There was a lot of buzz during the development and construction of the Callippe Preserve golf course in Pleasanton 12 years ago. Yes, the course was technically a municipal course, but the stigma of a muni course– less than inspiring– was being put to rest as the course was being built in the hills of southern Pleasanton.
Now 12 years after the course was opened, it remains a wonderful round of golf.
“We definitely don’t try to have the feel of a municipal course,” said Jake Saito, the Head Professional at Callippe.
“We want the golfer to feel as close to the county club experience as possible.”
Aesthetically, the course is a winner the minute you start winding around the property on your drive to the clubhouse and it just gets better from there.
Standing on the patio area just outside the pro shop/grill area, you have a view that stretches for miles. The construction of luxury homes around the outside of the course has done little to take away from the beauty.
“I like to think of this as a hidden little gem,” said Saito.
Tucked back into the foothills you have a beautiful view of the Tri-Valley. I really think when they planned for the houses, they made it so it wouldn’t take much away from the course.
During the drought, the city trucked in reclaimed water to maintain the course in decent condition. And with the record rains last winter, the course was in excellent shape in June.
Selecting the proper tees to play is, as is the case at almost every course, crucial for your enjoyment– and perhaps even more important – the pace of play on the course.
Every time I have been out on the course, the marshals do a great job of suggesting what tees to play and checking the pace the groups are moving. The scorecards also have a recommendation, based on your handicap, what tee boxes best suit your game.
Pace of play is the lone concern I have when heading out to Callippe, as there at least four of the par 4’s that can be driven off the tee and a pair of par 5’s that are reachable in two.
The result is back up on busy days. But the pains of the wait are negated by the beauty of the course and the surrounding area.
The opening half is the key to scoring well on the course as the round opens with solid scoring options on three of the first four holes.
Following a downhill, wide open par 4 to start, No. 2 brings the first of the short, drivable par 4’s. At 344 yards from the blue tees, walking off the hole with anything more than par is a bad start. The uphill third hole, while not a reachable par 5, is a hole where birdie is very realistic.
Following a somewhat lengthy, but downhill par 3, there is another par 4 to attack at No. 5. A solid start can see a golfer standing 2-3 under par after the first five.
No. 6 can be a tricky par 3, but at only 142-yards from the tips, the hole should not be a problem.
Take a par at the 7th and then be ready to attack at No. 8, another short par 4, playing only 326 from the back tees. Some good bunkering does add some risk to the reward, but go for broke here.
The closing hole on the front side can be all you want, as the par 5 boasts some well-placed and deep bunkers on the final half of the hole, placing a premium on accuracy.
This is one of the best final nine holes on any of the Bay Area courses for my money. There is fun, challenge, chances to score, and arguably the toughest three closing holes you will face.
The 10th runs beside the first hole, plays similar except for the approach being a forced carry over a creek. The 11th is one of the fun holes and while only 322 yards from the
back tees, it is sharply uphill all the way with a blind approach shot to the elevated green.
If you enjoyed the 11th, No. 12 will delight you as it also 322 yards, but this time you are playing downhill and driving the green is there for the taking with a big tee shot.
The 13th is a wonderful, downhill par 3 of 163 yards and is followed by a tricky par 4 that dog-legs left and features a somewhat protected green.
Your final good chance to score comes at No. 15, a 505-yard, par 5 that is Saito’s favorite hole. The downhill hole is reachable, but the approach is over a creek with the course’s only lake guarding the left-front of the green. It’s as visually pleasing as any hole on the course and one which you need to enjoy with the final three holes looming.
Callippe opens with a series of scoring holes, but closes with three holes where pars are good scores.
There are some teeth on those holes, said Saito with an almost sinister laugh.
The 16th is a 212-yard par 3 that may have only one bunker, but it is well placed and the green visually appears guarded by the surrounding trees.
There is no rest with a 447-yard, par 4 that features trouble throughout and a green that is tucked away in another grove of trees. Miss right on either hole and your ball is out-of-play.
After getting through 16 and 17, you find yourself climbing out of the frying pan and into the fire. The 18th is a 573-yard, par 5 torture of a hole.
It’s a three-shot hole, said Saito, a scratch golfer. You must approach the hole that way.
Hitting driver off the tee is not a wise option as you can run out of fairway on the first segment of the hole. A tee shot around 200 yards is optimal, followed by a mid-iron across the creek and into the next fairway area. But even two well-placed shots can still leave a difficult approach to the elevated green, requiring another crossing of the creek.
After draining your final putt, there’s a grill with a patio overlooking the Callippe front nine that beckons for a post-round beverage and a bite to eat.
By Dennis Miller