ San Ramon Steve -- I hope you are not crazy enough to think that using well water is a real solution. We have seriously depleted the underground water storage and it is NOT a viable solution for golf courses. They need to be restricted to recycled waste water only.

8 people like this
Posted by BA
a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Bay Area sits on one of the worlds largest underground aquifers. We should be drilling very deeply to tap it.

14 people like this
Posted by Wharthog
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 2:44 pm

This is extortion. Plain and simple. This developer has done this multiple times in small communities around California. Here is his pattern:
1. Buy the golf course, overpay.
2. Claim it is not economically viable.
3. Close golf course let it become blighted.
4. Blame local residents and government for failure and use blighted property as leverage to get permission to build.
Shady and disgusting...

2 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Go ahead, close it. Make a nice greenway and won't need the cage over the Iron Horse. By chance is this the same company that owns Sunol or the one in Springtown? If they can't make a go of it they should sell the land to the city/county cheap and take the write off. They obviously made a bad investment and don't know how to operate a golf course and pool profitably, it happens some times.

4 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of San Ramon
on May 7, 2016 at 1:23 am

The golf course has never been anything other than a tax write off since it was originated. The original owner kept it in poor condition intentionally. The clubhouse is ugly and always has been. Move the AquaBears to Cal High or another high quality pool. Fine the current owners for not making capital improvements they knew were needed when they bought the property.

1 person likes this
Posted by George1
a resident of San Ramon
on May 7, 2016 at 4:49 pm

George1 is a registered user.

From my understanding, they use recycled water for most of the course.

10 people like this
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Jtjh is a registered user.

Warthog wrote:

>> This is extortion. Plain and simple. <<

It certainly sounds like that. I know nothing about the company's history or other projects, but it is clear from the article that it's a leverage strategy. They're hoping that the pool closure and, if necessary, the closure of the golf course will inconvenience enough members of the local community for them to garner local support for their plans to build.

I'd hazard a guess that their original request was for considerably more development than they actually want. That way, they can then submit a scaled-down proposal, which will again act in their favor as they seek approval for the development.

Same old, same old......

8 people like this
Posted by Smokey1
a resident of San Ramon
on May 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

Smokey1 is a registered user.

The owner has a history of purchasing golf courses with the intention of building homes on them. This is at least the fifth site in the western United States he has indicated he would like to build on. Don't think for a minute this couldn't happen in Pleasanton. Here's an article about what he did in Escondido, where he won the fight to build hundreds of homes on a golf course: Web Link

16 people like this
Posted by ValleyVal
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 9:37 am

ValleyVal is a registered user.

I agree with Steve as well that this sounds like extortion. If the city caves it sets a really bad precedent and would encourage more out of town developers to bully their way in. Since the Golf Course is currently zoned Golf Course only, why would they buy this. Being a life long resident of the tri valley, I have seen the huge explosion of growth in the past fe decades. Our infrastructure cannot support additional growth. Our city streets and freeways are too contested. Our schools are busting at the seems. The middle schools in San Ramon have had to bring in so many portables that they needed to shut down the parking lot do the kids would have somewhere to play. Our infrastructure needs a lot of time to try to catch up with the growth.

2 people like this
Posted by MsInformed
a resident of San Ramon
on May 9, 2016 at 10:48 am

MsInformed is a registered user.

The onus at this juncture, were the new owners to move further into the arena of specious deterioration of the golf course site by attempting to blight it? Would be on the CITY OF SAN RAMON to ENFORCE ordinances "on the books" at this time. That would constitute warning, probably a few THEN FOLLOWING THRU with FISCAL penalties tougher and stronger and if THAT didn't work? LEGAL ACTION BY THE CITY. I can only hope as a citizen of San Ramon IF this occurs? They DO THEIR JOB by ENFORCING the codes THEY HAVE SET FORTH and if they do not? That would speak "volumes" about the strength of our city. I, for one, will be interested in seeing how this "plays out".

11 people like this
Posted by Michelle P
a resident of San Ramon
on May 9, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Michelle P is a registered user.

This golf course has been a great place to learn and play, and it's never looked better. The previous owners put over $300k in improvements in the course and the pool, and both properties were profitable up until the new owner bought in December. The current owner must have no intention to run this as-is and only wanted the land to squeeze in condos. I wanted to hit a bucket of balls Saturday, but they were closed due to rain (?) Give me a break!

3 people like this
Posted by Rthom711
a resident of Dublin
on May 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Rthom711 is a registered user.

It is very interesting to read all of these comments. I am currently living in Dublin and find the San Ramon Course to be a very nice course. What is really interesting is that when I found out that the property had recently changed hands I did a little digging and found out that although a different LLC name there is a common denominator to the group that purchased the course that I live on in Las Vegas closing it down with no notice. (Silverstone Ranch) I am glad that they at least kept the course open for the short term. Before too many people get so down on the water consumption of a golf course you need to take into consideration how many homes they will try to put on the property and evaluate how much water will be used by the residences that will live here. It will likely exceed the water consumption of a 18 hole golf course. Coming from Las Vegas there are definite improvements that can be implemented to lower the amount of water that is used. Just by replacing some of the open grass areas with more desert landscaping will save water. One big issue that would help the Golf Course is to increase the number of golfers using it, Golfers have declined over the past few years for a number of reasons. If you are interested in saving the course get out there and play golf, that is the only thing that can make a struggling course survive.

Good Luck and Enjoy the course you have a wonderful hidden gem right there in San Ramon!!!

3 people like this
Posted by boxsterfan
a resident of San Ramon
on May 18, 2016 at 5:17 pm

boxsterfan is a registered user.

1. New owner paid between $8-9M for the course. It was offered for sale at $4.1M. The previous owner did not want to sell to this new owner. However, enough money talked and he sold. Note: There was NOT a bidding war.

2. New owner has history of doing this. See Escondido course in SoCal and the chicken manure he spread all over the course to spite the residents.

3. New owner is aware that the property is zoned as golf course and can NOT be zoned residential without 4/5 vote to change General Plan AND 4/5 cote from city council.

4. New owner had unofficial talks about building some homes. Was told no way. He shut down the pool 2 days before the Aqua Bears season was to begin.

5. The course uses reclaimed water for watering.

Does this new owner (Michael Schlesinger) sound like someone you want to get in bed with?

4 people like this
Posted by boxsterfan
a resident of San Ramon
on May 18, 2016 at 5:21 pm

boxsterfan is a registered user.

One more thing: San Ramon Golf Course is (was) profitable. New owner is using tactics to make it show itself as not profitable.

He thinks we are small minded people. For those in the area, you should pay attention because things like this can happen in your neighborhood too!!

7 people like this
Posted by San Ramon Citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on May 19, 2016 at 4:18 pm

San Ramon Citizen is a registered user.

I have been on the San Ramon Golf Course mailing list for four years. Beginning just last week, I've received emails from the golf club advertising Twilight golf pricing mid-day, I believe it was offered for starts from 11 am - 2 pm. Why would a business owner offer deep discount pricing during prime daytime hours? Not a smart business model for success. However, trying to show a revenue loss seems to be the business model of new course owner Schlesinger. If he charges and receives less money for course fees his profits fall. He can then claim the course is not profitable, either for pressuring the city to re-zone for housing or to claim a tax loss.

2 people like this
Posted by SamB
a resident of Canyon Creek
on May 29, 2016 at 9:28 am

SamB is a registered user.

The new management had ulterior motives from day 1. Their intent was never to operate a golf course. Their purchase at a price significantly higher than ask price and without any bidding war (as generally reported) - was solely motivated with intent of making this a real estate play in the booming real estate market. They did all this in a declining golf market(Sunol just closed down - bankrupt). The course used to make money under previous ownership( as I generally understand).
Lot of us used to love the place earlier - local, cheap, friendly- all of that changed with new management.
They have shut down every program in the course - raised prices for everything, and of course coupled with hugely poor(er) service. The range ( only one with lights in the area) shuts down @7:30- much earlier than sunset now a days.
They have taken every step to alienate the membership and clients in general - of course for their own ulterior motives.
Their plans will not succeed - the popular resentment is too high and their motive too ridiculous clear and greedy.
I wish bankruptcy and worse to the new ownership, and if appropriate civil and other penalties.
If a movement needs be launched to oust and throw out the ownership and management I will be the first to sign up.

Sam B
San Ramon

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