The Ridge Golf Course and Event Center's 6,734-yard course—designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.—stretches across wide-open, natural expanses, and up and over rippling foothills to reveal breath-taking views. The 18-hole, par 71 course offers challenges for golfers of all levels, daring them to evade the 48 bunkers, water hazards, and oak trees that have been known to hit balls back. Some holes are especially tricky, for instance, on hole 7, an uphill fairway precedes a 26-yard-deep rolling green, prompting golfers to pull their three-wood instead of their driver. But as Greg French—retired director of Golf at The Ridge—said, "It doesn't have to be a difficult course," according to their website. Each hole contains four sets of tees, enabling new players to set up closer, less-difficult shots.
When they're not testing their mettle on the course, players can settle disputes with their empty stomachs at the club’s bar and grill, where cooks grill burgers and sizzle up hot sandwiches.
Course at a Glance:
In 1988, the owners of a ramshackle golf course put it up for sale, taking out a small advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle. But where others saw a lost cause, Gordon Morrice saw an opportunity. He quickly bought the course and set to improving it, clearing the rocks and trees littering the fairways, planting new trees, and adding concrete paths to keep wild carts from burrowing into the grass. Over two decades, Morrice and his family transformed Black Oak Golf Course into a facility worthy of a country club, with tiered poa annua greens highlighted by the signature fourth hole—a 131-yard par 3 featuring a dramatic tee shot over water. Along with a regular maintenance staff, at least one member of Morrice's family oversees the course on any given day, retaining a level of personal attention that keeps it from shriveling into a mini-golf course like so many before it.
Course at a Glance:
Copses of serene pines, oaks, and redwoods cluster along no fewer than 36 rye-grass fairways at Lincoln Hills Golf Club. Even after creating its first 18-hole Hills course, designed by professional golfer Billy Casper and famed course architect Greg Nash, the club decided it wanted another. Its ambition created a second par 72 layout—the Orchard course—giving golfers a choice between two courses where large greens nestle amid rolling hills and naturally occurring wetlands.
The older Hills course unfurls over 6,876 yards. Its second hole demands a tee shot over a lake and onto a tight fairway before players even begin to aim at a green guarded by a bunker on the left. The newer Orchard course also makes golfers sweat at the second fairway, its hardest, which earns a par 5 by coming in at 598 yards and offering a plethora of sand bunkers as well as a 75-foot slope from the tee box to the green.
Instead of smashing cell phones to make rudimentary compasses, golfers navigate the course in GPS-equipped golf carts. The club also entices players with an 8-acre driving range, a practice area for putting and chipping, and individual or group lessons with professionals Steven Treadway and Patty Snyder—a former LPGA Tour player.
Staffed by experienced professionals and computers who’ve sworn allegiance to the Three Laws of Golfing Robotics, GolfTec’s syndicate of golf training centers grooms games with a five-pronged approach enhanced by technological refinements. Score-shaving wisdom resonates within the walls of the indoor facilities, where certified personal coaches point out flaws and strengths while providing golfers with tips to permanently improve their game from tee to green. By utilizing video swing analysis and motion-measurement software, instructors can assess pupils’ abilities with objective data and a fact-based tact superior to traditional hearsay-oriented coaching strategies. To further enhance performance, GolfTec offers club-fitting services to match each swing profile with its ideal set of sticks.
Bass Lake Golf Course's par-72 course challenges players of all skill levels with up to 5,939 scenic yards of rolling foothills, stubborn trees, and glittering lakes infested with hungry, hungry hippos. The course's 18 holes test golfers' finesse with short layouts—including the up-to-150-yard hole 10—and driving accuracy with lengthy layouts—such as the up-to-526-yard hole 1. Since taking ownership of the course in 2002, Alex and Sabrina Ho have enhanced the club with a 30-stall driving range, practice greens, a pro shop, and an onsite restaurant and bar.
Designed to incorporate sparsely populated groves of trees, Foothill Golf Course’s nine-hole, par-3 layout tests golfers' short to mid iron skills across 1,096 yards of holes that range from 100 to 155 yards. On certain nights, the course invites guests to tee up phosphorescent golf balls and pummel them into the darkness during rounds of glow golf. An indoor sitting room and an outdoor area lined with picnic tables await golfers after rounds, where they can enjoy beverages from the pro shop and speculate about which water hazard has eaten the most golf balls.
Course at a Glance:
Each round at Antelope Greens’ 3,250-yard, par 58 executive course takes club-toting quorums careening across a lush tapestry of tree-lined fairways and intervening waterways. Golfers can jump-start days of rapidly escalating one-upmanship with stints at the driving range. There, players can hit personal supplies of 80 balls off of all-grass hitting stalls and play games of longest ball, closest to the target, and most disastrous grass stain. Rented golf carts zip through the sinuous landscape, dropping off golfers by their desired tees and further expediting the already condensed rounds, which divoteers can expect to finish in 3.5 hours or less. Misguided spheres run the risk of falling prey to aquatic hazards throughout the course, most notably on the par 3 seventh, where tee shots must carry water on their way to an oval green girded on all sides by precarious pools. A course map offers an aerial view of the 18 holes and their encroaching waterways, allowing duffers to map out their plans of attack or scuba-diving destinations.