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Rialto golf course shuts down after 50 years

August 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local golf course is about to shut down and there's more to the closure than just the economy.

Golfers have been teeing it up at El Rancho Verde in Rialto for more than 50 years. But the owner plans to close the course.

It's largely because of the owner's battle with environmentalists over plans to develop the area around the golf course. And because of economic reasons, the owner has announced his intention to close the place in less than a week.

"It's really kind of disappointing for most people in this area, because we play two or three times a week," said resident Roy Allen.

It's not just concerning for golfers, but for residents on the course who are concerned about their property values.

"It's worth our efforts to find ways to help the owner stay afloat," said resident Joe Ayala.

But golf course owner Ron Pharris says that's going to be tough with the golf course losing tens of thousands of dollars every month.

"With the down economy the discretionary dollars aren't there as much for golf," said Pharris. "And we've suffered that tremendously."

But it's not just that business is bad on the golf course. The reason the owner bought the place was because he wanted to expand it as part of a master planned community with thousands of new homes.

But that's something that some residents don't want to see, so they've sued. Which means the future of the project and the golf course is in doubt.

"We don't see any end in sight to that litigation and that's the problem," said Pharris.

"It doesn't mean we're against all development," said resident Lynn Boshart. "But we want it to be thoughtful."

Boshart is part of a group trying to stop Pharris from the housing development. She's concerned about the environmental impacts the project would have and says the golf course is an unfortunate victim in the legal fight.

"The golf course could be kept an open space," said Boshart. "It could be made into a regional park."

A meeting is scheduled Friday night for residents to talk about ways to save the golf course.

But unless they get the equivalent of a hole in one, these greens which have stood the test of time for decades could be turning brown in a matter of weeks.

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