Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening at Bing Maloney’s Toptracer Range – A Marty James Story

SACRAMENTO – As he looks out the window from his office at the Bing Maloney Golf Complex and sees juniors on the practice green and others on the par-72, 6,569-yard championship course, Willie Toney feels as if his life has come full circle.

It’s here in South Sacramento, so very close actually to the Golf View Terrace area he grew up in, where Toney was introduced to golf when he just was 11 years old.
It’s here where he was given a starter’s set of clubs by one of the golfers who played regularly at the course.

It’s here where he learned to play, starting out in 1976 with his hands forming the correct grip on the club and then going on to get instruction on the swing and hitting shots. “I’ve been playing ever since,” said Toney.

It’s here where he fell in love with the game.

It’s here where he got a job, working for Tom Doris, the head golf professional, in the carts area.

It’s here where he played in his first tournament, the City Junior, in 1978. He was in the 11th flight and after shooting a 97 in qualifying, he moved on to match play. “I made it all the way to the final day and I lost in the final. But I got a trophy. Really, that was the thrill of a lifetime for me. I wanted to play competitive golf after that. So, I did everything I could to get better at this game. And working here was the vehicle for that,” Toney said.

It’s here where Toney is now the PGA head golf professional. He’s a Class A pro and is approaching a quarter-century as a PGA of America member.

After working at different courses around Northern California – including Mather Golf Course (assistant pro), Stevinson Ranch (assistant pro), Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club in Patterson (head golf professional), Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland (Director of Golf Operations), Olympic Club in San Francisco (assistant pro), and El Macero Country Club (Director of Golf Operations) – Toney returned to Bing Maloney a year ago.

“It’s full-circle for me, because none of the things that happen in golf ever take place unless I started here,” said Toney, a 1984 graduate of Burbank High School-Sacramento.

He started out at a very young age by selling golf balls that he found to players that were hit over a fence.

“Let me tell you how I fell in love with it. Walking down that fence line, one day, a ball flies over the pines, hits the street once, ends up on one of the lawns on the opposite side of the street. A guy pulls up and says, ‘I’ll give you 50 cents if you give me that golf ball back.’ I’m 10 years old – 50 cents in 1975 was like 50 bucks. So I go, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ I give him the ball. He gives me 50 cents,” Toney said.

“As a kid growing up out here, just to fast forward to where I am now, to see how much this place has changed, and the things they’re doing to improve just the quality of the golf course.”

There is a new look to the Bing Maloney Golf Complex, as the driving range now features Toptracer Range, a launch monitor-based system.

Caity Maple, a City of Sacramento Councilmember, took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday for the recently completed installation of Toptracer Range.

“It’s fun. It’s affordable. And I think it’s going to help out whoever comes out and uses it,” said Toney.

A grand opening for Toptracer Range began on Friday and continued over the weekend, at the Bing Maloney Golf Complex. The grand opening featured games and prizes throughout the weekend. T

Each of the 29 stalls at the driving range feature Toptracer Range, a system that provides the player with important data and information, including launch angle, spin rate, ball speed, trajectory, how far the ball carried, when it landed, how much roll it got after the carry.

“It gives you all these data parameters,” said Toney. “Now you have it available on a driving range. So, it’s going to benefit anyone that uses it, especially if they want to see what those numbers look like. And then it has some fun features to it because it has games, too.

“You can do a lot of things and track your progress. It will help you out because it will give you the information that I think is a must-know – how far you actually carry the ball.”

Morton Golf Management oversees the facilities at the Bing Maloney Golf Complex, which was built in 1952 on a 125-acre site, according to its website, www.bingmaloney.com, and is open to the public. The course is open seven days a week.

“Adding amenities like this, it excites everyone in the area,” said Toney. “As a young kid growing up, we thought we knew what technology was. Our kids have it way better than we did that way.

“So, to provide this for all these young kids that are starting to play this game, and giving them a fun place to play, a safe place to play, and then learn the game – phenomenal. And anyone in the area, they’re going to enjoy it.”

Toney continued in golf, playing in high school for Burbank.

After graduating from Prairie View A&M University with a degree in criminal justice, Toney turned pro in 1989 and played the Golden State Tour, a mini-tour. He has also played in PGA Section events.

The driving range at Bing Maloney, which is fully lighted and has artificial mats to hit off, opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. each day.

The installation of the Toptracer Range system at Bing Maloney started in March. It was completed and operational just over three weeks ago.

Maple said the Toptracer Range system enhances and adds to Bing Maloney’s long, great history in the area. The complex was named in memory of John B. “Bing” Maloney, a former superintendent of the City of Sacramento’s Recreation Department. Maloney was “instrumental in persuading the city to build the course,” according to www.bingmaloney.com.

“Having an amenity like this, for the public to enjoy, and also for our young people to come learn, is incredible. And being able to have the type of technology where they can learn about their skills and improve is really, really exciting,” said Maple.

“Bing Maloney Golf (Complex) is a gem of our community, and it’s been around for a very long time. (Golfers) now get the added benefit of having this really advanced technology. But we also hope that it will bring new people in and continue the legacy of the golf course over time. We want to see more people in the community take advantage of it.”

Maple added that she would like to see students from area schools come out to Bing Maloney and learn about Toptracer Range, getting involved in golf and utilizing the technology.

To use the system, players check in at Bing Maloney and create a user-name and profile and get a QR code to register into Toptracer. Golfers pay for the golf balls that they use at the range.

Bing Maloney has a player development staff and a range staff.

“The technology itself and using it, it doesn’t cost you anything,” said Dylan Flynn, the General Manager at Bing Maloney and Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course. “It’s a great thing for anybody coming to Bing Maloney.

“The great thing about this Toptracer technology is that it can touch anybody. It doesn’t have to just be the golfer who wants to come out there and get better. You come out there and it touches the person that’s just learning and wants to know about golf. And so, this gives them an avenue to test golf and just see how much they can enjoy it and really begin to hopefully get that bug.

“It’s just that next-level enhancement that we can give to our customer and really provide that next level of enjoyment for them.”

Toptracer’s website, toptracer.com, points out: “At Toptracer, we believe in the power of more.

More data fuels more insights. More insights drive more innovation. And more innovation means more games that appeal to more players, so they come back and play even more.

“When we invented driving range technology two decades ago, we reinvented the driving range experience. And even though we’ve been at it longer than anyone, we’re just getting started.”

  • Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.

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