Tahoe – Reno Area: A new major U.S.
golf vacation destination
The Reno - Lake Tahoe area – where the number of golf
courses has nearly doubled to 50 plus courses in the last 10 years – has
quietly emerged as one of the top golf vacation destinations in the
West. Golfing in the Sierra has become one of the main engines driving
the economy of the region as thousands come for the golf, scenery,
entertainment and gambling.
“We’ve always been best known in Tahoe for having some
of the best ski resorts in the country,” said Larry Windsor, “but now
this area is getting a reputation as a premier golf destination too.
There are a number of championship-caliber courses here.” Windsor is
communications director of Golf The High Sierra, an organization of 20
golf courses in the Tahoe-Reno-Carson City area.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver and other
major Western cities are the main feeding grounds for these Sierra golf
havens. Some, like Edgewood at South Lake Tahoe, Whitehawk Ranch near
Clio and Coyote Moon outside Truckee, are household names to diehard
duffers. But many others, including Grizzly Ranch, Carson Valley, Silver
Oak, Wildcreek and Eagle Valley, remain undiscovered by the masses of
golfers who have not ventured too deeply into this region of 10,000-foot
peaks, river-bottom valleys and high-desert plateaus.
Having just returned from an initial swing through 14
of the Reno – Lake Tahoe courses, it is not hard to see why the region’s
golf courses are attracting thousands of new fans every year. The region
now competes handily with other major Western golf locales including
Phoenix, Palm Springs and Monterey. The 50 plus golf courses are all
within an hour or so of the lake or Reno.
There is golf here for any budget. I played on courses
where – depending on location, the time of day and time of the year –
green fees range all the way from $20 to $225. Many of the low-budget
courses are in the Carson City area while the top rate of $225 can be
found at Edgewood, the grand dame of Tahoe courses. Edgewood brings the
national spotlight to Tahoe each year when it hosts the annual,
nationally televised American Century Celebrity Championship – an event
that drew a plethora of professional athletes and movie-television stars
when it was held earlier this month.
Many golfers from around the U.S. will be traveling up
to the Sierra July 30 – August 5 to watch the pros tee off at the ninth
annual PGA tour event at the exclusive Montreux Golf and County Club in
“There are probably three major factors responsible
for the success of golf in the Tahoe-Reno area,” according to Chaco
Mohler, publisher and executive editor of Tahoe Quarterly Magazine.
“First, the region has attracted lots of famous golf architects who have
designed these courses.
“Another key attraction is the diversity of courses.
You can play on all kinds of courses including links-style, high desert,
mountain and valley. And the third factor here is the weather. The
climate is perfect for golf for five to six months a year.”
While many courses typically remain open through
October, several operate year-round, especially on the Nevada side of
the Nevada-California border.
The golf designers who have left their mark on the
Sierra landscape at various courses include such luminaries as Robert
Trent Jones Jr. and Sr., Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller,
Peter Jacobsen, Tom Weiskopf, John Harbottle III and Tom Fazio.
Golf carts are usually recommended on most Sierra
courses as the terrain plays at elevations of 4,800 to 6,300 feet.
Depending on which golf course pro you talk to, the thinner
high-altitude air give golfers an added 5 to 10 percent distance with
By far, most golf courses in the region are public. A
few of the private courses, such as Grizzly Ranch near Portola, CA, and
ArrowCreek in Reno, are open to the public at various times.
Truckee, CA, has become the focal point of golf
interest this year with the opening of three new private courses –
Timilick, Gray’s Crossing and Martis Camp. Dayton Valley, a public
course in the Carson Valley, is adding a nine-hole public course to its
18-hole spread and expects the new course to open next year.
Although locals brag about the consistently good
weather conditions, golfers should be aware that strong winds kick up
fairly frequently at some courses, especially those close to the eastern
flank of the Sierra in Nevada. Make your tee times there in the morning
as the winds usually arrive in the afternoon.
A capsule look at several of the most talked-about
courses in the region:
Edgewood Tahoe – Sprawling magnificently on the south
shore at South Lake Tahoe, this eye-catching masterpiece traditionally
is rated one of the top courses in the country in golfer surveys.
Whitehawk Ranch – A remote paradise of a course in the
Mohawk Valley, 38 miles north of Truckee. The course is sculpted into
compelling terrain that includes streams winding through pine forests,
postcard ponds and waterfalls to soothe the soul after slicing one in
Northstar at Tahoe – This ski resort course features a
mountain nine with tight fairways and a friendlier meadow nine with
wide, inviting open spaces. Golfers flock here for the instructional
programs which include free clinics for those 17 and older, women’s
specialty clinics and junior camps for kids under 13.
Coyote Moon – On the outskirts of Truckee, Coyote Moon
boasts probably the most memorable hole in the Tahoe region. The par 3,
13th hole, features a sharp drop of about 140 feet off the tee to a
green fronted by a stream. Hitting the green here is akin to hitting the
jackpot in a casino slot machine.
Grizzly Ranch – One of the newest courses in the
region, this 7,407 yard long adventure is a true, mountain experience
with highly-touted scenic views of nearby peaks. Look for it near
The Golf Club at Genoa Lakes – A links-style course
near Genoa, NV, that is usually included in magazine rankings of the
best courses in Nevada. A challenging entity planted in a superb setting
along the Carson River.
Carson Valley Golf Course – Rated the “best course for
beginners” by Tahoe Quarterly Magazine, this 18-hole prize has a series
of forward tees so that young children, teenagers and parents with
varying abilities can all play together. The parking lot is often full
in the evening because after 5 pm, golfers can play 9 holes for $10
providing that there is one child in the group.
The Golf Club at Genoa Lakes and Carson Valley are
members of the Divine 9, a consortium of nine courses in the Carson City
area that have banded together to attract golfers to the area. The other
members are Dayton Valley, Eagle Valley (West and East), Empire Ranch,
Genoa Lakes Golf Resort, Silver Oak and Sunridge.
Tee times, lodging and golf vacation packages can be
arranged in the Carson City area by calling 877 – 697 – 4653 or by going
The Golf The High Sierra association, with its
20-member courses, also offers a centralized booking operation for tee
times, lodging and golf vacation packages. The web site is
www.golfthehighsierra.com and the phone number is 877 – 332- 4465.
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