Lake Tahoe is one of the biggest, deepest, clearest, coldest freshwater lakes in the country, but those facts are forgotten when you first lay eyes on it: breathtakingly beautiful cobalt blue with reflections of snow-capped High Sierra Mountains rippling on its surface. The water is so clear you can see 70 feet down (a dizzying experience), but it nonetheless may prove hard to spot the ball you shank off the 17th tee of Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
More on that later. Edgewood Tahoe is the only golf course on the lake, and it partners with the 154-room Edgewood Tahoe Resort for golf, lodging and dining you won’t soon forget.
Designed by George Fazio in 1968, the layout has been fine-tuned over the years by his nephew, Tom Fazio. It’s the venue for the American Century Celebrity Classic every July, matching the golf skills of sports and Hollywood stars against a pretty tough layout. The course measures 7,529 yards from the tips, but there are kinder choices: 6,904; 6,580; 6,339; and 5,343 yards. You’ll get a slight distance boost from the thinner air at 6,224 feet above sea level, but encounters with tall pines (sometimes mid-fairway), tricky greenside bunkering, and ponds and streams on 14 holes can erase any advantage.
Edgewood Tahoe Resort is a perfect place to nurse wounds the course inflicts on your ego, with three extraordinary restaurants and luxurious rooms overlooking the lake and mountains. Brooks’ Bar & Deck overlooks the 18th hole and the lake, with an extensive menu that goes well beyond pub grub. Also enjoying views of Lake Tahoe are Bistro Edgewood and Edgewood Restaurant. Both feature great local fare such as lamb, quail, elk, rabbit, beef and trout, and exotic dishes such as poached octopus and lobster.
599 yards, par 5
Two opening par 4s ranked 11th and 15th in difficulty lead up to the hardest hole on the course. The sharp dogleg right, studded with bunkers in the landing area, includes a pond beyond the sand. The water can come into play if you try too hard to set up a clear shot to the elevated green, protected by sand in front and tucked behind a grove of tall pines. If you’re too cautious off the tee, you’ll punch shots through trees and across sand up to the putting surface.
Edgewood Tahoe is home to many memorable holes like the third one, but the final three make for an especially climactic finish.
564 yards, par 5
The tee shot is pulse-quickening because you can see the lake in the distance, behind the green, but it’s hard not to stare at the tall pine in the middle of the fairway and what appears to be lots of sand just beyond it. Sure enough, the bunkering starts 75 yards out from the lakeside green, the deepest putting surface on the course and protected by sand on both sides as well as the front. The pesky tree figures in a decision on whether to go for it or lay up in front of the sand.
207 yards, par 3
Even if you manage to carry the bunker spanning the front of the green, good luck sticking it on the shallow putting surface. A pair of bunkers lie in wait for balls that run off the back, setting up a delicate sand shot to regain the green. The beach runs all along the right side of this hole, and boaters often anchor offshore to watch the fun. To make this par 3 even more challenging, there’s often a strong crosswind that will sail your ball into the lake. Boaters beware.
572 yards, par 5
This is a beautiful finishing hole — and a decent birdie opportunity if you don’t get distracted by the looks of it. Tall pines on both sides of the fairway frame the view of the lake and distant mountains behind and to the right of the green. The fairway is well-bunkered along the left side, and a pond intrudes from the left, potentially requiring a water carry to the green. Three big bunkers positioned behind the putting surface can snare overzealous approaches, but the green is sizeable. There’s also a run-up path to the green on the right, between the pond and the lake. This hole is handicapped 14th for men and 10th for women (437 yards from the forward tees).
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