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.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x