Friday, August 03, 2012

Golfing at Greenhorn Creek

It’s only an hour away and offers perhaps one of the best golf outings in all of Northern California. It’s Greenhorn Creek Resort, a golf facility located in Angels’ Camp, the old gold mining community in Calaveras County.

The approach shot into the #17 green at Greenhorn Creek
The 6,214-yard, par-72 course winds its way through the wooded, rolling hills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and offers the golfer the challenge of playing holes with varying elevations to go with the beauty of the foothills. 

Re-designed recently by renowned golf course guru Robert Trent Jones II, Greenhorn Creek has a layout with some very unique holes that aren’t overly difficult for the average amateur. The course winds its way through a housing development and a wooded area where accurate shots will easily result in good scores.

Holes such as the par-5 #4, par-4 #5 and the picturesque par-3 13th are as good a golf hole as you’ll find anywhere. But, where Greenhorn Creek steps up the experience a bit is some of the additional amenities they offer.

The carts come with a GPS system which gives the golfer a layout of the hole they are playing, including an exact distance to the key landmarks and to the pen. Plus it has a scoring system on the unit. When you are finished with your round, you can request a print-out of your scorecard.

There’s a regular golf academy facility where group lessons for all ages are held regularly. There’s a spacious driving range and practice area.

 If you are bringing a few friends, check into staying in the “Caddy Shack”, a facility along the ninth fairway where groups of up to 12 can stay overnight for $99 per person midweek and $125 per person on weekends. Those prices include your green fee and your cart.

This summer Greenhorn Creek is also offering a “Stay and Play” package for $109 per person midweek that includes green fees, cart fees and lodging at the adjoining Worldmark condominiums.

In addition, the resort offers rentals of small cottages right on the course.

Here are highlights of the Greenhorn Creek golf course: (all yardage from the Blue tees)

#3  139 yards, par-3:
This pretty par-3  has a green cut into trees and there’s a severe drop-off from the putting surface into the woods on both the left side and behind the green. Hit it in either place and you’ve probably lost your ball.

The green also severely slopes from the back to the front. Being a little short on this hole is better than nothing.
The stonewall that crosses the #4 fairway makes this downhill
hole very challenging.

#4 476 yards, par-5:
What makes this downhill dog-leg right challenging is that about 225 yards from the tee is a stone wall.  Most golfers hit a long iron off the tee just short of the wall. Then they’ll have a 250-yard shot downhill to a decent sized green.

If you’re familiar with the course, you can try a driver off the tee and cut the dogleg, but you’re hitting blindly to a downhill fairway. There’s woods that line the entire right side, so that would be really risky.

#5 368 yards, par-4:

This hole is just plain hard. You tee off over a water hazard filled with cattails to a fairway that slopes to the right, in the direction of the water. The entire hole bends to the right to a green set in between water and woods. Plus, it’s a very undulating fairway, so you won’t have a level stance in very many places.

This hole demands a long, accurate tee shot if you want to try for the green in two.

The average golfer usually lays up short of the water for his second shot and chips onto the putting surface for his third shot. It’s a big, two-level green, but the putts will break back to the water.
Cattails fill the water hazard on three sides of this
peninsula green on #6

#6 175 yards, par-3:

Your tee shot is back over the cattail-filled water hazard you skirted on #5. The green is a peninsula cut into the hazard and appears to be really narrow from the tee box. Thus, lots of golfers hit into a large bail-out area on the left side and chip onto the green.

But, if you’ve got guts, try going for the pen, especially if it is on the right side. It really isn’t as narrow a landing area as it appears from the tee.

#9 473 yards, par-5:

This is a dogleg right that is laid out in such a manner that makes it hard to go for the green in two. The fairway is pretty tight and bumpy.

#12 325 yards, par-4:

This is a severe dogleg right that is uphill all the way. You’ll hit either a long iron or hybrid to a landing area lined with woods right and left.

Your second shot will be a short uphill pitch to a green with bunkers on both sides and deep depression in front.

#13 136 yards, par-3:

The tee box is at the highest point of the golf course with a great view of the Sierra foothills with New Melones Reservoir in the distance. You’ll hit downhill 70 feet or so to a odd-shaped green with water right and bunkers behind.

#14 388 yards, par-4:

A tough hole that doglegs left and the green is set back into the trees. If you aim at the sand on the left, you’ll have the best approach shot.

#17 388 yards, par-4:

This is the #1-handicapped  hole and for a pretty good reason. The drive is hit onto a pretty wide-open fairway that quickly narrows into a wooded area where there is a creek that crosses about 50 yards in front of the green.

The hole curves left thus the tee shot must be a little to the right where there is a big mound that can mess with your setup for the second shot. If you’re too far left with your drive you’ll deal with trees that overhang the left side.

There are a couple big bunkers around the green, too, to avoid.

#18 475 yards, par-5:

A nice finishing hole that only the big hitters will even try to hit on in two. That’s because there’s water that fronts a very narrow green with sand behind.

If you layup short of the green on your second shot, your third shot will be very challenging. 

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