Nearly a year after Hetch Hetchy construction crews began digging for a new water tunnel running through a section of the 18-hole golf layout, the course has been returned to its original shape — and is now even better, club directors report.
To celebrate the completion of construction, the club is holding a “grand re-opening” Saturday, Sept. 29. A delegation from the Tracy Chamber of Commerce will on hand at 9 a.m. to give its official blessing in a brief ceremony and ribbon-cutting.
Following that, golfers will begin teeing off in a tournament that is open to all players, whether members of the club or not. The $30 entry fee will provide golf, cart, lunch and prizes.
“We have been looking forward to this day for quite awhile,” said Steve Quinn, a member of the TGCC board of directors. “We know there have been disruptions in recent months, but those problems are now history.”
Like many golf courses, Tracy Golf and Country Club has been affected by the economic downturn, but the Hetch Hetchy project added to the financial impact on the club.
Work on the Hetch Hetchy pipeline that went through seven holes was started in October 2011.
As a result, the golf layout had to be altered, and several temporary greens created. After the pipeline had been laid and the ditch covered, the pipeline project was completed April 15.
But the golf holes affected by the construction had to be leveled and replanted with grass. Those holes are now back in their original condition, Quinn said. In addition, the golf club hired a new landscaping firm, Sierra Golf Management of Chowchilla, which has improved all of the playing areas, Quinn said.
“Anyone who hasn’t been out here for a while will be pleased with what they see,” Quinn added.
The Hetch Hetchy construction and the general economic downtown have combined to cause a 30 percent decline in play in the past year, Quinn said.
To address that problem, a special $175-per-month rate for new members and the opening of the club to outside play have been implemented. Non-member outside play is being promoted through advertising and participation in online tee-time site Golfnow.com.
“Players who may have trouble getting a tee-time in the Bay Area or elsewhere can usually come here and play without any delays,” Quinn said. “We make it easy to play golf.”
The special rate for new members is aimed at beefing up the club membership, which has dipped 10 percent in the past year to below 200 members, he reported.
“We’re encouraged that within the last month, though, we have added 10 new members,” Quinn noted. “With the course back in the best shape it’s been in years and very attractive pricing, we have something solid to offer.”
Shawn McCarty, club pro for the past 5½ years, said that with the end of construction, the club is picking up the pace of activities.
“We have club and city championship tournaments coming up soon, and a new junior program will be launched in October,” he said.
Twilight golf with dinner on every-other-Friday has become increasingly popular, McCarty said, adding, “We have a twice-monthly men’s night nine-hole play and dinner along with women’s play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.”
While the club, which was opened in 1956, doesn’t sport a lavish clubhouse, it does have a dining room that serves breakfast and lunch to members and the public alike, and there is a full bar. A snack stand is located near the 10th green.
“The past year has been a struggle,” Quinn said. “The Hetch Hetchy construction, the economic downtown and the cost of rebuilding a water well all contributed to a downturn in participation and tough financial sledding. But that’s all behind us now, and we’re optimistic about the future of the club. On Sept. 29, we’re going to celebrate.”