Arbuckle Golf Club to celebrate 100 years

Arbuckle Golf Club president Mike Voorhees looks over old golf trophy with 100-year-old Betty Koch, a long-time member, and club manager Marta Martin in preparation for club’s Centennial Celebration on July 9.

Arbuckle Golf Club, often referred to as a hidden gem in the Sacramento Valley, will hold a Centennial Golf Tournament and Remembrance Dinner on Saturday, July 9.

The public is invited to participate in an 18-hole scramble format tournament, which includes golf, refreshments and dinner. Golf begins  at 11 a.m.  Players are encouraged to sign up in foursomes. Fee is $100 each. (contact Andi Armstrong 530-682-1614). Dinner tickets are available for $40 (530-476-2470). Signup deadline is July 7.

Cherished memories of Arbuckle golf have spread since druggist LaMotte Stinson spearheaded development of a nine-hole course in the scenic Whiskey Creek area, drawn by the appeal of three creeks. Stinson, who joined Yolo Fliers Club in Woodland a year earlier, was ably assisted by Ray Caldwell and others in 1922 in development of the layout. Sheep were regularly moved off the property on Fridays for weekend play.

 Within three years, the club moved up the hill to its present 80-acre site, purchased from S.S. Eakle of Williams for $800.  Membership cost was $80 and the nine holes included sand greens.

Women were encouraged to play to avoid widowhood. Among the first to tee it up were Mmes. L.G. Johnson, M.H.Griffin, Gordon Patton. F. W. Schutz,  B.C. Hughes,  L.L. Ayers,  Loretta Schutz and J. N. Boles (Colusa).

Among an early work crew were Bob Coy, “Coon” Myers, Will Porter, Phil Molter, Fred Schutz and Stinson and Alex Atrain. 

Fritz Erdman, Woodrow Clasby, Rodly Wilkins, Doug Mathews and others donated equipment to restructure the golf course and build grass greens approximately 35 years later. The layout initially started near the current No.  9 green and went east.

Betty Koch, now 100, remembers those days. Betty, who owned  The Villa restaurant with her husband in Williams, played at the club over 50 years, recently giving up the game at 96.

“None of my friends were left,” she quips.

She laughs about the sand greens: “If you wanted to play golf, you had to do a little housekeeping. The course was definitely a different shape then. 

“We had lots of dinners and dances.  One night we had a good band and almost everybody left early. There was just Doug and Eleanor Mathews and my husband and me. We kept on dancing. It was a good band.”

She remembers Lilia Johnson being a top woman player then.

Golf professionals Keith Eynon, Dan Price, Carl Funk and Ross Farley later bolstered the quality of play for several decades after the makeover.

Former PGA Tour regular Pat McGowan and Fresno State standout Brady Myers, both of Colusa, cherished  Arbuckle experiences in their youth before homegrown Ben Geyer became  a St. Mary’s College champion.

Geyer, a former club champion in his only try, has shot 11-under-par 61 six times, one stroke off Dave Carr’s course record. He continues on the pro circuit.

“The club means everything to me,” Geyer says. “It’s not just the golf but for the community. It’s important that we have it.”

Myers concurs.

“I was fortunate to have access to that club,” says Myers, a current member who once held the course record at 63. “It made me a better player. Pat told me the greens are every bit as good as Augusta.”

Myers savors sitting in the clubhouse and looking out at the Sutter Buttes. “That’s the most pleasant place on earth.”

Senior member Bill Werry agrees, having commuted from Sacramento  for 35 years. He’s spanned 230,000 miles to play there. The 85-year-old recently shot 1-under par 71. 

“I love the golf course and the people,” says Werry, who lives five minutes from the Bing Maloney  Golf Course in Sacramento. “It’s relaxing and you can play quicker than any place else. It’s well worth the drive.”

Currently, Marc Engellenner of Lincoln, a former touring pro, is club champion, one of many titles he holds. He was drawn to Arbuckle’s greens and ambiance.

Mike Voorhees is the club president, assisted by fellow board members Derick Strain, Andi Armstrong, Thomas Steinhoff, Jeff Thomas, Kevin Wood, MIchael Sisto, John Scheimer and Nic Weber. Marta Martin is manager  and Gilberto Gutierrez is greenskeeper.

“We just want to say thanks to all the members,” says Voorhees, extending an invitation to the entire community. “They have been amazing. The club has always been a vital part of the community and it’s because of the continuous help from the membership.”

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