The golf season is upon us. It has been a shorter wait for us than in recent years with many of the courses already open or planning to open soon. For this year’s golf preview, I have decided to highlight my favorite holes from local courses in the Sierra; in no particular order. Make sure to check the June 6 issue of The Weekly as I will begin my annual Tee Time column profiling different local courses each week.
Incline Championship Golf Course
14th hole, par 3 measuring 219 yards
This is one of the most picturesque par 3s in the Sierra. Many golfers don’t take enough club off the tee to be able to reach the green. The small pond in front of the green makes for a high risk, high return tee shot if you are going for the green, which offers a only a small landing area. Otherwise, the safer play is to stay to the right of the green and use a high-lofted wedge on your second shot to place the ball close to the pin. However, be aware of the bunkers to the right of the green. If you manage a par or better on this hole, you are doing better than most golfers.
Coyote Moon Golf Course
13th hole, par 3 measuring 227 yards
The hole is stunning once you climb to the tee box, which is several hundred feet above the green. Depending on the wind and hole location, this downhill par 3 plays one to three clubs less than the yardage, mainly due to the height you are above the green. Choosing the right club is critical. The green is large, but well guarded by sand on both sides. The tee shot requires that you carry the green since the hole has no fairway, just a large, forested ravine that is out of bounds.
Tahoe Donner Golf Course
18th hole, par 4 measuring 417 yards
After putting out on hole 17, golfers get to experience a 300-yard walk or ride through the forest before reaching the tee boxes of this stunningly beautiful hole named Buena Vista. Long hitters generally tee off with a fairway wood or long iron in order to avoid Trout Creek. Short hitters will enjoy career long drives with this steeply downward sloping fairway. The green is the largest on the course and is surrounded by five sculpted bunkers fronted by Trout Creek.
Resort at Squaw Creek Championship Golf Course
6th hole, par 3 measuring 210 yards
The par 3, 6th hole features a demanding over-the-water approach and spectacular views of Olympic Valley’s surrounding peaks. Be sure to take enough club off the tee since the hole measures 210 yards and there is little room for error with water in front of the green and bunkers on either side of the green. Before moving onto the next hole, be sure to stop and admire this incredible setting in the High Sierra.
The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing
15th hole, par 5 measuring 561 yards
This par 5 is the shortest par 5 on the course, but also the most picturesque. You should favor the right side of the narrow fairway off the tee. Club selection is crucial on your third shot to a well-protected and shallow green. The green has several sand traps on the left side and a few in the back. The views from this hole, as well as the hole itself, are worth stopping to take it all in.
Old Greenwood Golf Course
18th hole, par 4 measuring 416 yards
Playing uphill toward the clubhouse this hole is aesthetically amazing. Although the fairway is wide, you’ll need a good drive to clear the enormous trap on the right. Make sure to take enough club on your second shot, which has you hitting into a well-guarded green that will likely still sit considerably above where ever you are standing. The putting surface is fairly small by Old Greenwood standards and every bit as difficult to hit, with three bunkers fronting it and one in the rear.
Northstar Golf Course
18th hole, par 5 measuring 552 yards
If you tee off from the two-star or three-star tees, you are teeing off in an Aspen grove. Your tee shot needs to be precise in order to get out of the trees and onto the fairway, which slightly doglegs to the right, so a fade works well. Coming down the tree-lined fairway at sunset is absolutely beautiful with spectacular views of Martis Valley. This hole is the perfect embodiment of Northstar’s course – a unique mountain/meadow Tahoe course that could not exist at any other location.
Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club
18th hole, par 5 measuring 528 yards
This hole offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. From the three hawk tees, this hole plays 528 yards and has a stream on the left-hand side of the fairway cutting across the fairway just before the green. A tee shot that carries to the first set of bunkers will entice the strong player to go for the green on his second shot. One of my favorite finishing holes of any course in the Sierra.
Grizzly Ranch Golf Course
9th hole, par 4 measuring 440 yards
The tee shot presents one of the prime views in all of golf. A giant ponderosa wolf tree stands on watch on the left side of the landing area. The corridor of pines and meadows leads to a view of Beckwourth Peak. Below the peak, the green lies passively by the lake at the end of the fairway. Just beyond the water is a covered bridge, reflected by the lake. A small bunker guards the left front corner, but it normally does not come into play. The putting surface is quite large and features a small back left pin area, which borders the lake and a slightly larger section on the right edge. This is an exciting green to end an extraordinary hole that concludes the front nine.
Incline Mountain Golf Course
15th hole, par 3 measuring 117 yards
This par 3 is an extreme, downhill hole that can be downright scary from the tee box. The hole measures 117 yards from the tee box with the green several hundred feet below. While at the tee box, be sure to take in the incredible scenery with gorgeous lake views. For the long hitters, I would recommend a lofted wedge swung easy.
Old Brockway Golf Course
3rd hole, par 3 measuring 199 yards
This hole ranks up there as one of the most picturesque par 3s of any course in the Sierra. However, this Par 3 is not forgiving for the wayward tee shot and is the third most difficult hole on the course. Protected in the front by a deep bunker, this hole is difficult to get up and down from anywhere around this undulating green. Even a well struck iron shot that lands on the green will likely still require two good putts for par.
Ponderosa Golf Course
8th hole, par 4 measuring 355 yards
The par-4, 8th hole is a beautiful layout with the backdrop of beautiful mountain vistas. The hole measures 355 yards and is bordered on its right by the 9th hole’s fairway. The course is usually in good condition early in the season and offers an affordable option to tune up your game before tackling a more demanding course.