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William Land Golf Course, the oldest nine-hole course in the Sacramento, California, area, has been around for almost 97 years.
The golf course is named after William Land, who was the owner of a Sacramento hotel. He was also a philanthropist who, after he died in 1911, left $250,000 in his will “to purchase a public park within a suitable distance of Sacramento to be used as a recreation spot for the children and a pleasure ground for the poor.” The gift would be valued at nearly $7 million in today’s dollars.
William Land Park opened in 1922. The golf course opened in 1924. In 1974, to celebrate the 50th anniversary, golfers used wood-shafted clubs and wore knickers for a throwback golf tournament. Al Geiberger, Mr. 59, grew up playing the course and participated in the 75th anniversary festivities in 1999.
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Like many public facilities around the country, the course struggled financially for years and almost went under in 2018.
But the COVID-19 pandemic provided the ingredients for the course to be saved from closure.
Curt David, the head golf pro at William Land Golf Course, told Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee:
“It’s been really cool. COVID was a shot in the arm for us, reminding people that we’re here and golf is fun and healthy, and in a cool setting, a nice layout, a lot of wow. For most people who golf here, we fit all the criteria from the last eight months: social distancing, being outside, exercise. A lot of people love a nine-hole course.”
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March and April saw a resurgence in interest in the game across the country and it was no different in Sacramento. That surge in increased rounds continued through the summer and fall. The Sacramento Bee report says that City Councilman Rick Jennings regularly plays the course. So does Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who calls it “the people’s golf course.”
David plays the course with his 87-year-old father, Milt, several times a year.
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“Of course, I may be a little biased, but golf is the greatest game ever invented, a game of a lifetime,” David told the Bee. “It’s a challenge, a journey with no final destination. It’s a life analogy with golf, too. You never stop learning.”