Whenever Northern California Golf Courses are discussed, Monterey Peninsula's famed Pebble Beach, San Francisco's Olympic Club, and Napa Valley's Silverado are three that immediately come to mind. It's only natural as they get all the press....Pebble and the Olympic Club for their connection to US Opens, Silverado for its Senior Tour events. Lesser known by far, but just as scenic, challenging and majestic are two courses in the tiny hamlet of Clio, located a leisurely one hour drive north of Lake Tahoe.
Clio's two mountain beauties, The Golf Club at Whitehawk Ranch and The Dragon at Gold Mountain, though different in typography, both offer mountain golf at its finest, as well as an opportunity to retreat from the busy and complicated world we live in here in Southern California. The subject of this issue's article is The Golf Club at Whitehawk Ranch. Next issue we'll review The Dragon At Gold Mountain. Whitehawk, as it is more commonly known, is a par-71 course from the 6927-yard championship tees. Part of the 956-acre Whitehawk Ranch, the course carries a 72.6 rating with a 133 slope, providing plenty of length and difficulty to challenge low handicappers. Mid to high handicappers can tackle the course from 4816, 5673 or 6457 yards depending on tee selection. No matter which tees are played, the emerald green fairways lead past environmentally sensitive areas full of native grasses and wildflowers. They meander through tall pines, firs, cedars and quaking aspens. They saunter past quiet ponds, free flowing waterfalls and seven rock strewn creeks. As you contemplate your drives, fairway shots, and read the breaks and undulations on even the shortest of putts; you'll relish your surroundings in the pine-scented forests alongside
protected marshlands. Whitehawk offers challenging contoured fairways and large greens that grant opportunities for superb pin placements. Correct club selection is a must. Shaping tee shots to narrow rye grass fairways, hitting straight shots from sloping fairways, and playing doglegs and uphill holes, makes for an exciting day on the links. Although Whitehawk has demanding par 3's and par 5's, its signature hole is the driveable 310-yard par-4 ninth hole. Don't let its length fool you. With a creek crossing the fairway at 212 yards out, and a green protected by a pond on the right and bunkers on the left, the risk reward factor is ever present. If you get a chance to meet Matt Cruse, Whitehawk's Group Coordinator, ask him how to play the hole. He says it's his favorite because. "It's the only hole on the course I have ever eagled".
An environmentally sensitive course, in 1997 shortly after it opened, Whitehawk earned the California Golf Writer's Environmental Award in recognition of actions and efforts to preserve and protect the environment. Once you play this Mohawk Valley gem, you'll understand why preserving the unspoiled splendor and the natural, beautiful terrain were major factors in the thinking of course architect Dick Bailey. Prepare for your round at Whitehawk by warming up with unlimited range balls on the well-situated practice facilities that feature multi-level grass tees, a large putting green and multiple practice bunkers. After your round, enjoy the scenery with a cold one and a sandwich from the snack bar or head over to The Lodge for cocktails or a scrumptious dinner.
If you want to attack the course record, bring your "A" game. Scott Ferrin, former Assistant Pro at the Lahontan Golf Club near Lake Tahoe, holds the record with an outstanding eight under par 63.
As a semi-private course, Whitehawk plays host to Whitehawk Ranch homeowners, local residents and visiting golfers from around the world. The pro shop is well equipped, the staff is ready to assist you with your every need, and the course is a scenic beauty and challenge for golfers of every level. As Mikey of cereal ad fame says, "Try It, You'll Like It". One note of caution when planning a golf outing at Whitehawk, be aware that because of its location in the Sierra Nevada snow belt, the course is open only from mid April through mid October. For information on tee times, green fees, tournaments, or lodging in the well-appointed private cabins, or The Lodge at Whitehawk, log on to www.whitehawkgolf.com, or call toll free to 1-(877) 945-6343. For information on home sites, rentals, or homes for purchase, contact Whitehawk Property Services at 1-(530)-836-2021.