Close to Yosemite National Park, Sierra Meadows Country Club's final shot comes on Halloween

The witching hour is upon semi-private Sierra Meadows Country Club near Yosemite National Park. Golfers have until Halloween to play this 6,500-yard, par-71 layout for the last time. After that, the property will no longer have a golf course, but focus rather on the tourism that surrounds Yosemite.

Located in Ahwahnee, Calif., the course opened in the mid 1980s, was expanded to 18 holes in 1989, but has struggled financially for much of the last decade.

In July, the ownership group, Ahwahnee Golf Co., purchased the course from Sierra Meadows Golf Inc., and tried to make a go of it, primarily by figuring out a way to make the operation run more efficiently. The golf base just wasn't there, said Charlie Sheldon, co-owner of Sierra Meadows.

"We came in hoping to find inefficiencies in how the course was run," Sheldon said. "Instead, we found out it was already pretty lean."

When the new owners bought the course, the semi-private club had just 28 members. New management tried to grow the membership through initiatives such as waving initiations and not charging members for cart fees, but it produced virtually no growth. In the meantime, green fees were already fairly low, but play didn't increase. In fact, players really didn't need to reserve a tee time at Sierra Meadows because the tee sheet was usually pretty empty.

"It's great if you're a golfer, but not good for business," Sheldon said.

The new ownership group knew that closing the course was a possibility and did have a plan B, which is what is being implemented now. Plans call to reopen the property's restaurant (Four Tears Cafe, which is likely to be renamed) and RV park, as well as possibly building cabins to take advantage of the Yosemite Park traffic. In the meantime, the facility has reduced green fees (from $45 to $35 for regular players, $30 for seniors, including cart) to "give everyone an opportunity to play the course one more time for old time's sake."

There will also be a closeout sale in the golf shop. And while some employees, of course, will lose their jobs, some will be retained through the winter to set up the new operation, Sheldon said.

"It's a beautiful course, very playable," Sheldon said. "We're upset to see the course go.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
0 Comments
Related Links
Some of the world's most special golf experiences are well off the beaten path. From Cape Breton to Greece, here are some of writer Brandon Tucker's favorites.
14 Images
More from the author
6 Min Read
May 28, 2019
PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Golf is being redefined at Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community on the Texas coast.
9 Min Read
May 24, 2019
University programs, both large and small, continue to invest in their golf facilities
5 Min Read
May 21, 2019
New owner Escalante Golf has made considerable investment since 2017.
8 Min Read
May 20, 2019
Not all Texas country clubs have had the steadfast history of Fort Worth's Colonial. But while some of these sites have been lost, others are now public and affordable.
5 Min Read
May 3, 2019
Debate rages on whether a golf course property be based on current or highest use
7 Min Read
April 25, 2019
How four facilities got their stride back, and what struggling courses can learn from it
Popular
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
America's largest golf resort, and one of its smallest, are expanding to enhance the guest experience.
9 Min Read
September 23, 2021
We've crafted a Dream 18 from the most exciting holes in American public golf.
4 Min Read
October 18, 2021
Slight cooling of Pacific Ocean waters increases likelihood of abnormal weather in major golf destinations.
1 Min Read
October 18, 2021
Golf can feel cruel when the ball hangs on the lip of the hole. It's even more so when a penalty's involved.
Load More
Now Reading
Close to Yosemite National Park, Sierra Meadows Country Club's final shot comes on Halloween