Grizzly Ranch Golf Club

4th tee

I grew up in Milwaukee where I got used to driving 15 to 20 minutes to tee it up. A trip of an hour plus is a real road trip. That’s why it’s amazing that a course an hour and 18 minutes north of Truckee is such a hot spot for high-quality golf.

Par 72
Yardage: 5374-7411
Course Rating: 71.8 to 74.9
Slope: 130-140

One of these courses is Grizzly Ranch Golf Club, which is a Bob Cupp design opened in 2005. I heard wonderful things about it and it has garnered numerous awards, such as 2014 Golf Digest’s No. 1 Best Public Access Course in the Sierras. Grizzly has a lot of strong local competition, so it must have something really special to make it stand out.

A picturesque drive of 80 minutes takes you to Grizzly Ranch. Because it was originally a private club, amenities are top notch. The grass range has 30 stations to stretch the muscles and a wonderful practice green/short game area available. The course does not have the usual huge elevation changes like many mountain courses do, but most tees are elevated.

The fairways are wide and landing areas generous. Holes are tree lined, but only a very errant shot will be in serious trouble. The fairway sand traps seem to me more as targets than real hazards. A stream snakes its way throughout the property and comes into play on a few holes. Greens are large and usually two tiered — get on the same tier as the flag and your putt won’t break much.

There are many interesting holes at Grizzly Ranch, but the one that exemplifies it best is Hole 12, a par 5 of 546 yards from the whites to 649 yards from the blacks. A creek running along the left side must be avoided off the tee. Then it crosses the fairway just past the driving area to become a hazard along the right side for the second shot. It crosses back to the left short of the green catch, a pulled third shot. Sand traps guard the right side of the green. Many par 5s can be viewed as a scoring opportunity, but not this one. Par is a good score.

The brochure for Grizzly Ranch says that it is “removed not remote” — what a perfect description. Yes, it is 45 minutes north of Reno and surrounded by farms. It is very enjoyable to play; not so tough that a newer golfer would have a bad time, but a good challenge to a better player. The best part is that it is very much worth the drive. | (530) 832-4200,

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John Dee
John Dee grew up in Elm Grove, Wis., playing many sports with a strength in baseball. A desire to beat his best buddy in high school led him to take up golf. In the mid-80s he moved into golf as a profession, received his PGA membership and began to teach golf. “My wife and I (and our cats) moved to Lake Tahoe in 2005 to further our careers and eventually found other paths to follow. She started her own business and I spent seven years in Parks and Recreation, but returned to golf in 2015 as Assistant Golf Professional at the Resort at Squaw Creek. Some things about the business has changed a lot, but the game is still hard and people still want to have a good time.”