Last week we traveling golfers truly found gold in the foothills in the form of Nevada County Country Club. Located off East Main Street in Grass Valley, this Gold Country golf course is indeed a rare find. A nine-hole course in pristine condition, it has an accompanying history that is every bit as interesting as that of any gold discovery.
The course itself is an architectural marvel. Designed in 1926 by noted architect Sam Whiting who also created Harding Park, the Olympic Club, the Sonoma Golf Club, and Stockton Country Club, the nine-hole layout easily converts to 18 holes by using an ingenious set of different tees that actually changes the dynamics of most holes. The holes wander up, down, and sideways along a tree-covered hillside which makes for some challenging lies. The fairways are lush Kentucky bluegrass, and the bluegrass in the rough is even more lush (sadly for me). The greens are excellent – medium fast, smooth, moderately contoured and really fun to putt.
The course offers some unique challenges for women players. Its length, 5158 yards for 18 holes, seems short, but remember we are in the foothills; several of the holes play uphill and some are side hill in character, causing a player to lose yardage. In addition, the side hill holes make the punishing rough a magnet for tee shots. Once in the bluegrass rough, good luck getting out. Personally, I lost a number of strokes there. I just did not have the forearm strength needed to hit a clean shot out of thick, sticky rough. When I was not in the rough, I was a happy camper. The lies were generally good, the greens were outstanding, and the walk was absolutely picturesque.
As for the history here, we felt it as soon as we turned into the driveway. We were greeted by a beautiful, old, Victorian home which sits by the first tee, still looking elegant after all these years. It was built by the owners of Pie Plant Ranch, a dairy farm. Previously, in 1850 the owners raised horses on the property, racing them at the nearby Glenbrook Race Track. Finally in the 1920’s a group of local golf enthusiasts planned the Nevada County Country Club, hired architect Whiting, and converted the old ranch home into a clubhouse.
On this day we were a group of four raters invited to play in the women’s club guest day by Nevada County member (and rater extraordinaire) Mary Deardorf. She shared stories of the camaraderie at the club, describing how the superintendent, the men’s club, and the women’s club collaborated to build an attractive fountain on the 9th hole to replace a fallen tree and how some of the women’s club actually did some interior decorating in the historic clubhouse. In fact, Nevada County Country Club is a semi-private membership club, but they welcome public play seven days a week and are anxious to have all golfers enjoy their course. In Grass Valley the golf course is golden, and although we struggled with our games (with the exception of the other rater extraordinaire Karen Price who shot 38 on the back nine), we never blamed this beautiful course for our misfortunes. Instead, we congratulated ourselves on our great discovery, a lovely day with friends, and a delicious lunch at “the Dump”.
Check out the Nevada County Country Club website for more information: http://www.nevadacountycountryclub.com