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Golf on the Slopes

Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Matthew McConaughey, March/April 2011

(continued from page 4)

Proving that everything old is new again, Sun Valley just opened its second course, White Clouds, last summer. Actually, it is the first nine of the new course, playing as a stand-alone nine-holer until the next phase gets under way, once the economy recovers. It is as strong as nine-hole courses come, and also a night-and-day difference from its predecessor, carved from the region's high desert on a ridge opposite the resort.

The layout has much more visual drama than the 18-holer, and much more do-or-die shot making, with narrow fairways, carries across ravines and penal desert waste area all around. It is a high-quality, well-conditioned course that is also quite difficult. White Clouds beckons the low handicapper, while players of every ability will thoroughly love the original, now renamed Trail Creek.

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Tahoe's strength is also its weakness, as both a golf and ski destination: it is just too big. It is home to more than a dozen major ski resorts, but they are spread out in the mountains around the periphery of the nation's second deepest lake, one with a whopping 72 miles of shoreline, ensuring that nothing is too close to anything else.

Only a handful of the ski resorts have on-site golf, most notably Squaw Valley USA at Tahoe (squaw.com) and Northstar (northstarattahoe.com) at the north end, and at the south, Heavenly (skiheavenly.com), which recently stretched the definition of ski-resort golf.

Massive Heavenly sits high above the south end of the lake and straddles the California and Nevada borders, explaining why the town below it is aptly named Stateline. This is where most of the large casinos, numerous hotels and golf courses are located. A couple of years ago, Heavenly wrapped up an ambitious $750 million expansion that created a new base area right in the heart of Stateline's equivalent of the Las Vegas Strip, complete with a long gondola to whisk urban skiers onto the snow.

In doing so, the ski resort essentially annexed Stateline, turning the casinos themselves into ski-in/ski-out lodging, and giving guests easy access to the golf, including Edgewood Tahoe (edgewood-tahoe.com), widely regarded as the region's best. The 1969 George Fazio design was redone by his nephew Tom, often considered the game's greatest living architect, and concludes in epic fashion with three famous lakefront holes. Less than 45 minutes away in the burgeoning golf mecca of Carson Valley are South Lake Tahoe's two other standout layouts at Genoa Lakes (genoalakes.com), one by Peter Jacobsen, one by Johnny Miller, both with John Harbottle III.

1960 Olympics venue Squaw Valley USA, the premier ski hill in North Lake Tahoe, boasts the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Squaw Creek course at the base of its slopes. A thoroughly modern ski-resort course, Squaw Creek (squawcreek.com) uses ample boardwalks to wind through marshy wetlands, more Kiawah than Sierras.

The other ski resort with its own good course is once-sleepy Northstar, which is undergoing a renaissance with a new base village and Ritz Carlton resort. The Robert Muir Graves tract is half radically elevated mountain golf and half pastoral meadows, and both sides are well executed.

Other nearby courses of note are the recently constructed Coyote Moon (coyotemoongolf.com), and the 36 holes at Incline Village (golfincline.com), anchored by the definitive North Shore layout, the Championship Course, a standout lakefront parkland classic by Robert Trent Jones Sr.

Park City, Utah


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