Entries Tagged as 'Course Reviews'

Course Reviews

Over the years I’ve subscribed to or purchased just about every golf magazine known to mankind and I always laugh at the travel sections. I mean how many Average Joe’s (AJ) out there can afford to spend $400 / night for a room and then another $200-$300 for a round of golf? And that’s after paying airfare or gas or whatever to get “where you’re going!”

Hell yeah those courses are beautiful and yeah I’d like to play ’em but I’m certainly not going to plunk down $1,000 or more for a two-day getaway to Florida or North Carolina or California or New Zealand or Vietnam or Ireland to play a round or two of golf. Nah, that ain’t gonna happen. I just can’t afford it.

Let’s Get Realistic

But what’d be nice to know is where I can go that won’t break my bank account and that might not require an overnight stay. I’m talking primarily public courses. AJ’s don’t typically play private courses so there’s no reason to even list them. What I’m looking for are courses with amenities, beauty, layout, pace of play, ease to get to (let’s say one or two day trips), etc. for a reasonable rate. Say $100 or less per round.

Now I know members of the Northern California Golf Association (which I am) can play Poppy Hills (one of the Monterey Peninsula’s golf gems) and Poppy Ridge fairly cheaply. But an 18-hole rate for a non-NCGA member is considerably higher than $100 which removes Poppy Hills / Poppy Ridge from inclusion in this list.

I only want courses that AJ’s can play without permanent injury to one’s bank account

Northwood GC

northwood gcRemember Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedron and most of the populace of a small northern California coastal village were attacked for no apparent reason by millions of big black birds. It was JAWS decades before the great white shark scared everyone out of the summer ocean waters.

Well many of the exteriors of The Birds were shot in and around Bodega Bay, California. Since I first saw that movie in the protective environment of my parent’s house as a little kid, I’ve often wondered, “what would I do if that happened to me?” I’ve now got my answer!

Northwood GC in Monte Rio, CAOn Saturday, July 21, I played Northwood Golf Club in Monte Rio. Northwood GC is on the Russian River about six miles inland from Bodega Bay. The fairways are surrounded and lined by 110-120 ft tall Redwoods. A nine hole course, it’s well-maintained and has a pretty well-stocked pro shop and a nice restaurant. The “driving range” consists of a netted batting-cage-like set up. I’ll confess, I didn’t use it – actually didn’t see the point. The practice green is serviceable.

After paying for nine holes ( couldn’t play 18 that day), I was told my buddy and I would be joined by two others. I think we waited 20 minutes before I heard our group announced as “next up.”

The first hole is a slight dog leg left but the bend is close and abrupt enough that driver is not an option. I took a hybrid 19 degree and place my slight draw in the middle of the fairway about 150 yards from the pin. After an easy 8 iron and four foot putt I had a birdie. The second hole begs for driver and I accommodated placing my ball dead-center about 270 yards. Great drive for me… I was feeling it. Alas after another 8 iron my ball ran through the green and into the rough. I chipped but barely made the green and two putted for a bogey. Ah… well… no big deal.

The course is not punishing. Good shots begat good lies. You’re made to pay with bad shots. The Redwoods are so tall and majestic that as you proceed to the back few holes you feel somewhat insignificant. These living things are hundreds of years old and have seen and felt a lot of golf. The course was designed by THE Alister Mackenzie – designer of Cypress Point and Augusta National – in the late 1920s. It is consistently rated as one of the top nine-hole courses in America. As an Alister Mackenzie design, your game needs to be more about shot-making and management than about pure power and distance. You do hear a lot of “thunk!” as wayward shots hit and ricochet between the Redwoods. Mind you, some of the Redwoods have trunks as large as Humvees, but most are probably 8-10 foot trunks.

northwood courseThere are two par 5 holes on the course (5 and 9) and two par 3 holes (3 and 8). The course is a par 36 and tops outs at 2,893 yards from the whites for nine holes. It’s easy to walk and actually very pleasurable. I’d recommend walking in fact. It was 90 degrees when we played so we took a cart (I always take a cart the first time I play any course).

In any case, I shot a two over par and was ecstatic! Maybe I’m getting the hang of this thing called golf. Doyathink? Nah… just lucky!

One other thing you should know… the course sits next to the super secret Bohemian Grove – the meeting and getaway site for the Bohemian Group. Don’t know about these guys? Check ’em out by clicking here. In a nutshell, they run the world… and have done so since the 20s.

Back to The Birds. I think had I been Rod Taylor or Tippi Hedron, I would’ve grabbed my clubs and headed to Northwood to play 9 or maybe even 18. I’d get me some birdies that way…!
I’ll rate Northwood Gof Club a solid 4.75 out of 5. The only reason it’s not a 5 is because it’s not 18 holes!

Call ’em up at 707-865-1116 and make your reservation up to 7 days in advance. Let them know you read a review at sandersgolf.com and is highly recommended.

Rating (1-5 stars): 4.75 stars.