Sara Gamache was first elected president of the club’s board of directors two years ago and recently was re-elected to a third one-year term at the club’s annual meeting.
“As far as I know, I’m the only woman serving as president of a golf club’s board of directors in Northern California,” she said. “And while I’m proud of that, I’m more concerned right now in keeping our club on sound financial footing.”
Since the club has no general manager, the board of directors has to play an active role in the club’s operations, she noted.
Membership — the lifeblood of a private golf club — has shrunk in the past several years from close to 400 less than a decade ago to fewer than 300 members today. To stanch the membership decline and build it back again, the club is offering what Gamache considers “the best bargain around” for golf club membership.
That bargain includes something unique in the world of golf and country clubs: membership without an initiation fee.
“Many clubs charge thousands of dollars to join; we don’t,” she said. “And we offer a first-class golfing experience on an uncrowded, well-maintained 18-hole course.”
Most members pay a basic $275 per month dues for a family membership, but there are special categories that are less expensive. One is for individuals and couples who play only on weekdays, and another is for “junior executives” younger than 40.
“These categories of membership have helped us attract new members, and they are helping in our overall marketing efforts,” Gamache said.
About half the club’s members live in the Tracy area, and half are from “over the hill,” where golfing is more expensive and tee-times are often more difficult to obtain.
The club’s pro, Shaun McCarty — in charge of all golf operations — is developing a series of events to give potential members a glimpse at the facilities at the course located seven miles south of Tracy at the foot of the Altamont Hills.
McCarty, 31, who came to the club three years ago after working as assistant pro at San Jose Golf and Country Club, is planning an open house for guests to try out the course and the resumption of a citywide tournament open to golfers from throughout the Tracy area, whether they are club members or not.
Friday evening twilight golf play is becoming increasingly popular. Boys and girls golf teams from Tracy, West and Kimball high schools use the course to practice and play matches.
Gamache said more social events are also planned to allow members to mingle. An upcoming event is a club dinner with “Elvis” entertainment this Saturday night.
She noted that two club business office staffers, Kim Williamson and Diana Martinez, have taken over operation of the club’s restaurant — now called Diner by the Greens — which serves breakfast and lunch to members and nonmembers alike. The club, which has a full-service bar, hosts a number of fundraiser golf tournaments and private parties to generate income and increase exposure.
Gamache, who moved from Pleasanton to Tracy 31 years ago, for many years was a regular tennis player, but she turned to golf a decade ago after she began joining her husband, Paul, in couples play and on golf vacations.
“I started working on my game and got to as low as a 14 handicap. Now it’s an 18 handicap, still not bad for a 60-year-old grandmother,” she said with a laugh. “I play regularly with the 18-hole women’s golf group Tuesday mornings.”
Gamache and her husband have two daughters and seven grandchildren. Besides golf, she enjoys playing the piano, playing regularly for services at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
She said her business background with her family’s property-management efforts helped her understand the financial issues facing the country club after she joined the board of directors four years ago.
“We have big challenges, but we have made cuts in expenses without impacting our quality, and we have increased our marketing efforts,” she said. “We have a working board, and we’re moving in the right direction.”
• In the Spotlight is a weekly feature in Our Town. To nominate someone, e-mail Our Town editor Jaclyn Hirsch at email@example.com.