Old Greenwood

The course at Old Greenwood. | Alex Green

Caleb Greenwood was 18 years old when he shot a sheriff in Virginia; he was 80 when he guided the first party to reach California by wagon over the relentless terrain of the Sierra Nevada. It was his first trip to California, but it would not be his last. Old Greenwood, as people began to call him, deep in his years as he was, led several wagon trains across the Sierra. At 84 years old, he was a part of the second relief party enlisted to rescue the Donner Party.

Par 72 | 18 holes
Yards | 5,419 to 7,518
Slope | 133 to 140
Rating | 69.8 to 75.2

Nowadays, there’s an exit off Interstate 80 named Overland Trail. It’s not much of a through-traffic byway anymore, but more so an off-the-beaten path along what was once the preferred trail to California for early pioneers stricken with gold fever. At the end of the road today is an 871-acre development named after a fur trapper turned legendary wagon guide from Virginia, centered around a 100-acre Audubon Gold Certified Sanctuary of golf, handcrafted by the greatest golfer to ever pick up a set of clubs.

In 2002, Jack Nicklaus was appointed to design a championship golf course on a plot of land perched above the town of Truckee, just north of the Truckee River. He obliged and began a two-year task of carving his vision into the ground one hole at a time, methodically sculpting the lay of the land into a golf course worthy of being called one of his signature designs — and in the eyes of many, the finest golf in Tahoe — Old Greenwood.

If I could pick one word to describe the course, it would be balance. The course is difficult yet scorable; it plays rather long, but reachable. Even at the 6,000-foot elevation, a 7,518-yard (from the tips) track can sound and feel incredibly daunting. To level that scale, there are four sets of tees, bringing into the picture relativity to just about any level of play. The greens are quick and many times deceiving, although, they are generally large and roll as true as the truth. The greenside bunkers are deep and magnetic, but they’re filled with soft sand, easily cut through with a wedge. Streams and ponds come into play on six holes (feels like much more) and depending on your interaction with said water, every one offers up a risk/reward scenario.

It’s a one-of-a-kind golf club loaded with desolate vibes, thrilling challenges, incredible backdrops and a PGA tour-like experience from the clubhouse doors to the green of the monstrous uphill par 4, Hole 18. There’s a 15-acre golf academy onsite equipped with one of the longest driving ranges in the area, offering private and group instruction, custom tailored to your needs. Ask about twilight rates available seven days a week, season passes and Old Greenwood’s 15th anniversary special until July 10 when you can play for $125 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

As for a signature hole, I think Jack said it best himself: “None of them. We don’t have a signature hole. They’re all signature holes.” | (866) 703-4653, golfintahoe.com