Situated just outside Truckee, Schaffer’s Mill Golf & Lake Club is a John Harbottle III design that opened for play in 2008. The front nine is routed through woodland whilst the back nine features huge elevation changes, affording panoramic views of Martis Valley and the Carson Range.
Quality layout often forgotten or underappreciated by many who happen to play in the immediate area. Unfortunately, the design career of John Harbottle ended too soon as he succumbed to cardiac arrest at 53 on May 24, 2012.
Harbottle learned his design craft under the guidance of Pete and Alice Dye and his work blended a rare combination of including timeless classic elements in combination with a modern style that accentuated high caliber shotmaking while always striving for a flourishing fun side without reliance on an overtly penal component.
Schaffer's Mill just happens to be in a very competitive locale with the likes of Lahontan and Martis Camp nearby. While I would not place Shaffer's Mill at the same level as the two just mentioned, I would say the totality of what Harbottle and Johnny Miller created is a fun layout and worthy of playing when in the area.
The main anchor holding Schaffer's Mill back is the discrepancy between the outward half and the inward side. The front nine is good but it features more of the same with stately pines framing them and the holes situated on meadowlands. The best of the bunch on that side comes with the long par-4 9th. You have to shape the tee shot from right-to-left but not overly so. The green site is a delight to view from the fairway and it calls upon players to be mindful of club selection as water hugs the green on the left side.
The back nine turns up the dial in terms of varying holes and interesting challenges that showcase one's skill level throughout your entire bag. Matters are particularly helped because of the elevation changes encountered.
The key is keeping one's focus on the task presented. Among the stout holes is the par-4 12th which plays 473 yards. Players have to work the ball left-to-right to reap the biggest rewards as the hole plays uphill before descending to the green. A stellar two-shot hole without question.
The concluding holes are a quality combination. Consistent challenges are presented and nothing is assured without demonstrating high-level execution. The penultimate hole is a testing two-shot par-4 at 435 yards and the finisher brings you home in grand style -- a par-5 of 605 yards featuring a pesky creek to contend with on the tee shot and then eventually having to battle again as a pond that protects the right side of the green.
M. James Ward