Greenhorn Creek is located next to Angels Camp, but the resort is a city of its own and a sure-fire location for families, couples or a buddies-trip.
Located at an elevation of 1,500 feet at the base of the Central Sierra’s, Greenhorn is ready for year-round golf. Located below the snow line, but above the Central Valley fog during the winter, golfers can play throughout the year.
Even during the dog days of summer, you can play in the early evening and then relax after your round on the deck of the clubhouse.
The resort opened in 1996 and has been, like the wine in the area, better with every year.
With multiple lodging options, a trip to Greenhorn can be tailored to your group’s needs.
The original course designer was Don Boos, but it was Robert Trent Jones II that made some upgrades that turned the course into a sensational round of golf.
I really enjoyed our round as the course provided fair, but challenging golf and as is always important to me, some wonderful vistas throughout the day.
There is fun throughout the round, starting with the par 3, No. 3, a 157-yard hole that has trouble along the left. The hole is surrounded by trees so stronger wind currents above the tree-line is a cause for concern.
No. 4 is another fun hole. At 476 yards it is short for a par 5, but considering the tee shot asks for a 250-yard shot off the tee to avoid a rock wall that cuts through the fairway, as well as dicey landing areas if you try to go further, it is a hole that plays right to the par.
The par 3, 6th hole is a wonderful golf hole. At 175 yards, it is not an easy par and with water surrounding the front, right and back of the hole, it is almost an island green. There is a bail-out area to the left and depending on the wind, it might be the best play.
No. 7 is a 481-yard par 5 that plays all uphill, but usually with the wind at your back. The real joy of this hole to me was upon reaching the green and gazing back down the fairway. Beautiful.
A course architect once told me to really enjoy the design of a course, stand on the green and look back at the tee. This is a perfect hole for that.
After a pretty mundane hole to start the back nine, No. 11 and No. 13 were two of my favorite holes. The 11th is a 425-yard, par 4 that has a pair of huge oak trees that come into play. Accuracy is absolutely the key here.
No. 13 is the signature hole for the course and standing on the elevated tee on the 136-yard, downhill hole it is easy to see why. The hole is nothing more than an easy wedge down the hill, but with water guarding the right (and front, depending on pin placement) it can be a tough hole.
The real star is the view from the tee. In the past, golfers were able to see Melones Lake in the distance, but now thanks to the drought, when we played here there was no water to see. With the current rain/snow, the water is returning. Either way it is still a stunning view.
The closing hole rounded out the day with a perfect finish.
I am a big fan of a closing hole being able to change the outcome of a match and a 475-yard par 5 does just that.
A big tee shot that avoids trouble affords the golfer a chance to get home in two, but even that can be dicey. There is water guarding the front and bunkers in the back, possibly giving the golfer pause in trying to go for the green with the second shot.
There are three lodging options, providing exactly what is needed for a diverse group of golfers.
The Caddy Shack is a converted maintenance shed located along the 9th fairway. It might be the ultimate buddy trip lodging with five bedrooms that sleep up to 12 guests. There is a kitchen, lounge and lawn. There is also a horse shoe pit, bocce ball court and a BBQ for use.
There are a series of Cottages located either along the course or close by. But using the word cottages is under-selling the property as they are two and three bedroom homes that can be spacious enough for a family or even three couples.
There is plenty of room, with kitchens, fireplaces and easy access to pools and tennis courts.
Finally, the Resort Condominiums are a property run by Worldmark Angels Camp by Wyndham and offer everything for the family vacation. There are one, two or three bedroom units. Each unit has a full kitchen, fireplace, family room and a balcony with a BBQ. There are pools, hot tubs, tennis, fitness equipment and even a game room for the kids.
With full kitchens in all the lodging options, it’s easy to prepare your own meals, but you owe it to yourself and the rest of your party to dine In CAMPS restaurant at least once.
CAMPS fits perfectly with the region as the decor – including the statue of Mark Twain in front – completes the Gold Rush days feeling. The menu highlights local produce and regional wines, mixed in with some delicious hand cut meats and fresh seafood.
Owner/operator Sherri Smith is known as one of the top chefs in the area and our dinner did nothing but enhance her reputation.
My Rib-eye steak was done to perfection and when paired with an Ironstone Reserve Cab was the perfect end to the day.
The bar is also a nice place to get a drink after your round or before dinner. There are 11 beers on tap and the wine list has some of the best from the region, as well as other wine hot spots.
One recent addition to the property that really impressed me was the new Cellar Room. Formerly the snack shack golfers would stop at the turn, the Cellar Room has a wine cave feel to it.
They pour Calaveras wines as well as those of the Vintner Members of Greenhorn Creek. The 13 or so Vintner Members make over 100 types of wine and at least five of them are available to taste on any given day. It is a great way to enjoy wines from the vastly underrated wine region.
In the past, I had pretty much stopped my golf play in the region at nearby Saddle Creek. That showed my ignorance as I finally made the trip further up Highway 4 into Angels Camp and Greenhorn Creek.
This versatile destination is designed to serve a variety of groups. There is certainly plenty to do for the romantic couples retreat, but Greenhorn Creek can easily be the ideal location for a family trip or a buddies outing.
Being located in Angles Camp and having Murphys so close, Greenhorn can serve as a base camp for adventures throughout the region. And when it is time to hit the links, it’s a first-class course to play.
By Dennis Miller