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.
Course Rating: 71.8 to 74.9
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, grizzlyranchgolfclub.com