18 holes | Par 72
Yardage | 4,490 to 6,820
Slope | 122 to 140
Rating | 64.8 to 73.0
As the only golf course in the undeveloped, protected Martis Valley, Northstar Golf Course keeps a slightly secluded, mountainous feel. It features 18 holes that are completely different from each other, but each challenging in their own way, with lots of long fairways — comparable to the long ski runs available to skiers in the winter at Northstar California.
But, as Northstar’s director of golf Pete Smith says, “Playing the course is not like taking the same ski trail every day.”
After hitting a few balls on the driving range overlooking Martis Valley, I was paired up with a friendly couple from Central California who have a second home at Donner Lake and play Northstar a few times a year.
In order to not lose a golf ball on Hole 11, it’s best to follow the pro tip of laying up to 130 yards off the tee box. You’ll see why when you go to take your second shot: a deep ravine and rushing creek guards the green.
The front nine follows open, grassy meadows and one can catch glimpses of State Route 267 and airplanes flying into the Truckee Tahoe Airport. We all agreed that Hole 3 is longer than it first appears and that Hole 5’s rolling fairway can cause a ball to land where you least expect it. In all, the front nine feels spacious with grassy rough along much of the fairways’ edges.
At the tee box on Hole 9, I had ordered ahead a Cajun blackened-chicken, Caesar salad wrap from the Martis Valley Grille. The hearty burrito-sized tortilla wrap filled with generous helpings of chicken, croutons and lettuce was delicious. I was impressed with the quick and affordable options on the menu, which included a tuna cup, portabella mushroom sandwich and bratwurst all between $8 and $11. The chicken wrap gave me the perfect amount of fuel to complete the back nine and the ice-cold water jugs and drinking fountains available at practically every hole was much appreciated on a hot, summer day.
My favorite hole was 11, but in order to not lose a golf ball it’s best to follow the pro tip of laying up to 130 yards off the tee box. You’ll see why when you go to take your second shot: a deep ravine and rushing creek guards the green.
On the short Hole 13, watch out for the small, heart-shaped pond off to the left of the gold and white tees hidden in the trees. Fortunately, the pond is next to the forward red tees at the 94-yard marker, thus removing the obstacle for those who don’t want to take a risk of losing a ball.
Aspens and native shrubs add shade and texture around the tee boxes on Holes 12 and 17, while Hole 18 is a long, curved fairway back to the clubhouse.
We finished our round in about four hours and then after being nice and loosened up, I was ready to go jump in the lake. | (530) 562-3290, northstarcalifornia.com