Golf legend Arnold Palmer, known in the cleated world as the King and winner of the PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, designed the undulating ryegrass fairways at Hiddenbrooke Golf Club. Ranked as one of Golf Digest’s Readers’ Choice Top 50 Public Courses in 2009, the course unfolds scenic views of rolling hills as players give their balls detailed directions, hand them compasses and trail mix, and send them hiking toward the pin. The 12th hole’s pin challenges orbs with one of the toughest locations on the course, and eight sand bunkers guard three sides of the 18th hole’s green. After working up a sweat, swingers can remove their gloves and Kevlar vests and celebrate or commiserate their score at The Grille, where diners gaze out over the greens while munching sandwiches and quaffing beer.
Course at a Glance:
Carefully crafted by renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., The Links at Bodega Harbor’s 6,290-yard course brings the coastal majesty of Scotland’s famous links to the seaside hills of Northern California. Stunning elevation changes test golfers’ ability to adjust their yardages for up- and down-hill targets, while hillcrests offer picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and dolphins using echolocation to chip in golf balls from tough lies in the ocean. Knee-high native grasses and cavernous pot bunkers threaten to ensnare errant shots, and fast, multi-tiered, bent-grass greens make golfers earn every two-putt. The 461-yard par-four 18th is rated the second-hardest hole on the course, ending the round with a dramatic flourish as golfers must launch their approach shot over a brambly ravine to reach a heavily-bunkered green stationed just steps from the sandy beachfront.
Those looking to enjoy bayside views without having to keep track of autonomous golf balls can retreat to The Bluewater Bistro & Bar. Glasses of Sonoma County wine let guests toast to the career of a sandwedge that decided to retire in the ocean as they lounge on couches next to a stone fireplace. The elegant diner serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus anchored by fresh fish and locally-sourced ingredients.
Course at a Glance:
Sequestered near the scenic environs of Annadel State Park, Oakmont Golf Club's east course provides condensed club-flailing fun across a par 63, executive layout that spans 4,293 yards from the farthest tees. A grassy monolith comprised of eight par 3s and 10 par 4s—three of which measure fewer than 300 yards from the back tees—the course has spent a lifetime making up for its short length with difficult multitiered greens and the endearing social graces of its sentient flagsticks. Throughout the course, the sprawling arms of massive heritage oak trees stand like ancient ball-swatting sentries, ever ready to impede the aerial passage of wayward spheroids. A coterie of 45 strategically-placed bunkers further frustrate duffers on their path to golf nirvana, assisted by the burbling abscesses of intervening ponds and creeks, which come into play on four holes. Divot-tearing duos traverse the emerald links astride an obedient golf cart, which assists in hunting down runaway balls and rogue ball washers throughout the round.
A self-described "cattleman," Jack Roddy made the shrewd business decision to turn his 2,000-acre cattle ranch into Roddy Ranch, which opened its pristine greens in 2000. The outcome was a resounding success, as the club's 18-hole, 7,024-yard course garnered praise from its early guests, including a San Francisco Chronicle writer who lauded the "home-free surroundings" as "the finest golf course that's opened in the greater Bay Area in years." With mounded terrain, relatively scarce tree lines, a multitude of bunkers, and ball washers that speak Gaelic, the course brings the links-style characteristics of golf's Emerald Isle forebears into the rustic hills of northern California. As golfers traverse the grassy labyrinth, elevated greens and tee boxes give way to scenic views of the brown- and green-toned landscape as rising foothills graze the distant clouds.
The expansive club also encompasses a 400-yard, three-tiered driving range, as well as a pro shop featuring golf apparel and accessories from Titleist, FootJoy, Antigua, and other top industry brands. After trolling the fairways or burying disloyal 9 irons in the deepest bunker, players can retreat to The Corral, where a full repertoire of sandwiches, salads, soups, soft drinks, beer, and liquor foster post-round rejuvenation and revelry.
Course at a Glance: