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.
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.
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:
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.