California’s Saddle Creek Resort reaping benefits from water mitigation program

COPPEROPOLIS, Calif. — Saddle Creek Resort – the Castle & Cooke California golf community in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Calaveras County – continues to build on its groundbreaking water mitigation program.

What began as a response to 2014’s mandate from local authorities to reduce water use by 35% has become a golf course calling card embraced by staff and guests alike. Since implementing a series of modifications to its agronomic practices – including shutting off 450 irrigation heads, limiting 350 sprinklers to 180-degree turns and substituting wetting agents for water when possible – Saddle Creek has saved nearly 70 million gallons of water.

Forty fewer acres of rough are being irrigated, while another 10-15 acres farther away from playing corridors have been returned to a native state dominated by long grasses. With general manager Rick Morgan and superintendent Pat Smyth leading the charge, these changes have not sacrificed course conditioning while saving the resort more than 10% on water, fuel, fertilizer and other maintenance costs.

“Our team met the challenge of the mandated water restrictions head on,” says Morgan. “We’re so proud of what we’ve achieved, taking an initially negative situation and turning it into an overwhelming positive for our guests, our budget and, most importantly, the environment.”

Firm and fast conditions through the green have been embraced by Saddle Creek players as tee shots now tend to roll for extra yardage. Moreover, the color contrast between tees / fairways / greens and their drier surrounds makes the course more attractive.

“Our guests understand what we’re doing and really like it,” adds Smyth. “Even if water restrictions are lifted, we plan to maintain our current levels of use as it’s simply the right thing to do.”

“We’ve taken a great course and, by being responsible environmental stewards, made it even better,” says Morgan. “We hope to be a model for other courses and show that prioritizing sustainability is a ‘win win’ for everyone on a whole host of fronts.”

About Saddle Creek Resort
Situated in the rolling foothills of the Central Sierra region just two hours from the Bay Area and 1.5 hours from Sacramento, Saddle Creek Resort sits in the heart of the Copper Valley in Copperopolis. Owned and operated by nationally-renowned developer Castle & Cooke California, the premier Northern California golf community. Although the recently-released Oak Collection is sold out, custom homesites and resale homes are available, many featuring golf course, lake and mountain views.

Saddle Creek’s golf course is routed through undulating terrain and features stunning views of the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite mountains. Since opening in 1996, the par 72, 6,826-yard layout has been heralded by players of all skill levels. It is annually ranked by Golfweek as a top-15 “Best Course You Can Play” in California alongside acclaimed layouts like Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Pasatiempo and Torrey Pines’ South Course. Well-appointed golf bungalows are ideal for guests planning overnight stays.

In proximity to Saddle Creek Resort is Copperopolis Town Square, a traditionally-designed, Gold Rush era-themed “country town” that is the retail and event hub of the Copper Valley in the Central Sierra region. Featuring charming boutiques, eateries and specialty shops, the pedestrian-friendly Town Square is the perfect place to spend some time after a round of golf.

Stephen Reynolds
Buffalo Brand Invigoration Group