By TJ Lester ·
Northstar California ·
Courses around the greater Lake Tahoe area are opening unusually early and are in fantastic shape due to below normal snow levels at the lower elevations this winter and unseasonably warm temperatures. Golf courses in the Sierra typically require a short period of time to grow lush and full, but with spring seemingly starting in January, this process began months ago and courses are opening with impeccable playing conditions. This spring is setting up to be a great start to the golf season, so get out there and go play one, a few, or all of these courses.
Bijou Golf Course
Bijou Municipal Golf Course is located in South Lake Tahoe near the Bijou Meadows. The course opened in 1920 and offers fairways lined with lofty pines and majestic views of Freel Peak. This 9-hole executive layout is made up of five par 5s and four par 3s. The greens are small and flat, and there are no water hazards making this course a fantastic place for beginners.
Coyote Moon Golf Course
If you are looking for a true mountain golf experience, look no further than Coyote Moon Golf Course. Located minutes from downtown Truckee, the course sits on a 250-acre property with breathtaking views, towering pines and granite outcroppings. There is not a single home on the course to interfere with surrounding scenery. Each hole feels like you are playing golf in the middle of the woods. The layout has numerous elevation changes, well-protected greens, and strategically placed hazards throughout. Coyote Moon offers stay and play packages at coyotemoongolf.com.
South Lake Tahoe’s premier golf course is Edgewood Tahoe. It is the only course in the Tahoe Basin that sits along the shores of the lake, making it one of the most scenic courses in the region. The 17th green rests along the sandy shores of Big Blue bringing the lake into play. Edgewood opened in 1968 and was designed by George Fazio. Golf Digest regularly rates it among the top 100 in the nation. The American Century Celebrity Golf Championship has been held here for more than 25 years, featuring famous athletes, Hollywood stars and politicians. This is a must play for anyone seeking unrivaled views with a course to match.
The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing
Gray’s Crossing was designed by Jim Hardy and former PGA Tour professional Peter Jacobson. The course was opened in 2007 and features holes lined with lofty pines and native grasslands. The National Autobahn Society recognized Gray’s Crossing as an Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary, which is the highest level of certification offered by the Audubon, and is just the second golf course in California to receive this award. The course can always be found in fantastic shape with tournament-like conditions daily. Season passes are available at golfintahoe.com.
Incline Village Championship Golf Course
The Championship Course in Incline Village was built in the summer of 1964, and is the first championship layout in the Tahoe Basin. The Crystal Bay Development Company hired Robert Trent Jones Sr. to carve a mountain layout that is a must play for any visitor. The highlight of this course is by far the dramatic views of Lake Tahoe. The golf shop has been ranked among the top 100 golf shops in America by Golf World twice.
Incline Village Mountain Course
The 18-hole par 58 Incline Village Mountain Course plays a modest 3,527 yards from the white tees. Don’t let the lack of yardage fool you. Be prepared to use every club in your bag and expect a variety of challenging lies. The course was built by renowned designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. and is a dedication to Harold B. Tiller, who is known as one of the co-founders of Incline Village. Every Sunday throughout the summer is family day. Kids younger than 17 play free with a paying adult.
Lake Tahoe Golf Course
Lake Tahoe Golf Course is located in South Lake Tahoe and offers majestic views of Twin Peaks, Mount Tallac, Desolation Wilderness and the summit of Heavenly. The Truckee River meanders its way through much of the course and mountain wildlife can be found though out. This is an enjoyable layout for golfers of all abilities offering challenging shots for low handicappers along with a set of family tees for beginners. For anyone living within 30 miles of the course, there is a resident membership card that gives discounted green fees, advance reservation privileges, and 15 percent off in the bar/restaurant.
Links at Squaw Creek Golf Course
Set amidst the iconic Olympic Valley lies a links-style course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Nearly every peak of Squaw can be seen from the course including KT-22, Squaw Peak and Emigrant Peak. Resort at Squaw Creek boasts the only fully organic championship course in the Lake Tahoe region, meaning that only certified organic fertilizers are used and no pesticides are applied. The course has been recognized by the Audubon International as a Certified Cooperative Sanctuary. Season passes are available, which includes unlimited play all summer.
Northstar California Golf Course
The golf course at Northstar has two distinctly different nines. The front nine wanders through the wonderful Martis Valley and is referred to as the Meadow Nine. The back nine, called the Mountain Nine, climbs mountainous terrain and winds its way through majestic pines. The course was designed by Robert Muir Graves and is an enjoyable layout for all. After completing your round, be sure to enjoy a meal at the Martis Valley Grill, which offers delicious food with a scenic view of the Martis Valley.
Old Brockway Golf Course
Old Brockway Golf Course holds some of the richest history found in Lake Tahoe. In 1924, developer Harry Comstock hired Scottish designer John Duncan Dunn to design the course. During the 1930s and 40s, North Tahoe was a favorite vacation spot for celebrities and the elite. It was common to see such names as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Joe Kennedy, Dean Martin, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dean Witter and Lucille Ball meandering the fairways. The course remains relatively untouched from its original design and ranks among the Top Ten 9-hole courses in America.
Old Greenwood Golf Course
One of the most upscale golf experiences in the Lake Tahoe region may be found at Old Greenwood Golf Course. The course was built by the legendary Jack Nicklaus in 2004. It is a signature Nicklaus design, which means the course was given his upmost attention during the design process. It has received a number of accolades including a Top 10 ranking for Best New Public Access Golf Course by Golf Digest and ranked the 4th Finest New Upscale Public Course in America by Golf Magazine. The driving range may be used all day with unlimited range balls and use of the chipping and putting greens for $25.
Ponderosa Golf Course
Ponderosa Golf Course is Truckee’s oldest golf course. It was developed by the Truckee townspeople and designed by Bob Baldock in 1961. In 2008, Ponderosa was nearly leveled when it was zoned for a 1,000-unit residential development project. Fortunately. the property was purchased by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District under its open space program and “Pondi” was saved. Ponderosa is a 9-hole course that plays just more than 3,000 yards. It is a blend of six par 4s, two par 3s and one par 5.
Schaffer’s Mill Golf and Lake Club
Schaffer’s Mill was designed by John Harbottle and Johnny Miller and features enchanting views of Martis Valley, the Carson Mountain Range and the ski runs of Northstar. The first nine is located in a meadow and is fairly flat and the back nine climbs hilly terrain with many elevation changes. It is a par 71 that measures more than 7,000 yards from the black tees. Schaffer’s Mill is private, but allows public play on Mondays.
Tahoe City Golf Course
Tahoe City Golf Course was first designed by May “Queenie” Dunn Hupfel in 1917. The original layout was links style consisting of 6 holes with sand greens. Guests of the famous Tahoe Tavern played golf here while vacationing in North Tahoe. Playing 2,691 yards from the blue tees, Tahoe City Golf Course offers a variety of shots and a mixture of challenging and easy holes, which makes this course enjoyable for low and high handicappers. Creeks, trees and small greens put a premium on ball striking and the occasional windy afternoon can make this seemingly easy nine holler a formidable test.
Tahoe Donner Golf Course
Tahoe Donner Golf Course was the first 18-hole championship layout in Truckee. The front nine was designed by Roy Williams and further refined by renowned architect Billy Bell Jr., who completed the back nine in 1976. The course received a renovation by Cary Bickler in 2006 and was nominated by Golf Digest Magazine for Best Remolded Golf Course in America. The course features many elevation changes, granite rock formations, narrow fairways lined with soaring pines, and views of the Truckee Valley.
Tahoe Paradise Golf Course
Located in South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Paradise is a unique, 18-hole executive course that offers a challenge for all handicaps. The course offers many elevations changes and a variety of dog leg lefts and rights. Tahoe Paradise hosts monthly tournaments that benefit various local charities. Most rounds here are played in less than 4 hours, making this a great course to play if you are limited on time.
Nakoma Golf Resort
The Dragon at Nakoma Golf Resort
Nakoma Golf Resort opened in 1998 under the name “The Dragon.” It was designed by Robin Nelson and set out to be the most difficult course in the region. When it first opened it played more than 7,000 yards and the rating/slope was 74.2/147. In 2008, the course underwent a complete redesign and renovation: bunkers were removed and made less severe, dog legs were softened, and trees were removed, making the course more player friendly. Nakoma is located about an hour north of Truckee and is truly a destination with breathtaking views, challenging golf and fine dining.
Graeagle Meadows Golf Course
If your are looking for an alternative to the courses located in the Tahoe region, then take a splendid 47-mile drive north along highway 89 to Graeagle Meadows Golf Course. The course first opened as nine holes in 1968 and the back nine was completed in 1970. It was designed by Ellis Van Groder and features panoramic views of the Mohawk Valley. Graeagle is an enjoyable layout for all ability levels. Tee to green it plays fair with no tricked up design work. The greens are modestly sized and stress accurate approach shots.
Grizzly Ranch Golf Club
Grizzly Ranch Golf Club opened in 2005 and was designed by Bob Cupp. The property is surrounded by more than a million acres of protected state and national forest land, which forms a true mountain golf experience. The course is aptly named, playing to a grizzly 7,411 yards from the back tees, but there are four tee boxes to choose from allowing one to pick the ideal length for an enjoyable round. Unlike many mountain golf courses, Grizzly Ranch does not have any ridiculous elevation changes or forced carries. It plays fair for all levels of golfers. There are stay and play packages available with onsite lodging at Wolf Tree Cabins.
Plumas Pines Golf Course
Located in the quant town of Blairsden, Plumas Pines Golf Resort is a fantastic destination to get away from it all. Designed in 1980 by Homer Flint, the course zigzags its way along the middle fork of the Feather River and features some of the most pristine playing conditions in the area. The fairways are narrowly lined with towering pines and water comes into play on nearly every hole. Accuracy and course management are crucial. Accuracy over distance is the best way to approach this course.
Whitehawk Ranch Golf Course
Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club is a short drive north from Truckee on Highway 89 in the serene Mohawk Valley. The course was designed by Dick Bailey in 1996 and offers a unique blend of holes that wander through meadows of native grasses and wildflowers along with holes that are cut through lofty Aspens, Cedars and Firs. In 2007 and 2008, Whitehawk was rated as the No. 11 best public course in California by Golf Digest Magazine and also won the esteemed Golf Writers Association Environmental Award in 1997. The practice facility may be used all day for $20, which includes unlimited range balls and use of the putting and chipping areas.