If you ask anyone who has played The Links at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley what it’s like, the first thing that a lot of people say is that it’s narrow, which equates to challenging, which creates the need to bring many balls. Aside from that, the views from every hole are spectacular.
Par 71 | 18 Holes
Yardage | 5,097 to 6,931
Slope | 125 to 140
Rating | 68.0 to 72.8
It’s rare to see a Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course at the base of a ski resort with chairlift terminals, lift towers and shielded magic carpets as part of its landscape. In the summer, the golf course prominently features a mix of tall, thick grasses, varying elevations and the fast-flowing Squaw Creek running through some of the holes. The course is part of the Resort at Squaw Creek, though, not the ski resort.
With all the obstacles you’re sure to lose at least a ball or two. The scorecard states that drop areas are provided on six of the 18 holes.
Our round starts well, with my ball landing on a grassy knoll to the left of the green, then popping downhill close to the pin. On Hole 3, the green seems to sit high and if you overshoot it, there’s a chance you’ll be on the cart path or next tee box; aiming too far left may also send your ball into an abyss. The key on Holes 4 through 7 is to not slice it, otherwise it will end up in no-man’s marsh land.
Hole 6 has a big pond off to the right and you’ll want to get it on the green in one shot. A golfer from San Carlos recently got a hole-in-one on this hole using a 9-iron. My golf partner tells me, “If you get it in the lake, then you buy me dinner. If you get it on the green, I buy you dinner.”
“Best out of two shots,” I replied. I ended up owing him dinner.
Hole 8 is a gold mine of lost balls with thick, thriving grass beckoning shiny new Precepts and Noodles. The wooden rickety cart paths are fun to drive on with a ball or two stuck in some of the wooden knots.
Coming off the long, winter ski season, the back nine had recently opened by the time we played, and we started our next half heading toward the tram face and granite peaks of Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Hole 12 has a long, narrow bunker to the left side of the green, barely visible until you get to it.
The only respite I felt was on Hole 18 where staying on the left side of a glimmering pond kept me in the fairway and ending with a decent score. Playing this golf course, which has been recognized as an Audubon International Certified Cooperative Sanctuary, repeatedly definitely improves one’s golf game; I believe that if you end with the same ball you started with, you’re ready for the PGA Pro Tour. | destinationhotels.com/squawcreek