A golf vacation trip to the Reno-Lake Tahoe area won’t be complete until you cross the Kingsbury Grade into Nevada and try your luck at Genoa Lakes.
Tucked near the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, Genoa Lakes presents 36 memorable holes – the Lakes on the valley floor and close to the Carson River, and the Ranch on the hillside.
Both are worth your time, but the better of the two is the Lakes, designed by Peter Jacobsen and the late John Harbottle III. If you’re golf-grieving over the imminent closure of Stevinson Ranch next month, you’ll take solace in the linksy feel of the Lakes.
Harbottle designed both Stevinson Ranch and the Lakes, and the similarities are hard to miss. For example, SR’s par-4 eighth and the Lakes’ par-4 11th could be mistaken for twins. Both present tee shots over or around wetlands and are driveable for the longest hitters. And both can bite players on the scorecard with a misplayed tee shot or approach.
Brace for wind. It usually picks up around 1 p.m. each day, and it’s a natural challenge that the men who routed the course took into account. A personal favorite is the sweeping downhill par-5 ninth from the mountainside to the valley floor.
The guiding rule at the Lakes, or anywhere else for that matter – hit it straight off the tee. Water comes into play on 14 holes, so a safe start will help.
The Ranch, bearing the design signatures of Harbottle and Johnny Miller, features about 300 feet in elevation changes and more than 100 bunkers. Use a motorized cart here.
Other favorites that bludgeoned my game this year:
Edgewood Tahoe – Two company-owned beach houses were sold and, with that, the non-descript right-angle par-4 ninth has been transformed into an eye-catching two-shotter finishing near the Lake Tahoe shore. A string of pines separates the water from the fairway, more eye candy on a course that already owns more than its share. The eighth green has been relocated to the left to make room for the improvements at the ninth.
The change is part of an ambitious expansion of the property, including 154 rooms, 40 cabins (along the eighth and ninth holes), a 120-seat restaurant, fitness center and 6,000-room conference center. Spectators at the American Century Golf Championship on July 17-19 no doubt will notice the construction. It’s expected to be completed during 2017.
Clear Creek Tahoe – This out-of-the way private property, featuring a membership of more than 100, joins Martis Camp near Truckee as Tahoe’s top new courses. Located not far from Incline Village on the grade bridging Carson City and the lake, Clear Creek is a delightful and gorgeous Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw creation.
Their thoughtful and dramatic routing takes full advantage of a scenic property. I like the fifth, a 335-yard par 4 titled “Conundrum” for the devilish and tiny pot bunker in the middle of the fairway. All nearby land funnels into that little fairway graveyard. If your drive somehow settles there, you might have another word in mind than “conundrum.”
The greens – fast, huge and downright diabolical in places – present a dynamic test. If you’re lucky enough to have a connection that will walk you to the first tee, do it.
ArrowCreek – Not far from the annual Barracuda Championship – the PGA Tour stop at Montreux CC formerly known as the Reno Tahoe Open – stands the 36-hole Club at ArrowCreek. Both the Challenge course (Harbottle-Fuzzy Zoeller) and the Legend (Arnold Palmer) present forced carries and fairways that weave around ravines, dry creeks and rocks. Wind always is a factor.
The club nearly plunged into bankrupty but has staged a remarkable comeback. ArrowCreek reverted to all-private status in May. Officials waived the initiation fee and chopped all rates, and the membership blossomed from less than 150 to more than 400.
The Shag Bag – Shawnee Martinez of Modesto parred the final hole at Bing Maloney and edged Erika Salinas by one stroke last weekend to win the 80th Sacramento City Women’s Golf Championship. Martinez, soon to be a senior at Long Beach State, posted twin 70s for a total of 6-under 140, featuring nine birdies over the two days. It was a thrill, she said, to win on Father’s Day while her dad followed her on both days. Golf-wise, switching from steel to graphite shafts in her irons made a big difference. “I really had no expectations. It was my first tournament since the end of the (collegiate) season. I hit my reshafted irons so much better. They’re flying farther, too.” Martinez, the former three-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters medalist from Enochs High, earned a $300 gift card and had her name engraved on the large perpetual trophy. She hopes for a senior year at Long Beach devoid of injury or illness. She has not gone a full semester with the 49ers without being sidelined, though she did take part in 11 tournaments last season with two top-20 finishes. “I can’t carry my bag anymore. I have to push (a cart),” she said, citing recent back pain. “I just want to be healthy for my senior year.” ...
The Modesto Muni Niners celebrated their 50th anniversary with a tournament and luncheon Tuesday. Seventy-two current or former members teed it up, and 18 former captains either played or attended lunch. That delighted the current co-captains Judi Drobnick and Rosalie Schmierer. One of the players was Florence Velthoen, 91, the 1997 captain. Also there was 1977 captain Mae Kriese.
Hole in one – Greg Gaudio, Ceres, 138-yard eighth at Creekside, 9-iron. ... Mike Rovai, Salida, 159-yard 15th at Creekside, 3-hybrid. ... Gary Damsen, Oakdale, 147-yard 12th at Oakdale CC, 5-iron.