By BRUCE MEADOWS
“New’ BV is looking good . . .
Call it “coming full circle,” or maybe just “coming home.”
But for Greg Anderson, it seems like just the right fit at the right time for him at Santa Rosa’s Bennett Valley Golf Course, a course he first played when he was 9 years old.
Anderson, a Cardinal Newman grad, has been around, holding down a lot of jobs in the golfing world, as far away as Princeville CC in Kauai.
Over the years, among other things, he has been Director of Golf at Valley of the Moon (when it was Oakmont GC) and Braemar CC in Tarzana, and Sunset Hills in Thousand Oaks, as well as Head Pro at Sea Ranch and Foxtail (when it was Mountain Shadows).
Anderson, a Level 1 Wine Sommelier, also developed Golf Vino, a unique golf/wine experience for clientele and a nationally recognized operation, as well as the Greg Anderson Golf Academy, which taught more than 1,000 students a year. And you can toss in Next Level Golf and Fitness.
But Greg, 63, is now the general manager at Bennett Valley, taking on the role when Touchstone Golf outbid some notable companies and took over management of the 18-hole city-owned facility.
Touchstone, a nation-wide operation, oversees close to 50 golf courses, and was the top bidder when BV’s lease came on the market.
For a while, there was a remote chance BV, the only true public 18-hole course in Santa Rosa, would be reduced to nine holes or even be totally scrapped in order to build low- and middle-income housing.
I have no idea how close BV actually came to that reality, although I know the public outcry by a group 4,000 strong named “Save Bennett Valley Golf Course” had a lot to do with the city-owned layout staying intact.
It’s been 17 months since Touchstone took over the lease and Greg was named GM.
“The job here has indeed created a full circle in my career,” said Greg, as we sat on the patio at the Iron and Vine restaurant, that had closed during the pandemic but is back open and doing a brisk business, hosting weddings and receptions, school reunions — Greg attended his own Newman reunion there — birthday and retirement parties, wine tastings and just about any legal function you can come up with.
“I couldn’t imagine being in a better place at this time in my career,” said Greg, a graduate of Newman, Santa Rosa JC and University of San Diego. He played golf at Newman, SRJC and San Diego, where he played No. 1 in the lineup.
“I’m having fun trying to get this property functioning as it should . . . we have a great restaurant and event center, and the golf course just keeps getting better with time.”
In fact, on a golf cart tour of the course last week, the place looked great. Overhanging trees have been trimmed, bunkers have been repaired and filled with quality sand, and the tee areas have been enlarged and flattened to make teeing off much better, a definite improvement.
The City of Santa Rosa has also provided Touchstone with CapEx money that has allowed BV to modernize equipment on the course and in the restaurant. And 72 new ClubCar golf carts are on the way.
In the works is also a $2 million project to build a lake and give much-needed support for the always challenging irrigation system.
BV has a staff of 72 employees, including head pro C.J. Snyder, and two holdovers from the old days, Don Ballard and Steve Tiedemann, working on the maintenance crew.
“Probably one of the most enjoyable parts of my position is seeing longtime friends and family,” said Greg. “It might be someone who played basketball for my dad (Jack) at Slater, someone who grew up with my brothers or just people I have spent time with in my past.”
Greg, who actually worked maintenance at BV when he was at Santa Rosa JC, said, “we’ve done a lot at the club and I like where we are on the management side of business . . . the course has been in great shape and we are always looking for ways to make it better.”
Green fees are always an issue . . . for players and course operators. BV, which has to go through the city to change rates, raised fees in 2023 and will be going to the city next year to see if any more increases are in order. Currently, BV rates are comparable or in some cases lower than similar courses in the area. Resident rates are a possibility but not a certainty.
How long will Greg be involved?
“I want to see someprojects go through that will make the club spectacular before I retire,” he said. “I often wonder what I would do anyway . . . I love what I’m doing,always look forward to the next day of events.”
“The city is very happy with what Touchstone Golf is doing with the property,” said Greg, who lives close to the course with his wife, Lori, and 23-year-old son Rich. “But I think we have only scratched the surface . . . the upside is that BVGC is way in front of us . . . the chase is on.”
Besides the obvious goals, Greg has a somewhat personal one. Since coming to BV he has aced two of the four par-3 holes, Nos. 6 and 15. That gives him six career holes-in-one.
If you haven’t visited BV lately, I suggest you check it out. It looks like Greg and his staff are working hard to make it better for everyone.
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