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.
Davis Golf Course, recently voted Yolo County’s Best Golf Course by readers of the Davis Enterprise, sends its drive-happy denizens on a par 67 odyssey across 4,900 yards of lush fairways and manicured greens. When not staring down to line up shots with the argyle grids on their sweaters, golfers gaze out at sparkling emerald expanses that challenge all skill levels with small, sloping greens and water in play on 15 of 18 holes. While the course’s narrow fairways line up targets with clear lines of sight, balls must soar perilously close to water and Bermuda-grass triangles if they are to reach their flagged shelters. A cart speeds along the course, saving players’ from reckless piggybacking caddies.
The waters of Covell Creek, several ponds, and patches of tall, native grasses shape the 18-hole course at Wildhorse Golf Club—a 6,828-yard track sculpted by award winning golf course architect Jeff Brauer. The natural hazards may not be hospitable to errant golf balls, but they do sustain a thriving population of geese, swans, owls, and a cattail or two that can be used as a pitching wedge. The course features several challenging holes, including a memorable finisher. At 465 yards from the tips, the 18th hole—a par four for men and a par five for ladies—will have even long hitters struggling to reach the green in regulation. To prep swings and putting strokes, golfers can warm up at a 30,000 square-foot chipping and putting green or graze on calorie-rich grass at the 18-stall driving range.
Course at a Glance:
The path to a dependable golf swing starts at Natomas Golf Center, a full-service practice facility where golfers can fine-tune their game until midnight every day of the week. A fully-lit driving range with both mats and grass hitting areas fosters straighter drives, and covered hitting bays keep players safe from inclement weather or screaming eagles convinced that golf balls are their eggs. Golfers can also practice their touch with the putter on an 18-hole putting course and a practice green, or work on their feel around the pin at a chipping area with a practice bunker. To enhance their practice sessions, golfers can enlist an on-site instructor for a private lesson.
In 1947, John B. “Bing” Maloney saw that the city of Sacramento had a golfing problem, and that he, as the superintendent of the city's recreation department, could fix it. The problem lay not with men shirking their familial responsibilities to squeeze in a round, nor with pastors cutting their sermons short in order to join their congregations on the range. Rather, the city's “principal problem,” as he called it, stemmed from the fact that the only existing course was a measly, overcrowded 9-hole layout—a disservice to the golfers of the community, who wanted a bona fide 18-hole loop. He took the matter up with city officials, presenting such a watertight case that they unanimously voted to not only build a new course, but name it after him. Thanks to Mr. Maloney's political strategizing and the design input of M.J. McDonaugh, former associate of the legendary course architect Alister MacKenzie, Bing Maloney Golf Course opened in 1952.
Today, the 125-acre site welcomes golfers with wide fairways lined with stately oak trees and the placid ambiance of mid-century golf-course design. Golfers encounter water just once, on the third tee box, where they must make a choice between flying the pond to reach the green 140 yards away or inventing a golf-ball-sized rocket pack. After a round, players can address newfound kinks in their game at the lighted practice area, which includes a putting green and a 40-station driving range with real grass tee boxes.
Championship Course at a Glance:
In five decades as a golf-course architect, the late Robert Muir Graves put his stamp on more than 800 golf courses worldwide. His artistry is on full display at Cherry Island Golf Course, where he sculpted shapely fairways and greens into the scenic wetlands of Elverta. Throughout the course, Graves balanced holes pocked with streams and ponds with more straight-away tracks, where the only threat of water comes from the clouds and the open mouths of pelicans flying overhead. The course's hardest-rated hole, the par-4 seventh, is a titan of a hole. Though it only measures 391 yards from the tips, a pond runs from the right side of the fairway to the front of the green, imperiling golf balls on both tee shots and approaches.
Before testing their mettle on the links, golfers can get their timing down at a driving range with grass and artificial tees. The practice facility also encompasses two putting greens where golfers can get a feel for the speed of the putting surfaces without having to drive their cart onto the first green.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Robert Muir Graves * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,494 yards from the tips * Course rating of 71.0 from the tips * Slope rating of 120 from the tips * Four tee options