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.
The native beauty of Bidwell Park serves as the scenic backdrop for Bidwell Park Golf Course, a 6,363-yard layout comprised of two distinct 9-hole experiences. Characterized by parkland-style terrain, the front nine includes two of the round's more difficult tracks: the 520-yard, par-five fifth hole and the 412-yard, par-four sixth hole, both of which demand accurate drives and approach shots down narrow fairways and into greens guarded by sandtraps. The back nine ripples over Northern California foothills, creating shot opportunities where golfers will have to adjust their swings for up- or down-hill targets. Though water only comes into play on two holes, a stream runs throughout the entire course, attracting wildlife and caddies who need a place to wash the grass stains out of their coveralls.
Course at a Glance:
Mountain Valley Golf Center's demanding nine-hole golf course challenges club-wielders alongside an ample 75-tee driving range for practice. Verdant par 3 fairways range from 94 to 203 yards, allowing players to hone their short game and competitive-dashing skills across a pair of nine-hole jaunts. The first hole forces golfers to send dimpled projectiles over a horseshoe pond, leaving little room for error. Before finishing the round, duffers must conquer the imposing ninth hole, a long straightaway that rewards risky shots and sends errant projectiles swimming in the pond protecting the backside of the green.
Today’s Groupon also includes a jumbo bucket of range balls for pre- or postgame practice shots on Mountain Valley's capacious driving range, as well as a frosty beer or soda for irrigating parched palates and arid tee-growing plots. Guests can also sharpen orb-nudges on a chipping green or browse the center's pro shop for supplemental golfing gear.
Sprawling across 82 acres, Wild Wings Golf Club invites players to bring their games to a rustic course cut from the bucolic Yolo County countryside. Abutted by a peaceful neighborhood on one side and distant rolling hills on the other, the course may seem peaceful at first. However, the generous fairway landings belie unassuming challenges plucked from the mind of course architect Todd Eckenrode. Whether it’s the extraquick putting surfaces or the siren song emanating from the course’s 13 small lakes, Wild Wings’ nine holes require the perfect balance of careful strategy and devil-may-care bravado. In addition to open-play sessions, the course is home to golfing lessons taught by PGA professional Randy Thomas and frequently hosts private tournaments.
Mare Island Golf Club, whose 1892 founding makes it one of the oldest courses in the country, attracts golfers with breathtaking island scenery. Built near old Marine barracks, the course—which wasn't expanded into an 18-hole layout until 2000—originally sported sand greens, dry fairways, and a cast of unusual inhabitants including a Marine lieutenant's horse, who was drawn to the grounds by career aspirations of becoming a golf cart.
Today, the par-70 course begins with nine traditional, tree-lined holes before opening up on the back nine with a links-style layout designed by renowned Pacific Rim architect Robin Nelson. As golfers swing toward distant greens, views of San Pablo Bay and—on a clear day—the Golden Gate Bridge appear from certain vantages and sand-trap oases.
To perfect a backswing or spell out a marriage proposal with golf balls, players head to the 225-yard driving range with a bucket of balls. Patrons should arrive at least 20 minutes before tee times and can grab a bite in the restaurant or look for one of the 10 ammunition bunkers scattered throughout the course, which serve as a reminder of its connection to the military during World War I and II.