If ever there was a golf haven, it must be in Lake Tahoe. With 24 golf courses within an hour’s drive of North Lake Tahoe, and the sparkling blue of Lake Tahoe in the background, this is most assuredly one of the most diverse and splendid golf spots in the world.
Diversity is the keynote of this area. One can play golf in mountainous, pine-studded fairways or putt on open desert-fringed greens, all with a backdrop of alpine mountain lakes at the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Here are just a few highlights of some of the best courses around Lake Tahoe.
- Old Brockway Golf Course: A lakeside course that dates back to the 1920’s and was host of the first Bing Crosby Annual tournament. This course has seen the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and President Dwight D. Eisenhower playing its links.
- Incline Village: There are two spectacular courses at Incline Village, the Championship and the Mountain course. Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed the Championship course, calling it “the ideal mountain layout with a challenge you won’t want to miss and views you will never forget.” His son, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., designed the Mountain Course at Incline Village. This course has spectacular green sites and contours and demands more accuracy than distance. A par-58 course that continues to challenge even the best golfers, every hole is unique with many unrivaled views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
- The Resort at Squaw Creek: This breathtaking course is located at the base of Squaw Valley, surrounded by six majestic Sierra mountain peaks. Robert Trent Jones Jr. also designed this course. with the purpose to preserve the unique beauty, natural wetlands and wildlife habitat of Squaw Valley. He succeeded with a resulting natural, fantastic golf course that blends harmoniously with its beautiful mountain surroundings. This course features nine holes on the meadow of Squaw Creek and nine in the rolling forest at the edge of the Squaw Valley ski resort, host of the 1960 Olympics.
- Northstar Golf Course: Designed by prolific golf course architect Robert Muir Graves, this par-72 course serves up a magnificent view of Mount Rose and a variety of nine holes of mountainous, wooded fairways plus another nine of open, meadow-side holes. Built to incorporate Tahoe’s mountainous landscapes with Martis Valley’s open meadows, this is truly a vibrant and exciting course.
Farther north around Truckee, are more noteworthy courses:
- Martis Camp features a private club with a 2008 Tom Fazio designed, award-winning 18-hole, par-72 golf course. From the longest tees, it presents 7,751 yards of golfing, blending dramatic topography of the High Sierras with the magnificent landscape of the Martis Valley. The front-nine take advantage of awe-inspiring mountain views, while the next seven holes crisscross Martis Creek and wind through the valley floor. Majestic mountain vistas frame the final two holes with the 18th green in the shadow of a 70-foot rock promontory where the impressive 50,000 square-foot Martis Camp Lodge sits.
- Coyote Moon: This course designed by Brad Bell, takes advantage of the natural setting in 250 acres of secluded rolling hills, with towering pines, enormous outcroppings of granite and the picturesque Trout Creek adding dramatic elements to your golf game.
- Gray’s Crossing: Located at the Tahoe Mountain Club near Truckee/North Lake Tahoe, the Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing ranked in Golfweek Magazine’s “Top 50 Best New Courses” in 2008. This course combines the feel of a traditional private club with fast greens and tournament-like conditions daily. Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy designed this course for fun, yet challenging play and its towering pines and weaving fairways certainly deliver that. The natural mountain views of Mt. Rose in the background are breathtaking.
- Old Greenwood: Also located at the Tahoe Mountain Club, this Jack Nicklaus Signature Designed masterpiece course was rated among Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” in 2011. Golf Magazine also rated it among the 10 Best New Public-Access Courses in the Country. Situated among 600 acres of towering pines in the mountains near North Lake Tahoe, the Old Greenwood course serves up 18 holes of golfing perfection. Since this course is just across the street from Gray’s Crossing, a golf vacation here could be a double-treat.
- Tahoe Donner: Also in the Truckee area is this amazing, towering pine-lined course on 200 acres of pristine Sierra landscape. Tahoe Donner provides an 18-hole, 7,002-yard par-72 championship golf course. With stunning views and meandering creeks, granite rock formations, elevations changes and greens so consistently pure they are recognized as the “Best Greens in the Tahoe Region,” this is a true mountain course where golfers can enjoy the serenity of their natural surroundings.
A little bit further away, but still within an hour’s drive of North Lake Tahoe, you can find:
- Montreux Golf and Country Club: Located in Reno, Nevada, at this home of the Reno-Tahoe Open, you will find a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course that he called one of his top five designs. This course winds through nearly 7,500 yards of rolling greens, drops in elevation and quiet meandering creeks bordered by towering pines. Trying to keep your eye on the ball and not get distracted by the magnificent scenery may be your biggest challenge here.
- Graeagle Meadows Golf Course: is one hour north from Reno and Tahoe in Graeagle, CA. This location bordering the Tahoe National Forest and along the Middle Fork Feather River in Plumas County, offers more mountain views, tall pines and lots of water with elevated tees across its 6,725 yards of “extreme golf.”
No matter what courses you choose to play in this golfing haven, you are sure to find the scenery breathtaking, the courses challenging and your experience at Lake Tahoe delightful.
About the Author: Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company.