SUNOL (CBS SF) — After nearly fifty years, Sunol Valley Golf Course will close in January.

General Manager Bryan Richardson announced the closure Thursday to 80 employees.

Richardson said the move was prompted by economics and California’s historic drought. He said dwindling individual rounds, state-mandated water limits, and a 500% increase in water costs since 2011 had dealt a crippling blow to the 36-hole golf club.

Sunol Valley is the third Bay Area golf course to cease operations in recent months. Pine Meadow course in Martinez shut down in March, and the Springtown course in Livermore closed in October.

Italian-born businessman and avid golfer Ernest “Ernie” Ivaldi founded Sunol Valley in 1968. He was committed to making the sport more affordable. Ivaldi died in 2012.

On the golf club’s website, his family posted a heartfelt farewell:

“To this day, the depth of commitment and loyalty by the employees and patrons of this great establishment has stood the test of time. Our families would like to extend its utmost respect and appreciation for the love and support the community has given Sunol Valley for the last 50 years!”

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