Golf the High Sierras on three budgets
Whitehawk Ranch in Graeagle
Host of both the PGA Tour Reno-Tahoe Open and American Century Celebrity Classic, you don't need Michael Jordan cash to tee it up around Lake Tahoe.
The distance between Reno and Lake Tahoe is short enough that the two can share an airport, but that's about all they share. The two regions are virtual 180-degree shifts in climate and activity. Lake Tahoe boasts four seasons of dry, mountain weather with a spectacular golf season July through September.
Reno, on the other hand, has a Casino-heavy, desert west vibe and offers affordable golf year-around, and the summer months stay far more pleasant than desert courses in Las Vegas or Scottsdale.
Depending on your budget, you can enjoy some wonderful summer golf on either side of the High Sierras, whether it's summer mountain year round in the high desert and valley.
Lake Tahoe on a high-roller budget
On a high-roller budget, start at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, in the shadows of the casino hotels on the South Shore, and boasting the area's only holes along Lake Tahoe. After golf, enjoy a beer or dinner on the outdoor deck and watch the sunset – it doesn't get much better on a clear summer day in the mountains.
High-roller golf on the North Shore is plentiful, too, where new developments are anchored by some seriously good courses around Truckee, Calif. Old Greenwood and the Golf Club Gray's Crossing are sister courses that both offer member-for-the-day, high-roller golf experiences on beautifully conditioned courses that are a joy to play.
Also, The Timilick Club is a new private club offering daily 'promotional' play on their new Johnny Miller/John Harbottle course. While Timilick, Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing are more traditionally-styled mountain courses, Coyote Moon is jaw-dropping, up-and-down golf full of elevated tees and greens – and no residential development attached to it.
For accommodations, visit the brand new Ritz-Carlton Highlands at Northstar, a 170-room luxury lodge and spa for all seasons that offers golf package deals to Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing.
Golf in the High Sierras on a mid-range budget
For 'mid-range' we're factoring morning green fees under about $130, while high-end courses are over $160. That prices you out of a morning tee time around Lake Tahoe and Truckee's best courses, though you can play 18 in the afternoon at Coyote Moon for $95 and Old Greenwood for $100.
Or, head over the Kingsbury Grade from South Tahoe to the Lakes course at Genoa Lakes, set on the eastern slopes of the mountains and was designed by John Harbottle, a popular name (with very good reason) around these parts, along with player designer Peter Jacobsen, who also had a hand in Gray's Crossing.
If you're willing to make the drive up to Plumas County (about an hour's drive from the north shore), play Whitehawk Ranch, deserving of inclusion among discussion of the area's best, that features both heavily-forested and open meadow holes with panoramic mountain views.
At $125 peak (or $95 after 2 p.m.), it would easily be more expensive with a Tahoe zip code.
The Resort at Squaw Creek boasts a championship Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that plays just a shade under $100 and 7,000 yards, playing on valley ground beneath the ski slopes with a smattering of wetlands.
Mid-priced golf in Reno can be found at LakeRidge, home to the signature island green with a 150-foot elevation change, as well as semi-private, 36-hole ArrowCreek Country Club.
For accommodations, check out Truckee's Cedar House Sport Hotel, a modern, European-inspired lodge with stylish accommodations – and free breakfast – within a mile of Truckee's town center. Or, check out South Lake Tahoe for the larger, casino hotel vibe at a property like Harrah's or Harvey's.
Budget golf in the High Sierra in Carson Valley
Golf on a tight budget golf will price you out of most mountain golf courses worth visiting, but there is hope. Many Reno-Tahoe courses participate in GolfNow.com, where you can find a good last-minute deal at an area course if you're not too picky about the course or time you play.
Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort offers a more classic golf course at the foot of the mountain, with a yardage up to 6,800 yards (rates are $50-70), but offers resort amenities like GPS. You can tee it up at the par 58 Incline Village Mountain Course, the second fiddle to the Championship Course, for about $45-75. For a quick and casual golf fix, check out Tahoe City's historic 9-hole course opened in 1917 within a pitching wedge of the lake ($40).
The desert and valley side of the mountains to the east is where you'll find better value.
Dayton Valley Golf Club recently assumed new ownership and is currently offering a $40 rate seven days a week. The course is a regular PGA Tour Qualifying host, and has been every year since opening in 1995.
The same ownership operates Wolf Run in Reno, which has rates from $45-65.
If you can't stomach the Lakes Course at Genoa Lakes' green fee, play the less expensive Resort Course, featuring 300 feet of elevation change and cheaper $50-85 rates.
D'Andrea Golf Club in Sparks is an always dramatic course rolling up and down desert foothills and features severe fast greens accentuated by the slopes they hang on. Morning rates peak at $69 while twilight dips under $50.
RedHawk Golf Club features one private and one public course, and the pubic Lakes course is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design with some let 'er rip fairways but tough approach shots thanks to plenty of water ($40-70).
For accommodations, check out a casino hotel in downtown Reno. There are scores of options all offering their own deals. In Lake Tahoe, small little inns and hotels surround the lake in just about every village and rates can be found under $100.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.