Sun City Roseville: More Carts than Kids in this Golfing Neighborhood

By Jeffrey Weidel, Contributor

There are more golf carts than kids in this neat, tidy neighborhood. And the only kids that can be found are the type that only occasionally visit - grandkids.

Make no mistake, this is a golfing community. No surprise, either. That is what the folks at Del Webb had in mind when they began selling the retirement homes at a brisk pace back in 1995.

The golf courses took shape initially with nine holes in a wooded area (Oaks Course). The front nine (Lakes Course) was added within a year and a nice nine-hole track (Sierra Pines Course) was completed in 1997, giving the folks at Sun City Roseville 27 holes to play at their leisure.

Although Del Webb pulled out two years ago and the residents now run the show, this has remained an area to leisurely retire and get serious about the game of golf, assuming that is the original intention.

Of course, that is not the plan for everyone. There are currently around 5,900 people in this retirement community on the edge of Sacramento. An estimated 1,600 folks are golfing members, enjoying the perks that come with the distinction. Yet only approximately 300 regularly ride their carts around the well-maintained golf complex.

Although residents set the rules and board members come from within the community, this is not private facility. Sun City Roseville has always been open to the public. With its members getting older and the 18-hole course receiving less play, this is perhaps the best time for the public to consider a round of golf.

"We're actually doing about a 180 degree turn in that area," Sun City Head Professional Jim Carra said. "There is a lot of competition in the area and we would like to get more public players out here. That will help keep the fees down for our members."

Naturally, the members get the preferred tee times. That becomes especially important in the summer months when few older people want to be playing golf on a hot Sacramento afternoon. Members can make tee times seven days in advance, while the general public gets three days.

For those who like brisk play, most times of the year the course is wide open in the afternoon. "Historically, we're only busy 51 percent of the time, a lot of afternoons we just empty out," Carra said.

Benefiting of a course designed for seniors, the inspiring challenges will not be found on Sun City's 27 holes. The yardage is short and the fairways are typically wide. Yet don't be fooled by the yardage alone, especially on the 18-hole course, which goes 6,485 from the back tees and 6,007 from the next markers. The front side has water on practically every hole, hence the Lakes course name. Hit an errant shot and pay the price.

The same can be said on the backside (Oaks course), where an estimated 2,500 mature, towering trees now become the enemy, not water. Beware of the bunkers as well; it's tough to miss them. There are 135 bunkers throughout the Greg Nash/Billy Casper-designed layout. The greens are not easy, either. There is considerable slope to these sizable greens and they all have their own subtleties. In other words, this course is tougher than it appears.

Due to the difference in the nine-hole layouts, this essentially feels like playing two different courses. Throw in the nine holes at the Sierra Pines track, which also has its own personality, and there are three distinct courses to conquer.

"There is quite a bit of difference out here and that is one of the things I like," said Joe Petrino, who lives near Santa Barbara and has relatives living in Sun City. "This is not a super difficult course, but it can play hard if you are not hitting the ball well. There are hazards throughout the course that you need to avoid."

On the main course, a chance to kick-start the round arrives early at the second hole, where a short par-5 waits. The hole goes 474 yards (all yardage is from the back tees). If your driver has more than 230 yards in it, think 3-wood because a ditch lies ahead. A big second shot gets you there in two. However, the green is huge and one-putting is not easy.

Although listed as the course's fourth easiest hole, the par-3 at No. 6 has been a treacherous spot for many golfers. Despite the distance being short (124 yards), there is water in front and back, toughening this hole. This location frequently has just enough wind to make choosing the right club vitally important because the green is a narrow target.

Don't think about relaxing at the next hole. The seventh is the longest par-4 on the course, a big poke away at 466 yards. A huge waste bunker guards the right side, increasing the difficulty.

Starting at No. 11, the water and homes that border the front side are a mere memory. The back nine is definitely more scenic, a nice quiet getaway. The bad news is the fairways are narrower, requiring more accurate shot making.

The 11th is a tough par-4 (429 yards) that features considerable carry off the tee and a big second shot to a green blocked off by any tee shot along the right side. Although not as demanding, playing the 13th (336 yards) is a fun test. This narrow par-4 can be attacked with a driver or more conservative 3-wood or less. The second shot is the key.

There are choices at No. 18 as well. This par-5 (516 yards) can eventually find the big hitter putting for an eagle. Don't get too ahead of yourself; beware of the ditch on the second shot. The green can be tricky and is well protected by bunkers.

There is less of a challenge at the Sierra Pines course, where more play is the latest trend. "Our clientele is getting older and more of them would rather play nine holes now," Carra said.

"They really do a nice job out here of maintaining the course," Petrini said. "The courses are in good shape and I like the designs."

Some golfers might not like the no-walking rate on the 18-hole track. The cost midweek is $48 with cart and goes to $53 Friday through Sunday. A twilight rate, a good time to play considering the course may be empty, goes for $25.

At Sierra Pines, the green fees are $24 and dip to $18 after 1 p.m. with cart or $13 to walk.

Sun City Roseville
7050 Del Webb Boulevard
Roseville, CA 95765
Phone: (916) 774-7234
Head professional: Jim Carra

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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