A group of Eagle Ridge residents stand in one of the golf course’s weed-filled bunkers recently that is set to be rebuilt. Photo: Erik Chalhoub
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The Eagle Ridge Golf Club has been a staple of Gilroy for two decades, winding through an upscale community of more than 900 homes and attracting golfers from throughout the state looking for a challenging course.

But many longtime residents of the community, some of whom were among the first to step on the fairways in 1999, say the 18-hole course has deteriorated in recent years.

While some holes are well-maintained, others feel neglected, residents say. Many sand bunkers are choked with weeds, rendering them unplayable. Among other issues, landscape and fairway maintenance has fallen into disrepair, and the clubhouse’s meal operations are limited, according to residents. 

Eagle Ridge Golf Club management recently embarked on a bunker renovation project. Homeowners and golfers hope the improvements will extend to other areas of the course as well.

Many residents say the golf course is missing out on its potential.

“This place could be absolutely beautiful,” Eagle Ridge resident Darren Louttit said. “The patio at the clubhouse probably has the best view in Santa Clara County. It’s beautiful. You can fill those tables every night.”

Resident Frank Damiano said Eagle Ridge at one point was “everything you expected it to be,” but that designation has slipped in recent years.

“In Gilroy, Eagle Ridge is the place to live in and always has been,” he said. “You were not disappointed when you came in here some years ago. Now you’d be disappointed.”

Eagle Ridge LLC, owned by Fremont-based Yadav Enterprises, purchased the golf course in 2016 for $3.8 million, according to property records. Yadav Enterprises, in addition to owning two other golf courses in California, operates more than 300 Jack in the Box, Denny’s and other restaurants throughout the country.

Wedgewood Weddings owns the food and banquet facilities.

Eagle Ridge Golf Club General Manager Sonal Barlage said crews are currently in the midst of a bunker renovation project that aims to improve the playability of the course.

“The bunkers for years have been unplayable for the average golfer,” she said. “They were far too steep to allow an average golfer to play out of. We have reduced many of the sizes of the bunkers and made it easier to walk in and out of the bunkers.”

Barlage added that management is focusing on other areas of the course for improvement while the bunker project is ongoing.

“We are also determining any areas of improvement or change in the entire course to improve the playability,” she said. “Specifically, the focus is on making changes or improvements to the fairways and tee boxes while the bunker project is underway.”

Eagle Ridge Golf Club was forced to close for about a month during the early days of the Covid-19 shelter-in-place order, which started in mid-March. Barlage said the course struggled to bring back maintenance crews, while shared golf carts are no longer allowed, “requiring additional work and respective labor force to get our guests the tools they needed.”

Barlage said golf is a “tough business,” with rising maintenance, water and playing costs making it difficult to be profitable.

“However, we are encouraged by better than normal business with golf allowed after the initial shelter-in-place orders, so we are hoping to end 2020 very strong,” she said.

Kevin Kelly, president of the Eagle Ridge Men’s Club, said many golfers would be willing to pay more to use the course if it meant that money would be reinvested into improvements, adding that the costs to play at the course are currently “reasonably priced.”

Barlage encouraged golfers to continue to play at the course while renovation is underway, adding that those who book the course online or over the phone are notified of the efforts.

“We are making a large investment in the golf course to improve the playability of the golf course for decades to come, for golfers of all ages,” she said. “We hope the improvements will be supported by the community, so we can maintain a high-end golf course.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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