CAG November Newsletter

Please find the November membership newsletter here!

Northern California golf courses battle back after wildfires

By:Dan Kilbridge, Golfweek

The Atlas fire started around 9:20 p.m. PT Oct. 8, roughly three hours after Brendan Steele finished two shots ahead of Tony Finau to win the Safeway Open at 15 under at Silverado Resort’s North Course.

By morning, the fire had burned an estimated 25,000 acres amid the beautiful homes, wineries and ranches in Northern California’s Napa Valley region.

Most of the 15,000 fans in attendance for the PGA Tour event were long gone, and those staying on Silverado’s 370-room property were able to leave safely.

“The fact that there were no deaths at Silverado, all the people got out, it really is nothing short of a miracle,” Silverado vice president of marketing Julie Maurer said. “If that (fire) had broken out earlier, it might not have had the same outcome.”

Multiple fires that began that night claimed 42 lives and thousands of homes and were still not 100 percent contained as of last week, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

CNN’s Breaking News Twitter account posted a photo of the blaze at Silverado the day after the Safeway Open, and the dramatic image appeared to show an entire grandstand area engulfed in flames.

It was actually a corporate skybox off the 17th green, ignited by embers from the Atlas fire and fortunately contained to one small area. Embers in the air caused small fires throughout the property, including several around the North Course, which had recently been spread with mulch in various spots for the tournament. Mulch is flammable, and a resort staff with little-to-no firefighting experience stood guard throughout the night trying to contain the flames.

“Our director of security, our resort manager and our general manager were there with two other employees all night long on vigilance,” Maurer said.

The back nine on the North Course did sustain turf damage and the driving range remains closed because several telephone poles which hold up the netting alongside the range sustained fire damage and remain a safety concern.

Most of Silverado Resort was spared. The resort re-opened last week and is now fully operational, with the South Course, grill restaurant, fitness center and spa back up and running. Repairs are still ongoing at the North Course, but it is expected to be open for play again by the end of the month.

“Things are going remarkably well,” Maurer said. “The resort itself sustained very little damage. … It was mostly smoke damage. We do have some turf damage on the North Course, but none of our permanent structures caught fire.”

Roughly 45 miles northwest of Silverado, Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa was preparing to host the UCSF Medical Center Celebrity Golf Classic on Oct. 9, the day after the final round of the Safeway Open.

According to USA Today, several former Major League Baseball players, including Barry Bonds, Bret Saberhagen and Eric Gagne, were among those forced to leave the club early Monday morning.

“It was a crazy, surreal night,” Saberhagen told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I was out on the balcony at Mayacama when the power went out and sat down and saw the moon come up. It was very nice. And then I saw the moon turn orange and it started getting lighter and lighter. I saw the fire coming over the ridge and I could hear propane and gas tanks popping.”

Mayacama sustained significant fire damage and while the clubhouse was spared, the Jack Nicklaus Signature designed-course was burnt throughout and the maintenance facility was “severely damaged,” according to a report from the Golf Course Superintendents of America. The clubhouse and maintenance facility at Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club in Santa Rosa burned to the ground and the course was devastated, according to the same report.

(Note: This story appears in the Oct. 30, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

CAG October Newsletter

Please find the October membership newsletter here!

CAG September Newsletter


Please find the California Alliance for Golf’s September 2017 newsletter here!

In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe’s leader demands water treatment

By: Ian James, The Desert Sun

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will hear an appeal from water agencies and rule in the precedent-setting legal fight over whether the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians holds rights to groundwater in the California desert.

But Chairman Jeff Grubbe said his tribe is already looking ahead to the next phases of the case, including a federal court’s eventual decision – if the tribe prevails before the Supreme Court – on how much groundwater the tribe is entitled to.

Grubbe said in an interview with The Desert Sun that if the Agua Caliente tribe wins, one of the first priorities would be to start treating the Colorado River water that flows to the Coachella Valley and is used to replenish the aquifer. He said the tribe’s leaders are concerned about the quality of the water and the aquifer’s long-term sustainability, and would be willing to help pay for building treatment facilities to remove salts and contaminants from the imported water.

“As soon as this is all said and done, that’ll be one of the first things that the tribe’s going to work on is cleaning that water before it gets dumped in our aquifer. And that’s an expense the tribe’s willing to front for the betterment of not only my tribe but the Coachella Valley as a whole,” Grubbe said, sitting at a table next to Andreas Creek at the Indian Canyons.

He said the concern is that water from the Colorado River Aqueduct – which flows into groundwater replenishment ponds in the desert next to Palm Springs – is of lesser quality than the groundwater, with higher levels of dissolved solids as well as contaminants from farm runoff and cities upstream.

“There’s a lot of solids and pollutants in it,” Grubbe said. While the effect on water quality may not be “alarming” quite yet, he said, “if nothing is done now, in the future it could be.”

The full article can be found here.

Trump rolled back this environmental rule. California may replace it with a stronger one

By: Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler

President Donald Trump’s administration gave California land developers and farmers a reason to cheer when the White House last month rolled back controversial regulations for wetlands imposed during the Obama presidency.

They may want to hold off on the celebration.

A powerful California water agency is poised to adopt its own regulations that could protect more of the state’s wetlands from being plowed, paved over or otherwise damaged. Environmental groups are pressuring the State Water Resources Control Board to push back against Trump’s decision and adopt a wetlands policy that’s even stricter than former President Barack Obama’s.

“The state board should be adopting a policy that is even more protective of California’s wetlands,” said Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife. “This (proposed) policy is a critical opportunity for the state to step up and protect its own resources.”

A fight over the proposed rules has been brewing for years and is about to come to a head. A year ago, a broad coalition of developers, homebuilders, farmers and other business groups submitted testimony against the regulations, saying they would create more red tape, higher costs and fewer rights for landowners. These organizations, including the California Building Industry Association and the state Farm Bureau, declined comment for this story because they’re reviewing a recently updated version of the water agency’s proposal.

Other property-rights advocates who’ve been studying the issue say the proposed wetlands rules could harm the state’s economy. “The impact may be particularly substantial for the agricultural industry and large-scale infrastructure projects in California that will almost certainly be subjected to additional permitting hoops and exposed to additional third-party litigation,” said Tom Boer, a San Francisco lawyer who represents businesses in environmental cases.
Read the full article here.

CAG August Newsletter

Please find California Alliance for Golf’s August 2017 newsletter here!

CAG April Newsletter

Please find California Alliance for Golf’s April 2017 newsletter here!

Join the Women’s Golf Day Movement!

June 6, 2017 – A Unique Four Hour Experience
Same Day Everywhere Around the World
Engage | Empower | Support

In 2016, The Women’s Golf Day Team was amazed by the incredible response the movement generated around the world in our their first year and they want to thank participants for showing interest in taking part in the. What began as a simple idea with has turned into a global movement that is growing every day – Women’s Golf Day, June 6th, has grown to over 600 locations in 30 countries and will be going continuously for 24 hours around the globe!

Women’s Golf Day is a four-hour event where women and girls can experience golf for the first time, and where current and former golfers can play and engage with others interested in golf. The event is about inclusiveness on Tuesday June 6, 2017 for 4 hours.

Click here to watch Executive Golf International President Elisa Gaudet explain the inception of Women’s Golf Day on June 6th and what it does to grow the game on the Golf Channel.

CAG supported this initiative in 2016 and more than 20,000 women around the globe picked up a golf club for the first time while others returned to the course after hiatus.

Good News for Sharp Park Golf Course

Thanks to the ongoing support of CAG and the world golf community, and to the grit of San Francisco public golfers,  Sharp Park has once again emerged from the breach of San Francisco politics. 

The SF Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 28 approved the Final Environmental Impact Report for the SF Rec & Park Department’s Sharp Park Restoration Plan, to maintain the 18-hole Sharp Park Golf Course, with minor modification along the edge of the course’s wetlands to improve habitat for protected frog and snake species. 

The Supervisors’ approval came on a 9-1 vote after environmentalist groups – including the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, Surfrider Foundation, a couple of local Audubon Society chapters, and a Center for Biological Diversity offshoot, Wild Equity Institute, dramatically withdrew their Appeal from December, 2015 decisions by the San Francisco Planning and Rec & Park Commissions to Certify and Adopt a Final Environmental Impact Report for San Francisco’s Natural Areas Plan, which includes a Sharp Park Restoration Plan. 

 In consideration for the dismissed  Appeal, the Rec & Park Department agreed that the Sharp Park Plan would not include using dredging spoils – or any other materials – to raise the levels of Sharp Park’ fairways.   The Sharp Park Plan was supported by the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. 

Golfers delivered nearly 1000 mostly hand-signed letters to the Supervisors in the weeks leading up to the hearing.  Fifty golfers – of all ages, genders, colors, persuasions and incomes – were on hand Feb. 28, ready to speak against the Appeal.  Most of them happily went home, without testifying, when the withdrawal-of-Appeal was announced.   The groups that withdrew their Appeal will not now be able to challenge the Final EIR or the Sharp Park Project in court.  (Although, in the complex world of SF politics, another group that challenged the Natural Areas Plan – the SF Forestry Alliance – will if they choose be able to challenge the Supervisors’ action in court within 30-35 days of the publishing of a Notice of Decision.  Publication of such a Notice will be delayed, pending approval by the Rec & Park Commission of a written agreement confirming the settlement terms for the withdrawal of Appeal.  The Commission’s action is not expected before mid-March, so the deadline for possible appeal by the Forest Alliance will be extended a few weeks.)   

There will be more rounds of golf, politics, and environment at Sharp Park.  But for now, the next thing on the agenda for the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance is our annual Alister MacKenzie Tournament to Save Sharp Park, an all-day event set for Saturday, June 3 at the beautiful Sharp Park Golf Course. Please consider attending and/or making a donation that helps support Sharp Park and the future of affordable public golf. For more information contact Richard Harris, Bo Links, Co-Founders of the Public Golf Alliance, at (415) 290-5718.  

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