It seems that there are many world class golf courses that have a less expensive, alternative course in relative proximity.

The most obvious is the Pacific Grove Golf Links being located not too far away from Pebble Beach. Both offer views of the Pacific Ocean or Monterey Bay, and while PG is not going to be confused with Pebble, it offers golfers a chance to play a scenic round of golf at a fraction of the price of its neighbor.

South Lake Tahoe can offer the same option but with a quality course that is a stark contrast to what Edgewood offers.

Just past Stateline in Nevada sits Edgewood Tahoe – the jewel of the Sierra Nevada and the host of the American Century Championships.

It has always been my favorite course since the first time I walked the fairways. It’s a bucket list for golfers and is worth every bit of the $260 it cost to tee it up on a weekend.

But there’s another course, just 15-20 minutes south of Edgewood along Highway 50. A course much easier on the pocketbook and is as every bit as beautiful, albeit in a different way.

The Lake Tahoe Golf Course, located not far from the Echo Summit pass, gives you traditional mountain golf, but at half the price of Edgewood at $105.

The ideal situation is play Edgewood one day, stay overnight, then play Lake Tahoe GC on the way out of town, which is what we did recently.

After a day spent enjoying Edgewood with stunning views of Lake Tahoe and one black bear that was roaming the course, we stopped at Lake Tahoe GC before heading home the next day.

What we got was everything you would expect on a mountain course that is also a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Immersed amongst trees, with the Upper Truckee River winding through course, you also enjoy the Sierra Nevada range surrounding the course, framing your shots, and providing an exhilarating sensation.

“It’s a great layout with great views,” said Kevin Sommerfeld, the General Manager of the course. “Everywhere you look, in every direction, you have views of the mountains.”

The course is owned by the California State Parks, sitting on the Lake Valley State Recreation Area. It is bordered in the back by the Washoe Meadows State Park. American Golf Corporation manages the course.

Sommerfeld has been at the course as the GM since 2012 and talked about how all the local courses get along.

“We are very friendly with Edgewood, and we get people from Edgewood that come over and play,” said Sommerfeld. “Then you have Tahoe Paradise and the Bijou, which is a 9-hole course. They are four very dramatically different courses.”

As mentioned above, the course is half the price of Edgewood, but does get over $100 to play on the weekends for non-locals.

“We are higher priced than a lot of other local type courses,” said Sommerfeld.

But between local discounts on a Thursday, and tourist traffic coming in or out of Tahoe on Highway 50, they crank out rounds.

“This time of year, through the end of August, we are averaging 250-270 rounds a day,” said Sommerfeld. “We went to 10 minutes tee times as opposed to eight minutes during COVID. We’ve decided to keep it that way. We lose about 12 golfers an hour with the 10-minute times, but it has sped up the pace of play.”

One other aspect I enjoyed about playing the course was no dress code. On our way out of town following a long night in South Shore, it was nice to just throw on a tee-shirt and a pair of denim shorts.

“We are far less pretentious here,” said Sommerfeld.

In terms of sheer aesthetics, Lake Tahoe Golf Course is every bit as beautiful as Edgewood, just in a different way.

“That’s what we like,” said Sommerfeld. “We offer a different experience.”

It was hard to pick out one hole as a signature hole, as Sommerfeld pointed out, “your aiming points are always a mountain,” but if pressed No. 6, 10, and 17 would probably top the list.

10th hole

The 6th hole is a 182-yard, par 3 that requires a carry over the Upper Truckee River. The hole is located at the back part of the course and borders the Washoe Meadows State Park. The hole is beautiful and just long enough in conjunction with the forced carry to make give you cause for pause.

No. 10 kicks off the back side with a beautiful, 388-yard, par 4 that has a mountain framing the back of the hole, as well as providing an aiming point.

Finally, the 17th is the last par 3 on the course and plays 157 yards, with the tee shot once again traversing the river. It may call for a wedge, but it will make you think on your club selection as you stand on the tee.

At the end of the day, the Lake Tahoe Golf Course is a must play when on a golf trip to Lake Tahoe. Like many a golf course in the Sierra Nevada, the views are breath taking at times, and with this one, it is a lot easier on the wallet than a lot of the other courses in the region.

By Dennis Miller