Lake Tahoe Growing Into a Major Golf Destination
03 Sep 2005

by Pete Wlodkowski, amateurgolf.com

Ask a California golfer to list the top destinations to play in the Golden State and you are likely to hear the usual – Monterey, San Diego, Palm Springs. The Lake Tahoe region, known for its massive snow falls and multitude of world-class ski resorts, isn’t likely to be at the top of the ‘must-golf’ list.

Maybe it should be.

Recent golf course projects in Tahoe have literally doubled the number of championship layouts, and there are more on the books.

Much of the activity has been centered around the North Shore, where the ultra-private Lahontan Golf Club, designed by Tom Weiskopf, now has a premium daily fee neighbor designed by Weiskopf’s one-time nemesis (on the course at least) Jack Nicklaus. Everything about Old Greenwood is first rate. The clubhouse, practice facility, and locker facilities feel like a private club (there is even a Golf Digest school).

The course, however, is what it’s all about, and Nicklaus really delivered at Old Greenwood. Tall pines frame the opening holes, and water comes into play in creative ways that caused Stevinson Ranch co-owner George Kelley to describe Nicklaus’ design as the best use of water he has ever seen on a golf course. I liked the fact that walking is feasible – and seemingly encouraged with pull carts provided as an alternative to the electric variety.

The company that developed Old Greenwood, East West Partners, also owns Truckee’s Coyote Moon, and has plans for a Jacobsen/Hardy private course called Gray’s Crossing with an opening date in 2007. Both Old Greenwood and Gray’s Crossing have several different real estate ownership options with the first releases of home sites reportedly generating a buying frenzy of sorts (hey, it’s California after all).

Tying things together is the expansion of the Northstar-at-Tahoe resort (which has a wonderful golf course of its own by the way) starting with the construction of the new Village at Northstar. The Village is a set of buildings at the base of the resort that will have retail and dining on the lower levels and luxury condominiums up top. The concept is to have a hub of activity outside, and skaters will enjoy a huge ice rink not only in the winter, but in the summer as well (via the marvels of modern faux-ice technology).

As much as we love to ski, amateurgolf.com is all about hitting the little white ball and with all the new courses on the North Shore, we didn’t miss an opportunity to tee it up at Northstar-at-Tahoe’s more established Resort Course. This is a layout that is really fun to play, with nine holes in the meadow and nine holes that have a distinct ‘ski run’ feeling. As expensive as resort golf can be -- Old Greenwood’s weekend fee is in the $175 range – Northstar offers a foursome package that brings the game under $75 per player. If you’re taking the family out to play, this is your spot.

Fall is a wonderful time to visit Lake Tahoe. Bring the sticks!

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