TRUCKEE, Calif. - With Jack Nicklaus as the designer and Peter Jacobsen as the director of golf, the Old Greenwood golf course has instant name recognition.
When the course officials discussed instruction and starting a golf academy, Jacobsen knew immediately what and who he wanted.
Thus, a third big name was added when Old Greenwood and Golf Digest School partnered up to form Northern California's only Golf Digest instruction school and Lake Tahoe's most complete practice facility.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for all of us," Jacobsen said at a recent Golf Digest clinic for members two weeks ago. "We want this to be a family oriented facility.
"They (Golf Digest) have a tremendous staff. They teach people to play golf instead of teaching golf to people."
And, they have plenty of space to do it in. The practice facility is 15 acres. It's equipped with double-end tee boxes on the driving range, a practice chipping and putting area and bunkers to practice sand shots.
Instruction is available for individual players from one-hour sesions or golf school vacations with instruction from one to five hours per day for up to three days, including housing at the Hyatt Regency at Incline Village.
"The broad range of single or mult-day programs that will be available to the public, along with the daily golf clinics that will be presented exclusively for the members of the Tahoe Mountain Club, will position Old Greenwood as the preeminent learning facility in Northern California," said Bob Hickman of Old Greenwood. "Our practice facility has no equal in this region and with the expertise of Golf Digest School, golfers will have access to some of the best instruction in the nation."
Bryan Floriani, according to Hickam, will be at Old Greenwood the entire six-month period. The rest of the staff will be rotated in and out. Hickam said the goal is to have 2-to-3 full-time instructors.
Dave Maga, the vice president of operations for the Golf Digest School, was on hand for the clinic, and kept the crow entertained for a good hour. No doubt he could have a career as a stand-up comedian if he ever gave up golf.
"There are only three things the golf ball cares about," Maga said. "The face (of the club) which dictates curve, the path of the club which dictates initial direction and the angle of attack which dictates contact and trajectory. That's all the ball cares about; nothing else matters.
"There is actually a fourth which is speed. However, most people have enough speed to hit the ball a pleasing distance if the first three are correct. Regardless of swing shape the impact factors are all that matters."
One of the things Maga also stressed was that there is more than one way to swing a club. All you have to do is watch Jim Furyk swing once to understand what he's saying.
"This is going to be a great program," Maga said. "We're trying to hit the ground with both feet running. We're trying to feel our way through the end of the year. In 2006, this will be something."
After touring the facilities and playing the course, you have to agree with him.
NOT FOR FAINT OF HEART
Old Greenwood is not a course for the faint of heart. From the championship tees, it measures more than 7,500 yards. The blues are no picnic either, measuring 6,994 yards with a slope of 137. The white tees, which are for hackers like yours truly, is still a solid test at 6,457 yards and a slope of 129.
The course is nestled among 600 acres of towering trees and beautiful mountain landscape. It would certainly be easy to lose focus on your game while you admire the scenery.
The new layout, which was designed by Jack Nicklaus, has deservedly earned some early accolades, including "Top 10 You Can Play" in 2004 by Golf Magazine. Travel and Leisure Golf calls the course one of the top 10 new courses in the world.
It has an awesome driving range, an area to work on your short game and an area where you can practice hitting out of bunkers.
Here's a hole-by-hole look at the layout:
No. 1 - Plays 407 yards from the white tees and you hit from an elevated tee. Trees line both sides of the fairway, and this is a tough opening hole. Accuracy off the tee is huge. You want to be in the middle or the right side if you can drive it 240 yards past the fairway trap.
No. 2 - This is the toughest hole on the course. It measures 582 yards, and there are eight sand traps, one on each side of the green. If you are going to miss with your approach shot , miss to the right and be short because there is less trouble.
No. 3 - A 139-yard par-3 with seven traps, one on the left side of the green and two on the right. The green is deep and mounded, so stay in the front if possible.
No. 4 - The 349-yard par-4 is surrounded by trees on both sides of the fairway. The green is not extremely deep, and there are three traps, one directly in front of the green, one on the right and one short of the green. Your second shot must be all carry.
No. 5 - The 411-yard par-4 is one of the toughest on the course. Stay in the middle or to the left off the tee. Two fairway bunkers could come into play for the average golfer.
No. 6 - This 500-yard par-5 dogleg left is brutal and is the third-toughest hole on the course. There is a huge fairway bunker along the left side about 130 yards out, and a huge lake runs along the left side all the way to the green. Stay to the right, or this could be a double-bogey hole in a hurry.
No. 7 - This 138-yard par-3 has water all along the left side. One solitary bunker guards the right side of the green. Certainly one of the easier holes on the course.
No. 8 - This is another easy hole, a 318-yard par-4 with a few scattered sand traps. If you can hit a little left of the fairway bunkers on the right you will be in great shape and have a nice approach to the green.
No. 9 - A 386-yard par-4 finishes the front. A huge tree about 245 yards down the right side could come into play. Three small bunkers guard the green on the right. Keep it straight off the tee on this hole.
No. 10 - The back nine gets off to a nasty start with the 540-yard par-5, the second-toughest hole on the course. A big lake guards the left side of the fairway the last 200 yards to the green. Play it safe and stay out to the right with your first two shots.
No. 11 - This is a short 270-yard par-4 with water most of the way along the right side of the fairway. It takes about a 200-yard drive to carry the fairway bunker on the left. Try to stay between the water and the trap with your drive.
No. 12 - This 493-yard par-5 is heavily wooded on both sides. Two fairway bunkers along the right side could come into play. This isn't a wide fairway, and it narrows slightly depending on where you hit your drive. A bunker guards the left side of the green.
No. 13 - A 429-yard par-4 is tough for the average golfer, but this is one of the widest fairways on the course. Bunkers guard the front and left part of the green. I took a bogey on this hole and I was extremely happy with it.
No. 14 - This is the fourth-toughest hole on the course. It's a par-4 408 yards in length with water coming into play on your approach shot into a lightly bunkered green. Keep your tee shot left.
No. 15 - Bunkers surround this 171-yard par-3 and water runs along the left side.
No. 16 - This 355-yard par-4 is the easiest hole on the course. Three small bunkers and one long bunker guard the right side of the fairway. The fairway narrows briefly, but then widens back out. Definitely a par possibility for the average hacker.
No. 17 - The 182-yard par-3 isn't extremely difficult. Just avoid the bunkers on the right and left and you will be just fine. I've seen anywhere from a 6-iron to a 5-wood hit into this green.
No. 18 - A nice finishing hole. The 397-yard par-4 has trees on both sides and a fairway bunker on the right. The approach shot is into an elevated green with extremely tall bunkers guarding the green. It's a tough carry.
My score? Well let's just say I didn't break 100 on this day.
This is a tremendous, challenging course, but it's heavy on the pocketbook as most resort-type courses are. The fees are $170 from May to October, which includes a cart and range balls. The twilight rate during those same months is $100. Because of snow, the course is closed from November to the end of April.
Would I go back? Definitely, though I may wait until I've improved my game a bit before trying again.
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281