The Indian Valley Golf Club is tucked into the scenic hills of Novato about 10 miles off Highway 101 on watershed land that feeds into Stafford Lake, part of the Marin County water supply.

The lake serves as the driving range with mats located outside the pro shop on a nearby hill.

The course is routed through the hills and the flats with plenty of elevation change as well as creeks and the lake as hazards. When we played there the third week of March, the greens were rolling well, but there were plenty of spots in the fairways that still needed to dry out from the torrential rains earlier this month.

The front nine starts out with two par 5s separated by a long par 4. No. 1 is the most difficult hole on the golf course, while No. 2 is the 3rd handicap. The par 5 3rd, like No. 1, plays uphill. You then drop down with a short 120-yard par 3. The theme of uphill and downhill continues with Nos. 7, 8 and 9 that finishes along Lake Stafford.

The back nine takes up into a different valley for five holes before the routing takes you uphill to a pair of holes along ridgelines. A short, downhill par 3 brings you back to the par 5 closing hole that is a sharp dogleg left.

Walking it would be quite a workout with all the elevation changes even though it only plays 6,374 from the tips at a 123 slope. The climb up the hill from 14 to 15 is so significant that there’s a cog elevator available to take walking golfers to the 15th tee.

The elevator from 14 uphill to 15

The website promises plenty of variety and the course delivers just that. For a local, it’s a golf course you can play regularly and be challenged.

`               Bottom line: If you are in the area, it’s a reasonably priced round of golf on an interesting course that likely is in good condition most of the year.  There were plenty of regulars playing on a warm day.

We went there because we had a gift certificate—the cost from the Livermore Valley was more than two hours to get there through the Thursday morning commute traffic (it didn’t get counter-commute until we hit Interstate 80 in Emeryville and still had to wait at the Richmond bridge). Coming back was just about a tough once we hit I-80.  It’s not a destination golf course.

By Tim Hunt

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