Ponderosa Golf course preserved for public play | SierraSun.com

Ponderosa Golf course preserved for public play

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunTruckee Donner Recreation and Park District Turf Coordinator Mike Stemen and Park Supervisor Al Barclay gaze upon the second hole of the largest greens project the organization has ever managed, The Ponderosa Golf Course.
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Truckee’s nine-hole golf course will be open starting this Saturday under new ownership after threats of closing for the season.

The deal to purchase Ponderosa Golf Course the Himsl family was completed Wednesday morning, ensuring the course will be open to the public starting Saturday.

The Truckee-Tahoe Airport District, the Town of Truckee, the Truckee Donner Land Trust and Truckee Trails Foundation teamed up to buy the land, and the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District will manage the links.

“As citizens of Truckee we should be proud of the cooperation between three local government entities,” said Perry Norris, executive director for the land trust. “We’re darn lucky we have such responsive local government.”

The airport district first considered purchasing the golf course when the Himsl family, who owned the course for 45 years, decided the course wasn’t making enough money and sought to develop it for homes, said Dave Gotschall, general manager of the airport.

“The reason the airport was interested was to maintain open space and to prevent incompatible land use with the airport,” Gotschall said. “We didn’t want up to 150 homes right off the end of our main runway.”

The public voiced concerns over losing Truckee’s only public, affordable golf course to development at the same time as it decided no new courses should be built in town, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.

But when the airport offered the appraised $3.18 million value of the golf course, it wasn’t as much as the Himsl family wanted, Gotschall said. Purchase discussions broke off last October.

But Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens brought all the players back to the table, bringing new life to the deal.

“It would have been a shame if it went away,” Owens said.

By combining the airport’s $3.18 million with $150,000 from the land trust for open space conservation, and $160,000 from the town and $10,000 from the Truckee Trails Foundation to create a trail easement along the property, the groups arrived at a $3.5 million purchase price, Gotschall said.

“The trails foundation identified this potential trail connection along Brockway as a high priority for the current lack of connectivity,” said John Svahn, executive director of the Truckee Trails Foundation.

The land trust’s interest is in preserving a visually-important open space, a historically important community resource and a recreational amenity, Norris said.

“For the land trust the irony of protecting a golf course is interesting,” Norris said. “But preserving history, recreation and open space fits really nicely with the land trust’s mission.”

The Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District went out on a limb by starting maintenance on the course before the deal was done to make sure it could be open this summer, said Steve Randall, general manager for the recreation and park district.

“If you look back one month ago we didn’t have a golf course and now we are opening Saturday,” Randall said. “That’s pretty phenomenal.”

The district will be operating the golf course to generate enough revenue to sustain itself, but to be as affordable as possible, Randall said.

“Our one goal is to make it affordable from the get go. All other courses are private and unaffordable,” Randall said. “This is going to be one of the area’s top golf courses even though it’s nine holes because the district takes pride in its facilities.”

Discounts will be available to locals within the Truckee Tahoe Airport District boundaries and for children, he said.

Proposed prices will drop almost across the board from last year’s rates, according to the recreation and park district.

Built in the late 1950s and early ’60s, community members constructed Ponderosa Golf Course on what was then Truckee Donner Public Utility District land as a community asset.

“The Ponderosa Golf Course was built by the community, not by the public utility district or at the public utility district’s expense,” said Pat Sutton, vice president of the utility district board. “The district became heir to a lot of land through ice companies, including the golf course.”

Ponderosa first opened in 1961, said Al Bailey, former manager at the course.

Shortly thereafter, the utility district sold the course to the Himsl family, who owned and operated it until this year, Bailey said.

“Ponderosa is very important, it’s been here so long and has attracted thousands and thousands of people to our area,” Bailey said.