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.
Washoe Creek Golf Course challenges golfers of all stripes with two distinct, scaled-down, nine-hole courses sculpted into the hillsides of southwest Cotati. Cleaved through brambly native grasses and cattail-lined waterways, the emerald links challenge clubbers with topsy-turvy fairways and smug flagsticks that were formerly Olympic javelins. Clubbers hoping to mold their short game or net their first hole-in-one can rip divots at the nine-hole, par 3 course, and those looking for a more multifaceted golf experience can loop the longer links of the executive course, which earned its name due to the naturally sprouting cubicles that line its fairways.
Healdsburg Golf Club carves through Wine Country, loping over undulating terrain marked by mature fir trees and views of Dry Creek Valley. Before taking the course, limber up on the all-weather driving range, with 18 stalls spread over three tiers that allow golfers to smack 300-yard drives or attempt to sink a two-story practice putt. The nine-hole course wraps well-manicured fairways around doglegs and surrounds greens with an entourage of bunkers and rolling mounds. Though suited for beginners, the course is a test for players of abilities, challenging golfers to hit a variety of shots, from long drives down par 5s to bicycle kicks past the goalkeeper on the eighth green. Golfers can relax after their rounds with a relaxing meal at the club’s bar and outdoor patio. The elevated patio overlooks the course as it fades into a sea of trees, misty mountains lining the horizon, and a wormhole leading to a secret nine-hole course on the moon.
Course at a Glance
The striped barriers hugging the edges of Driven Raceway’s winding track quickly mutate into a black-and-red blur as emission-free electric go-karts zoom around it at speeds of up to 45 mph. Though the vehicles' superb cornering and speedy acceleration respond swiftly to their drivers' actions, the staff also mans electronic controls that can override their commands, minimizing the risk of colliding karts and clashing radio stations. Off the track, the center maintains the racing theme, peppering the mini-golf course with cars that glow under black lights and painting checkered-flag lines on each of the bowling alley's lanes.
Maxwell Fun Center gathers families together for hours of memory-making fun on a picturesque 18-hole course. The miniature greens evoke a sense of local pride, featuring shrink-rayed townsfolk bustling amid lifelike replicas of Sonoma's historical mission and city hall. Though today's Groupon is only valid for golfing, putters can celebrate a successful outing with a tasty ice cream at Maxwell Fun Center's snack bar or regain lost mojo after an astronomically high stroke count by heading to the nearby arcade to play skee-ball and air hockey or flirt outrageously with Ms. Pac-Man.