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It’s all about family at Jack Tone Golf Course

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It’s all about family at Jack Tone Golf Course

Taking golfers’ clubs to waiting carts is a constant courtesy of Ripon golf pro and owner of the Jack Tone Golf Course George Buzzini. The two Manteca golfers who are regulars at the Ripon links a...

GLENN KAHL/The 209


POSTED March 17, 2012 1:05 a.m.

RIPON — George Buzzini - golf pro and owner of the Jack Tone Golf course - gets a kick out of joking with his customers while his wife Sharon shoulders the chief financial officer responsibilities of keeping the business side on track and profitable.

With tongue in cheek, Buzzini said he enjoys a first time golfer coming through the door asking what they charge at Jack Tone. 

“I tell them we charge by the car and I ask how nice a car they are driving,” he said.  Buzzini leads them to believe that if they’re driving a Mercedes, that green fees would be more than a 1950s vintage farm pickup truck. 

Of course he always explains his answer is just in jest – adding that a year’s membership is actually only $60. That opens the doors to monthly NCGA sponsored tournaments.  Green fees at the 80 acre course are $13 during the week and $16 on a weekend.

“We try to keep people in a jovial mood all the time,” Buzzini said.  “It’s all about family.”

Buzzini said he has always been impressed by the dynamics of the people they draw from throughout two counties.  There was concern about the marketing area – with Ripon at a mere 7,000 population – when the family laid out the course.  The annual golfer count has averaged 30,000 competitors, he said.

George and his staff know many of their golfers by their first names when they pop in the door of the clubhouse.  “We knew were going to be smaller and it was going to be a market for seniors and beginners just starting out,” he said.

“We have a golfer-friendly atmosphere here,” Buzzini said as he singled out a group of regulars who come to Ripon from Livermore.  “There’s Ray, Lynn and Jackie from Livermore and Bill and Joyce from Benicia – all high school buddies.”

The Ripon pro added that he has a lot of golfers coming from the west side of Stanislaus County as well as from Linden, Lodi and Oakdale.

Don Knickerbocker is a Sunday morning regular and Buzzini’s dog “Miss China” faithfully waits for him in the parking lot, ready to share his bear claw from the bakery.

The 16-year-old golf course mascot trots alongside the golfer as they walk into the clubhouse together, where they both sit down and share the pastry.  Miss China always knows when it is Sunday morning – at about 7 a.m. – when she meets her friend for her share of his breakfast roll.

Donn Thompson from Lodi was another golfer on hand this week getting ready to tee off at the Ripon course.  Thompson not only attended French Camp School as a young boy but he returned to teach there as an adult.

Thompson reminisced about the number of times he had played Jack Tone as well as his 40-year tenure at French Camp.  He said he entered first grade the same year George McParland became principal.  When he got out of college he wrote McParland and asked him for a job in the classroom – the principal’s response was: “What grade level do you want?”

Thompson said he taught all grade levels at one time or another.

Buzzini was the youngest golf pro in the region when he opened the Manteca Municipal Golf Course in 1964.  He clearly remembers the owner of the Manteca Bulletin, George Murphy, Jr., coming to him and asking if he could hit some balls on the driving range before the course actually opened later in the month.

Murphy devoted a portion of his popular “Batting the Breeze” column in the following edition of the paper to his christening of the new course – claiming its first “birdie” on the course.

That “birdie” he was referring to was of two-winged variety that got taken out by one of his long drives.

 GLENN KAHL
209 staff reporter

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