In the world in general, and also in the world of golf, there are special places. What I mean by that is that there are spots where the natural beauty and special ambiance simply transcend the norm. They are the golf courses that you must experience at least once in your life. The Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe is one such place that has long attracted both golfers and non-golfers alike. Situated directly on Lake Tahoe’s south shore, the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course has enjoyed iconic leadership status on the Northern California golf scene since its inception forty years ago. Over the past few seasons, this gem has been further polished.
While once enjoying regular annual visits to Edgewood Tahoe, a decade had quickly passed since I last enjoyed the course. In the mean time, golf course architect, Tom Fazio, had been hired to upgrade his uncle George’s original design. Add to that a new golf course superintendent and a clubhouse expansion with a terrific new restaurant/bar, and I was excited to return. What would I find?
Casting suspense aside, Edgewood Tahoe is, indeed, a repolished gem keeping the facility squarely in the forefront of a host of excellent new golf courses invading the greater Lake Tahoe/Truckee area. The course, itself, is laid out in a wooded meadow directly adjacent to the sandy shores of Lake Tahoe. The setting alone is spectacular and, at the same time, therapeutic – the perfect getaway! The design compliments its surroundings, as it is more of a simple unforced natural look largely absent of manufactured mounds that inhabit many newer layouts. For the most part, the fairways are very broad, the bunkering pronounced, and the putting surfaces large with sweeping breaks. There is not a lot of intricacy to the design for the corresponding surrounding mountains and lake are all of a grand sweeping scale. With this scale, the course conveys a gentle, but masculine theme of neatly manicured emerald green fairways meandering around the majestic pines and numerous ponds. While the test is straightforward, the course can quickly penalize careless shots or misguided strategy. The variety of tee positions (and the possibility of many hole locations) substantially alters the course’s challenge – and the recreational player would be well advised to choose a middle or forward tee. Also, huge pines stand sentinel in a few of the fairways to really grab your attention and make you ponder your strategy. Once on the putting surfaces, beware. The greens have strong contours necessitating careful approach putting!
Great courses usually have memorable holes. Edgewood Tahoe certainly does. As you leave the adjacent hotel/casino area and approach the facility, you are greeted by the mesmerizing attractive approach shot to the par-four sixth. With pond, the artful greenside bunkering, and distant Lake Tahoe vista in the background, your pulse is guaranteed to quicken. On the ninth tee, you get to hit from California back into Nevada where most of the course is situated. There is nothing not to like about any of the holes, but the finish heading uphill into the trees at the short par-four fifteen followed by the downhill return to the lake area with the gorgeous par-five sixteenth, the lakeside par-three seventeenth, and the pond-guarded eighteenth compose a spectacular finishing quartet that is truly memorable. The eighteen hole can make or break your round. A par-five that is reachable in two by long hitters, and can quickly yield an eagle or double bogey or worse, particularly due to the pond immediately to the left of the green. It makes for a great climax. What’s more is that this layout is also eminently walkable and a caddie can be obtained.
For the advanced player, Edgewood Tahoe offer a championship test having hosted a USGA Senior Open in 1985 with only Miller Barber able to break par, as well as the National Public Links Championship in 1980 won by future TOUR player, Jodie Mudd. No doubt, many of you have already viewed the annual celebrity tournament there in July televised by NBC. When speeded up, the sloping greens are a real test and if windy, the challenge really is awakened. The nice point is that Edgewood Tahoe is a very playable golf course for the recreational player. There are only a few forced carries, mostly generously wide fairways, and the areas in the trees are immaculately maintained making for quick ball searches.
What of the changes to the golf course made by Tom Fazio? The routing and order of play remains the same, but some of the bunkering appears more stylized and artistic in the younger Fazio motif with more twists and turns to the edges as opposed to the rather elementary lines and bunker shapes that the original designer, George Fazio, employed. The par-five fourth has been repositioned back from the frontal highway so that while you can still hear automobile traffic, you can’t see it, a nice improvement. Otherwise, the improvements are more subtle. This gem has, indeed, simply been repolished.
Truly remarkable golf experiences extend beyond the golf course. At Edgewood Tahoe you will experience polite, attentive service, a fully stocked, attractively displayed golf shop, and an enticing choice of eateries including a gourmet offering or an outstanding “half-way house”. Your day may be concluded by a wonderful 2003 building addition that houses “Brooks’ Bar & Grill”. Named after course founder, Brooks Park, one golf magazine includes the watering hole as one of the “Fifty Best Nineteenth Holes” in America. Having experienced most of them, I fully concur!
The other nice aspect of playing Edgewood Tahoe is visiting the town and casinos of South Lake Tahoe. When it comes to lodging, for me it’s a “slam dunk” to choose the Embassy Suites Hotel, a simple stroll from the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. You are also literally steps away from the casinos, shopping and restaurants, as well as hiking, beach, and water activities. (When the golf closes, there are, of course, the ski slopes.) Embassy Suites offers families, couples, or singles quiet, clean upscale ambiance and superior service with terrific buffet breakfasts included.
For the serious golfers who want multiple rounds at more than one course, there are a number of other entertaining courses within a scenic 30-minute drive. That said, the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course remains the “quintessential Tahoe golf course” and “the one to play” when visiting the beautiful Lake Tahoe area – a repolished gem occupying a very special part of the world! Oh, and tell them that Bob Fagan sent you.
Fagan Rating – B. This is a far better than average golf course in a heavenly (A) location – a definitive resort golf course, playable and beautiful. While the golf course property does not feature remarkable terrain and is relatively flat, the conditioning, views, and ambiance are superlative. This is one of the very best public-access courses you can play in the greater Reno-Tahoe area and beyond, and should be included in any visit.