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He’s home on the (golf) range

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He’s home on the (golf) range

McHenry Golf Center Pro Dana Arnold-Ebster gives a lesson to MJC golfer Erica Ballard while Head Pro Ken Miller looks on.


POSTED March 17, 2012 1:06 a.m.

MODESTO – Ken Miller might as well have been born with a golf club in his hand.

The Modesto native and golf pro grew up prowling the links of the Del Rio Country Club and as he learned the ins and outs of the game quickly saw his profile as an amateur golfer improving dramatically.

It wasn’t long before he ended up as one of the top-ranked junior golfers in the country, earning him a spot on the Fresno State Golf Team and moving one step closer towards what would eventually be a career in a sport that he loved.

Miller earned his pro card in 1987, and worked his way up to become the head professional at Claratina Golf and Country Grill in Modesto. When the site got ready to close several years ago he gathered his resources and took the plunge by building McHenry Golf Center – the massive driving range and practice area just south of Modesto’s main drag.

Naturally he looks forward to coming to work every day.

“I love the fact that it’s an outdoor game and you get the chance to take all of that in,” Miller said of what drew him to golf. “It truly is an individual sport. Success and failure depends on what you do.

“And it’s not like baseball or football or the other sports where you have a shelf life. You can play golf at any age.”

The sprawling complex – which has room for 80 people on the range – houses a team of five golf professionals including Miller. With a diverse range of experience among them Miller is able oversee a multitude of programs aimed at improving the game of both newcomers and old hands.

Seniors can take advantage of free lessons on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:30 to 11 a.m. – the only cost are the balls used on the range. Pro Dana Arnold-Ebster – who played collegiately at USC before playing professionally – teaches a junior program that runs from mid-March through the end of September on Saturdays from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Kids 4-12 are welcome.

Golf pro Shane Balfour does work with local high school and collegiate teams.

While the economy has impacted Miller’s business somewhat, the unique layout of the property – with a 10,000-square-foot putting green, a sloped putting green and a chipping hole surrounded by three bunkers that gives the player the illusion of approaching a hole – has drawn in people who don’t want to pay the $100 it costs for a day on the links.

“We’ve had some better weather than we did last year so that has helped, but we have taken a little bit of a hit,” Miller said. “We still get a lot of people out here using the facility, and we’re hoping that as it warms up that trend continues.

“We really prided ourselves in wanting to build the best here and we feel that we’ve done. We partnered up with Roger Dunn Golf Shops, so whether it’s just hitting a bucket of balls or lessons or working on putting we have everything here.”

The McHenry Golf Center – located at 5150 McHenry Avenue – will host the annual Roger Dunn Golf Shops Demo Day on Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All major golf vendors will be on hand to allow patrons to test out the newest in golfing technology.

The business – which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – also offers golf club repair and fitting. For additional information call (209) 523-5151 or visit

To get to McHenry Golf Center take Highway 99 south to the Kiernan Road exit and turn left over the freeway. Follow Kiernan all the way to McHenry and make a left. The facility will be on your right hand side.

209 staff  reporter

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