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Can John Daly put Corning, California on the golf map with Sevillano Links?

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,
Sevillano Links golf course
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John Daly's new Sevillano Links golf course. (Courtesy of GolfRedding.com)

PGA Tour star John Daly's newest signature golf course, Sevillano Links at Rolling Hills Casino, is the newest addition to California golf.

CORNING, Calif. -- Say this for John Daly, he's not one of those celebrity golf architects trying to fool everyone into thinking he does all the design work himself. At the opening of his fourth "signature" design, a casino course in a Northern California olive county, Daly admitted he hadn't even ever played the entire course.

"It's just neat for me to be able to put my name on such a beautiful course," Daly said.

The Daly name will be all over the Sevillano Links golf course at Rolling Hills Casino. Like with his previous three golf courses, Daly's biggest impact at Sevillano Links figures to come in marketing. Big John didn't disappoint in his first swing at that for Sevillano Links either, drawing many more newspaper reporters and TV cameras than you'd normally see at an opening for a golf course that's 90 minutes from Sacramento and two hours and 40 minutes from San Francisco.

"Being associated with John Daly is very, very big for us," said Sevillano Links Director of Golf Brian Dahmer. "It's brought big exposure on a national level. We had the Golf Channel out here doing three or four minutes on John Daly's first West Coast course.

"You're not usually getting that for a new course in Corning."

Dahmer laughed. It's good to have Daly's marketing muscle on your side.

As for the actual design of Sevillano Links, Dahmer estimates that Daly made one visit a year to Sevillano over the three-year period the course was being built. Architect Mike Stark of Arrow Construction handled the day-to-day work.

Still, Sevillano Links is clearly the closest of the four Daly signature designs to what golfers expect a John Daly course to be like. It's a distance monster, stretching to 7,823 yards from the back Daly tees and still coming in at 7,365 yards from the next set of tees.

"You might want to hit it long," Daly deadpanned.

Daly wishes you had to hit it even longer and more often on No. 18. In one of his suggested tweaks that's been vetoed so far, Daly argued that the 686-yard par 5 should be extended to over 700 yards and deemed a par 6.

Sevillano Links is the rare course that has the room to do such things. Its located on Native American Indian land (the Pakenta band of Nomlaki Indians) and will never need to be crammed by houses in a real estate push.

"We're never going to have to have houses," Dahmer said. "In fact, the actual course boundaries are about 400 acres square. There's a big difference between that and having to squeeze a course into 150 to 200 acres around a housing development or two."

In fact, the tribe had extra room set aside on the course so that all 18 holes can be turned into par 5s for special tournaments. When this is done, Sevillano comes in at over 9,000 yards. Daly has already suggested bringing in the Long Drive tour guys in to bomb away in an all par 5 showdown.

The recreational golfer at Sevillano for a regular round is much more likely to notice the extra space in the way it allows the links-style design to play out more like a true links course.

In a quirk that's surprised even some other PGA Tour players: all of the courses with Daly's name on them are some type of links-style look. At Sevillano Hills, there's not a single tree. Instead, the different colors of the different grasses - rye, bentgrass, fescue - play off each other to create a course with a number of contrasts.

Who knew Big John loved colors?

Daly brings green to California farm country

What's interesting many in the golf industry is seeing what kind of clientele Sevilliano Hills attracts. Rolling Hills is not an ultra plush, ultra expensive high-end Las Vegas casino.

It only has 12 gaming tables and 773 slot machines. More than 300 of those are penny slot games. This is the type of casino where regular working people lose money slowly. In keeping with its roots, Rolling Hills even has an RV Park (which fits into the John Daly lifestyle if you think about it). There is also a hunting and fishing club.

Now, Rolling Hills also has a Daly-promoted golf course that's being touted as a high-end quality play. The greens fees are starting out more middle-of-the-road, though, maxing out at $65 on weekends and $55 during the week.

"That's not a lot for a California golf course," regular Golden State golfer Ted Harrison said. "But for that part of California, a lot of the locals may think it's a lot."

Dahmer isn't worried. He notes that Sevillano Hills is "literally one minute" off the I-5 freeway and that 200,000 cars roar by every day. The closest city many people recognize is Redding (about 50 minutes drive). While play has been mostly local in the first few weeks, Dahmer expects that snowbirds coming down from Washington state will stop to play and that golfers in Sacramento used to higher greens fees will have no problem with the trip.

"We should be charging $100 at least for this course," Dahmer said. "But that's the local market. If this course was anywhere else, it'd be $100 at least or completely private."

Daly hasn't done a private course yet, sticking with his everyman, Hooters-loving image for now.

The other courses with Daly's name on them are Wicked Stick in Myrtle Beach, Thundering Waters in Ontario (which received major attention when Daly tried to drive The Falls in a promotional stunt) and the Blarney Golf Resort in Ireland.

Still, Daly figures Sevillano Links might be the best fit for his name yet.

"Golf and gamble," he said. "I've been known to do a little of that."

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John Daly - course designerRolling Hills

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Bag Tags

    Thomas Brown wrote on: Dec 20, 2007

    I hope in the near future Sevillano will update their bag tags from plastic to pewter maybe.


      • RE: Bag Tags

        Ron Auger wrote on: May 17, 2010

        gosh mine looks like pewter. its really heavy metal.


      • RE: Bag Tags

        cory grootveld wrote on: Jul 7, 2008

        If they were pewter, most likely they would not be free