Course Review: Callippe Preserve Golf Club, Pleasanton, CA

As I write this, I am inclined to fit the description of a person who does not want to let the world know about their local secret for fear of it becoming too popular, thereby ruining a good thing.

Risk & Reward - The driveable par-four 12th at Callippe Preserve.

Not today.  In the interest of valuable golf reporting, I am happy to announce that my adopted hometown of Pleasanton in the East Bay area of Northern California has a fun, interesting new municipal golf course to brag about.  Taking longer than expected and costing more than anticipated, Callippe Preserve Golf Course was nonetheless definitely worth the wait and toil.  Tucked in the hills just a minute or so east of Interstate 680 and south of town, this Brian Costello design (of the JMP Golf Design Group) should prove a success with area’s golf hungry.

Named for the Callippe Silverspot Butterfly which the area is set to preserve, the project is a wonderful example of how golf can complement the surrounding land and abundant wildlife, as well as supply a much needed outlet for recreation.  The entire project encompasses 318 acres and includes three miles of hiking trails that create access to some of the preserve on three sides of the golf course.  Hikers as well as golfers will be nicely served.  Congratulations to the town and citizens of Pleasanton.

The 18-hole course measures 6,748 yards from the tips on a par-72 frame, and is situated in a protected valley setting that affords scenic views of the Mt. Diablo and the Pleasanton Ridge to the north.  The opening nine ambles around gentle valley slopes that are open now, but should close in as the new trees mature.  Architect Costello has generously sprinkled the area with sand bunkers that both dominate the visuals and dictate strategy.

You had better be warmed up as you tackle the back nine for the terrain becomes hilly playing along small ridgelines and amongst mature oaks.  Protected natural areas dictate accuracy over distance though there is nothing anemic about the 17th and 18th holes.  The seventeenth is a stout 447-yarder that doglegs right and requires two strong accurate shots to reach the putting surface.  The 573-yard finisher is a scorecard wrecker that will likely not be reached in two shots.  Natural habitat ravines dictate lay-ups to relatively narrow landing areas and finally to an elevated sloping green.  Speaking of sloping greens, architect Costello has built some of the most sloping greens in California here.  The 11th green is nearly unmanageable above the hole as are a few other spots on the course.  I must also share that the practice putting green nearer the clubhouse (there are two) has an absurd slope to it where the ball constantly returns to the lower portion.  Otherwise, Callippe is a valid test of golf and should mature into even a better one over time.

What is also impressive about the Callippe Preserve course is that it is easily walkable.

Customers will also be attracted to the full driving range and the clubhouse that affords some terrific views of the golf course and the countryside beyond.  The bar/grill that overlooks this picturesque course and valley beyond makes for a great finish to your golfing day!

Fagan Rating – B-. This is actually a very good municipal golf course (minus a few bizarre putting surfaces) and well worth visiting.  The front nine is rather repetitive playing over a valley and gentle hillside with an abundance of new tree plantings, but the back nine is more scenic and spectacular.  While not qualifying as special enough to qualify as a destination course, it is a great call to play when in the greater Pleasanton or Livermore Valley area.

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