Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in a high desert and forest pine setting (at an altitude of 5,500 feet above sea level) the Nicklaus Signature course at Montrêux Golf & Country Club is routed around a private residential development which is easily accessed from Reno to the north or Lake Tahoe to the south.
Fairways, tees and greens are carpeted in a variety of bent grasses, with rough areas on the periphery of the holes comprising a mix of fescue and bluegrass. More than seventy fairway and greenside bunkers are furnished with a special blend of white sand that’s shipped in from Idaho.
The PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship – founded as the Reno-Tahoe Open in 1999 – is held annually at Montrêux as an alternate event, opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and it’s the only tournament on the men’s main professional circuit that employs a Modified Stableford scoring system to encourage aggressive play.
The signature “Bear Trap” is a dramatic trio of holes that starts with a slightly doglegging par four at the 6th, continues with a short par three to a shallow, pond-protected green at the 7th, and ends with the longest hole on the card at the 636-yard 8th.
It helps a course's visibility to have hosted significant events and Montreux clearly benefited in being the long-time host of the Barracuda Championship on the PGA TOUR from 1999-2019. The Jack Nicklaus design is aided by the intoxicating scenery and although the course is nearly 7,500 yards from the tips the effective playing yardage scales down a good bit because of the elevation.
Montreux has much of the Nicklaus trademark -- large bunkers scattered about and greens with an array of different internal movements.
Given the nearby proximity of housing -- albeit on the larger scale -- the routing clearly attempts to provide for both situations and does so via a good mixture of holes. However, those who are fans of the Golden Bear's architectural style will likely encounter a more than satisfactory effort but hardly among Jack's most compelling.
The closing trio concludes the round in fine fashion with a different par for each hole. Be sure to savor the view from the tee pad for the long par-4 17th.
M. James Ward