There are no shortages of high quality golf courses in the South Bay.
In fact, there are so many I have yet to play that would have a great shot of making my top courses to play in the region.
That is the caveat in my rankings – I must have played the course. I will also include my favorite hole, as well as my least favorite hole!
For reference’s sake, these are courses within 25 miles of San Jose! Let’s go!
1) CordeValle G.C. (www.cordevalle.com): I would play this course once a week if I had the chance. There are so many things I love about this course: the solitude, the beauty, the fun of playing the course – I could go on and on. The course is not far from 101 in the San Martin area, but it seems like miles away from the busy freeway. Set back in a valley, it offers all the joys of playing away from the bustling madness of the real world. The course meanders throughout the hills of the valley, offering several holes with elevation changes. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the course has hosted the Frys.com PGA Tour event, as well as the U.S. Women’s Open. The Resort on the property is every bit as good as the course. Favorite hole: This is a toss up between the 8th and 9th. The 8th is a down hill par 4 that at 354 yards plays shorter. I have seen big hitters go for the green off the tee but beware – there is water guarding much of the green. The 9th has you tee off from what feels like the top of the mountain to a split fairway. The approach to the green is no gimme as well. Such a dramatic hole that it was flopped for the Fry’s and used as the 18th. Least favorite hole: Easy, the 18th. Should be the 9th hole of the course. In fact, after playing 8 and 9, the 18th is a letdown.
2) Coyote Creek Golf Club Tournament Course (www.coyotecreekgolf.com): If you have driven south on 101 out of San Jose, then you have seen the complex of the two 18-holes courses in the Morgan Hill area. The Tournament is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course – not many of those in the Bay Area – and is a joy to play. The course has played host to a PGA Champions Tour event in the past and is the tougher of the two courses. There are holes on both sides of 101 as golfers cross in a tunnel under the freeway. Favorite hole: The 17th is a 508 yard, par 5 that ends with what is basically an island green. Beautiful golf hole that is followed by the 18th, which many call the signature hole of the course. Least favorite hole: No. 1 here for no other reason that it is a non-descript offering to start your round. Some may prefer to ease into a round, but I like a little more juice to get the round going.
3) Baylands Golf Links (www.baylandsgolflinks.com): Formerly the Palo Alto Municipal which had opened in 1956. Forrest Richardson came in with the configuration starting in 2016 and when the course reopened in 2018 it was a masterpiece. The course is very true to being a links course. The fairways are very accommodating, and you hit into large green complexes. But don’t get carried away with excitement once on the green, as you are met with a multitude of undulations that make for many an anxious moment. Richardson sacrifices some speed on the greens to bring the undulations into play. Favorite hole: Easy one here – the 18th. Playing 489 yards, the par 5 goes out about 280 yards before taking a right turn and heading toward the green. Cutting the corner is an option as the wind can be at your back, but you are going to have to carry the ball about 280 yards off the green to get over the native grass. Once approaching the green, the fairway narrows and is framed by a pair of trees. Once again, an undulating green awaits to make getting out with the lead a daunting task. Least favorite hole: The 11th. On a course where there are so many great holes when you come across a boring one, it is a letdown and that’s what happens here.
4) Spring Valley (www.springvalleygolfcourse.com): If you have never played the course, you are missing out. Run by Jetter Golf, the course is a five miles from 680 in the Milpitas hills on Calaveras Road. It runs through a valley out in the hills and is a peaceful, fun round of golf. To me, it’s a hidden gem of a course. Favorite hole: Once again it’s a closing hole – the 18th. The tee shot forces concern over the deep rough right of the fairway makes accuracy a premium. The green is guarded by three bunkers and has several different pin placements that make this the most complete hole on the course. Birdie will always make lunch, or dinner, taste better! Least favorite hole: Has to be the 6th, a 515-yard par 5 that is the No. 1 handicap hole on the course. Easy to find trouble off the tee, I seem to have a serious dislike for the top handicap hole on a course. Imagine that!
By Dennis Miller