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My brother recently bought a house for his retirement above Sonora in the


High Sierra. He was thrilled that his backyard joined a gorgeous meadow in the forest. But I had to tell him that this was no meadow, it was a golf course. And that curious red circular thing with a handle in his backyard was a ball washer.


This was once Sierra


Pines GC, a friendly 9-hole course that folded a few years ago. Tuolumne County claimed the land as a watershed. I took my brother out to show him a few of my favorite holes, and while he was intrigued, a lingering sadness crept up inside me. I remembered how families would play here on lazy summer after- noons, kids playing with


Sierra Pines GC no longer exists


their parents, having a great time. The par-35 course was not difficult, but convenient. My heart sank as I real-


ized that courses like this are no longer being built— courses rooted in family, smaller and convenient, easi- er to play. And the ones that did exist were disappearing through the economic reali- ties of our time. Further up the moun- tain, another golf course


called Mi Wuk was a ghost, its fairways still clearly defined through the forest, remnants of bunkers still outlining former greens. This 18-hole gem was also designed for families, but it failed some time ago. Two ridges south was another ghost, the remains of the little pitch-and-putt course behind the Ahwahnee Ho- tel in Yosemite Valley. My reflection reminded me of the Hayward muni,


which closed a long time ago on Mission Blvd., breaking the hearts of tour pros Dick and John Lotz, among others. Galbraith muni in Oakland closed, eliminating an entire culture through the course’s demise. Harding Park was saved in San Francisco by former USGA president Sandy Tatum, but Lincoln Park and Sharp Park remain on the endangered list. So do Blue Rock muni in Vallejo and 27 holes at the Chuck


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