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River Oaks back-nine course re-opens to rave reviews
Jason Goeppner
Jason Goeppner was among the 80 participants at the River Oaks scramble tournament on Saturday. The event was staged to celebrate the re-opening of the back-nine course. - photo by Contributed

Golf enthusiasts flocked to River Oaks this past weekend to celebrate the re-opening of the back-nine course, which was closed for 18 months due to flooding.

A total of 80 players participated in the two-person team scramble tournament Saturday morning in Ceres.

More than 60 people played on Sunday.

"Everybody liked the changes. Some people said it hasn’t looked that good in 15 years.”
Ryan Thornberry, co-owner of River Oaks Golf Course

“It was awesome having that much support,” said Ryan Thornberry, co-owner. “All the feedback we got was positive. Everybody liked the changes. Some people said it hasn’t looked that good in 15 years.”

“Having 18 holes instead of nine is a big deal,” Thornberry added. “We got our full course back. It’s going to be a game-changer for us.”

Carlos Maldonado, a 2002 Ceres High grad and four-year golfer with the Bulldogs, competed in the scramble tournament.

“I’ve been playing there since my freshman year of high school,” Maldonado said. “The course looks great now. Everything looks healthy. Big-time upgrade from what it used to be. It’s only going to get better.”

The Thornberry and Hall families purchased the River Oaks Golf Course & Event Center in August of 2015.

A total of $300,000 has been spent on improvements.

They constructed a 3,200-square foot tented event center beside the clubhouse.

They added an additional 150 yards to the back-nine course.

FootGolf and disc golf courses were also installed.

“When they became owners, I knew they’d fix it up,” Maldonado said. “They wowed me. Everything looks a lot nicer. They put a lot of time, effort and pride into it. I’m super proud of him (Ryan) and his family. I’m happy for them. They had to battle through a lot of adversity. Right after they bought it, the flood happened.”

“It’s been a long, uphill battle,” Thornberry said. “When the bottom nine closed, people stopped coming out here.  We’re finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. The course is in great shape now. The focus is maintaining and improving it. The venue is growing. We’re hoping it’s going to be a main attraction for years to come.”