In 2010, two years before she retired from her job in human resources at Sutter Health, Debbie Moreno picked up the phone and called the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento.
She was interested in golf and wanting to know more about the game and how to try and go about getting started in it.
“I said, ‘You know, I’ve never golfed,’ ” Moreno recalled.
The next thing she knew, Moreno was signed up for lessons with Noni Schneider, a teaching professional at Haggin Oaks and a former LPGA Tour player who was inducted into the First Tee – Greater Sacramento Golf Hall of Fame in 2016.
“It just took off from there,” said Moreno. “The Haggin Oaks staff treats the ladies groups with utmost respect. They treat us really well.”
Soon after retiring in January of 2012, Moreno joined the Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club, a women’s group that was formed in 1965 and continues to play each week throughout the year, on Thursday mornings, at the Arcade Creek Golf Course. The group plays nine holes, alternating between the between the front nine one week and the back nine the next week, at Arcade Creek, a championship layout that opened in 1952. It’s one of the longest-running nine-hole women’s golf clubs in the City of Sacramento and Sacramento County.
“I’ve been with them ever since,” said Moreno. “When I joined, I was new to the game.”
There are 50 players in the Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club, which has a board of directors, its very own handicap rating system, and “is best known for having fun, social camaraderie and for conducting low-pressure competitive events,” according to the Haggin Oaks website, www.hagginoaks.com.
Moreno began playing with the club a couple of years after taking up the game with the help of Schneider, who won the Sacramento City Women’s Championships in 1968 and 1969 and the Sacramento County Women’s Championship in 1970. Schneider is also a past winner at the San Francisco City Golf Championships, having captured the women’s title in 1969. She made 89 starts on the LPGA Tour, a career that spanned from 1972 to 1982.
Moreno found out right away a very welcoming group when she began playing with the Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club, which puts tournaments and other events on during the year.
“I discovered that there are players of all levels. And while everybody is extremely friendly, they take it seriously, and they want to play well. And they want to continue to improve their game,” Moreno pointed out.
“It can be competitive. We have tournaments and guest days and things like that. But more importantly, everyone is just friendly. We’re serious, but not that serious. We take care of one another.”
The staff at Haggin Oaks – a facility that also features the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course, 24-hour Driving Range with 100 hitting stalls and target greens, Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, MacKenzie Putting Course, Super Shop, Player Performance Studio, Haggin Oaks Shoe Store, Club Performance & Repair Center, MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille – also makes sure to take time to look out for the Niners Golf Club, Moreno said.
“They’re very, very good to us. They attend events. They give us updates on what’s happening around the course. It could be repairs. It could be drainage. It could be anything,” said Moreno.
Moreno also plays in the Haggin Oaks Women’s Golf Club, an 18-hole group that was founded in 1967 and plays on Tuesday mornings at the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course.
“It’s a full service club. The Grille is absolutely wonderful. It’s such a nice environment, that generally after play, everybody hangs around and gets something to eat and sits outside just to be able to continue that gathering and the socializing, because people have become friends, and have recommended other people to join.”
The Niners’ club starts play anywhere from 7:30 to 9 a.m., depending upon the time of year and weather conditions.
The members of the club are connected not just by their love for golf, but also the friendships that they have made.
“This is a very social group and it covers all of the ages,” said Judy Threadgill, a retired administrative assistant for the San Juan Unified School District, who is a member of the Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club.
Threadgill is a past captain and served as the tournament director for the club for 17 years. Threadgill is in charge of the handicapping.
“We play so much and we have so much fun together,” said Threadgill. “It’s one you don’t want to miss because it’s a very social group, too.
“It’s part of your social life. And right now, we don’t have much. Thank goodness, there’s golf. The ladies, young or old, they need this socialization. I’d be lost without it, because I have very little other outside contact, other than my family.
“I wouldn’t miss it. You learn so much, not just about golf, but about anything, if you’re having a problem. As you’re playing with someone, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got trouble with this thing with my car. Oh, I know just the person.’ There is this exchange of information. It’s like an encyclopedia of how to or where to go. It’s just a wonderful social group.
“It’s just a special group and it just works out beautifully.”
The club accepts new members and is open to anyone. According to the Haggin Oaks website, www.hagginoaks.com, “The Haggin Oaks Niners welcomes new members who love golf and want to play on a somewhat regular basis. The Niners play every Thursday year-round, but members don’t need to play every week. Sign-ups are two weeks in advance for a tee-time for the Thursday you want to play. Members walk or take a cart and the club will find a partner for you or you can sign up with a friend. We have tournaments and twice a year celebratory luncheons. Our membership is growing and you will definitely find ‘golf-buddies’ by becoming a Niner. New members also receive a free round of golf, just for joining!”
History of Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club
The Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club was founded by Ken Morton, Sr., a PGA Master Professional and the Chief Executive Officer for Morton Golf LLC and Morton Golf Management Companies.
Morton was the head golf instructor at Haggin Oaks at the time the Niners’ group started. It was a time in golf, the 1960s, when the women’s home clubs at the different golf courses in the area were at capacity, with waiting lists.
“Golf in the ’60s for women was very explosive,” said Morton. “I was giving classes to women coming into the game and women’s groups every day of the week. The game exploded. What happened is that I began to figure out that after a couple years of that, as I was introducing all these women to the game, they had nowhere to go. So then I formed the Niners and that was hugely successful. It just exploded right off the bat.
“The Niners became so popular that three years later, I had to add another women’s home club to the facility in order to take care of the overflow from that.”
Morton was inducted into the National PGA Hall of Fame in 2005 and has been the recipient of the National PGA Professional of the Year award in 1998, National PGA Junior Golf Leader Award, National PGA Horton Smith Award for PGA Education, and California Golf Writers Golf Person of the Year Award, just to name a few of the honors.
The Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club has a membership book that provides history and information about the group and its players and members, including past presidents and past captains, throughout all the years.
“It’s amazing, just how many have participated and how long the ladies stay in the club,” said Moreno. “We’ve probably got one of the biggest Niner groups in town, as we have about 50 members. Even the
ladies that have been in it for years and can no longer play because of their age or physical limitations, they still stay on, so that they can be part of the camaraderie.”
The Board of Directors for the Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club consists of:
- Captain: Carolyn Otis,
- Co-Captain: Maureen Manley.
- Secretary: Elaine Cannon.
- Treasurer: Darlene McLean.
- Handicapper: Adele Kruger.
- Tournament Chair: Carol Menefee.
- Starter/Assistant Tournament Chair: Judy Logan.
- Membership Chair: Debbie Moreno.
- Past Captain: Rhonda Slusser.
The club received assistance over the years from Cameron Champ’s grandfather, Mack “Pops” Champ. Mack, who was influential in getting Cameron started in the game, passed away in 2019. Cameron is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and won the Safeway Open in 2019 on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.
“He was there for the Niners. He took such good care of us for years,” said Threadgill. “If anyone was moving a little slow, he would get up there and he would tend to flag or rake the bunker for you.”
For more information
More information about the Haggin Oaks Niners Golf Club can be obtained by:
- Calling (916) 481-GOLF or (916) 808-2526.
- Contacting the Haggin Oaks Niners Membership Chair.
- Checking the information on the Niners bulletin board in the ladies lounge at Haggin Oaks.
New members will need five attested scorecards from the Arcade Creek Golf Course to join, according to www.hagginoaks.com.
The club dues are $34 annually.
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.