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Historic Sonoma Golf Club under new ownership

Tom Watson, seen here at the 2005 Schwab Cup, is just one of the many legends of the game of golf who have played the 1928 Sam Whiting course at the Sonoma Golf Club. Escalante Golf, of Ft Worth, Texas, have acquired the historic wine country course
Tom Watson, seen here at the 2005 Schwab Cup, is just one of the many legends of the game of golf who have played the 1928 Sam Whiting course at the Sonoma Golf Club. Escalante Golf, of Ft Worth, Texas, have acquired the historic wine country course
Photo by Steve Grayson/Getty Images

Escalante Golf, a Fort Worth, Texas-based company which owns and operates a number of prestigious golf clubs around the United States, announced on May 16, 2014, that they have acquired Sonoma Golf Club from Crescent Real Estate.

Sonoma Golf Club, a 1928 Sam Whiting design occupying 177 acres of rolling parkland at the foot of the Mayacamas Hills just outside the city of Sonoma, started life as the Sonoma Mission Inn Golf and Country Club. Whiting, the designer of the Lake and Ocean courses at San Francisco’s Olympic Club, laid out the Sonoma course on the site of the former J. K. Bigelow Ranch.

“The Sonoma Mission Inn Golf and Country Club is one of the prettiest spots in California,” were the words used in the local paper, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, in an article published one week after the club’s opening on July 27th, 1928. “It’s a sporty course, one which will interest both amateur and professional.”

The new course was lauded for the quality of its greens and its fairways, which used a then relatively new variety of turfgrass called Metropolitan Bent, as well as for the “…underground pipe system and revolutionary sprinklers…” which “…assure[] its beauty all the year around.”

Some of the greatest names in the sport have played the course over the years, including Sam Snead, who cited the course as his favorite; Byron Nelson; Bay Area golf legend Ken Venturi; and 2014 Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. The club hosted the Schwab Cup Championship, the season-ending tournament on the Champions Tour, from 2003 to 2009.

New owner Escalante Golf are the owners of a group of select courses in key golf market areas, including The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, site of the Accenture WGC World Match Play Championship (Marana, Ariz.); Golf Club of Houston, site of the Shell Houston Open (Humble, Texas); The Crosby National Golf Club (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.); Country Club of the North (Beavercreek, Ohio); and Black Diamond Ranch (Lecanto, Fla.).

Jeff Woolson, Managing Director of CBRE’s Golf and Resort Group, represented current owners Crescent Real Estate in the transaction.

“We interviewed a number of interested buyers, including the members themselves,” said Woolson. After a lengthy process, Escalante emerged as the best buyer for the property. Sonoma Golf Club is the perfect complement to its luxury club portfolio.”

“Sonoma Golf Club fits perfectly in our portfolio,” said David McDonald, President of Escalante Golf. “We have a wonderful collection of private clubs in a diverse geographic area and Northern California is the perfect location to expand our footprint. We are excited to meet and work together with members to build upon the success of a club with a rich and storied tradition.”