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Claremont Golf Course days may be numbered as business revenue declines

Despite the recent decline in care of the driving range, the Claremont Golf Course remains a welcome 9-holed outlet for Claremont residents and students. But the local fairways and putting greens may soon be a thing of the past.

Despite feigned ignorance from the Claremont University Consortium’s board of directors, who manage the college-owned community space on behalf of the colleges, a recent statement issued by Dennis Bishop, president and CEO of the local golf circuit, suggests the recreational facility might be on its last course.

“Due to a steady and steep decline in revenue since 2008, the Claremont Golf Course is facing serious economic challenges,” Mr. Bishop revealed in a statement published in an August 28 Facebook post. “The [Claremont Golf Course’s Board of Directors] opted to see whether revenue and use of the facility would improve during the summer. The result, however, was a continuing decline in revenues.”

“Given these economic challenges, the Board is re-assessing its options, including the possible closure of the course,” Mr. Bishop continues. “A final decision will not be made until later this year.”

Rumors of the potential closure began circulating in recent weeks after several instructors alleged they were told to stop booking golf classes in the latter part of this year. In phone calls with the COURIER, however, Consortium board members and Mr. Bishop denied the potential closure.

“The golf course has not been a topic for discussion at the CUC Board,” said Bonnie Clemens, secretary to the Board of Overseers and assistant to the CEO of the Consortium.

In a previous phone conversation with Mr. Bishop, he admitted the golf course had faced economic challenges, but said there were no plans to close the city’s only golf course.

The hush-hush policy was reversed on Friday, August 30 when Mr. Bishop directed the COURIER to the Facebook post. Questions were not immediately answered and Mr. Bishop is asking that queries about the potential closure be directed in written correspondence for consideration.

Golfing at the Indian Hill Boulevard facility has been a staple in the Claremont community since around 1900, according to Lavinia Larson in her book Claremont Then and Now. A real estate agent who owned the land let Claremont College faculty borrow the space for use as a golf course in exchange for paying off the taxes.

The Indian Hill Golf Club carried on despite the original clubhouse burning down in 1942. But, it eventually closed because of economic challenges during World War II then reopened in the late 1950s. During this time, a portion of the golf course owned by Ellen B. Scripps was purchased by Ellen Bixby to be developed into the [Rancho] Santa Ana Botanic Garden, according to Ruth Henzie, the former editor of the Claremont Women’s Golf Club newsletter. Negotiations between the Colleges and the botanic garden were concluded in 1950.

In the 1970s, the Claremont Colleges considered expanding the 9-hole course to an 18-hole course—the vision never came to fruition after the Colleges opted to save the land for future development of a new college, according to Ms. Henzie.  

Considering how quiet golf course representatives have been about the matter, it is likely that many regular guests are not aware of the course’s potential closure. News on the Claremont Golf Course will be updated on our website as the story develops.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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