Public courses provide golfing options in Roseville

Woodcreek and Diamond Oaks provide a different appeal
By: Jeffrey Weidel, Special to The Press Tribune
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It’s a Saturday afternoon at Roseville’s two city-owned golf courses, where oddly on this particular day securing a tee time can be done instantaneously.


Yet according to Diamond Oaks head professional Scott Prenez, the weekend golfers have changed their habits, because they aren’t showing up in large numbers at his course or gobbling up tee times at nearby Woodcreek either.


“It’s an interesting trend right now, people have shifted and are playing less on the weekend,” Prenez explains. “Our busiest days are now Thursday and Friday. Golfers are trying to play when it’s most affordable.”


Higher weekend rates may have driven golfers to alter their weekly tee times, yet neither Roseville course is suffering like some other area facilities. Last year with approximately 73,000 rounds, Diamond Oaks trailed only Haggin Oaks in number of rounds played in courses located from Davis to Grass Valley. Not too far down the list at No. 5 was Woodcreek with 61,000 rounds.


“We have two pretty nice, distinct city-owned golf courses here in Roseville. I think people here are pretty lucky,” said Rob Frederick, the only head pro Woodcreek has known since its 1995 opening. “Diamond Oaks is like a nice, friendly, scenic walk in the park. Woodcreek is more challenging, with several forced carries and is a tougher for both women and seniors.”


With its upscale architecture and more appealing landscaping that features granite rocks, mature oak trees and native wetlands, Woodcreek has more of a country club feel. Venerable Diamond Oaks, a traditional track and no-frills facility, dates back to 1963 when sleepy Roseville had about 14,000 people (today’s population exceeds 115,000).


“I grew up in Citrus Heights and remember playing Diamond Oaks when it was like a cow pasture out here,” says Bobby Manpir, taking a break from hitting range balls at the Ted Robinson-designed course. “Diamond Oaks is a little shorter and easier to walk. Woodcreek offers more of a challenge; you need a lot of different shots out there. I like playing both courses. But if I’m playing with buddies I prefer Woodcreek, where you can have a beer and something to eat afterward.”


Times have changed since the two SRI Golf-run courses were true rivals. In its infancy, Woodcreek drew Roseville’s younger, more affluent golfers who liked all the modern amenities, while the many senior-age regulars at Diamond Oaks resisted change and stayed put.


“At first I think it was a cultural thing. Woodcreek was the new kid on the block and Diamond Oaks had the old guard who didn’t want changes,” said Prenez, who took over from retired Ed Vasconcellos in 2000 and is only the third head pro in DO’s 47 years. “But I think that’s changed now, golfers feel comfortable playing at either course.”


Brad Coleman of Roseville is chipping range balls on this windy Saturday at Diamond Oaks. Once a low-handicapper, he hasn’t played much in recent years as his index has grown to a “12 or 15,” a situation he’s trying to correct.


An Arkansas transplant, Coleman plays both Woodcreek and Diamond Oaks. He has definite opinions when comparing the tree-lined, rolling terrain at Diamond with the more penalty-inducing Woodcreek layout designed by Robert Muir Graves.


“Diamond Oaks is easy, it’s a feel-good course where you can hit it almost anywhere and not get in trouble,” Coleman said. “You have to place your shots at Woodcreek. It’s more strategic, so it’s more fun for me to play out there.”


Yet to some golfers, the price tag is the lone consideration on which course to play. The rates ($28 walking, $44 cart) are identical Monday through Friday. But on the weekends Diamond Oaks is $34 to walk and $50 with cart, a $6 savings over Woodcreek.


“The price is a little cheaper at Diamond Oaks; that makes a difference to me,” admits Shane Winstead of Rancho Cordova.


When Roseville strategically added another golf course 15 years ago the plan was to include a facility that could handle large tournaments and host special events like weddings and civic gatherings. Diamond Oaks hosts its share of smaller tournaments and leaves the larger outings to Woodcreek.


“I’ve talked to people all over the Sacramento region at places like Empire Ranch (in Folsom), where they have a nice golf course but a cafeteria-like area that is nothing like what we have here at Woodcreek,” Frederick said. “We’re very fortunate; we have a full-service course with a lighted driving range, nice restaurant, separate bar and banquet facility.”


It may not have the ambiance of TV-favorite Cheers, but the Legends & Heroes bar at Woodcreek is a favorite gathering place for Mike Watson. The former Roseville High football standout now lives in Natomas, but he spends plenty of weekends on the Woodcreek course, hanging out with friends afterward.


“I change it up sometimes, but I prefer playing Woodcreek over Diamond Oaks,” said Watson, 27. “It’s a more challenging course and has one of the toughest holes (par-5, No. 5) in the area. But truthfully, I probably spend more time here in Legends than on the golf course. I know a lot of the regulars here; it feels like my neighborhood bar.”


Jeffrey Weidel is the former editor of the Press-Tribune.


Diamond Oaks Golf Course

Opened: 1963

Course architect: Ted Robinson

Head Pro: Scott Prenez

Back tees: 6,189 yards

Tee times: (916) 783-4947?


Woodcreek Golf Club

Opened: 1995

Course architect: Robert Muir Graves

Head pro: Rob Frederick

Back tees: 6,518

Tee times: (916) 771-4653