OLD GREENWOOD GOLF CLUB
Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2004)
Year Opened: September, 2004
Location: Truckee, California
Slope: 149. Rating: 75.8
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 462 Yds 10 - Par 5 600 Yds
2 - Par 5 631 Yds 11 - Par 4 345 Yds
3 - Par 3 196 Yds 12 - Par 5 551 Yds
4 - Par 4 383 Yds 13 - Par 4 522 Yds
5 - Par 4 484 Yds 14 - Par 4 472 Yds
6 - Par 5 578 Yds 15 - Par 3 221 Yds
7 - Par 3 187 Yds 16 - Par 4 396 Yds
8 - Par 4 357 Yds 17 - Par 3 230 Yds
9 - Par 4 452 Yds 18 - Par 4 451 Yds
Par 36 3,730 Yds Par 36 3,788 Yds
Awards Won: Ranked #35 Best in State (CA) by Golf Digest (2009-10),
#23 Best Courses Near You (CA) by Golf Magazine (2008-09),
Top-100 America's Golf Communities - Travel + Leisure (2007),
#14 Best Golf Experiences in the West - Fairways & Greens (2006),
Top-100 America's Premier Properties - Links Magazine (2006-07),
Top 30 Best Courses in California - Golf Digest (2006),
Top-10 Best New Public Access Course in US - Golf Magazine (2005),
#4 America's finest Upscale Public Courses - Golf Digest (2005),
Audubon International Gold certification.
Website: www.oldgreenwoodgolf.com, www.oldgreenwoodgolfacademy.com
HISTORY: The story of Old Greenwood is quite short, since the course has only
been open less than 10 years, however the land the Truckee, California-based
venue sits upon has quite a storied past.
The course is named after Caleb Greenwood, a western U.S. fur trapper and
pioneer, who was originally born in Virginia in 1763. Greenwood guided several
parties across the Sierra Nevada mountains, including one in which he
completed one of the first overland wagon journeys to California via Walker
Pass. Greenwood, along with two of his sons, also directed another party
through a new avenue bypassing the Truckee River Canyon, which became a main
route of the California Trail. The Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff became the most
frequently traveled route for people flocking west at the time of the
California Gold Rush.
In the mid 1840s, "Old Greenwood," as he was called, now in his 80s and living
north of San Francisco, continued to guide parties back across the High Sierra
to Fort Hall. By 1848, Greenwood's entire family lived in Coloma, near Truckee
Lake. A story known as the "Gold Lake" fable arose from Greenwood claiming to
have seen an enormous amount of gold near the lake. The "Greenwood Rush" would
never materialize, and Greenwood away would pass soon thereafter.
Moving ahead some 100-plus years, East-West Partners, Inc., a real estate
development company based in Colorado, began to expand to Salt Lake City, Utah
and Lake Tahoe, California.
Situated in the historic town of Truckee, EWP began its goal of creating a
premier, resort community, complete with a signature golf course. Who better
to enlist for the latter project than the world's greatest golfer of all-time,
The Golden Bear has designed hundreds of courses around the world, including a
selection that ranks among the top-100 in America. Venues like Muirfield
Village, Castle Pines, Shoal Creek and Valhalla are just some of the
outstanding courses he's crafted.
Although Old Greenwood has not reached that pinnacle, as of yet, the layout
has received plenty of accolades in just a short period of time. Golf Digest
and Golf Magazine have already placed Old Greenwood in their top tiers of
courses in the state of California. High praise, since the Golden State
features some of the greatest courses on earth, like Pebble Beach, Cypress
Point and Olympic Club.
Almost 6,000 feet above sea-level, Old Greenwood resides on 100 acres of the
871-acred development. Nicklaus and his crew began construction in July of
2002 and in just two years completed his signature golf course. Nicklaus
incorporated the local topography, majestic Jeffery Pines and indigenous
flowers and sage-brush into one of the prettiest layouts in the region.
Very little dirt was moved (by today's standards), as only 300,000 cubic yards
of earth were excavated. What Nicklaus did however, was implement several
water hazards. In fact, when the project began, the property was devoid of
surface water. When finished, water was incorporated on six holes through a
series of lakes and streams. Conservation was of the utmost importance, as the
low-impact land project utilized snow and storm run-off, as well as innovative
Each corridor was painstakingly carved through the property, one hole at a
time, as Nicklaus and company inspected and injected recommendations for each
and every par 3, 4 and 5. This tactical approach was quite unique, as most
layouts start out by bulldozing the land and then plotting a course of action.
When completed, Nicklaus and East-West Partners had an award-winning layout
worthy of championship status.
REVIEW: The decision on the first hole is an easy one. Pick the right set of
tees to have an enjoyable round. Unless you're a PGA professional, stay away
from the "four tree" markers. At 7,518 yards that's way too much, even with
the elevation changes. Three trees is a great choice or better yet, mix and
match with the next set, as this will play around 6,700.
The opening hole at Old Greenwood is a wonderful, dogleg right par four,
reaching 462 yards. Trees and a deep bunker down the right certainly come into
play, so adjust accordingly, as the fairway slopes towards the trouble. The
first plays slightly downhill, so your approach should be with a medium iron.
The putting surface is 36 paces deep, with a gaping bunker on the right, which
must be avoided. Don't be goaded into attacking a back-right pin, play to the
center and make par.
At 631 yards, the second is the longest hole on the course. Bending to the
right, you'll need to bust your tee shot down the right side in order to take
advantage of the sloping fairway. Be warned, as trees adorn both sides of the
landing area. Your layup should favor the right, as this will set up the best
point of attack towards the angled green. The slightly raised putting surface
is slick and protected numerous traps. A front pin can be tricky, as the green
falls off sharply. This par five is anything but easy.
The first par three is a gem, just under 200 yards in length. Angled to the
right, the putting surface is guarded by seven, diabolical traps. A medium to
long iron should suffice, but you'll have to carry the entire yardage to be
safe of trouble. The sloping green features a rise in the center, which can be
advantageous to the player, especially with a front-left pin.
One of a quartet of par fours under 400 yards, the fourth can be a friend or a
foe. The key is choosing the right club off the tee, as tall pines line both
sides of the fairway. A fairway metal or long iron could be the play in an
effort to bypass the trouble. Your second shot will play uphill towards the
green, so make sure to add a club or two to your approach. The putting surface
is long and angled to the right and slopes hard from back to front, so stay
below the hole. A trio of deep traps, strewn across the front of the green
definitely come into play.
The second longest par four on the course, the fifth can be stretched to 484
yards. You'll need every bit of your driver off the tee to have any shot of
getting home in regulation. Favor the right side for the best angle, but make
sure you miss the two traps or you'll be laying up. Your approach, most likely
with a long iron or hybrid, must negotiate the extra long and narrow putting
surface that slopes towards the front. Sand on either side of the green will
make for an almost impossible up and down. It took me three shots to escape
the fluffy stuff!
Any of the first five holes could be considered in the "signature hole" range,
but the sixth is just that. A beautiful, risk-reward par five of 578 yards in
length, No. 6 has all the elements. Off the tee, you must avoid the enormous
trap down the left and trees down the right. A good drive will leave you with
a couple of options. The easy idea is to layup down the right side, as the
hole wraps around a lake to the left or, take out the three-metal and play a
sweeping draw over the water towards the longest green on the course. Sand
dots the landscape as you get closer to the putting surface, just to keep you
honest. Sloping from back to front and 46 yards in depth, the green is just
another obstacle to negotiate.
If the seventh doesn't catch your eye, then nothing will. This wonderful par
three is played entirely over water to a long and undulating green. Trees in
the distance give this beauty real depth, while the crossing breeze, gives the
player heartache. A back-left pin can be enticing, not to mention a round
Talk about your risk-reward holes, the eighth is as good as it gets in that
department. A dogleg right par four of just 357 yards, this one can be had,
but you'll need your best to beat it. Nicklaus has placed sand throughout the
fairway and in strategic spots to thwart your attempt. A 258-yard shot will be
needed to carry the corner and then 295 yards to clear bunker in the center of
the fairway. Your best play is down the right side, using a high cut. At
worst, you're left with a simple pitch to a very accessible green. Hey, if I
can make birdie, anyone can.
A sweeping dogleg to the left awaits the player on the ninth tee. Play a draw
with your first shot, bypassing the trap on the left and the Siamese trees
down the right. Your approach will be slightly uphill to a well-guarded and
long putting surface. The multi-tiered green slopes back to front and is quite
slick. A back-right pin brings three deep bunkers into play, so play towards
the center of the green and let your putter do the work.
Par-five No. 2 of the 600-yard variety awaits the player on the 10th tee. This
gem wraps around a lazy creek to the left from tee to green. I'd find it hard
to believe that this one could be reached in two, but anything is possible.
Avoid the fairway bunkers down the right and you'll have an easy layup on the
right. The water juts out on the left as you get closer to the green. The
putting surface is long and slick with a pond running close to the edge. With
a short club in hand, this hole can be had.
From long to short, as the 11th is only 345 yards in length. The key here is
accuracy, as a small lake guards the right landing area and a 30-yard bunker
flanks the left. Fairway metal off the tee makes sense, leaving a wedge to a
long, narrow green. Any shot mis-hit right will end up wet, while left is sand
and long is a shaved chipping area that falls sharply off the green. It's
easy, but not that easy.
Carved through the majestic pines, the 12th is the final par five on the
course. Sand in strategic spots along the fairway will decide your fate. First
off the tee, a 50-yard trap down the right side looms large and must be
avoided, however the landing area is quite tight at this juncture, so be
careful. Next, a 32-yard bunker down by the layup zone, again on the right,
tightens the fairway to less than 20 yards. If you can clear this hazard, then
you're home free with your third, which will require nothing more than a pitch
to the kidney-shaped green. Sand left and rear will see plenty of action, not
to mention the shaved chipping area to the right.
It's not often that a 522-yard hole is a par four, in fact, that's usually
saved for U.S. Open courses. That is the case, however at Old Greenwood, as
the 13th is one tough hombre. This straightaway monster plays every bit its
length and with three deep traps looming on the left, you might have to play
it as a par five. Your approach will most likely come from a fairway metal or
hybrid to a very deceiving green. A rock formation fronts the putting surface,
however it stands at least 30 yards short of the green. Running from front to
back, the putting surface is wide and fairly long at 36 paces. The best play
is to play short of the green, as most shots will release towards the hole.
How this is the No. 8 handicap hole is beyond me.
Another outstanding par four, the 14th reaches 472 yards from the four tees
markers. A 270-yard blast is needed to clear the bunkers down the right side
off the tee, thus setting up your 200-yard approach to one of the prettiest
settings on the course. A small lake down the right side guards the very long
green that's angled to the right. The two-tiered putting surface runs towards
the water on the left and to the back on the right. Three well-positioned
traps protect the rear of the green. This concludes a five-hole stretch that
featured four of the hardest holes on the course.
You're certainly not out of the woods as you reach the 15th. This par three
measures 221 yards and plays every bit of it, despite the rarified air. The
last bit of water on the course covers the entire left side of this beauty.
Six bunkers dot the landscape of this one-shotter, as they surround the 37-
paced green. Just a reminder, stay away from a back-left pin!
Certainly not a letdown, but the 16th hole is the easiest on the course (not
on my scorecard however). The key is the right club off the tee, as the
fairway is just a few paces wide at the 260-yard mark. Three-metal or long
iron is probably the smart play at the onset, as this will leave a medium to
short iron to a putting surface that sits well below the fairway. Angled to
the right, the long and narrow green features three levels, with a back-right
pin being the most difficult.
At 230 yards, the 17th is the longest par three on the course. With the
mountains in the background, it's hard to concentrate on the prize. Fairway
metal, hybrid or long iron, all good calls off the tee. Another monstrous
putting surface, this time guarded in the front by a pot bunker and a wide-
mouth trap. The rear sand is as wide as the green and the pot bunker on the
right, well, that's a no-no. The short-grass feeds from left to right, so when
the greens are running, adjust accordingly.
Postcard material and magazine cover worthy, the closing hole is a picture of
beauty, that puts the finishing touches on an outstanding course. Playing
uphill towards the clubhouse and reaching 451 yards from the tips, the 18th is
aesthetically thrilling. Although the fairway is quite wide, you'll need to
bust a drive to clear the enormous trap on the right. Grab an extra stick or
two to reach the green, as it sits well-above the tee. The putting surface is
fairly small by Old Greenwood standards and every bit as difficult to hit,
with three bunkers fronting and one in the rear. Sloping back to front and
left to right, this green can be hazardous to your score.
FINAL WORD: When Jack Nicklaus is called in to do a "signature course," that
means he'll spend plenty of time at the site. The Golden Bear certainly did,
and his handiwork does not disappoint. It is a good sign that when asked about
which hole represented the course as its signature hole, he responded, "None
of them. We don't have a signature hole. They're all signature holes."
There's no doubt about it, Old Greenwood is as rich a course as the history
of the land would suggest. Sculptured fairways, rolling terrain, magnificent
topography, slick and undulating greens and an atmosphere conducive to a life-
altering experience. With over 240 courses to his credit, Old Greenwood is one
of just 10 courses worldwide which achieved the Nicklaus Signature Gold
Let's talk first about the Golf Academy at Old Greenwood. If it's a fix or a
complete overhaul, director of instruction Keith Lyford will cure what ails
you. A former PGA Tour player, Lyford has been named to GOLF Magazine's Top
100 Teachers list for the past ten years. Renee Trudeau teams with Lyford to
utilize a 15-acre training complex, complete with a 1,500-square foot learning
center equipped with an indoor/outdoor hitting bay. But that's not all. The
Academy features several target greens with putting, chipping and sand play
areas, not to mention a five-acre short game facility. The clincher is the
four-camera system which enables Lyford and staff to evaluate and analyze your
swing and putting stroke on split-screen TVs. If they can't fix the swing,
then tennis might be your next conquest.
Now to the venue itself.
How good is Old Greenwood? In its first five years, the course has been rated
in the top-50 in California, not to mention one of the top-10 best new public
courses in the United States.
From the opening tee shot to your final putt, you'll be awed by the sheer
beauty of the layout. Challenge-wise, you'll be more than satisfied by the
difficulty of the course. Every hole presents a special test of your ability.
Two par five's over 600 yards, a pair of par three's over 220 yards, six par
four's over 400 yards, including the 522-yard 13th and a slope rating of 75.8,
that's what awaits the player on the opening tee.
The conditioning of the golf course is superb. The elevation changes
throughout the course, in a word, magnificent. In fact, Audubon International
recognized Old Greenwood as an Audubon Signature Gold Level Community, the
highest certification, making it one of just 10 golf courses in the world with
such lofty status.
No question, Old Greenwood is a high-end public facility with a high price
tag, but it's worth the ticket of admission.
"If golfers are looking for incredible golf at great rates, Old Greenwood and
Coyote Moon should be on their 'to play' list," said Bob Hickam, director of
golf at Tahoe Mountain Club. "With the state of the economy on most people's
minds, we're doing our best to offer rates that will keep all levels of
golfers coming back." A simple call to tournament director and Class A PGA
Professional Mike Milligan (530-550-7037) and you'll be surprised at the
special packages and options they can create for you.
The game plan at Old Greenwood is simple. Spend a couple of nights in the
wonderfully-detailed cabins, complete with a full kitchen, spas, plasma screen
TVs and all the amenities awarded to a full-class destination. Even a pool
table is at your disposal. Play a couple of rounds of golf at Old Greenwood or
its sister course, Coyote Moon, and have the time of your life. In your spare
time, enjoy the state-of-the-art Members Pavilion, which features a fitness
center, tennis courts, pools, hot tubs, game room, a children's playground and
a movie lounge complete with a 66-inch TV stocked with a library of movies.
Old Greenwood is more than just a place for the guys. This is a family retreat
at its best. "It's a very family-oriented community," said Blake Riva,
managing partner with East West Partners Tahoe Operations. "It really affords
people the opportunity to decide how much time they want to spend here. Some
want to come more for skiing and others for the golf."
The bottom line...Old Greenwood and the Truckee, California region is a must
for all golfers and families, not just the serious player. If you miss the
opportunity to play one of the best courses out west, your golf resume will
never be complete. I can say mine is as full as it ever has been.