Does Woodlake still have a golf course?
Yes, but a subpar water year has left locals missing the green fairways of the once lush links.
The loss of a water well, the extra expense of pumping groundwater has forced Hank’s Woodlake Ranch Golf Course to cut water use and expenses by letting the fairways brown and turning off its phone line. Regardless of how vacant or how bad the drought gets, owner Hank Bocchini, Jr. vows to stay the course and keep Woodlake open.
“We are going to be here,” said Hank Bocchini, Jr., owner of Hank’s golf courses in Woodlake and Fresno. “We are staying. This is going to be a golf course. I have heard that people think we are closed, but we are open for business.”
Bocchini’s troubles started earlier this year when one of his two wells went dry. He said the 50 hp power burned up when the well went dry.
“I saw smoke and saw the cord on fire and knew we were in trouble,” he said.
Bocchini decided to let the fairways go, but spends 13 and a half hours a day moving sprinklers to keep the greens watered. Bocchini said when he purchased the course in 2001 the water level was 17 feet. That well is now at 100 feet and completely dry.
“We never anticipated this kind of problem,” he said. “We had one well lowered 20 feet and at the time people thought I was crazy, but that has saved us for now.”
Bocchini said he is worried about the second well going dry.
“Every morning I turn on the faucet and water comes out, I thank God I have water,” he said.
Bocchini stays in a small room at the Woodlake course while his wife and son live in Fresno and run Hank Swanks Par 3 Golf Course off Highway 180.
“They have asked me to come home, but I am home,” he said. “In time all this will work out. It’s like starting over. The hardest thing is paying the $3,000 to $5,000 a month in electricity to run the pump.”
The golf course, located at 21730 Avenue 332 in Woodlake, is open seven days a week and has a driving range for those who just want to hit some balls. Golf carts are also available. One of the things Bocchini let go was the phone so there is no contact number.
“If you show up and I am out on the course, just start golfing or grab a bucket of balls sitting out,” said Bocchini. “I’ll catch up with you later.”
Bocchini said that some players have been bringing there own mats to make teeing off easier and that the greens are nice.
“Business has been bad, but I hope it will get better. I will do everything I can to keep this course open,” he said.
It cost $10 to play 18 holes and $25 with a cart during the week. The cost is $30 with a cart on weekends and holidays. A bucket of balls for the driving range start at $5 and go up.
“I am here every day, trying to keep this going,” said Bocchini. “Come and see me and play some golf.”