The Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club is more than enough of a reason to leave Truckee and drive the 38 miles north for a great golfing experience.

Truckee is home to multiple world-class courses and it does take a pretty sound reason to venture north into seemingly the middle of nowhere. But once you get out on the course located in Clio, California (six miles south of Graeagle), your decision is justified.

The Dick Bailey design is carved into the natural terrain of the Mohawk Valley and provides one of those ultimate mountain golf escapes where you are free of the day to day grind of the world – in a major way.

The serenity of the game of golf goes hand in hand with natural beauty and peacefulness of the area.

There are four basic sets of tees for the course, ranging from the Four Hawk (tips) at 6,955 yards to the One Hawk at 4,799 yards. As is the case with most places you play, proper tee selection is the key to an enjoyable round. And make no mistake about – at Whitehawk, you want the right distance to match your ability.

I really enjoyed the routing and the playability of the course throughout the round, with several holes that stood out on the day we played the course, even in the 25-wind gusts we encountered.

The front side winds throughout an area with many residences along the way. But one thing I appreciated – with the exception of the 6th hole, the houses were set well back from the course, not giving the feeling of being boxed in during your round.

We played the “Three Hawk” tees (6,474 yards during our round and it was perfect.


The 2nd hole at Whitehawk. Photo credit Rod Hanna.

The 2nd hole was my first treat of the day. A 368-yard, par 4, the hole features a lake that runs alongside the left side of the dog-leg left hole. In other words, big risk reward. You can cut a lot of distance off your approach if you are willing to take on the water.

Despite homes lining the 6th, I really liked the way it played. At 392-yards, this dog-leg right requires a shot down the left side of the fairway for a chance to get close on the two-tiered green. A shot down the right – as I found out – brings the trees into play.

Finally, the front side wraps up with a drivable, 276-yard, par 4. And when you are in the mountains, who doesn’t like a drivable par 4!! But as always on a well-designed track, there are risks. Here you face a creek that runs down the left side and cuts to the right side through the fairway at just about the landing area for tee shots.

As is also the case with mountain courses, stray off line and the trees come into play again. I still say let the big dog eat off the tee, but for the safe – and honestly smarter player – a tee shot of 170 yards will leave easy access to the green.

On the back, the 11th, a 179-yard, par 3, was a fun hole. The tee boxes are separated with high grass, adding to the marsh-type feeling the hole presents. Oh yeah, there is a big lake left and bunkers surrounding the green If you can make par, feel like you picked up a stroke on everyone as you probably did!

The three-closing holes escalate in length and can play a big factor in your final score.

The 16th is a downhill, 163-yard par 3 that has a creek left and a big bunker right. The 17th plays 411 yards and for a par 4 is all you can ask for, as there is water left early, and right at the green.


The 18th hole. Photo credit – Rod Hanna.

I have always felt the closing hole should be one where a match can be won or lost with decision making being pivotal. Such is the case at Whitehawk and it’s 528-yard, par 5.

There is the potential to go for it in two, but there is a creek guarding the front, so there is no chance for a run-up. The smart play is once again to lay up, but where is the fun in that?

Overall it was a tremendous round and if you can say that given the winds we played in, you know it is a special course.

There is a Lodge on the property and dining options in either the Main Dining room or at the golf course (get the breakfast burrito). It is a tremendously relaxing property and well worth the drive in from Truckee.

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By Dennis Miller

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