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2010 Best Golf Course: Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club

Author: John Abbott
May, 2010 Issue

Since 1916, some of Sonoma County’s most prominent citizens have said to each other, “Meet me at the club,” in reference to the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club, one of the premier private clubs in the North Bay (and an exceptional venue for weddings, banquets and special events).

“The common thread is that everybody here is a golfer,” says Don Floriani, general manager, who was a member for six years and sat on several committees before taking over daily operations. “But in reality, our members use the club for social, recreational and business purposes. They’re a close-knit, vibrant group. It feels like a family—our members want to be called by their first name.”

The club was originally (in 1916) located on the east side of Highway 101. A decade after its opening, the club moved to its present 128-acre site on the west side of the city, nestled in a parkland setting of rolling hills and pastoral views. The new golf course opened for play in 1957 and has seen numerous improvements and renovations over the years, including a full restoration in 1997.

Today, the course is an immaculately groomed 18-hole track that offers something for every level of golfer. You’ll also find a driving range, putting and chipping greens, and a 125-yard practice hole with bunkers. And because of a new maintenance plan, the course is playable year-round. Floriani likes to boast that, “In 2009, the club was open 313 days, and we played golf 307 of those days.”

Mark Gladden, a partner in the law firm of Passalacqua, Mazzoni, Gladden, Lopez & Maraviglia, calls the course “sneaky hard.” A member for two years, Gladden says the course has gotten better over time. “It’s walkable but challenging. But the best thing is the camaraderie of the people.”

Some of the biggest improvements have come in the last 10 years. In July 2001, the club demolished the clubhouse and built a new, $9.6 million facility that opened in November 2002. “The banquet and meeting rooms were built for outside events,” says Tim Toohey, president of the board of directors. “We can have several things happening here at the same time, and our members won’t be impacted by them.”

Besides the world-class golf, members take advantage of the club’s active social calendar, ranging from monthly crab feeds and comedy nights to a winemaker dinner series that’s featured local vintners such as Trione, Ferrari-Carano, DuNah, Rodney Strong, Gary Farrell and Balleto. Weekly golf leagues for both men and women are more about networking than competition. The club also offers swimming and tennis facilities, a fitness center with onsite classes and a small wedding site just off the sumptuous greens.

The club is in the midst of rebuilding all the golf course bunkers; the greenside bunkers will be complete in May and the fairway bunkers will be completed in early 2011. “Our long-range strategic plan calls for the renovation of several holes and upgrades to our practice facility,” Floriani says. “The plans include a new lake that will border 190 feet of the new green complex on number nine, adding to the aesthetics and challenge of our championship course. Once complete, this will provide spectacular views from the clubhouse, restaurant, banquet facilities and wedding site.”



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