Grizzly Ranch Golf Club, located in Portola, might be Northern California’s best-kept golf secret. While the course is about a 50-minute drive from Truckee, the atmosphere feels so much more remote. Secluded fairways, beautiful vistas and a friendly staff greet you when you first arrive. The surrounding ranchland lifestyle is evident in the feel of the course, as well as on display in the clubhouse, with cowboy boots, hats and other Western apparel for sale. You might feel you’ve stepped back in time a bit.
18 Holes | Par 72
Yardage | 5,374 to 7,411
Ratings | 69 to 74.9
Slope | 120 to 140
The view from the clubhouse, when you’re checking in, allows you scope out the start of your round. A path takes you to the start of the sprawling, winding course that eventually sends you to secluded fairways, through gorgeous pine forests and rolling hills. The first hole starts off with a wide fairway, giving you a nice boost of confidence before the real challenge sets in.
“A massive fairway looms in front of you with hazards
waiting to swallow all but the most carefully placed tee shot.”
The 9th hole at Grizzly Ranch is considered its signature hole, and it’s certainly easy to see why this is the case. A challenging drive requires you to place the ball between a large water feature to one side and fairly unplayable rough on the other. If you do manage to thread the needle, the perfectly manicured green is protected by challenging bunkers, which offer imposing chip shots from just about any angle. As if that weren’t enough, the 9th hole is in full view of the clubhouse. Seasoned pros and veteran players of Grizzly Ranch get to enjoy the struggles of, let’s say, lesser golfers, such as myself.
I found the real beauties to come on the back 9. The 10th and 11th holes take you slowly uphill until you reach the highest point on the course – the tee box of the 12th. Don’t get too distracted by the beautiful views. A massive fairway looms in front of you with hazards waiting to swallow all but the most carefully placed tee shot.
After making your way through more beautifully manicured fairways, sculpted greens and challenging bunkers, you eventually find yourself staring up the fairway of the 18th hole. I couldn’t help but experience a pang of regret that my visit to Grizzly Ranch was so near its end.
After luxuriating in as fine a round of golf as you’ll find anywhere, head to the Lake House, located next to the 18th green, for an après meal or cold beverage of your choice. While you’re there you can watch your fellow golfers come to grips with the fact that their round is nearly done. And perhaps commiserate with a stranger in the beautiful dining room, all while planning your next visit to this hidden gem.
For more information or to book a tee time, call (530) 832-4200 or visit grizzlyranchgolfclub.com.
Photos & Story by Casey Glaubman