Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, NV
Tee Time: May 23, 2016, 10:50, 48 F, cloudy turning to rain
Designer: George Fazio, 1968
Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Larry and Mike
Tees: Blue/White Combo, Par 72 (71.2 rating/137 slope/6,610 yards)
Course Handicap: 7 (6.0 index)
Stats: 92 (47-45); 31 putts; 7/14 fairways; 1/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes
Even in mud season, there’s no better place in the world than in the presence of the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe. It’s so inspiring here that I set a major portion of my brand new book, Hunt, in this location. You can buy that here, because the more sales, the more golf trips! But anyways…
It’s nearly Memorial Day and Donner Pass is still getting snow. But ski season’s over now, and the golf course is the next best place to enjoy the outdoors. If I was ever gonna have a bad time golfing, it would’ve been this round. A hurt back on a frigid, breezy, rainy day and trying to keep calm while playing with a creepy, camo-clad Dale Gribble look-a-like who must’ve said six words all day, shot at least 130 and was using a disposable camera? But I had my ever-enthusiastic buddy CJ with me and, even sweeter, the amazing Edgewood Tahoe golf course offering up 18 holes of jaw-dropping alpine scenery. You can never have a bad day at Edgewood. I almost should just stop writing and let the pictures do that talking. Check out how gorgeous the 9th green is below.
You have to pry yourself away from staring out at the lake to begin the round. The par-4 1st is a beautiful 402-yard hole playing away from the water. The 2nd is similar, at 393 yards but with water hazard running the length of the left side. This course features pretty generous fairways, but thick rough, water and big pine trees await any errant tee shots. And with the ball traveling much further at 6,224 feet above sea level, those wayward slices and hooks keep drifting and drifting into trouble.
The 3rd is a 532-yard, left-to-right banana of a par 5. Plenty of trees and a large fairway bunker protect cutting the corner, so it plays as a three shot hole to a green sitting up the hill. The 4th is a second consecutive par 5, and completely different than the 3rd. It plays gradually downhill and straightaway for 520 yards, making it reachable. But there is a pond guarding the right side and a bunker with a high lip guarding the front-left of a front-to-back sloping green. I really don’t know how CJ managed to hold this green in two and make the birdie. He earned that. The 5th is a short, 152-yard par 3 with a large green and a false front that will feed back toward the deep hazard that must be carried. Dominating the view from this tee box is the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, whose hotel has been standing since 1973. I didn’t realize there was so much history at that casino that I’ve celebrated a few New Year’s Eve’s in, such as its five-star rating and terrorist attack. Pretty interesting.
Maybe the prettiest hole at Edgewood that doesn’t feature mountain or lake views is the 368-yard 6th, a simple downhill tee shot that leaves an approach over the pond and around some bunkers. The 7th is a 161-yard par 3 that is almost completely enclosed by towering pine trees from tee to green. It’s a large green guarded on all sides by sand.
The 382-yard 8th is a fun par 4 with a towering sugar pine right smack in the middle of the fairway that you have to negotiate. The best play is laying up to the left for a better angle, or you can see if trees really are 90% air and try to go through it. The 417-yard 9th is the most dazzling hole on the front side as you play along the shoreline on this dogleg-right. With the weather that came in later in the round, playing this hole in full sunshine led to my favorite photos, with the snowcapped mountains visible through the trees and across the choppy water.
They’re doing some major construction for the fancy new Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe that will open next year, so at the turn a marshall has to come out and lead you back to the 10th tee, and, more importantly, the snack bar with their delicious grilled chicken paninis. The par-4 10th is similar to the 1st, playing in the same direction and 413 yards with water left of the green. The 328-yard 11th is the hole that demands the most accuracy off the tee. There’s basically a circle to land the ball in; you have to carry the pond (and that carry gets longer the further right you drift), avoid trees on the right and then place it in a spot where the giant pine tree blocking the middle of the fairway won’t get in the way. If you can do all that, it’s not too tough from there.
The 167-yard 12th is a rough, uphill par 3 over a deep bunker and a hard green to read. The 13th is the green I thought I was aiming for from the 3rd tee, but this dogleg-right, 387-yard par 4 is much easier than that par 5. The green is elevated but large and today was soft.
The 15th is an uphill, 406-yard par 4 that flattens out off the tee. If you’re dying to watch some TV and can’t wait until you’re back at the bar, you can watch the one on the tee box that lets you know when the fairway’s clear to blast away on the blind shot. Not in HD though 🙁
The 16th is a long, downhill 547-yard par 5 that would be easier if not for the eighty-foot pine tree just right of center. The ring of bunkers circling the green adds a challenge to carry if you’re going for it. Otherwise it’s a three-shot hole to a narrow green.
The signature 17th is the 140-yard par 3 you’ll see the most of when the American Century Celebrity Championship airs every summer. Every boat in Tahoe will be anchored nearby and a large crowd strolling the beach along this short hole, capturing glimpses of Justin Timberlake, Jerry Rice and Greg Maddux while dodging the hosel rockets of Charles Barkley. The closing 18th is a 501-yard par 5 that we played in record time with those 42-degree rain drops falling harder. With water guarding the green, it’s no guarantee to go for it in two. That’s all I remember, then I ducked back into the golf cart and sped off to the warmth of the clubhouse.
My dad said I’d played here before, as a young kid. But I don’t remember it. So I had to come back. My memory’s still hazy, I might have to come back again. I have been to the celebrity tournament, and there was a sad, sad story. I got to meet and get autographs from such luminaries as Mike Eruzione, Brandi Chastain and Pete Sampras. But my friend Brett, lifelong, die-hard St. Louis Rams fan, only wanted a signature from Marshall Faulk. We finally found him towards the end of the day, all alone, no fans around. Brett politely asks for #28’s autograph, but he keeps walking and dismissively mumbles, “I’m done signing autographs, man.” Marshall, you fumbled that one, man. It was pretty sad actually, but we have moved on and the Rams have ditched the Midwest to have fun playing in front of a half-empty crowd in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.
As far as the course, well there’s a reason they can draw the big names here every year. Nothing compares to a summer day in Lake Tahoe. There are so many ways to spend those daylight hours. Boating, hiking, grilling, shopping, kayaking, inner-tubing, etc. And there is no shortage of great golf in the region, but Edgewood is the crown jewel of the Jewel of the Sierras. In it’s shoulder season rates, at $140 it is a steal. The course is in mint condition. The fairways were flawless, the greens rolled true and firm, and fluffy white sand reflected the sunlight skyward, giving each green a halo-like glow. I know in the high season this course can cost up to $250, but it is a unique, special place that is well worth it. Then just go win your greens fee back at Harrah’s. I recommend the three-card poker.
#14, Par 4, 406 yards, 2-handicap, My Score: 5
The 14th is my favorite hole, even with those closing 17th and 18th holes being so picturesque. I love the view from the tee box, through the chute of trees down to a perfectly manicured fairway with the snow-capped Sierras behind. The approach provides your first view of the lake on the back nine. While it is one of the easier greens to navigate, with no water and one bunker, it’s still a long hole into a breeze with water and trees waiting to snatch those misplaced tee shots.
Layout: A; a good mix of wide and narrow holes, short and long, doglegs and elevation changes. A true “every-shot-in-the-bag” course.
Amenities: A, as nice a driving range as there is in the world, and the snack bar is stocked with reasonably priced, tasty refueling options. That big lodge they’re completing next year should be sweet.
Staff: A; all great, fun to chat with and friendly and helpful
Difficulty: B; generous fairways, but the course punishes the wayward shots harshly. The greens are slick, but if you have any feel for your putter, they roll true and you’ll be fine.
Scenery: A+; 9, 17 and 18 are fantasy holes with their shore locations. The rest of the course provides views of the lake, towering mountain peaks around and all those gorgeous alpine trees
Value: B+; $140 for their early season rates, which this year includes 44-degree tee off weather. But even at $250, this is a course that provides value with their amenities, course conditions and staff. They’re proud of their track here.
Overall GPA: 3.95 (A)