Besides a challenge, what is the most important thing about a golf course? Scenery, of course. The backdrop and landscape surrounding the links is just as critical as the care of the greens, and the High Sierra offers some of the best landscape in the world! If you’re looking for your next golf destination, look no further than golfing in the High Sierra.
Compared to other destinations, the golf season in Lake Tahoe may be short, but when the snow melts and the grass turns into its emerald hue, there’s nowhere better. Its cool days and dry sunny weather are like no other golfing mecca in the world. With a range of courses that celebrate everything from mountain scenery to Rat Pack history, all types of golfers can find an incredible experience here.
Starting on the southern side of the lake, you’ll find the most famous not just for its golfing but an annual event – Edgewood Golf Course. In July, it hosts the American Century Championship. A “who’s who” of American Hall of Fame sport stars past and future. Golf Digest rates it as one of the best in the country. Three of its holes lay right along the shoreline of big blue and around every bend is picture postcard beautiful. Then on the other side of the spectrum, there’s the value play – Lake Tahoe Golf Course – you can play 18 for under $59 from 4pm – close. This along with Tahoe Paradise will make sure you bring your clubs when visiting. Visit Lake Tahoe’s golf page to learn more about their offerings.
On the northern banks of Lake Tahoe, there are six championship golf courses and four executive ones to pick from. While quieter in reputation compared to its celebrity cousin in the south, the Incline Village championship course, designed by the famed Robert Trent Jones Jr., is a must for any serious golfer. The layout features many jaw-dropping views of the jewel of the Sierra as well as fairways lined with the legendary pines surrounding Tahoe. If you’re looking instead to get in a quick round, the historic nine holer’s of Old Brockway and Tahoe City golf course are great options as well. To learn more about what golf courses are available in the area, check out Tahoe North’s website.
Just a bit outside the Lake Tahoe Basin is the historic railroad town of Truckee, California. Set on the banks of the Truckee River, this town might be considered pound for pound the best mountain-golf destination in North America. With over nine courses to choose from, the options are endless. A pair of the stars are the sister courses of Gray’s Crossing and Old Greenwood. The Old Greenwood course is designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus. While Ornery Jack is nowhere to be found, his keen eye sure is. Just like the other courses in the region, the scenery “pars” well with the layout. There’s enough challenge to keep you on your toes but not so much that you’ll be scowling at your clubs.
Awe inspiring. Rugged. Majestic. A fishing paradise and a backcountry skier’s ideal mountain range. A road-trip nirvana and a landscape that inspires everyone to become a photographer. The Eastern Sierra is many things to different people including those who enjoy golfing. With such beautiful scenery as a backdrop, you’ll have a hard time keeping your eye on the ball.
When someone mentions Mammoth, skiing may first come to mind. But in the summer, there’s even more to do outside such as biking, hiking, fishing, and even golf! In fact, Mammoth Lakes has not one but two beautiful alpine courses to choose from. At 8,000 feet above sea level, both are the highest courses in the state which will bump up your drives by at least 10%. Snow Creek, designed by Ted Robinson, is Mammoth’s first golf course and nestled between the Sherwin and Mammoth Mountain Ranges. The nine-hole course is uniquely positioned so that every hole is framed by views of the Eastern Sierra Mountain range. And Sierra Star’s 18-hole layout also provides views of snow-capped peaks in every direction. As you venture across the course, you’ll find winding mountain streams to shoot over. Lush wildflowers and fairways lined with Jeffrey pines and towering red firs to navigate. And even a sighting of an occasional family of deer.
*Due to the heavy winter be aware that the Snow Creek Golf Course will not open for the summer of 2023.
Want to enjoy skiing AND golfing in the winter on your visit to the Eastern Sierra? Down nearly four thousand feet below in elevation from Mammoth Lakes, you’ll find the cozy town of Bishop and the Bishop Country Club. Even when it’s snowing heavily in Mammoth, the course is open almost entirely year-round. It offers dramatic scenery along its championship course. Bishop Country Club also features practice bunkers, a lighted driving range, chipping area, and putting greens.
Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Park
The California High Sierra is all about packing in a variety of adventures on a trip not just one activity. Go skiing one day and then enjoy a hike amongst wildflowers. This is even the case with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. With Visalia as your basecamp, spend the first day enjoying a quick 18 at Valley Oaks Golf Course in the morning followed by a foodie tour in the region that’s been nicknamed America’s fruit basket. The next day head up to see the Giant Sequoias inside the national park and finish it off with a sunset hike to Moro Rock.
Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range is Calaveras County. A place with cozy towns, tall pine trees, deep blue skies and of course amazing golf. Here you’ll find the award-winning Saddle Creek Golf Resort near Copperopolis. Receiving numerous awards from publications such as U.S. Golf Digest & Golfweek Magazine, its location offers dramatic views of the Sierra and Yosemite. Rated 4.5 stars by U.S. Golf Digest, it is one of the top three highest rated golf courses in California.
From there, leap your way to Greenhorn Creek Resort near Angels Camp. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. re-designed course wanders its way through rolling hills that were once mined during the Gold Rush era. Featuring century old oak trees, scenic vistas and unique man-made hazards like a stone farmer’s wall, it’ll challenge you but leave you smiling. Be sure to check out the Southern Gold Country Itinerary that the folks at Calaveras County created. It’ll make you want to throw your clubs in the trunk and head straight there.
Golfing in the High Sierra isn’t your typical golf trip. Perhaps it’s the quaint towns, invigorating mountain air or maybe the elevation. Who knows exactly… but we think it makes the perfect recipe for your next golfing adventure.
Author: Alex Silgalis
Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.