When you do something for 30-odd years in a row, you get pretty good at it. When that something involves bringing the best in golf equipment and services to the public under a bright springtime sun, you either get it right or don’t hang around for long. On that score, Ken Morton and his well-respected Sacramento-based family not only get it right, they keep getting better at it. Their Haggin Oaks Golf Expo, which returns April 30-May 2, is called “America’s Largest Demo Days” for good reason. Actually, we can think of at least a half-dozen reasons why it’s the biggest and the best ...
1. It’s free
That’s right, free to the public. No $5 or $10 shell-out at the gate. No coupons to track down or anything special to remember. No long lines to stand in. Just come-and-get-it golf fun and value.
The Mortons run the most admired green-grass retail operation in the country.
They command the attention and claim the friendship of big and small golf equipment vendors alike, all the way up to Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein. So why wouldn’t that kind of business acumen translate to a three-day festival showcasing what they sell in the Super Store?
3. It’s outdoors
Only once in the past 20 years has a spate of freakish springtime weather shut down this event. It’s almost guaranteed to be in the 80s and sunny, which makes hanging on Haggin’s huge range testing sticks the perfect early-season exercise. Throw in the fragrance of burgers and dogs cookin’ on the big barbecue, and you’ve got a tasty time indeed.
4. Great deals
Since the Mortons move a lot of product each year, both onsite and online, they have the inventory power to offer top-tier gear at killer prices. They’ve got a 7,000-square-foot tent set up just for this event that’s loaded with value. And their popular trade-in program lets you show up with your old clubs and barter them for credit against a brand new-set.
5. Break ‘em in right away
This might be our favorite reason: Now that those new clubs, balls or whatever are burning a hole in your golf addiction, you can just make a tee time, step right onto Haggin’s famous MacKenzie Course (or the shorter Arcade Creek course) and get down to birdie business. We prefer heading out in late afternoon and playing ’til dark.
Haggin Oaks is in the perfect location for locals and travelers to make a quick visit (which, we guarantee, will turn into a full day). Located right between the “two I-80s” in northeast Sacramento — Business 80 to the south and the regular interstate to the north — and only 15 minutes from the airport and close to countless hotels and restaurants.
While Haggin Oaks’ MacKenzie Course is a must-play for Expo and Golf & Guitars visitors — it’s right there, it’s a blast to play and packs more history onto its fairways than most courses do in their lifetimes — the surrounding Sacramento Valley, Sierra foothills and Coast Range are teeming with incredible public and semi-private courses ...
Bing Maloney and Bartley Cavanaugh — The two other golf facilities in the Morton Golf/Capital City family put two very different types of valley golf on your plate. Located very close to the downtown core, Bing Maloney is a classic tree-lined trek into the city’s muni golf heart, with a couple of interestingly placed holes that you’ll never forget. Bartley Cavanaugh, meanwhile, offers a more open, rolling, links-meets-Florida style into play. Both are very affordable and locals’ favorites.
Sevillano Links — This 2-year-old North Valley gem is a two-and-a-half-hour jaunt up Interstate 5, but if you’ve got the time and the fuel, give it a look. None other than Sacramento-area native John Daly had a hand in laying out its 18 sprawling heathland-style holes on gently undulating Native American reservation land, and his grip-rip playing style bleeds through every tee-box vista.
Yocha Dehe — This incredible Brad Bell design is the golf centerpiece of yet another Native American owned-and-operated hotel-casino property, Cache Creek, located in a secluded spot 40 minutes from downtown Sacramento. It’s an instantly memorable trip, loaded with variety and touches of whimsy.
Rancho Solano and Paradise Valley — Catch the traffic on I-80 just right and you’ll find yourself making a hard choice: which of these two City of Fairfield-owned winners to play first? Rancho Solano maintains a heady private club atmosphere with handsome parkland golf at its heart, while Paradise Valley is pure, wide-open and watery fun. Aw, heck, might as well play them both.
DarkHorse — In the near-decade since it opened in the Sierra foothills just north of Auburn, Calif., this Keith Foster-designed course has racked up enough raves from the press and public to put it on a par with anything in Northern California, at rates that’ll leave you giddy.
Winchester — Technically this is a fully private course a little farther up the I-80 corridor from DarkHorse, but public tee times are available — who knows for how long. In other words, if you want to experience the best of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. in one incredible mountain setting, don’t dawdle.