Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento was founded in 1916 and the original John Black-designed course underwent several large-scale renovations before a major redesign by Kyle Phillips in 2006. Ten years later, the club hosted its fifth USGA event, the 2015 U.S. Senior Open.
Much attention quite rightly has been bestowed on the magnificent effort carried forward by Kyle Phillips with his efforts at California GC. But, amazingly, the greater Sacramento area is blessed with several courses of note and Del Paso is clearly a mega shining star.
Phillips once again updated a quality course and made it into a true gem of a layout. The terrain is very good and the presentation of the course is stellar -- the holes look as if they have been there for quite some time and fit within the landscape.
I would dare say that if one were to assess California golf courses, Del Paso hardly receives much attention and no doubt that's tied to the fact that few people really get into the immediate Sacramento area and see firsthand what's there. There's no question The Golden State is blessed with many superior courses but Del Paso may be the most underrated.
Phillips excels in constantly challenging players -- the primary task at Del Paso is getting into position off the tee because failure results in super demanding approach shots as pins can be tucked in a number of locations. The golf is not a slog but a true intersection where one's mental and physical skills have to be in fine working order to reap the lowest score possible. Del Paso never gives away anything -- it's all earned.
The routing of the course is truly its main strength. You never face repetitive situations -- it's always changing -- always forcing adjustments by the player. Phillips also provided for a bunker pattern that is adroitly placed and requires a keen sense of purpose on behalf of the golfer.
The five par-3's are very good. Each varies in distance and each going in different directions. There's also a good mixture on the par-4's -- the short ones especially at the 9th and 10th respectively are quite appealing.
The concluding series of holes ends the day in riveting fashion with the long par-4 16th and its menacing greenside pond. The devilish par-3 17th which uses the same water penalty area in fine fashion but going in the opposite direction. You close out the round with a tough as nails par-4 closer at 462 yards that turns right-to-left with a tapered fairway that demands a top tier tee shot -- combining distance and unerring placement and then backing it up with a quality greensite that requires a finely calculated approach.
Much of the attention for California golf rests on the facilities in or near the metro areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. But, as I mentioned, the immediate Sacramento area has several courses of note and Del Paso clearly shines. Without question -- Del Paso belongs in the upper echelon of the elite layouts in the State and for those able to sample it personally it will be time well spent and long remembered.
M. James Ward