Just south of San Jose, California and not far off the 101 freeway in the modest village of San Martin is the Cordevalle Resort, a golf destination with a rich championship history that will soon add another chapter when the U.S. Women's Open is played there this July.
Cordevalle is a resort that feels much more like a private club. As you sit outside one of its sumptuous accommodations overlooking the course, you will see many players late in the day walking rather than riding, playing the game the way it was meant to be.
The Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, set in the golden foothills of the coastal mountains, has held PGA Tour and amateur events. It's a pure California golf experience. "It's a beautiful core course," says Jones. "It wasn't built to sell houses."
Instead, it was built to entertain its resort and club players, while giving substantial options for tournament use. It flows beautifully through the valley and up the slope and passes by the resort's winery.
Adding to the clubby feel of it all are the rooms, suites and fairway homes. It's small scale, just 45 rooms, and everything seems intimate and personal. Every accommodation, on a ridge above the ninth fairway, allows views of the course, as well as the option to step outside on a terrace late in the day for a cigar and glass of wine as players make their way below you.
You will find the usual high-end appointments with lush bedding, elegant décor, regal bathrooms, comfy furniture and high-tech TVs, plus plenty of space. The smallest rooms measure 550 square feet. The fairway homes have four bedrooms and 3,100 square feet, ideal for buddy trips.
One aspect that isn't so usual is original artwork, found in the rooms and throughout the property. The resort calls its collection "Celebration of Life: Spirituality" and within it you will find the works of Dan Namingha, depicting the traditions of the Tewa-Hopi tribe, bronze sculptures by John Kennedy and oils by William Clutz, John Ferren and H. Joe Waldrum.
For a small resort the dining options are fairly wide ranging. The One Iron Bar is a communal gathering place that tends to get lively late in the afternoon. Elegant dinner can be had at Il Vigneto. Lion's Peak Grill offers al fresco and snacks and casual food served out of the golf shop area.
While golf is at Cordevalle's heart, there is an impressive tennis facility, a spa and the winery. The Monterey Peninsula (Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, wine country) is within an hour's drive, and just down the road is Gilroy, the proclaimed garlic capital of the world and the site of an annual festival celebrating the savory bulb.
But make no mistake, celebrating the game of golf and the good life are Cordevalle's raison d'etre.