Road Holes — 28 December 2012 by Bob Sherwin
Top Five: California/Sacramento area

Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices. continues its annual assessment of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. Today, the 25-part series focuses on: California/Sacramento area. 


LOCATION: Sacramento

DIRECTIONS FROM SACRAMENTO AIRPORT: Head north on Airport Way. Take left on Crossfield Dr. then left on N. Bayou Way. Turn right onto Garden Hwy and right again on Reservoir Rd.

PHONE: 307-324-7121

OPENED: 1997 (Architect: Brad Bell)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,061 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Flush against the Sacramento River, Teal Bend offers an adventure into nature with 250 acres of wetlands and lush fairways. Each hole is a entity to itself as you can slip away into a quiet natural environment, with only squirrels and chipmunks around to hear your cursing.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 17, par-5, 512 yards. It’s a long dogleg right but your tee shot likely will hang precariously in the air above a body of water. For the long hitters, traps sit on each side of the fairway around your landing area to deter inaccuracy. Your approach shot needs to precise as four bunkers protect each corner of the green.



Fall season at Ancil Hoffman

LOCATION: Carmichael 

DIRECTIONS FROM SACRAMENTO AIRPORT: Take Hwy 50 East to the Watt Ave. exit, heading north. Turn right on Fair Oaks Blvd. for approximately six miles. Turn right on Van Alstine, then left at California Ave. Turn right on Tarshes Dr.

PHONE: 916-482-3284

OPENED: 1965 (Architect: William F. Bell)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,009 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: William F. Bell, who designed more than 200 golf courses – many in the Sacramento area – put his imprint on Ancil Hoffman. He’s the same guy who designed the famed Torrey Pines layout in San Diego.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 7, par-5, 589 yards. The course’s No. 1 handicap hole, this is a long, straight layout and your shots had better be as well. Trees lined the entire length along the both sides, particularly thick on the left side. The green is protected by a pair of bunkers on each front corner.


LOCATION: Sacramento

DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO: Take Hwy 80 – Capitol City Freeway – north to Fulton Ave. exit. Turn left then turn left again into the entrance.

PHONE: 916-481-GOLF

OPENED: 1929 (Architect: Alister MacKenzie)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,991 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Rated by GolfWeek Magazine as one of the top 25 municipal courses in America, Haggin Oak exudes history. It’s a 79-year old tract designed by Alister MacKenzie, the genius behind August National, among other designs.

Legends have walked these links, Sam Snead, Jimmy Demaret, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Walter Hagen, Al Geiberger and George Archer. Ben Hogan won his first professional check – $350 for third place – in the 1938 Sacramento Open. Sarazen won $72 for an eighth-place finish at the 1935 Sacramento Open. Ken Venturi won the 1950 California State Fair Championship here. 

Celebrities such as Bob Hope, Babe Ruth and Bing Crosby has all played the Alister’s hollowed grounds.

The vast teaching facility features 15 golf professionals and the driving range is open 24 hours during the summer season. The pro club also has won GolfWorld’s Top Public Pro Shop award.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-3, 192 yards. It’s a long delicate shot to a green surrounded by bunkers. This is long target golf.


Yoche DeHe



DIRECTIONS FROM SACRAMENTO:Take I-5 to Esparto/Hwy 16 exit. Turn left and then turn right on Hwy 16. Follow through the towns of Esparto and Capay to the Cache Creek Casino Resort.

PHONE: 530-796-4653

OPENED: 2008 (Architect: Brad Bell)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,337 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The course is connected to the Cache Creek Casino Resort so play-and-stay deals are available. But what many Native American courses have in common in the West is a dedication to a quality amenity. The casino execs want people to return – and hopefully play the games of chance – so there is a conscious effort to develop a course worth playing often.

The course, in the lovely Capay Valley, has expansive views of the surrounding hills from about every spot on the course. The course is well-maintained.

SIGNATURE HOLE:No. 15, par-4, 433 yards. A lake extends out from the tee and a river runs through the middle of the fairway. You have to decide which side of the river you want to land your tee shot in the split fairway. Then you approach a slightly elevated green protected by a large bunker in front and one in back.





DIRECTIONS FROM SACRAMENTO: Located 50 miles from downtown Sacramento toward the Sierra Nevada, you take Hwy 80 east and exit at Bell Rd. and turn left. Continue to Hwy 49 and turn right to Grass Valley. Drive seven miles to Combie Rd. Turn right drive to the next stoplight. Right again up Combie Rd. for three miles into the facility.

PHONE: 530-269-7900

OPENED: 2002 (Architect: Keith Foster)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,096 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: This is a bit of a drive from Sacramento but you’ll be glad you made it. It’s one of the nicest courses in the region, resting in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It was once a 1,100-acre cattle farm and was transformed into a world-class layout fitting naturally among the sagebrush, rock outcroppings and dramatic elevation changes.

Golf Magazine added DarkHorse to its list of Top 100 You Can Play in America. Golf Digest announced that it’s one of its Best New Affordable Public Courses. Within six months after its opening, the Sacramento Bee voted the club as its No. 1 course to play in the Sacramento area.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 11, par-5, 559 yards. This is a rare double dogleg design. You first steer your drive left. Then it goes back right. The green is perched on a hill so you have to carry the ball to the surface, or expect a rollback. There is also a deep bunker on the left side.

– Bob Sherwin

TOMORROW: Southern California.




TOMORROW: Southern California

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About Author

Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 53rd year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 19 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for Cascade Golfer Magazine and Destination Golfer. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the 'Super Senior'' (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle.

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