This week marked a bittersweet occasion for WGANC River Valley course raters as it was our last rating as an independent women’s group. From now on we will be part of NCGA who will be in charge of all ratings and handicapping for men and women players alike in Northern California. We worried that men would be doing women’s ratings and that they might not necessarily understand a woman’s game. However, beginning in 2018 each course will be rated by a team composed of 6 men and 6 women. As long as women are willing to volunteer as raters, we should be well-represented.
And so we ventured forth to Martis Camp, a private facility located in the beautiful valley above Truckee, CA. Our schedule this time found us playing the course Wednesday afternoon and rating after the frost on Thursday morning, after leaving time Wednesday night for our rating group of women to have a final good-bye dinner; we have been a pretty close-knit group over the years and we like being together.
Our first taste of heaven on this rating was the warm welcome we received from Assistant Pro Anthony Roth who escorted us on a tour through the entire clubhouse after the valet unloaded our clubs and parked the car. Already feeling very special, we explored one of the most spectacular clubhouses we have ever seen. Designed as a series of smaller, intimate rooms, the layout provides sweeping views of the 18th hole with the towering Sierras as a background every step of the way. Add stone fireplaces and comfortable conversation-inducing seating and a member or lucky visitor may never want to leave. Walls of picture windows allow the views of the imposing mountains to enter each room of the clubhouse and become part of the decor.
The women’s locker room because it is a big part of our heavenly experience earned its own paragraph. Without question it is the largest and most attractive locker room we have ever seen. Rebecca Taylor who manages this lovely space told us that it was “built to be a place to be.” The women’s locker room has the same floor plan and space as the men’s. Can you believe it? Its lounge, which includes a fully-stocked bar, features picture windows wrapping the room with views of mountains and golf course and a central 2-way stone fireplace for warmth on those frosty mornings. Other areas of great interest are the full spa, a workout room, lockers for guests as well as members, smaller “quiet” rooms, and sound-proof work spaces for women who must work before or after a golf game. The tranquil decor of the “locker room” (a real misnomer) is subtly feminine. Why would a girl leave all this loveliness to go out a play golf?
Martis Camp Golf Course is where heaven and hell finally meet. The course, designed by Tom Fazio who is known as a visionary, emphasizes the natural beauty of the Sierra environment, but don’t expect it to be easy. Remember how the Donner Party had to fight its way over rough terrain, mountainous passes, and the sand and water of what is now Donner Lake? They weren’t particularly successful, but your round can be a success if you “play the forward tees and enjoy the views” as rater Cathy Trevena suggested. Just as there are no bad days in Cabo, there are no bad views at Martis Camp. The drastic elevation changes, the sidehill fairways, the extensive bunkering both around greens and in fairways (and many of these bunkers are eight feet deep girls!) provide the obstacles that add a devilish punch to all this beauty. A woman player can choose among a middle tee at 6010 yards, a forward tee at 5003 yards, or a combination tee at about 5300 yards. Yes, you are at a high altitude which allows you to hit the ball farther, but the course has such tricky terrain that the forward tees seem to be the happiest idea. The fairway bunkering threatens players the most. After climbing down into the bunker, it is somewhat unnerving to look up to see an 8-foot wall in front of you, making that fairway wood you brought with you irrelevant.
Heavenly or hellish, Martis Camp was an experience not to be missed. A course as challenging as Martis Camp is always difficult to rate because of the plethora of those hellish obstacles, but the pristine condition of the course and the genuine welcoming attitudes of of all the staff from the head pro down to Rick, the forecaddy assigned to our group, to the assistant in the pro shop who gave us extra Dove chocolates at the end of the round – all made our two days there beyond delightful.