Ron Agostini

Agostini on Golf: River Oaks is for sale – St. Stanislaus sold

The golf industry, slumping across the board nationally, also is in flux locally.

The closure of the acclaimed Stevinson Ranch next month, combined with the closing of the Legends West course at Diablo Grande last year, can be attributed partly to the punishing drought. Closer to home, one golf property has changed hands and another might be sold. The struggling golf economy has taken its toll.

Kimberly Phipps, the widow of River Oaks owner Michael Phipps, confirmed the 18-hole course and practice range in Ceres near the Tuolumne River is in the process of being sold. Michael died in March in the family’s latest tragedy. His parents, Jim and Carol Phipps, developed the original nine along the river in 1979 and added the other nine on higher ground after a series of floods.

18Stevinson Ranch Golf Club will close July 18

The parents have died, along with Rob, another brother, in 2007. Kimberly dearly wants River Oaks to remain open for golf. A few years ago, Michael considered developing the front nine holes into lots where homes would be built.

“My goal is to keep it as a golf course that is affordable and where families can go and be together,” she said. “We really want to do what is best for Ceres. We think it’s a wonderful place.”

Earlier this year, St. Stanislaus Golf – the practice center and nine-hole course on Crows Landing Road – changed ownership. Longtime owner Francis Ip sold to the Marquez family, which operates El Rematito Flea Market not far from the course.

“We saw it on the market and thought it was an opportunity for the family to expand its business,” family spokesman Orlando Marquez said. “We will keep it as a golf course and try to improve it and keep the customers happy. We’ll target the business toward younger kids.”

The Shag Bag – Stevinson Ranch, which closes July 18, will hold an open-to-the-public tournament Monday at 1 p.m. to benefit its 50-person staff. Ray O’Connor, a friend of Stevinson Ranch owner George Kelley and the CEO of Topcon OEM Solutions of Livermore, will underwrite the event. The fee is $50 with cart and includes post-round cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. All proceeds go to the staff as the course ends its 20-year run. Call (209) 668-8200. ...

Matt Robinson of Modesto shot a 2-under-par 68 at Modesto Municipal and won the boys title of the The First Tee of Central Valley Junior Open on May 30. Ken Whang of Modesto posted an 80 and captured the 14-15 flight. ... The 63rd Bumgardner Junior Memorial is scheduled for July 6-7 at Del Rio CC. The rest of the local junior golf summer: the Oakdale CC Rotary Junior Classic on July 13; the George Maroney Junior at Creekside and Dryden Park on July 15-16; the Turlock CC Junior on Aug. 3-4; and the Calaveras Junior Open on Aug. 10-11 at Greenhorn Creek in Angels Camp. For the rest of the Junior Golf Association of Northern California schedule, visit www.jganc.com. ... Manteca’s Brooke Riley, a semifinalist at the JGANC Match Play Championship, scored a double-eagle 2 during the tournament at Spring Creek CC’s ninth, which plays as a par 5 for the girls. ...

Holes in one – Donna Dami, Modesto, 85-yard sixth at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, 7-iron. ... Don Gonzalez, Oakdale, 182-yard fifth at Creekside, 5-iron.

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