Though it isn't plural by name, Valley Oaks Golf Course is more than just one golf course?in fact, it's three. The trio of classic 9-hole layouts invites golfers to play a variety of 18-hole rotations. Framed by native oak, eucalyptus, and tall pine trees, the three nines test golfers of all levels with narrow fairways and score-ravaging water hazards. That's especially true of the Lakes course?the newest of the three?as a lake comes into play on multiple holes. But these obstacles don't just challenge traditional golfers; they also affect games of FootGolf, a sport that combines elements of golf with those of soccer.
The game largely heeds golf rules, though players kick soccer balls?or golf balls they've been pumping full of protein for awhile?into 21-inch-diameter cups. Ensuring the course is up to snuff for FootGolf play, Valley Oaks is an official course of the American FootGolf League.
Narrow fairways and small greens shape the layout at Airways Municipal Golf Course, an 18-hole course carved in the shadows of Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Tree lines and sand traps add scenic impediments to errant shots, and slick putting surfaces make for testy putts once golfers make it to the green. Before rounds, golfers can rehearse their swing at the on-site driving range.
Originally sculpted into the California countryside in 1928, Lemoore Golf Course’s 18-hole, par 72 course stretches across 6,591 yards of lush greenery and challenging hazards. A moderately difficult layout when played from the back tees, the course features four tee options to cater to both bona fide aces and disoriented golfers who can’t differentiate between a three-wood and a hardened mannequin leg. The golf complex also fosters sound swing mechanics with an on-site driving range and practice green. Clubbers can take refuge from the sun-soaked fairways or undead divot tools at the course’s cozy bar and grill, or peruse a stock of the latest golf gear and equipment at the pro shop.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Length of 6,591 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 70.9 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 125 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
Located next to the Sierra Meadows Country Club, Sierra Meadows RV Park sits at an elevation of 2,425 feet. From that height, it surveys a variety of national landmarks and sites, including Yosemite National Park and the Bass Lake recreation area. Nestled amidst this scenic beauty, the RV Park boasts a rustic setting with a volleyball court, laundry and shower facilities, and wireless-Internet access.
Adjacent to the RV Park is the golf course at the Sierra Meadows Country Club, which is cleaved into a mountain valley populated with mature oaks, pines, and cedars, producing a spectacular course yielding a gauntlet of obstacles. Nestled between the blanket of fog of the Central Valley below and snow higher up in the Sierra Nevadas, the 18-hole course stays open throughout the year so long as the fog and snow don't engage in water-cycle turf war. The par-3 fifth hole, the course's signature designed hole, combines mountainous scenery with the treachery of a 175-yard tee shot over a lake onto a contoured green, forcing golfers to select their club wisely or risk sending the ball into the watery abyss.
Prior to a round or after a dramatic finish, players can head to the driving range's turf hitting surfaces to smash balls at targets or take aim at an unassuming mountain peak. Large putting and chipping greens provide ample space for short-game improvement.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-72 courseLength of 6,389 yards from back teesThree sets of tees per hole
The mounded terrain and cavernous bunkers of Riverbend Golf Club's 18-hole, 7,374-yard course recall the windswept terrain of golf's original Scottish links. The distant peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains peek over the course's sparse population of valley oak trees, adding scenic flair to an environmentally friendly layout that houses egrets, herons, hawks, and winged divot tools. Both the front and back nine play to dramatic conclusions, as the 9th and 18th holes are the first and second most difficult on the course, respectively. The course strictly enforces a dress code, so players should dress in a collared shirt and leave behind jeans and hard-spiked stilettos, or and they can peruse the fully stocked pro shop for club-appropriate garb and new gear.
Designed by international golf architect Robert Dean Putman, the challenging 18-hole course spans more than160 acres. During the game (up to a $20 value per person), golfers refusing to hitchhike can navigate the terrain in one of Valley Rose's quality golf carts (up to a $10 value), finely tuned for scaling hills, making sharp turns, and morphing into a time traveling robot should the need arise. After conquering the course's lush landscape and tricky topography, golfers are encouraged to visit Valley Rose's Pro Shop to compare their scores with other recent players, or wind down in their clubhouse which features a restaurant, meeting rooms, and banquet facilities.