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|The approach on Eagle Valley West's third must traverse one of the many rocky arroyos that serve as major hazards. (Kiel Christianson/TravelGolf)|
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The first European Americans arrived in Eagle Valley -- the actual valley, not the present-day golf course -- in 1843. Soon thereafter, Carson City was founded and named after the river that flows through the valley, which itself had been named for Kit Carson, the scout hired to lead that original expedition through the area.
The following decades saw a silver and gold boom, the official designation of Carson City as the capital of Nevada, the operation of a United States mint and, eventually, some mighty fine golf.
It is this golf aspect that, of course, concerns us here.
And if golf is going to continue its long and storied history, it will need to capture the attention of successive new generations of players. In Carson City, the course doing the most to grow the game in this way is Eagle Valley Golf Course, a 36-hole municipal facility that is family friendly, walker friendly, player friendly and budget friendly.
There are two 18-hole courses at Eagle Valley, the East Course (opened in 1976) and the West Course (opened in 1987). Both tracks were designed by Arthur Jack Snyder but have some distinctly different characteristics.
The East Course, at 6,658 yards from the tips, is the shorter of the two and is also more player-friendly. Generally flat and wide-open, it is walkable even for seniors and even on hot summer days. It is also the preferred course for families and beginners, an advantage that is promoted by the management: There is a $20 rate good for one parent and one child to ride and play nine holes together. More courses should consider this sort of program, at least in off-peak times.
Eagle Valley's West Course, at 6,851 yards from the tips, is not a lot longer, but it features numerous elevation changes that make walking impractical (carts are required on the West Course). The back nine, especially, climbs up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. The fairways are still wide but more well-defined, with sage and grasses and rocky dry arroyos posing quintessentially Western hazards for less accurate golf writers, err, players.
On the 566-yard, par-5 third, the approach must fly one of the wide dry washes to an elevated green through a narrow gap between two bunkers. If your drive is overly ambitious, it'll roll straight off the end of the fairway and be completely dead.
The 336-yard ninth challenges with a tight tee shot between a pond and dense sagebrush. Then the second shot must find a well bunkered and completely blind putting surface.
The 211-yard 13th is a lovely, downhill par 3 over sagebrush and another arroyo to a green that is book-ended with long, flat sand bunkers.
Like all the best municipal courses, there are a few homey quirks and kinks on Eagle Valley West. For example, just right of the 15th green are two natural springs that, according to GM and Director of Golf Jim Kepler, are always full, no matter how dry or hot it gets.
Another fun feature is a family of coyotes that lives on the course, bothers no one, and keeps the rabbit and gopher population quite naturally under control.
Many golf travelers ignore munis when considering courses to play on their trips. But visitors to the Carson City area should entertain the idea of a round at Eagle Valley Golf Course.
Although it is clearly a municipal facility -- for example the sand in the bunkers is sort of course and pebbly -- the West Course is especially picturesque. Eagle Valley offers fabulous value for the price.
The bar is lively, too, and is a great place for a casual, inexpensive meal.
Best of all, though, visitors who play Eagle Valley will be indirectly promoting the future of the game. This may just be the best deal in the wider Reno-Tahoe region, and it is undoubtedly the most family-friendly, golf-growing course in the area.
If you're staying in the area, a local favorite for lodging and gaming is the Carson Valley Inn. This long-time mainstay of the Carson City area has been fully refurbished, and the spacious rooms let you stretch out and relax after hitting the links or the blackjack tables. The charming old-west feel of the place is very endearing. (Not all rooms have in-room coffee makers, so if that's important to you, ask about it when you check in.)
If you have a hankering for Mexican food, San Marcos Grill is a wonderful family-owned restaurant and bar, with outstanding homemade guacamole and tasty, tasty pitchers of margaritas. The Plato de Asada is especially delicious.
July 15, 2013
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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