California-Nevada's High Sierra: Pick your postcard setting

By Brandon TuckerJune 14, 2012, 5:50 pm

TRUCKEE, Calif. -- Can't decide on a golf destination? California-Nevada's High Sierra mountains present five destinations in one, all within about an hour's drive. The quality and diversity of courses rivals anything you can find in the west.

Some golf groups may stick to one or two regions of the High Sierra on their trip, while others will go for broke and see them all -- like I did this June. Either way is satisfying, so where should you start?

Reno and Carson City

It's tough to discuss Reno without a few Las Vegas comparisons, even as the Biggest Little City in the World continues to spread its wings well beyond its gaming core (a common theme throughout Nevada lately) with a new riverfront district and more emphasis on the outdoors. 

The Reno-Sparks golf scene boasts a few traits Vegas can't: higher altitude and northern latitude that yields more comfortable summer temperatures, while the golf is more affordable, too. The roster of A-listers just doesn't run as deep, and the ultimate splurge courses of Vegas are absent in Reno. 

But in Reno, whether you're looking for a hotel, restaurant or round of golf, $75-$100 can go a long way. Somersett Golf Club is one of the area's newest courses, opened in 2004, that dangles along foothills terrain. Others, such as the 36-hole RedHawk Golf Club, presents resort-worthy conditions and scenery. LakeRidge Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and one of the first high-end courses in Reno, also remains a top area play for visitors.

Just south of Reno is Carson City, which to visitors may seem like a small, unlikely spot for any state capital. Stately government buildings and small shops and restaurants are interspersed with a smattering of old school casinos and their giant marquees full of brightly lit mascots, like the towering cowboy above Cactus Jack's Casino. Carson Street is a bizarre juxtaposition for a first-timer, but locals will gladly point you toward satisfying, locally owned restaurants and bars.

The golf scene in Carson Valley is the most affordable among the High Sierras and chock full of options, highlighted by 36 holes at Genoa Lakes. This time around, we played a bargain course, Silver Oak Golf Club ($25-50), that features a front side that plays up into the mountainside and beside boulder piles. 

But it's hard for the mind not to wander, while playing along this barren, rocky mountainside, that Lake Tahoe and its mighty pines lie just a few miles west on the other side of the range.

Golf on the shores of Lake Tahoe

The prime golf season may be short around Lake Tahoe, but for a few short months each year, the courses beside it sparkle. The lake's entire circumference should be driven to take in sights like Emerald Bay and small little beaches on it's shoreline -- and the drive is even better with golf clubs in your trunk. 

While historic nine-holers Old Brockway and Tahoe City Golf Course were some of the first to come to the lake and remain today, the south and north shore each built championship courses in the 1960s. On the south side, beside the giant casino properties such as Montbleu, Harrah's and Harvey's is Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. Edgewood has become Tahoe's most coveted play, thanks in part to the American Century Celebrity Classic (July 17-22, 2012) and the spectacle of celebrities playing in front of raucous, boat-cruising fans beside the lakefront 17th hole. 

Practically due north across the lake is the Incline Village Championship Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., of similar pedigree to Edgewood even if it's got a quieter reputation on the north shore. Holes play on the sloping, foothills ground, which presents some long views of Tahoe from some of its highest holes. It's the north shore's largest community, and one of its residents is Annika Sorenstam.

Golf north of Lake Tahoe in Truckee

Gray

The 7th hole at Gray's Crossing in Truckee

Just a few miles from Lake Tahoe's north shore is the old mining town of Truckee, set on the banks of the Truckee River. Squaw Creek and Northstar are two resorts with older-generation golf, but the last decade has brought an onslaught of dynamite mountain courses coinciding with residential development. On Schaffer's Road, for example, you'll pass semi-private Schaffer's Mill, followed by private Lahontan and Martis Camp.

On the other side of town, sister courses Gray's Crossing and Old Greenwood, as well as daily fee course Coyote Moon, make Truckee, pound-for-pound, arguably the west's top mountain-golf destination, especially when you consider Tahoe is just a few miles to the south and even more remote, mountain golf awaits to the north. 

Low-key Graeagle in Plumas County

The Dragon

The Dragon at Nakoma Golf Resort's par-3 5th hole. 

If little Truckee is still too busy for your tastes, take the winding, two-lane Highway 89 along Tahoe National Forest north about 30 miles to Graeagle, a little mountain town with a big golf footprint.

On a corner of village's main road, there is an ice cream stand with a modest driving range next to it, named 'Frostee' and little executive courses can be found beside a handful of hotels, such as my base for the trip at the Chalet View Lodge. Beginner-friendly 18-hole courses such as Graeagle Meadows or Plumas Pines offer convenient, laid-back and affordable rounds.

Recent years have brought on a new, higher standard of golf to Graeagle. The first was Whitehawk Ranch, which features holes in both deep forest and amongst wide-open ranch land. Semi-private Grizzly Ranch, designed by Bob Cupp, is the newest of the bunch and showcases the remote, natural beauty of the surrounding mountains better than anywhere else.

Meanwhile, the infamous Dragon, which closed for a short period, has been softened. While it remains plenty tough, set on rolling mountain ground with many elevated greens but also loads of spectacular elevated tees, it's perhaps the area's best value right now ($65-$85) as owners try and lure back golfers who may have walked off the 18th green in years prior, scorched by its venom.

More information and golf packages can be found at GolftheHighSierra.com

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.