It can be done: Nine golf courses in one day
August 14, 2008
The offer had been made before, and each time I’ve declined. Too busy to have that much fun in one day, I’d tell them.
The truth is I was intimidated by the prospect.
The challenge is this: play 18 holes of golf at nine Carson Valley/Carson City regional courses in one day. You begin playing as the sun comes up and finish by the time it goes down. The goal is to do it in 100 strokes, without having one yourself.
Like those moments in life when you take yourself to the edge and you’re not sure if you’re gonna come back the same person as you were when you left, a golf outing like this has the potential of having that same kind of breaking point or breakthrough.
You either come back enlightened or you suffer some kind of crack up. I’ve seen quiet, passive, shy men turn into wily beasts on a golf course. Meltdowns as bad or at least as pathetic as those experienced by the likes of Bobby Knight, Bill O’Reilly, Whitney Houston and Britney Spears.
Doesn’t something like this rank up there with insanity, I asked Phil Weidinger, one of the organizers of the annual Divine 9 Road Trip?
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Yes, he said. “And that’s what makes it fun.”
Nine courses. Eighteen holes. One day. It can’t be done, I said.
It can and has been done, he said.
By whom, I asked?
By a lot of folks who said it couldn’t be done, he said.
Are you still up for the challenge, he asked?
Sure. Why not? If my fat body made it to the top of Mount Shasta and did the Lake Tahoe half marathon, and my liver survived more than its share of $5 and Drinkin’ with Lincoln specials, I can certainly survive the Divine 9.
Having lost plenty of golf balls – along with some marbles – more than a few times on a golf course, I told Weidinger I was in.
“Bring a lot of golf balls,” was his only advice.
While I’ve been fortunate enough to play all of the courses on the Divine 9 list – Genoa Lakes Golf Club; Genoa Lakes Golf Resort; Dayton Valley, Carson Valley, Eagle Valley East, Eagle Valley West, Empire Ranch, Silver Oak and Sunridge – I hadn’t had the luxury of truly taking in the very best of each course’s individual signature holes.
And what a time we had. With 12 of us in a bus stocked with six different kinds of brew and cases of bottled water on ice, away we went into the good day.
For more information on the Divine 9 in the High Sierra, including course specials and best times to play, go to http://www.divine-nine.com, or you can call (877) 697-GOLF (4653).
Between the cottonwood, maple, birch and aspen is the rising morning sun and the dew on the ground. Carson Valley Golf Course, opened in 1965, is the oldest among the Divine 9 courses. Course pro Robert Harbottle was there to greet us and send us off to play picturesque holes 14 and 15, considered moderate challenges. Trees do play a factor in how the course is played, as does the Carson River.
Carson Valley Golf Course is very well maintained and presents several challenges, but it isn’t cumbersome for the occasional or recreational golfers like most of us playing the event. You’re gonna have to work hard for pars, which is a good thing, but , Carson Valley Golf Course isn’t going to crush your enthusiasm if you make a lot of mistakes. If one hole is hard to negotiate, with water hazards and out-of-bounds on either side of you, then the next hole will be a little more forgiving.
How to get there: The golf course is two miles south of Gardnerville, off Highway 395 at 1027 Riverview Drive. Call (775) 265-3181 or visit http://www.carsonvalleygolf.com.
At the edge of the Carson Valley is a course full of vistas and elevated tees and greens that requires a lot of forethought in negotiating. If you have the patience to think well ahead of what you’re shooting into, golfers could fare well at Sunridge. But if you’re a Type A, hurry-up golfer with neither the patience or the golf “vision,” you may be in for some trouble. I was that Type-A golfer on this particular morning, thanks to six cups of coffee.
How to get there: The golf course is at 100 Long Drive, Carson City. Take Highway 395 south to Sunridge Drive. Call (775) 267-4448 or visit http://www.sunridgegolfclub.com.
Here’s a 27-hole golf course that has it all for every level of player. If you want wide-open fairways, Empire has them. If you want water hazards and narrow fairways, you’ve come to the right place. And, every day at around 4 p.m., if you like the challenge of playing in a steady stream of wind, Empire’s got that, too.
Partnered with Ronda Holtof, a straight shooter, literally, with a penchant for driving golf carts as fast as they can go, it came to be that she kept her golf ball on the fairway, while I struggled to keep my shots out of the water.
“This is nice,” she said, looking across the course. “Have you played this course often?”
“Yes, I muttered. But never on six cups of coffee.”
It was time to switch to either Sanka or beer.
I chose Heineken.
How to get there: Empire Ranch Golf Course is located in Carson City off Highway 50 and Graves Lane at 1875 Fair Way. Call (888) 227-1335; (775) 885-2100 or go to http://www.empireranchgolf.com
There’s a reason this course has played host to the PGA Qualifying Tour since 1995. With deceptive, unforgiving greens and rough as thick as a bear’s fur, this course is not for the weak.
This course is the one to play when you’re at the top of your game for the challenge, and, if you’re like me, a course to play if you want to remind yourself you need a lot of practice.
This Arnold Palmer-designed golf course is among my favorites because it is so well-manicured.
How to get there: Dayton Valley Golf and Country Club is at 51 Palmer Drive in Dayton, Nev. Go to http://www.daytonvalley.com.
Being a newspaper man on a very tight budget, it is hard to play the game a few times a week and be able to afford it. When I moved to Carson City in 1999, I was introduced to Eagle Valley East, and began to get my game back on track.
This wide-open course and reasonably flat layout provides golfers like me just enough of a challenge so we don’t feel like we’re complete pansies. With that said, the well-kept greens can be tough and the doglegs tricky. If you’re a hacker looking to get back into the game and practice those long drives, this is the course for you.
The second part of the tour was Eagle Valley West, which is across from the 18-hole Eagle Valley East Course and is by far more challenging and far less forgiving than Eagle Valley East.
Many in our group deemed this one of their favorites because of the challenge. When you’re not hitting off of elevated tees or sinking putts along sloped greens, you’re driving down doglegs, trying to keep yourself out of the sagebrush. Eagle Valley West is truly a one-of-a-kind Northern Nevada course where you are playing with all of our region’s elements: high desert sage, sun, wind and rattlesnakes.
Yes, Eagle Valley West has been known to be the home for some of the poisonous critters in the very dense sagebrush. Word of advice: Be careful when you’re looking for your ball.
How to get there: Eagle Valley East and West are at 3999 Centennial Park Drive in Carson City. Call (775) 887-2380. Go to http://www.eaglevalleygolf.com.
I remember back when Silver Oak was Carson City’s newest golf course. So new that it didn’t even have a permanent club house, but its managers acted as if it did and were as snobby as St. Andrews personnel to boot.
Now with a decade under its belt and a very nice club house facility, Silver Oak is one of those courses that you begin to consider one of the higher-end courses in the region. It could be that there are five tee boxes that you can play from, which challenges all ability levels. Or it could be the elevated tees and greens in between some pretty picturesque flatland golf. Either way, Silver Oak was, for me anyway, one of the biggest surprises – an enjoyable place to play with a nice pace and warm and friendly atmosphere. It is not the Silver Oak of 10 years ago.
To get there: The course is located at 1251 Country Club Drive in Carson City. Call (775) 841-7000. Go to http://www.silveroakgolf.com.
Carved into the Sierra Nevada and 25 minutes from my Kingsbury Grade door, Genoa Lakes Golf Course provides a memorable golf experience.
Homesteaded in the 1850s, this authentic cattle ranch is the ideal setting for this masterpiece created by the golf legend Johnny Miller and architect John Harbottle. The course is indeed picturesque, framed by 10,000-foot peaks with stunning views of the Carson Valley. In contrast to its rugged landscape, Genoa Lakes Golf Resort offers a host of amenities you’d expect to find only at famed golf clubs.
Meanwhile, a couple miles down the road is the Genoa Club at Genoa Lakes. It is no wonder that it is rated among the region’s top golf courses by several magazines.
There are 18 championship holes that wind along the Carson River, each with their own unique sets of challenges and opportunities around the green that only golf pros would wish and hope for.
To get there: Genoa Lakes is located on Jacks Valley Road in Genoa, Call (775) 782-7700 or find it on the Web at http://www.genoalakes.com.
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