Once-Popular Nine-Hole Course in Southern California to Close

Claremont Golf Course will be closing December 2nd due to a significant decrease in the number of players using the Southern California facility. Opened in 1959, the nine-hole layout and driving range has not been able to make lease payments to its landlord, Claremont University Consortium (CUC), for more than 12 months.

Claremont Colleges took over the golf course from investors on January 1, 1990, and formed a tax-paying entity named the Claremont Golf Course Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Claremont Colleges.

In a statement on November 4, Claremont Golf Course Inc., said "revenues are down 12 percent from the same time last year."

Dennis Bishop, president and CEO of the course, said in a Facebook comment accompanying the board's closure announcement that "I had hoped to keep the golf course running until January, however, and sadly, our cash reserves are being depleted faster than I anticipated, and are now critical."

The facility charges $15 for nine holes, and $6 for a small bucket of driving range balls. Local residents are sad to see it go. "I'm sorry to hear that," Soon Lee of Upland told Wes Woods of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. "I'd miss it a lot. We need it."

Bruce Thompson, the course's head teaching pro, added, "I'm going to have to move to another facility. I've been here 20 years. It will be tough."

Thompson told Woods he figures he's taught 40,000 to 50,000 students at the facility, including current LPGA Tour player Sydnee Michaels.

CUC has no alternative plans for the property, the only golf course in the city.

The nonprofit Claremont Heritage Inc. is interested in what happens to the course. "From a cultural standpoint, our goal is to document and preserve the cultural aspects as well," Claremont Heritage executive director David Shearer told Woods. "So we definitely take an interest in it. One of the things we'd want to do is get in there and survey the archeological site and just make sure whatever future use wouldn't be interrupting or conflicting (with) that. We really don't know the state of it."

Claremont High School Principal Brett O'Connor told Woods that school officials were disappointed to see the course shuttered. "It will be a little bit of an inconvenience for our golf team," O'Connor said. "The girls' golf team plays fall season. The boys' golf is in spring season. They've always been very good working for us and having our students practice there and our students using the driving range. We hate to see them close."

For Woods' full story, visit http://www.dailybulletin.com/lifestyle/20131107/claremont-golf-course-to-close-after-54-years.