Left, Bill Tatham, Sr. has leased Copper River Country Club to Bellagio Road, LLC, which is headed by golf industry veteran Bob Husband, right.

published on November 9, 2018 - 7:00 AM
Written by Edward Smith

Significant change is coming to Fresno’s golfing community as one of the city’s older clubs prepares to close and one of the newer clubs changes hands.

After 60 years of operation, the Fig Garden Golf Club in northwest Fresno announced its impending closure to members in a letter on Tuesday.

Golfers will be able to play the links there until just before the end of the year.

President David Knott wrote, “I have not been able to keep up with facility and equipment upgrades necessary to provide the quality that you continue to expect and provide the tools necessary for our staff to perform at their best.”

Knott attributed declining interest in the sport over the past few years as a reason for falling revenues.

The future of the 47-acre facility is still up in the air, but in October, 2017, an option to purchase the land was filed with the Fresno County Recorder’s Office between the golf course and Larry Freels, general partner of Central Green Co., LLP.
Central Green Co. of Madera is a nut-farming operation that sued the federal government in a case involving floodwaters ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001.

Calls made to Central Green Co. were not returned.

The decision to close was not an easy one, Knott wrote in the letter.

“Those of you who knew my father and his great insight would understand how I came to this decision that is one of the most difficult I have had to make,” Knott said.

A few miles northeast of Fig Garden, the owners of Copper River Country Club have leased the facility to Bob Husband, principal of Bellagio Road, LLC, a “boutique golf and resort ownership and management company.” It is based in Del Mar in San Diego County and has been involved in more 125 golf and country clubs nationwide.

A letter to members signed by founders Earlene and Bill Tatham, Sr. states the family will retain ownership, while Bellagio Road will oversee operations.

“We’re doing what good owners of any business should do: find people better than you are to help it reach full potential,” Tatham said in a press release.

Construction began on the 1,000-acre development in 1989 and was completed in March 1995. A 30,000 square foot clubhouse was opened the next year.

In the eponymous development, Granville Homes and Gary McDonald Homes have built homes in several hundred of those acres.

Copper River advertises itself as the only course in the area built to PGA specifications.

“We have full confidence in our existing Copper River team headed by GM Todd Hansen, PGA, who’ve embraced our plan to improve every facet of the Club,” Husband said in the release. “We’ve inspected every green, stretch of fairway, every bunker. If you’re a golfer, expect an elevated experience in every dimension of play; just be patient.”

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