Wandering through Lake Valley State Recreation Area, where Angora Creek meets the Upper Truckee River, is the Lake Tahoe Golf Course, rich in both history and championship caliber golf. It’s a must-play if you find yourself anywhere near South Lake Tahoe.
Par 71 | 18 holes
Yardage | 3,702 to 6,741
Slope | 115 to 124
Rating | 67.1 to 71.3
William Bell first designed the front nine in 1958 and completed work on the back in 1962. The valley sits near Fallen Leaf Lake and Desolation Wilderness underneath massive Sierra peaks through the wetlands and surrounding forest. The land was originally used by tribes of Washoe and was eventually home to logging and dairy-farm operations. At one time even a drag-racing strip occupied property in the meadow.
In the late 1970s, several developments were proposed for the land, but in 1984, California Department of State Parks purchased the property and has since worked to restore the waterways to a sustainable state, while simultaneously protecting the pristine nature of the course itself and maintaining the environmental integrity of the surrounding habitat.
Overall the course is fairly flat and is mainly reliant on the natural slopes of the floodplains. The true challenge out here isn’t in the course’s length, but its exposure. It’s abundantly decorated with unplayable geography and windows to no man’s land. The fairways are wide and open, but edged with water and thick native landscape.
Large greens, fast from baking in the sun, drivable par 4s, pronounced dog legs for the fade or draw, forced carries, forced layups and all too relevantly located bunkers and trees are just a few of the challenges you’ll encounter on this gem of a championship layout.
The 289-yard Hole 15, par 4 is tempting to try for the green in one, though the angle of its small undulating green is anything but conducive to catching golf balls and is thoroughly guarded on all sides with sand.
At just 150 yards, the gettable Hole 17, par 3 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a forced carry over a hazard onto a plateaued turtle-back putting surface surrounded tightly with huge trees; your best chance to gain a stroke is to come dropping in from way up high.
Though it has all the bells and whistles of a professional golf facility, Lake Tahoe Golf Course has a family-friendly, laid-back feel. There are practice areas onsite with a full driving range, putting and chipping greens. The course doubles as a foot golf course every night after 5 p.m. and hosts events all season long. | (530) 577-0788, ext. 2, laketahoegc.com