My first memory of Wilcox Oaks goes back 64 years to 1959, when my eighth-grade graduation party was held at Wilcox Oaks. Coming from a single-parent home with limited financial resources, my first impression of the clubhouse and the green grass that encompassed the entire course was that belonging to Wilcox would likely forever be beyond my means. I was wrong.
If memory serves, a man by the name of Grant Wilcox donated the property with the stipulation that it was to be utilized only as a golf course. Fortunately for this community, it has served that purpose for almost a hundred years.
I am told that initially, Wilcox Oaks featured “sand greens.” In that I have difficulty making a putt on the perfectly manicured grass greens of today, I can only imagine the cursing I would have done in missing a foot-long putt on the Wilcox greens of yesteryear.
I first developed a love for golf while playing the pitch and putt course at Kutras Park while attending Shasta College. I took my game to a higher level at Chico State by playing golf at the par three courses located adjacent to Highway 99 on the north end of town. It was there that I learned to look the other way while my errant driver was bouncing off cars speeding by the course.
By the time I found a job, a wife, had a couple of kids and purchased my first home and settled into adulthood, I was ready to make the leap and join the Wilcox Oaks golf club I had admired at my eighth-grade graduation party in 1959.
I joined Wilcox Oaks in the early 1970s and have now been a member for over 50 years. While I would love to tell you that I have been club champion on several different occasions, that would be a lie; and while I may be known to exaggerate now and again, I would never tell you an outright lie.
From a competition standpoint, I did win a trophy at Wilcox Oaks by defeating Paul Wood in the fifth flight division in 1986. If you know Paul Wood, you already know that while he is a really good man — as relating to golf, beating him senseless is nothing to brag about.
Along with beating Wood in 1986, I sometimes like to brag about the hole-in-one that I made on the 193-yard fourth hole several years ago. I actually “jarred” it, meaning it flew into the cup in the air, something only the best golfers are able to do. But enough about me; if playing golf was all about how good one is, I would have headed to the couch decades ago. I play golf because of the people I play with and the programs available at the finest little golf course in the north state.
Ask anyone who is familiar with north state golf, and they will tell you that Wilcox Oaks is the premier course in Northern California in terms of condition and playability. Its pristine condition is second to none.
I was a member of the club in 1976 when the king of corn, farmer George Stutz, led the effort to convert the then nine-hole course to the 18-hole challenge it offers today. The back nine at Wilcox makes macho golfers quiver in their golf boots.
Wilcox Oaks offers several different membership programs. If golf is not your game, the Social Membership is not to be missed. With an Olympic-size pool, a great bar and restaurant and friends galore, you have everything you need to have a great time. Wilcox even has a pond where the fish are guaranteed to bite every single day.
While I no longer fit the bill, I started out half a century back as a Junior Member. While I had all the rights and privileges of the regular member program, it allowed me to get started at a reduced rate. If you are a young person, that may get you in the door.
The proprietary membership program offers both a Single Membership as well as a Family Membership. If your spouse is not a golfer, you can save a buck or two with a Single Membership while still enjoying everything else the course has to offer. The popular Family Membership allows husbands and wives to play together or with friends if they prefer. There are reciprocal privileges with several other golf clubs as well.
Wilcox Oaks has for several decades sponsored the pre-eminent junior golf program in the North State. Wilcox not only tolerates youngsters, the club encourages participation through its six-week clinic, first led by Doug Sale and now the product of good guy golf professional Mike Blum. I can still remember taking my grandchildren to the Wilcox junior program; and today they are beating my pants off every time we tee it up.
Wilcox offers a full slate of tournaments fitting every caliber of golfer. In addition, the club serves the community by hosting charitable tournaments and events of all shapes and sizes.
Over the past fifty years, I have attended countless weddings, holiday parties, memorials, tributes, bar mitzvahs, talent shows, and awards ceremonies at Wilcox Oaks. Just last week Billie and I spent a delightful evening at Wilcox Oaks celebrating my 60-year high school reunion with the Red Bluff High Class of 1963. As usual, the food and service were exceptional.
I had planned to recognize the great Wilcox Oaks staff such as General Manager Rich Reynolds; Pro Shop staff Robin Gonczeruk and Mike Blum; Cart Shed Supervisor Butch Cassidy; Course Superintendent Cassidy Griffith; Head Barkeep Shayne Halvari; Chef Jason Wakerman and the other great wait staff Jen, Michelle and KJ– but I have run out of room. For additional information concerning the best golf club in the north state, call Wilcox Oaks GM Rich Reynolds at 530-527-6680.
Have a great Wednesday, everyone.