Shutdown will bring end to long golf course history

The imminent shutdown of the Claremont Golf Course will come sooner than expected, the fairway’s board of directors announced Wednesday. Closing day, initially established as this coming January, is now set for December 2.

The board of directors announced the course’s closure in early September, after an independent audit confirmed the facility’s financial operations were no longer operable and “would soon run out.” Since that time, revenue has decreased even further than expected, according to a statement provided by the board of director’s secretary, Tim Morrison.

“Revenues (usage of the golf course) are down 12 percent from the same time period last year, and CGC, Inc. continues to lose money each day it remains open for operation,” the statement reads. “CGC, Inc. has not paid the required lease payments to its landlord, Claremont University Consortium (CUC) for over 12 months. Those payments and the continuing daily financial losses have created a liability greater than CGC Inc.’s total current assets.

“Given the financial factors, as well as the continuing decline in use month after month, CGC Inc.’s Board has determined that CGC Inc. must bring the golf course operations to a close on December 2, 2013,” the notice continues. “CGC Inc.’s Board is extremely grateful to Dennis Bishop and the golf course team for their hard work and commitment, to the Claremont community for its support over the past 23 years, and to the Claremont University Consortium for its patience and support during the last difficult year.”

It is unknown what will become of the nine-hole course. The Claremont University Consortium, who manages the college-owned community space on behalf of the colleges, has been unresponsive to requests for comment on the future of the space, whether they would consider selling the course to an interested buyer or hold a community forum to address future possibilities. The land used for the Claremont Golf Course, which operates under a conditional-use permit from the city, is currently designated as educational zoning, Golf Course Manager Dennis Bishop noted in a previous conversation with the COURIER.

The golf course board had requested the Consortium allow them the chance to use the golf course through January in order to fulfill its obligation to the CHS girls golf team, students at the colleges, golfers of the fall youth clinic and others who have purchased promotional passes. Thousands of golfers—ranging from children to seniors—have used the local course for annual youth clinics and tournaments over the years, and a number of local schools, including Claremont High School, have depended on the course to maintain their golf programs. Patients from Casa Colina have traveled to the course for rehabilitation and students from the Claremont Colleges have taken advantage of the course for academic credit.

The COURIER first reported the potential closure in early September after several instructors alleged they were told to stop booking golf classes in the latter part of this year. In phone calls with the COURIER, however, Consortium board members and golf course manager Dennis Bishop denied the potential closure. They later reversed their statement, informing the public in that the board would be “re-assessing its options, including the possible closure of the course” with a final decision expected later this year. That decision, however, came only a week later.

The closure of the 9-hole course and driving range brings to an end more than 100 years of golfing in Claremont. Golf facilities have been a staple of the community since around 1900, first with the Indian Hill Golf Club off Foothill, where the botanic garden now resides. Financial distress and lack of maintenance forced that course’s shutdown after WWII, but in 1960 golfers rejoiced once more with the opening of a second community course, the Claremont Golf Course. Golfers will have until the end of the month to take up their clubs and continue golfing through the hillside range of this Indian Hill facility.

—Beth Hartnett


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