Diamond Oaks Golf Course: A Fun Layout that Won't Beat You Up

By Jeffrey Weidel, Contributor

This is one of those ego-massaging golf courses, a track that typically makes the average golfer want to return for another visit. The chance of putting up low numbers is always a possibility.

Business is typically brisk at Diamond Oaks Golf Course, an established municipal layout that has grown prettier over the past three decades. The mature oak trees give the course character and the rolling terrain provides more of a challenge than similar established courses in the Sacramento area.

And here is some more good news concerning the esteemed Roseville course. Deciding it was time for some upgrades, the city of Roseville put some money into the course a year ago.

"We decided to do a little sprucing up," said Ken Bailey, Roseville's Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation, who overseas the golf clubs at both Diamond Oaks and neighboring Woodcreek. "With Ed (Vasconcellos) retiring, it seemed like a good time to make some changes."

Vasconcellos was Diamond Oaks for over three decades before retiring last April. He ran a one-man operation since 1969 at the Roseville city-owned course. There wasn't much Vasconcellos did not know about the golf business.

"Ed really was one of those traditional-type professionals," said Rob Frederick, who runs Woodcreek Golf Club, also a city-owned course. "He had a great following over there and will be missed."

What has simplified Bailey's job is both courses are now under the direction of SRI Golf, which won the bid to take over for the departed Vasconcellos. Under new head pro Scott Prenez, previously an assistant at Woodcreek, SRI has also made changes that have the course looking first rate.

"This course has been here a long time (since 1963) and has done well," Prenez said. "We're just trying to add to that. There are a lot of little things we think people will notice."

What golfers will appreciate immediately is a more defined fairway cut, providing additional definition from the rough. Another project by Superintendent Robert Parrish has been speeding up the greens a bit, which are now running quicker than in the past.

"We feel right now the greens are really good for a municipal course," Prenez said. "Robert is doing everything he can do for those greens."

Another change at Diamond Oaks is upgraded golf carts, an enclosed cart barn, plus the driving range has taken on a minor facelift as well. The restaurant now has a wider variety of choices in both food and drink. The pro shop has been modernized and even the parking lot was resurfaced. Future plans call for bermuda grass on the tee boxes and renovating the irrigation system.

What has not changed, at least for now, is the affordable price. Golfers can still play for a relatively cheap green fee of $19.50 during the week and $22.50 on weekends. Carts go for $11 per rider.

Considering the course's classic layout and the fact any level golfer can enjoy some type of success, Diamond Oaks has always been a bargain. Prior to the boom in golf course construction, the course was running golfers out to the first tee from sunrise to sunset, accumulating 110,000 rounds a year during the early 1990s.

That figure is now around the 80-85,000 mark, which is helping to keep the course in better condition throughout a typically hot summer. The sudden glut of Sacramento-area courses has reduced some of the area's once prominent spots to minor-league status. Yet that is not the case at Diamond Oaks now, or in the past.

"There are not too many $19 green fees out there that can offer the quality of golf that we can," Prenez said. "We're not being impacted like some other courses. It's been a group effort to make this a course the community will really be proud of. The course has always done well with Ed in charge and I think we'll continue that trend."

The yardage is modest at Diamond Oaks, measuring 6,179 yards from the back tees and 5,885 yards from the white markers. The Ted Robinson-designed course has rolling hills, is wide open on many holes and the ever-present oak trees make it tight in some locations.

Staying out of the trees becomes a major priority. Keeping the ball straight off the tee can lead to many short irons approaching the greens. Of the 10 par-4 holes, only one goes over 400 yards. That would be No. 9, formerly the course's finishing hole, which goes 443 yards from the tips and is the No. 1 handicap.

The tee shot on the first hole must carry over water. But the distance is short on this par 5 (495 yards), a definite birdie possibility. New homes now surround the front nine, which previously had more charm when isolated.

Many golfers would agree the backside offers a tougher test. The holes are all unique, requiring real shot-making skills in some areas and also some wide-open spaces for any stray hits.

One of the favored holes on the backside is the par-5, No. 15 (465 yards). Go too far off the tee and your ball might fall off a steep cliff and into a shallow pool of water. If the drive is successful, the second shot goes over the cliff and the green might be the target. It is a hole one can eagle, birdie or also post a high number.

Another favorite is the finishing hole, a par 4 (392 yards) with a new elevated green. Putting can be difficult here, making par no easy chore. It concludes a round that will have many golfers thinking about returning.

Diamond Oaks is a beautiful course, a fun layout that won't beat you up. The seasoned golfer has a good opportunity of putting up a good score and the inexperienced person might not get overly frustrated.

"You won't come away from here losing a bunch of balls," Prenez said. "There are no holes that will eat you up."

Diamond Oaks Golf Course
349 Diamond Oaks Road
Roseville, CA. 95678
Phone: (916) 783-4947

Jeffrey WeidelJeffrey Weidel, Contributor

Jeffrey Weidel has been working in the Sacramento area as a sportswriter since 1981. An avid golfer with a 10.6 index, he is currently the Assistant Sports Editor of The Press-Tribune, a three-day a week paper in Roseville.

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