Nicklaus-Designed Diablo Grande Legends Course to Close
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/25/14

We have seen an alarming number of golf courses closing over the last several years, mostly due to decreasing traffic, or sometimes because the real estate became too valuable to use for golf. But Garth Stapley of the Modesto Bee is reporting that the Jack Nicklaus-designed Legends Course at Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club will close permamently because of another outside factor:

Water. Specifically, a lack of water.

Central California has experienced tremendous drought in recent years. Compounding the problem are efforts by environmental activists and politicians to protect a species of fish called the Delta smelt, at the expense of residents and farmers who need that water to survive. The restrictions are likely to increase retail food prices and force tens of thousands of Californians out of work, due to thousands of acres of farm ground being taken out of production.

Diablo Grande's lack of access to ground water, coupled with severe new water restrictions, resulted in ownership and management choosing to let the Legends course sit and decay until it is no longer playable. The club will allow tournaments and other booked events to be played on the course until then.

Stapley reported that the two golf courses and attached vineyard use about 78% of the community's water each year, and that thousands of farmers in the region have also been told to expect no irrigation water this year. Stapley quoted Philip Cybert, CEO of the corporation that owns the club:
"We're trying to have a balanced approach and make sure the community is taken care of. The good news is we've gone through a massive recession and Diablo Grande is a very viable community. Diablo Grande is a great place to live."
It is worth noting that most golf course architects have taken care to design in a manner that makes judicious use of water used for irrigation.

But in the case of many Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, lush green grass and luxurious surroundings are the chief characteristics — even if it means bulldozing some natural features, in certain cases. This is one of several reasons why the overwhelming majority of Nicklaus' designs are at private country clubs and luxury resorts with limited access. Most municipal layouts and public-access courses simply could not survive with the fees necessary to "keep up appearances" the way many private clubs do in supporting a Nicklaus course.

This writer suspects that Diablo Grande will not be the only luxury facility facing this problem.

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Image via Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club

[ comments ]
SpaceMaNy0 says:
I expect this to happen more and more. When there isn't water to drink, their sure as hell won't be water for golf courses.
joe jones says:
Sign of the times. It will get worse through out the West and Southwest.
jeffcroupier says:
"Diablo Grande's lack of access to ground water, coupled with severe new water restrictions, resulted in ownership and management choosing to let the Legends course sit and decay until it is no longer playable."

Sounds like in a year or two it can host the Open Championship
Torleif Sorenson says:
joe jones says:
For those of you unfamilar with the Modesto area it is in the northern San Jaquin Valley and at times can be as dry as parts of Arizona. Grapes. nuts and fruit trees thrive but is a tough life style and drought causes all kinds of problems. The economy has been very bad for several years and I'm sure golf courses are not the only businesses that have suffered. Look at the rates for the course before it closed. $45-$50 for a Nicklaus design course are very cheap.I.m sure the Modesto people had little discretionary funds available for golf when they were just trying to make ends meet.
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