There has been something of a renaissance occurring in California’s Sierra foothill country in recent years, with the region’s sleepy Gold Rush-era towns becoming hot vacation destinations. The area has also become a mecca for vacation-home ownership and retirees from the Bay Area, and part of the attraction is golf-course communities like Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort.
An easy drive from the Bay Area counties, Greenhorn Creek is south of Highway 4, just before Angel’s Camp, where the flat orchard lands of the Central Valley give way to the rolling foothills where vineyards and wineries are sprouting up in what used to be exclusively cattle country. Greenhorn Creek is a residential-community course with the type of spread-out layout that requires the use of a cart, with scenic views at every turn. The Robert Trent Jones Jr. course is draped over a handsome stretch of foothill territory which ensures variety and challenge on every hole.
From the opening hole, a straightforward par-4 which nevertheless has some tricks up its sleeve around the green, to the closing hole, a risk/reward par-5 which tempts the daring player with an overwater second shot to the two-tier green, the Greenhorn Creek course has plenty of variety. Hole #4, a downhill, dogleg right par-5, is bisected by a low, pioneer-era rock wall which only the most heroic of drives will carry; #13, a par-3 which plays from a well-elevated tee, offers a magnificent view across the rolling foothills to New Melones reservoir, five miles away.
For golfers opting for more than a day trip, Greenhorn Creek offers several lodging options, from the Caddy Shack, a 5-bedroom facility which is perfect for small groups, to the one-and two-bedroom villas overlooking the 10th fairway and the Greenhorn Creek Cottages, two- and three-bedroom homes with full kitchen and all amenities. There are also numerous B-and-B and small hotel options in the surrounding area.
Centrally located in the burgeoning Sierra foothill region, where wineries, restaurants, golf courses, and California history are among the chief attractions, Greenhorn Creek is a great option for Bay Area golfers, and with its low-elevation foothill location, unlike the High Sierra courses around Lake Tahoe, it is available pretty much year-round.