High Sierras offer ‘cooler’ golf in summer


Coyote Moon (Rod Hanna)

When the temperatures reach triple digit in the summer, golfers start looking for cooler places and should consider the High Sierras, the 60-mile Reno-Lake Tahoe area on the borders of Nevada and California.

There are more than 40 golfing options where they can play mountain courses with dramatic elevation changes, high desert courses where target golf is featured and meadow courses with tree-lined fairways—all with breathtaking vistas of the natural surroundings.  You can settle in one particular area or do a lot of driving as I did.

 After landing in Reno, golfers can head west and stopover in the Carson City—the state capital of Nevada—area where they can play the Arnold Palmer-designed Dayton Valley, a desert-style course that has hosted numerous PGA Tour qualifying events. Don’t try the tees these players use unless you are a long hitter.

Further west, Genoa Lakes has a pair of John Harbottle gems–the Lakes Course where touring pro Peter Jacobsen gave Harbottle a hand and the Resort where Johnny Miller assisted—that are great options and definitely worth playing.

 It’s Lake Tahoe, one of the largest and deepest alpine lakes, where you might want to settle down for a longer period of time. There are plenty of casinos and entertainment available and you can opt to stay in a mountain cabin or a luxury resort.

Edgewood Tahoe, which many may have seen on television since it hosts a big celebritytournament, should certainly be on everyone’s must play list as it sits right on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. George Fabio did the original design and Tom Fazio did some renovations. It’s a little pricey, but worth one trip around.

 On the other side of the lake awaits Incline Village. Kyle Phillips did a great job with his renovations of the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed Championship course. Hit it straight as towering pines border tight fairways, Beginners might opt to play the shorter par 58 Mountain Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Junior also designed the Squaw Creek Resort Course, a links style layout that winds along a valley floor through and around wetlands, which claimed a lot of my errant shots. Because of all the snow, I’d wait until July or August to allow the course to dry out a little .The accommodations were perhaps the best of one week-long trip.

Golfers might want to consider spending extra time in the Truckee area, offering some of the best golf in Northern California with the likes of Coyote Moon and Old Greenwood.My favorite is the Brad Bell-designed Coyote Moon,, where there were no homes to spoil the view around the mountain course at 6,300 feet above sea level. The 13th is abreathtaking par 3 that drops almost 200 feet to a green fronted by a creek. Hitting the right club is very important. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Greenwood is nearby and shouldn’t be missed either, especially when you get the opportunity to play with its director of golf Bob Hickam.

 Taking a different route back to Reno through the Mohawk Valley, try to stop by the Dick Bailey-designed Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club, which sits in a meadow amongst meandering streams, pines, cedars and aspens. It was ranked No. 11 among best public courses in California. If you have additional time, one of the best values for golf is Plumas Pines, a shorter, more player friendly layout next to the Feather River.

 You can easily get back to the Reno airport for your flight home.


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