The Old Greenwood pay-and-play golf course is a 7,518-yard Jack Nicklaus signature layout that sits amongst towering pine trees in the mountains close to North Lake Tahoe.
Upcoming preparations for the Barracuda Championship on the PGA Tour have this Nicklaus layout in beautiful condition. Prior to my visit, reports from this venue focus on how tough it is, especially the merciless greens. After playing the course, I understood why it was selected for the PGA Tour. While it won’t be making my “fun” list, I recognized the challenge that it presents from any tee-box, and the typical diagonal greens that Jack likes to present as he inquires if you can find the best angle to approach. There were at least a half dozen greens that I struggled to believe were even playable. Combined with the nearby Gray’s Crossing Golf Club, there’s no shortage of expensive public courses in the Lake Tahoe region.
It's hard to beat the enjoyment that comes with the summer season when in the California Sierras. The air is invigorating and one doesn't have to deal with insufferable humidity. Old Greenwood is located on 600 acres and fortunately the size of the property doesn't create a claustrophobic feeling. The ascension of golf in what has been traditionally ski country has been a great compliment to the qualities the terrain provides.
Old Greenwood will serve as host for the 2020 PGA Tour's Barracuda Championship -- moving from the previous long time site of Montreux in the nearby Reno area.
The layout is a good mixture of what Nicklaus has done countless times at other locations. The architecture is good -- but hardly riveting. For that one needs to head to the south shore area of Lake Tahoe and see if a visit to Clear Creek can be put into motion.
As I said at the outset -- the size of the property allows for the golf not be cramped -- you have the wherewithal to enjoy the great outdoor that this part of America so richly provided.
Among the more notes holes on the outward side is the quality trio of holes commencing at the long par-5 6th, followed by the devilish tee shot approach over water at the par-3 7th and then facing the quality short par-4 8th. On the inward side the stretch of holes from the 14th to 16th is good -- two varying par-4's squeezed in the middle with a daunting long par-3 over water at the 15th.
The issue with Old Greenwood is that the template seen at earlier Nicklaus layouts is alive and well here. There's a good mixture of holes at spots but for whatever reason it seems the wherewithal to create a vintage short par-3 and short par-4 are not part of the mixture which is a bit disappointing. The routing is what saves the day because the holes constantly move in different directions to predictability with any daily wind pattern is always an issue. To help matters -- the turf quality is always top tier and, as I said at the outset, when playing in the summer months the experience of the surroundings and the weather can make for a fun time. For architectural mavens -- the time spent will fill an immediate golf need but nothing more.
M. James Ward