Di­verse geog­ra­phy tees up a bounty of op­tions for fair­ways and greens

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY ROBERT KAUF­MAN

Swing Away


Cal­i­for­nia is one of the world’s top golf des­ti­na­tions, and no mat­ter which re­gion you choose, you’ll find a course to suit your game, whether it’s in the moun­tains at Sierra Star GC at Mam­moth Lakes, above, in the Gold Coun­try at Green­horn Creek GC at An­gels Camp, or Desert Wil­low (Fire­cliff GC) in Palm Desert. With Cal­i­for­nia’s di­verse land­scapes in­clud­ing moun­tains, val­leys, forests, coast­line and desert, Mother Na­ture has pro­vided a can­vas for fair­ways and greens to po­si­tion the Golden State as one of the most at­trac­tive golf des­ti­na­tions on the planet.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of these ge­o­log­i­cal as­sets in­cludes a who’s-who of golf course ar­chi­tects, from old-school de­sign­ers like Alis­ter Macken­zie and A.W. Tilling­hast to mod­ern-day shapers such as Jack Nick­laus, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and Tom Fazio who have crafted chal­lenges to suit ev­ery golfer’s taste and bud­get.

To­day, there are more than 600 pub­lic cour­ses scat­tered through­out Cal­i­for­nia rang­ing from iconic mas­ter­pieces like Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Pa­cific coast to hid­den gems such as Green­horn Creek in the Gold Coun­try. De­pend­ing upon skill level and pre­ferred en­vi­ron­ment, here are some notable nuggets that will help un­lock a golf ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time.

OCEAN COUR­SES Pebble Beach Golf Links

Lo­cated along the sto­ried Mon­terey Penin­sula, there are few golf thrills like tee­ing-up for the first time on Pebble Beach Golf Links, ranked No. 1 on Golf Digest’s “Amer­ica’s 100 Great­est Pub­lic Golf Cour­ses” (2013/14). At the Jack Neville/ Dou­glas Grant de­sign (1919), golfers can feel the pres­ence of the game’s big­gest le­gends that have com­peted in the an­nual AT&T Pebble Beach Na­tional Pro-am and five U.S. Open Cham­pi­onships. Jack Nick­laus said, “If I only had one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach.” peb­ble­

Spy­glass Hill Golf Course

Tak­ing a page from Robert Louis Steven­son’s clas­sic novel, Treasure Is­land, Spy­glass has hole names such as “Black Dog” and “Billy Bones,” hints for the un­wary at this de­mand­ing 6,960-yard lay­out. De­signed (1966) by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., holes 6, 8 and 16 are listed among the tough­est on the PGA Tour. Spy­glass fea­tures two dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent kinds of ter­rain that in­flu­ence how the fair­ways look and play: the first five holes roll through sandy sea­side dunes while the re­main­ing 13 holes cut through ma­jes­tic pines with el­e­vated greens and strate­gi­cally placed bunkers and lakes to grab er­rant shots. peb­ble­

MOUN­TAIN COUR­SES White­hawk Ranch Golf Club

Carved from the nat­u­ral ter­rain of the Mo­hawk Val­ley, ap­prox­i­mately one hour north of Lake Ta­hoe in the Plumas Na­tional For­est, the fair­ways are framed with na­tive grasses and a pro­fu­sion of wild­flow­ers. Seven me­an­der­ing streams through tall pines, cedars, firs and quak­ing as­pens con­trib­ute to the chal­lenge and beauty of the 6,955-yard, Dick Bai­ley­de­signed course. golfwhite­

Coy­ote Moon Golf Course

Nes­tled in a serene set­ting at 6,800 feet above sea level in Truc­kee (Lake Ta­hoe) among tow­er­ing pines and enor­mous gran­ite out­crop­pings, the 7,177-yard Brad Bell de­sign serves up one of the best moun­tain golf ex­pe­ri­ences in the coun­try. With gen­er­ous fair­ways and not a sin­gle home to spoil the dra­matic views, this up­scale daily-fee course pro­vides dra­matic el­e­ments of risk, in­clud­ing the 13th, a 200-yard par 3 that drops 80 feet from tee to green. coy­ote­moon­


Since open­ing in 1986, the TPC Sta­dium Course in La Quinta has been rated one of the “Top 100 Cour­ses in the World” by GOLF Magazine. This 7,300-yard chal­lenge de­signed by Pete Dye hosts PGA Tour “Qschool” Fi­nals ev­ery other year with play­ers hav­ing to nav­i­gate cav­ernous bunkers, an is­land green (known as “Al­ca­traz”) at hole #17 as well as the men­ac­ing wa­ter-lined 18th. Named “Sta­dium” due to Dye’s in­ge­nious plan to sculpt spec­ta­tor seat­ing into the nat­u­ral ter­rain, one of the most mem­o­rable events in­cludes Lee Trevino’s hole-in-one on #17 earn­ing him $175,000 from a carry-over skin in the 1987 “Skins Game.”

In­dian Wells Golf Re­sort

Only 20 min­utes from Palm Springs In­ter­na­tional Air­port, golfers have the op­por­tu­nity to play the newly trans­formed Play­ers Course (John Fought, 2007) and Celebrity Course (Clive Clark, 2006) at a prop­erty with the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the only 36-hole pub­lic golf fa­cil­ity with both cour­ses on Golfweek’s “Best Cour­ses You Can Play” in Cal­i­for­nia. Com­bined with a lighted, 9-hole, nat­u­ral grass putting course and a brand new 53,000-square-foot club­house, this “muni” golf ex­pe­ri­ence in the desert is un­par­al­leled. in­di­an­wells­gol­fre­

FROM TOP TO BOT­TOM: Celebrity GC at In­dian Wells Re­sort, Desert Wil­low (Fire­cliff GC), Green­horn Creek GC, Spy­glass Hill GC.

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