Part of a private, gated community that lies within an enormous 2,000-acre wooded property to the north of Lake Tahoe, the golf course at Martis Camp Club is a Tom Fazio design that first opened its doors to members in 2008.
The course blends seamlessly into the High Sierra landscape where the front nine offer magnificent views of the surrounding mountain scenery before the back nine holes are then largely played out on a valley floor, crossing Martis Creek on several occasions.Tom Fazio has been quoted as saying, "the terrain and surrounding views of the Carson range, Lookout Mountain and Sierra crest gave us so many possibilities. I believe we delivered a course to Martis Camp members that will prove to be a superior golf experience and take its place with the renowned courses of the Western United States”.
Anyone who ventures to the greater Lake Tahoe area of America and can access both Martis Camp in CA and nearby Clear Creek in NV should do so. Both are private and both are excellent examples of top tier architecture by Tom Fazio and Ben Crenshaw / Bill Coore respectively. This review centers on Martis Camp and, as I have opined many times previously, the quality of the land is usually no less than 60% of the total equation when the key elements are weighed.
Being located high in the Sierras provides a stunning landscape that is truly breathtaking.
Martis Camp has plenty of rolls to the property and therein lies the dilemma for the golfer unable to execute quality tee shorts time after time. Tom Fazio has often been cited as the master architect who has perfected "the look" but often comes up short on how a course "plays."
Not this time.
The outward nine is good with such par-4 holes at the 5th, 6th and 9th respectively leading the way. However, it is during the inward side that Martis Camp accelerates into overdrive. The movement of the terrain adds to the cosmetic flourishes that are the hallmark domain of Fazio. But, in this case, Martis Camp requires a healthy dosage of strategic thought.
The putting surfaces are also a serious test of one's command of the flat stick. They are very large and often contain an array of hard to discern movements.
As the earlier review rightly noted -- the Fazio approach has often been one in which formulaic efforts have been done time after time. When one gets the number of outstanding properties the overall batting average is nowhere near what it can be. No doubt the effort has been a success commercially. Frankly the array of contracts Fazio has garnered is simply mindboggling. But sadly that has produced far too many vapid designs at other locations. That certainly is absent at Martis Camp. It also helps immensely when you have mint like turf conditions that truly bring out all the design qualities.
The ending stretch of holes brings the round to a grand conclusion. The short par-4 16th is one of Fazio's finest efforts in getting the short driveable par-4 hole into the process. The hole seduces the player into attempting the bold play but the slightest miscalculation can have you leaving the green pulling hair from one's head. The par-3 17th plays as the perfect counterpoint. At 217 yards this is far from your warm and cuddly short hole that Fazio generally inserts into his designs. The finale at 492 yards is a stout par-4 -- a first rate tee shot followed by an equaling dexterous approach is called upon.
Martis Camp will likely not receive the fanfare because of its relative invisibility. There won't be any high profile championships played so television exposure is unlikely. But make no mistake about it -- when you come to Martis Camp you'd best be ready to golf your game.
by M. James Ward
Tom Fazio continues to impress with this platinum level layout. The golf course is just one of many activities that exist at the highest level on the 2,200-acre Martis Camp property.
Each hole is carved out of a heavy forest giving each a lot of individuality and peaceful harmony, however the orientation of the routing maintains its natural flow without feeling like there are long distances between holes. The setting for so many of the greens is truly gorgeous, either because of the eye-opening backdrops, or the beautifully designed bunker complexes next to the greens. You immediately get an appreciation for the sheer size of the greens, which can be very difficult to read.
I really enjoyed the short par 4s that Fazio incorporates that are strategic from tee to green where the driver must stay in the bag. As is traditional, Fazio often places his fairway bunkers to stop balls running down into a ditch/hazard, which emphasizes great angles off the tees to ensure you have the optimal position for your approach shot.
Your tee shots at Martis Camp truly dictate how you’ll score as there is frequently an ideal side of the fairway to hit your approach shot from as the greens are not forgiving at all. I give Martis Camp top marks for design variety, depth perception challenges and a huge amount of risk/reward situations with enticing forced carries.
Architecturally, Fazio clearly put a lot of thought into this design as every hole is clearly memorable after your game and there isn’t much you’d change. Many of his notable layouts (Alotian, Caves Valley, Sage Valley, Eagle Point) quickly begin to look and feel the same due to the cookie cutter approach to the architecture and a serious lack of interesting variety, but fortunately the land at Martis Camp (just like at Gozzer Ranch) is magnificent and provides a canvas for a wonderful golf course.