18 holes | par 58
Yardage | 2,674-3,527
Slope | 98-102
Ratings | 55.2-58.2
Just minutes from the shores of North Lake Tahoe, is a unique opportunity many people do not know exists. The Incline Village Mountain Golf Course was built in 1968 and was handcrafted by famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., who designed such courses as Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach and, recently, U.S. Open host Chambers Bay in Washington.
“Weaving its way up and down the hillside high above the lake, beneath lofty columns of old-growth pines, each hole effortlessly blends in with the geographical attributes of the mountains.”
Its beautiful executive layout is a par 58 and plays 3,527 yards from the back tees. It features 18 holes, ranging from 113 to 399 yards, and multiple tee placements that make each hole fun and challenging for golfers of all ages and handicaps. Golf Range Magazine named the course one of the top short courses in the nation.
Carved strategically out of the natural terrain of the forest, it is composed of no artificial landscaping. Weaving its way up and down the hillside high above the lake, beneath lofty columns of old-growth pines, each hole effortlessly blends in with the geographical attributes of the mountains. It is a great place to calibrate your irons, and there are four par 4s for those who like to hit driver, woods or hybrids.
Despite its moderate yardage, and true to the nature of Jones’ golf philosophy, this is not a course that is easily conquered; pars here are won in a chess-like game of risk and reward. The course is full of dramatic changes in elevation from tee to green; accuracy and club selection are essential and take priority over distance.
At around 6,200 feet above sea level, balls tend to travel farther, but even a subtle mountain wind can be quick to counteract or amplify that reality. Nearly every hole has a creek or spring somewhere in play. The greens roll fast and true, with sneaky breaks, false fronts, backs and sides. Clam-shaped bunkers of soft, white sand protect the putting surfaces, and more often than not are a safe place to land and a joy to hit out of. The fairways are lush and meticulously maintained.
The course is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, home to black bears, coyotes and other wildlife. Third Creek runs through several holes and flows high and fast during the snow melt. Brook trout can be found in the creek, some fairly large. The clubhouse has a ski-lodge feel with a quaint pro shop and large deck with seating overlooking the first and 10th tees, as well as the 18th green.
Be sure to grab a bite at Wild Bill’s BBQ inside the clubhouse, where you can get your hands on slow-smoked, pulled pork and tri-tip sandwiches, St. Louis-style spare ribs, house-made sides and five different flavors of barbecue sauce.
Family Fun Days are on Sundays when kids, ages 17 and younger, play for free with a paying adult. There’s active military discounts, per-hole twilight rates, Nine & Wine on Thursday nights, Thrill and Grill on Sundays, Go-Fit incentives for walking and group or private lessons with PGA head golf professional Robyn Bradford.
There is a putting green onsite, great for getting acclimated to the speed of the greens. If you’re in need of some practice swings before your round, there’s a driving range available at the Championship Course. The staff and management at the Mountain Course are courteous and helpful, exuding a family vibe where having fun and playing golf take precedence over anything else.
For more information or to book a tee time, call (775) 832-1150 or visit golfincline.com.
Story & photos by Alex Green