Susan Fornoff, Chronicle Travel Editor
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The golf season is short all around Lake Tahoe, which provides the golf nut a fine excuse to play 36 holes in a day: Do it now to make up for all of the golf one cannot play with the snow falling in December.
Besides, think of the money one would save. Rather than play golf two days in a row, thus requiring two nights' lodging, and rather than spending nongolfing time, and, thus, money, in casinos, one can totally immerse oneself in the chase of the dimpled white ball.
OK, now that the rationalizing is complete, pack up the clubs and come along - preferably with three other like-minded golf nuts.
If you're nuts enough to play 36 in a day, surely you're inclined to take a break during the drive up to the lake and play 18 en route. There are plenty of options in the Sacramento area. Check out the golf pages at http://www.visitcalifornia.com/ for some ideas.
A perfect day of golf immersion
5:50 a.m.: Slather on sunscreen, get in the car and head over the Kingsbury Grade down to Genoa. Bring an energy bar, unless you're staying at the Black Bear, where inn co-owner and South Tahoe Mayor Jerry Birdwell got up to serve me coffee, fruit and a muffin. The snack bar is not likely to be open at the golf course at this hour.
6:30 a.m.: Tee off ahead of the crowds and walk your way around Genoa's Lakes or Resort courses. The Lakes, designed by Peter Jacobsen and John Harbottle, is considered the better of the two choices; the Resort, once a fine alternative, underwent some detrimental tweaking a few years ago to make room for houses. They're both well cared for, with good clubhouses and friendly service, and early morning is the time to beat the heat and the wind - and there's a discount if you play both in the same week.
10 a.m.: Oh, there's a bonus hole - No. 19. We're heading for one of the most gorgeous anywhere - get back in the car and drive just over the hill to Edgewood Tahoe.
10:30 a.m.: Settle in at Brooks' Bar and Deck, one of Golf Digest's top 19th holes in the United States, and enjoy the lake and golf course views with breakfast (lunch, if Jerry cooked for you this morning) and a breakfast cocktail.
11:30 a.m.: Take half an hour to work on whatever part of your game gave you trouble in the morning. Edgewood is a much tougher test than any other course in the area, and the greens confound even the members.
Noon: Tee off at Edgewood. Take a cart this time - a round of golf here in high season at this time of day is bound to take at least five hours. Enjoy the scenery, the service, the company. And when you get to the signature hole - No. 17, a lakeside par-3 that outshines even the big stars at the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament - take a few photos to remember the day.
5 p.m.: Play that 19th hole, or, if we're counting properly, the 38th, with adult beverages and snacks wherever you're staying. This would be the time to soak in the hot tub and take a refreshing shower.
7 p.m.: A great day like this one deserves a fine meal at the end. It's doubtful that even the best cook in the foursome feels like standing in the kitchen: We had spectacular fried green tomatoes, pasta and fish at Cafe Fiore (save room for the house-made white chocolate ice cream). If opting for one of the north lake pairings and staying up at Truckee, I'd go into town for fine dining at Moody's or perhaps try the new Moody's spin-off at Northstar's Village, Baxter's.
9 p.m.: There's still time for some miniature golf at Magic Carpet! But hurry - the last start time at the Carnelian Bay course is 9 p.m., at South Lake Tahoe, 9:30.
How about a quick nine at Old Brockway in Kings Beach on Tahoe's north shore before you hit the road? It's a full nine with two par-5s and boasts of being the site of the first Crosby in 1934 - that's the tournament that eventually became the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. It remains busy enough to charge $45 for nine, $75 for 18 this time of year.
If you go
We paired Edgewood at sunrise - gorgeous! - with Genoa's Lakes course in the afternoon - hot! - and learned that this pairing would best be enjoyed in reverse. Other pairings would probably be great in any order: Edgewood and Incline (views all day, with swift putts breaking to the lake) with a west or south shore base; Coyote Moon (with no houses and lots of wildlife, this is not to be missed on the north side) and Old Greenwood in Truckee; Northstar and Timilick (new, meant to be private, but taking paying customers in a tough economy) in the Martis Valley.
Prime-time, high-season green fees for these courses start at $80 for Northstar and top out at $220 for Edgewood Tahoe, with some discounts to be found for afternoon golf and also for lodging packages. Check http://www.golfthehighsierra.com/ for details on and links to all of the courses above except Northstar ( http://www.northstarattahoe.com/) and Timilick (http://www.timilick.com/). Or go to the state's tourism Web site, http://www.visitcalifornia.com/, and navigate to the golf section, where the official 2009 golf publication can be accessed.
If you're part of a foursome with two sleeping-together couples, the Hyatt Residence at Northstar is a great new option, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom residence with full kitchen and living room, plus a couple of outdoor hot tubs. Rates this time of year begin at around $350 a night. (888) 298-3156, http://www.northstarattahoe.com/.
On the South Shore, I enjoyed the hospitality, serene gardens and outdoor hot tub at the Black Bear Inn, which has three cabins, one of which could be shared by two couples. With only one bathroom, this could feel crowded; the lodge also has individual cabin rooms, and guest rooms in the beautifully designed main building. Rates begin at $210 for a room, $455 for the two-couple cabin. 1202 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe. (877) 232-7466, tahoeblackbear.com.
Cafe Fiore. Dinner nightly, expensive. 1169 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe. (530) 541-2908, cafefiore.com.
Moody's Bistro and Lounge. Dinner nightly, expensive. 10007 Bridge St., Truckee. (530) 587-8688, http://www.moodysbistro.com/.
Baxter's. Lunch and dinner Wed.-Sun., expensive. In the Village at Northstar, Truckee. (530) 562-3200, http://www.northstarattahoe.com/.
Good to know
In high season (mid-June to mid-September), most courses will accept paying customers at first light - as early as 6:15. So it might be possible to play 54 holes in a day.
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