COYOTE MOON GOLF COURSE
Course Architect: Brad Bell (1999)
Year Opened: July, 2000
Location: Truckee, California
Slope: 136. Rating: 73.7
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 5 561 Yds 10 - Par 4 433 Yds
2 - Par 4 447 Yds 11 - Par 4 468 Yds
3 - Par 3 207 Yds 12 - Par 5 519 Yds
4 - Par 4 441 Yds 13 - Par 3 227 Yds
5 - Par 4 404 Yds 14 - Par 4 314 Yds
6 - Par 4 396 Yds 15 - Par 5 601 Yds
7 - Par 5 527 Yds 16 - Par 3 212 Yds
8 - Par 3 173 Yds 17 - Par 4 472 Yds
9 - Par 4 434 Yds 18 - Par 4 341 Yds
Par 36 3,590 Yds Par 36 3,587 Yds
Awards Won: 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play (2009),
Ranked #12 Best State-by-State (CA) - Golfweek Magazine (2007-09),
Ranked #25 Best Courses Near You (CA) - Golf Magazine (2008),
Best Golf Course in North Lake Tahoe by Sierra Sun (2002-09),
Zagat Survey America Top Courses-second highest in CA (2006-07),
Ranked #14 Best State-by-State (CA) - Golfweek Magazine (2006),
Top-50 golf courses for Western U.S. - Fairway & Greens (2006),
Ranked #11 in California - Golfweek Magazine (2005),
Ranked #13 Best Course on West Coast - Fairway & Greens (2004).
HISTORY: Back in 1995, course architect Homer Flint was carved out a routing
plan for a new golf course in the Truckee, California area. Flint, who was
part of designing over 50 layouts in the western United States - most notably
Mauna Kea and Kapalua in Hawaii, Spyglass (CA) and the Phoenician (AZ) -
worked for the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. 50 years ago, and enjoyed
integrating the environment into challenging layouts, such as what he had
accomplished at Plumas Pines Golf Resort.
Former PGA Tour player Brad Bell, a local pro from Sacramento, was brought in
to complete the project in 1999. Bell had played a couple of years on the
European Tour before gaining his PGA Tour card, but lasted only a couple of
seasons earning just over $39,000. With his confidence low and hampered by a
wrist injury, Bell made a lifestyle change. He certainly has made the
transition to course architect a smooth one, as he transformed Coyote Moon
into a delightful and stunning layout.
Originally called Truckee Falls during its construction, the name Coyote Moon
stuck, most likely due to the coyote population on the course and the altitude
of the course. The "Moon" stands 6,300 above sea level, with wonderful views
of the Sierra Mountains.
Located on 250 acres, there are no homes on the property, with not a single
plot sanctioned for development. This is a design that's as natural as Robert
Redford in the movie. It fits perfectly among the wildlife, rolling hills and
No surprise that Coyote Moon has been receiving accolades since opening in
2000, including a 4 1/2 star rating by Golf Digest in 2009. Believe me, this
course will continue to move up in the rankings.
REVIEW: When a course ranges from 5,000 to almost 7,200 yards, it's imperative
that you choose the right markers to play from. This will be quite evident on
the first tee at Coyote Moon. At 561 yards and uphill from tee to green, you
better pick the correct buttons or you'll be in for a long, long day.
Tree-lined from tee to green, it's a must to split the fairway and even then
you might have issues. You see, a tall Ponderosa pine and large boulder stand
guard on the right side of the landing area. A pair of traps down the right
side of the layup area should be avoided, as this will set up a short wedge to
the elevated green. The fairway tilts from left to right, so a flat lie is
usually out of the question. At 38 paces, the opening green is the second
longest on the outward nine, so check your pin position and don't forget to
figure in the elevation change and the two-tiered putting surface.
The first of seven par fours over 400 yards long, the second is a
straightaway, 447-yarder, where your tee ball must favor the left-center of
the fairway, avoiding the tall pine on the right. The putting surface is just
28 yards long, so you'll have to be spot on with your approach.
Carved out in the middle of the pines, is the par-three third. Slightly
downhill from the tee, a medium- to long-iron should suffice to a roller
coaster green with a seldom-used bunker on the left. A back-right pin could be
tough to get at with mounds short and deep. How tough could it be, I made par!
The next four holes will favor the right to left player. First up is the No. 1
handicap hole on the course, the fourth. From an elevated tee, you'll need to
draw your ball down the left side, as the fairway repels all shots to the
right. Your second shot will be uphill to the green, that is very wide, but
extremely narrow. At 21 paces, it's the smallest putting surface at Coyote
Moon. Remember to take an extra stick to reach the promised land.
Number five is the sharpest of the doglegs and must be played with this in
mind, as any shot trying to cut the corner will be lost, unless of course
you're playing with head golf professional, Ed McGargill, who can blast it
across the trees. Most mortals should favor the right side of the fairway,
leaving a medium- to short-iron to a slightly elevated green. The putting
surface is large, so take into account the pin position.
The sixth is just shy of 400 yards, as it bends to the left. The key to this
par four is the tee shot, which must get past the corner of the dogleg,
otherwise, the player will be blocked out by two pesky pines. Although
relatively short, the tee ball plays uphill to the sloping fairway. Your
approach shot will be with a short iron to a very attractive green, however,
be aware, that the shot plays shorter than you think and missing long and or
left is a recipe for double-bogey.
Par five's generally allow the player to gain a stroke back from early
disappointments, and the seventh is no exception. Just 527 yards from the
black tees, this par five can be reached in two, but it's the tee shot that's
key. From the blue markers, it's 305 yards to the end of the fairway, so no
problem in that regard, but you must steer clear of the bunker right and the
trees on either side. This will leave an uphill second to a narrow fairway and
a tightly protected green. It's certainly worth the risk, as birdie will make
the memorable view of the Sierra mountains even more special.
At 173 yards, the eighth is the shortest hole on the course, but definitely
not the easiest. A mid-iron is the club choice, however a back-right flag can
add 15-20 yards to your approach. The two-tiered putting surface wraps around
a pot bunker to make matters worse. Sloping from back to front, try and stay
below the hole for your best chance at saving par.
The closing hole on the front nine can be had, but you'll need a successful
tee shot. Bending back to the right, the ninth features a wide landing area,
devoid of sand. Trees guard the perimeter and the hole stretches downhill from
the crest of the fairway. Although you'll have an awkward lie, you should have
just a short iron to a severely sloped green. Avoid the bunker right and stay
below the hole and you can make par. Oh, if I only listened to my own advice.
Number 10 opens the backside with a downhill, dogleg right par four of 433
yards. Favor the right side, as the fairway tilts to the left. A quality tee
ball will leave just a short iron to a well-guarded and very deep green.
Bunkers left, right and deep protect a severely sloped putting surface. A
back-right flag is the trickiest, so do not pin seek if you want to make par.
From an elevated tee, the 11th is one of the longest par fours on the course,
but does not play as long as the yardage indicates. You'll need to move the
ball from the left, as the hole bends hard to the right. The view from the tee
is stupendous, with the mountainous region in full sight. With such a huge
drop, you'll be left with just a short iron to a very accessible green.
Sloping from back to front, stay below the hole and a birdie can be marked on
One of the many signature holes at Coyote Moon, the 12th is certainly a player
favorite. First of all, it's the shortest par five on the course, so birdies
abound and secondly, it's beautiful. The tee box sits well above the fairway,
so you'll gain a few extra yards at the onset, but make sure you play down the
right, as the fairway kicks to the left. Doglegging to the right, your second
shot will play uphill towards the small, back-to-front sloping green. Sand
lurks short and deep, so if you can't get home in two, lay up short and clip a
wedge to birdie range.
On the way to the 13th, make sure you keep an eye out for the family of foxes
living in the rocks to the left of the path. If you go slow enough, you'll see
them darting in and out of the boulders.
If you thought 12 was a great hole, wait till you reach the downhill, majestic
par-three 13th. Depending upon the elements, this 227 yarder can be reached
with a eight-iron or a hybrid. Your tee shot, which travels 200-feet downward,
must carry the ravine and Trout Creek to reach the longest green on the course
at 42 paces. A ridge across the center of the putting surface, reaches out and
touches a bunker on either side. With a back-right pin and the wind in your
face, look out!
Although rated as the easiest hole on the course, the 14th is anything but
easy. The narrow landing area requires a pinpoint long iron or fairway metal,
otherwise, trees and a slope on the right and a ravine on the left with
certainly gobble your ball. The tee box from the back markers, sits awkwardly
to the fairway, making it even more difficult. Your approach to the green is
slightly uphill and often misjudged. The putting surface is quite wide, but
very thin, so an accurate second is key. The six I made certainly didn't help
You won't reach the par-five 15th in two, I can guarantee that, especially
from the tips. At 601 yards, it's the longest hole on the course and it
doglegs to the right. Even with a huge tee shot, you'll need over 200 yards
just to clear the ravine that splits the fairway at the 150-yard mark. The
best play, is short of the trouble, leaving an uphill third to a two-tiered
green that slopes hard to the front. Write me if you make birdie!
The final par three on the course is the third one-shotter over 200 yards. Not
only does the prevailing winds come into play, but the pond and rocks fronting
the putting surface will certainly test your will, not to mention courage.
Fixed in an amphitheater setting, the green is as undulating as it gets.
Another back-right pin will bring a deep bunker into play.
Number 17 is not only the second-hardest hole on the course, it's also the
longest par four at Coyote Moon. Even though it plays downhill and to the
right off the tee, it's still lengthy at 472 yards. Your tee shot must carry a
water hazard over 250 yards from the tips to reach the fairway. Favoring the
right side to avoid a tall pine, you should be left with a mid-iron to another
long, but narrow putting surface. Although shots will repel left towards the
green, the putting surface slopes hard from back to front. You'll have to rely
on your short game to save par.
Playing back up the hill towards the clubhouse, the closing hole is a mere 341
yards. Fairway metal or long iron should suffice to an ample fairway, but it's
the second shot that is the key to defeating par. The green is perched well
above the fairway and is the longest on the course at 48 yards. The putting
surface is three-tiered and guarded by sand and grass hollows. You'll need to
add two to three clubs with a back pin. Come up short and you'll be lucky to
three-putt. A wonderful finishing hole to a beautiful course.
FINAL WORD: Golf courses nowadays are generally built around housing
developments, spoiling the splendor of many a tract. So it was a welcomed
relief to find that Coyote Moon was sans homes and home sites, just golf and
sensational scenery at its best.
You'll be stunned by the wonderful vistas throughout the course, from the
first tee, as you stare at the Sierra Mountain range, to the heart-stopping,
par-three 13th. But that's just part of the fascination of Coyote Moon.
The conditioning of the layout is unsurpassed in the region and the challenge
of the "Moon" is as tough as any in the High Sierra with a slope of 138.
I hearken back to the wonderful design that incorporates native wildflowers,
majestic Ponderosa pines and numerous rock formations, teaming with wildlife,
into a course that seems to have been built years ago.
Two minor strikes against Coyote Moon, although there are chipping areas and
practice bunkers, the lack of a driving range hurts and the slightly awkward
ride from the sixth green to the seventh tee is a little odd, but that's being
picky. Some might think the $160 price tag is a bit high, but there are
reduced fees for twilight, juniors, seniors and weekday play.
The bottom line is that Coyote Moon is one incredible mountain golf course and
along with sister layout Old Greenwood, the duo is unmatched in the region.
With great stay-and-play packages tied together with Old Greenwood, the four
different sets of tee markers, the beautiful ambience, wildlife and seclusion
and the challenge of the intense layout, Coyote Moon gets high marks from me.
Trust my advice when I tell you to "shoot the Moon."