High Sierras Serendip­ity

Golf Vacations - - News - by David R. Hol­land

It’s June and there’s a dis­tinc­tive golfer point­ing down the 18th fair­way at Griz­zly Ranch, a scenic golf haven on the east­ern slopes of the Sierra Ne­vada moun­tain range. “Just look around, this is a pretty cool deal, the spot you want to be. There’s our iconic cov­ered bridge in the back­ground, we’re down­wind, down sun to­day, some clouds and blue skies – it’s good golf.

PORTOLA, CA – It’s June and there’s a dis­tinc­tive golfer point­ing down the 18th fair­way at Griz­zly Ranch, a scenic golf haven on the east­ern slopes of the Sierra Ne­vada moun­tain range.

“Just look around, this is a pretty cool deal, the spot you want to be. There’s our iconic cov­ered bridge in the back­ground, we’re down­wind, down sun to­day, some clouds and blue skies – it’s good golf.

“Come visit – for­get the suit­cases, we’ll sell you some clothes, bring your golf clubs and tee it up – you will have some fun.”

The golfer speaking is Van Batchelder, win­ner of the 1994 Arizona Open, and Di­rec­tor of Golf at Griz­zly Ranch Golf Club. He’s for­ever wear­ing a Cow­boy hat and he can play in boots. He can also sell you a pair of boots in the pro shop.

Batchelder is just one of the char­ac­ters that makes the Reno-Lake Ta­hoe area one of the more special places on earth for tee­ing it up – whether it is in the High Sierras, on Lake Ta­hoe, or the rough, beau­ti­ful land­scape around Reno and Carson City.

One of the im­pres­sive things about golf in this amaz­ing coun­try is you can drive and find an awe­some golf course just miles away. Some might think Griz­zly Ranch is in the boon­docks of Plumas County (pop­u­la­tion 20,000), but it is only 50 min­utes from Reno-Ta­hoe In­ter­na­tional Air­port and 50 min­utes from Truc­kee along In­ter­state 80.

Here’s a cap­sule look at the golf cour­ses I played on a fun week in the High Sierras:

Edge­wood Ta­hoe, State­line, NV

Must say this is my fa­vorite place to play out west other than Cy­press Point. Edge­wood Ta­hoe is un­matched in lake and moun­tain scenery and it hosts the Amer­i­can Cen­tury Cham­pi­onship in July that fea­tures Justin Tim­ber­lake, Steph Curry, Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Em­mitt Smith and Aaron Rodgers. It is a fun golf course, not pun­ish­ing, and now boasts a $100-mil­lion ho­tel to spend the night – The Lodge at Edge­wood Ta­hoe right next to the new ninth green. This im­pres­sive ho­tel was decades in the mak­ing.

Lake Ta­hoe Golf Course, South Lake Ta­hoe, CA

This is one of the more af­ford­able golf cour­ses in the area -- lo­cated in a nat­u­ral moun­tain meadow just min­utes from the south­ern shore­line of Lake Ta­hoe and the golf course is lo­cated in Lake Val­ley State Recre­ational Area. This Wil­liam Bell design has photo ops through­out, in­clud­ing the Truc­kee River, nat­u­ral habi­tats and a moun­tain back­drop. This is a great lay­out for the en­tire fam­ily.

In­cline Vil­lage Golf Cour­ses, In­cline Vil­lage, NV

In­cline Vil­lage has two golf cour­ses on the north shore of Lake Ta­hoe. The Moun­tain Course, de­signed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is fun for the en­tire fam­ily. The Cham­pi­onship Course was orig­i­nally de­signed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., but Kyle Phillips did the $4.5 mil­lion 2003 facelift. My first round of golf here was mem­o­rable -- Joe DiMag­gio was stand­ing on the first tee box.

Old Green­wood, Truc­kee, CA

Old Green­wood, orig­i­nally a pri­vate club, could be the most playable Jack Nick­laus Sig­na­ture Golf design I’ve ever played. The golf course is the cen­ter­piece of a premier four-sea­son re­sort com­mu­nity in North Lake Ta­hoe. Sit­u­ated near the his­toric town of Truc­kee on 600 acres of tow­er­ing pines and blue-sage cov­ered hills, the pub­lic can play it and also se­lect lots for cus­tom-built homes and frac­tional res­i­dences. It’s also home to the Golf Acad­emy at Old Green­wood.

Griz­zly Ranch in Portola, CA

Griz­zly Ranch was orig­i­nally a pri­vate course, but now this Bob Cupp gem is open to the pub­lic. Cupp was given a thou­sand acres to route this No. 1-ranked course in the Sierra Ne­vada by Golf Digest (2014). Golfers love the end­less com­bi­na­tion of shots and it is bor­dered on two sides by pro­tected fed­eral land. It’s part of a low-den­sity pri­vate gated com­mu­nity.

The Dragon at Nakoma Re­sort, Clio, CA

This Robin Nel­son design has been soft­ened some­what af­ter its orig­i­nal own­ers called on Nel­son to build the most dif­fi­cult course imag­ined. The Wild & Scenic Feather River can be seen in a canyon left of the fourth fair­way, but views are at ev­ery turn. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Nakoma teepee design makes a must-visit club­house with in­cred­i­ble restau­rant. And the 42-room Lodge at Nakoma is all new and comfy.

Genoa Lakes Golf Club, Genoa, NV

There are two cour­ses at Genoa Lakes -the Lakes and the Ranch -- and both of them are fun and dif­fer­ent. John Har­bot­tle III and Peter Jacobsen de­signed The Lakes Course, with the Carson River com­ing into play on 14 holes. The Ranch, for­merly Sierra Ne­vada Golf Ranch, was de­signed by Johnny Miller and Har­bot­tle. Over 300 feet of el­e­va­tion changes, more than 100 bunkers, un­pre­dictable moun­tain ter­rain, af­ter­noon breezes and a wa­ter­fall chal­lenge play­ers.

Pri­vate cour­ses Schaf­fer’s Mill Golf & Lake Club, Truc­kee, CA

Even though Schaf­fer’s Mill (for­merly Tim­il­ick) is pri­vate there are some Mon­day tee times open for the pub­lic. This fun and scenic Johnny Miller and John Har­bot­tle III design has two dis­tinct nines. The back nine dis­plays moun­tain holes with el­e­va­tion changes of 400 feet and the open­ing nine takes you through a beau­ti­ful meadow.

Clear Creek Ta­hoe, Clear Creek, NV

Af­ter con­sult­ing with the usual sus­pects, Ben Cren­shaw and Bill Coore were se­lected to build their first alpine set­ting golf course on a 1,600 acres par­cel of land. It’s in the east­ern shad­ows of the Carson Range with rugged white-sand bunkers, el­e­va­tion changes and slopes that will con­found you. The first time I hit the mid­dle of a green with an ap­proach and watched it trun­dle off the green I knew – beau­ti­ful and deadly. Clear Creek is lo­cated in the cen­ter of the fic­tional “Pon­derosa” of Bo­nanza fame, and has been uti­lized for over 150 years by var­i­ous cat­tle op­er­a­tions.

Mon­trêux, Reno, NV

This pri­vate jewel is the only Jack Nick­laus Sig­na­ture design in North­ern Ne­vada, and home to the The Bar­racuda Cham­pi­onship, slated this year July 31 – Au­gust 6, 2017 (for­merly the Reno-Ta­hoe Open). El­e­va­tion drops are fre­quent among tow­er­ing pines and flow­ing streams. Nick­laus con­sid­ers Mon­trêux one of his top five cour­ses. Look­ing for a lux­ury home? Dis­cover Parc Forêt at Mon­trêux, an out­stand­ing com­mu­nity of old world crafts­man homes.

Din­ing sug­ges­tions for your Reno-Ta­hoe golf ad­ven­ture

Carson Val­ley’s Basque Restau­rant; Edge­wood Restau­rant; Alpine Union Restau­rant at the Hard Rock Ho­tel and Casino; The Grille at the Chateau at In­cline Vil­lage Cham­pi­onship Course; and Nakoma Re­sort Wig­wam Room Restau­rant.

Lodg­ing sug­ges­tions

Grand Sierra Re­sort & Casino, Reno, NV Carson Val­ley Inn, Carson, NV Lake Ta­hoe Re­sort Ho­tel at Heav­enly, South Lake Ta­hoe, CA Moure­latos Lakeshore Re­sort, Ta­hoe Vista, CA Don­ner Lake Vil­lage Re­sort, Truc­kee, CA The Lodge at Nakoma, Clio, CA

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