New ownership has plans for upgrades of DarkHorse Golf Club |

New ownership has plans for upgrades of DarkHorse Golf Club

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

The DarkHorse Golf Club in south Nevada County has been sold to a Chinese investment firm based in Irvine, Calif.

Asia Pacific Group, which was founded in July 2012 and is currently active, according to the California Secretary of State, bought the golf course and 75 residential lots for an undisclosed amount in early January, according to Rod Metzler, CEO of Empire Golf.

Empire Golf manages the golf course, which has been ranked in the top 10 in California by Golf World Magazine, and one of the Top 10 (courses) You Can Play in America by Golf Magazine. Golf Digest honored DarkHorse as one of its Best New Affordable Public Courses in the early 2000s.

The course, which was designed by Keith Foster, is renowned for being a challenging but playable course that is affordable for most recreationists (with a round of golf priced at $45-70, depending on the time of day and the season), Metzler said.

“The original developers had a great vision for a course, unfortunately, their timing wasn’t good.”

— Rod Metzler, CEO of Empire Golf

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"The original developers had a great vision for a course, unfortunately, their timing wasn't good," Metzler said.

Originally advertised as the "street of dreams," the luxury development located next to the Lake of Pines was first opened by Ed and Chad Fralick in 2002.

The Fralicks soon ran into financial trouble and defaulted on the property in 2007, when Owens Financial Group, which was the original lender on the project, bought the property.

Metzler said he is excited that Asia Pacific Group has taken over, as Owens Financial Group's primary mission is to lend money, not run golf courses.

By all accounts, Asia Pacific Group is ready to invest in a significant upgrade of infrastructure at the golf course, which is direly needed, Metzler said.

The golf course lacks working bathrooms, and golfers are forced to used portable facilities.

Fixing the on-course bunkers and constructing a clubhouse on the premises are also in the works.

"They never put a clubhouse in," Metzler said, adding the lack of a clubhouse impeded the ability to host fundraisers, social events and other functions.

The new ownership group has discussed the possibility of adding a golf academy located near the driving range.

"It would be a combination of a golf academy and school," Metzler said. "It's one of the visions of the new owners."

National statistics compiled by National Golf Foundation, a Jupiter, Fla.-based golfing association that reports on the economics of golf, indicates the total amount of rounds played on courses in the United States fell by 2.5 percent from 2010 to 2011.

California, however, bucked the national trend, witnessing a 2.3 percent increase over the same time period, according to the national report.

The report is based on rounds-played data provided by operators of approximately 4,000 golf courses nationwide.

Metzler said a number of factors contribute to the national decline in rounds played, including the time it takes to play and the ever-expanding portfolio of recreational options.

Locally, the Sacramento area witnessed an influx of new golf courses in the early 2000s, resulting in a saturated market, Metzler said.

He still believes the future of the sport is bright, however.

"Whether you walk or ride, it is a healthy activity," he said. "Also, a golf course is a beautiful place to be."

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda email mrenda@theunion or call 530-477-4239.

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