PLEASANT HILL, CA (April 19, 2023) — A shuttered golf course tucked away in a quiet neighborhood may be getting a new lease on life.
But to quote a single by the late great George Harrison, before Grayson Woods Golf Course is ready to play again, it is going to take money, patience and time by the new owners.
And, plenty of each, sang Harrison, “to do it right, child.”
New owners Kyin Chiou and Na Li plan to operate the golf course in the same manner as the previous owners, Jim and Denise Hamm.
The city’s Planning Department approved a zoning permit application on March 15 for the couple, who are envisioning a two-phase approach for bringing the facility back to life.
Phase 1 work would begin as soon as possible and involve reopening the club house (including a pro shop and eating facilities), two of the nine holes (1 and 9) and the 18-hole putting course so it would available this summer.
Phase 2 would focus on the remaining seven holes, so it would be ready for use in approximately one year’s time.
Back into shape
Both the golf course and putting course require long overdue maintenance. However, refurbishment of the golf course and putting course will not involve any grading, excavation or new layout; rather, the plans will utilize the existing, approved layout.
Also planned for the golf facility are new indoor practice bays with golf simulators for practice and instruction.
As the couple started efforts to get the course and putting greens back in playing shape, they also had to contend with unexpected vandalism – including a broken window to the snack bar and pro shop building. On April 4, two suspects cut the front gate lock to gain access to the course. Prior to that, a youngster riding a dirt bike damaged a putting green.
While disheartened by the setback, Chiou removed the damaged window, swept up the glass and took the necessary steps to temporarily secure the building.
Exterior cameras filmed the masked individuals, with footage turned over to the Pleasant Hill Police Department. So, Chiou is hopeful those responsible might be caught.
“You can’t build Fort Knox,” said Chiou. “No matter what you put up, people will break in if that’s what they are determined to do.”
A peaceful place
After purchasing the property for $2.1 million, Chiou acknowledged he didn’t embark on this venture intending to make a profit.
“We bought it as a place for our kids to play golf and for other kids to improve their games,” said Chiou. “It’s peaceful out here.”
He anticipates it will take about $1 million to do all 9 holes. Right now, they are shuffling funds to make improvements.
The 9-hole, par 3 golf course originally opened in 2001 on a 26-acre site. After it closed for play in 2015, media accounts a year later indicated the business had struggled to gain traction from its early days.
Talk of the property being used for home construction has come up periodically. But such an alternative use has never taken off due to the significant challenges that a project would have to navigate and overcome as it moved through the planning process.
The idea of a new housing subdivision also has not set well with the surrounding neighbors, especially those whose longstanding, priceless views across the golf course would be obliterated by such construction.
The recent buzz of activity and efforts to restore the property to its former luster have not gone unnoticed, with surrounding residents sharing good wishes on the social media app Nextdoor.
Amid the unfortunate distractions, Grayson Woods’ new owners are appreciative of the support expressed by their neighbors and undeterred about moving forward with their short- and long-term plans for the golf course.
David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.