Wilcox Oaks Golf Club in Red Bluff
● By Melissa Gulden
Story by Melissa Gulden
Photos by Jen Peterson
ALMOST 100 YEARS LATER, and still in the forefront (get it?), Wilcox Oaks Golf Club in Red Bluff is a rare gem. In 1922, Grant Wilcox, a well-known sheepman at the turn of the century, and other golf enthusiasts began playing on the “sticker patch,” as it was referred to by local players. Wilcox owned the land and decided to create a nine-hole course. This crude golf course consisted of unwatered fairways and gravel and sand greens.
Wilcox lived with the course like that for 50 years, and in 1977, he completed a long-standing dream and opened an additional nine holes. This made use of the fairways that were cleared in 1967, during another attempt to create a back nine holes, to build the new course on the land willed by Wilcox. The first clubhouse, built in the early ‘20s, was a piecemeal structure that has been added onto over the years to become what it is today.
“It’s a real pillar of the community,” says Donna Mattison, member and marketing and communication coordinator for the club. “To have lasted as long as it has says it all. The club prides itself on being an organization where its members are glad to be a part of it.”
So how has Wilcox Oaks Golf Club maintained its longevity? Mattison says it’s because the sport itself has been around a long time. “Golf honors the integrity of a historical sport. The rules seldom change, and the club keeps with the honorable pace that golf offers.” When it becomes dog-eat-dog, or all about the money, she says, it loses that good feeling. “It’s a sport that you can never conquer,” Mattison adds. “It’s a sport against your own mind – a measure of your own grace under fire.”
A not-for-profit, where the members own the club, Wilcox Oaks prides itself on giving back to the community. It hosts a bingo night once a month, with the winnings going to local charities; the club supports the Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber of Commerce and Red Bluff Round Up; and all high school golf team students can play for free once a week. The club also hosts weddings and social events at the clubhouse, which boasts beautiful views of the surrounding greenery. This is all part of the hope to appeal to younger members, says Mattison, “because they are the future of this game. Without the younger generations, golf would lose its following, and, thus, the club would lose members.”
Some of the ways in which Wilcox Oaks is planning to attract new members is through a series of celebrations. The club plans to hold a centennial celebration, possibly in 2020. “I want the celebration to be worthy of the history of the club,” Mattison says. There will also be some summer festivities, Mattison promises. For these dog days of summer, the club has a refreshing swimming pool where members swim free, and guests swim for $5. So even if you haven’t quite mastered your sand wedge, you can always enjoy a sandwich at the clubhouse restaurant. She encourages people to be part of the legacy and become a member of Wilcox Oaks Golf Club – a piece of a Tehama County treasure. •