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Tournament-tested Dayton Valley Golf Club near Carson City, Nevada is a worthwhile bargain play

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Dayton Valley Golf Club - hole 14
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Dayton Valley Golf Club is a regular Q-School host. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)

DAYTON, Nev. -- How does playing the same golf course at half the cost sound?

That's the new reality for 2010 at Dayton Valley Golf Club near Nevada's capital Carson City in Carson Valley. New ownership, the Duncan family who run Wolf Run Golf Club about a 45-minute drive north in Reno, bought the golf course in 2010 and have launched an aggressive campaign to bring golfers back to Dayton Valley.

"The goal is to present an $80 golf course experience for $40," said Rick Vaughan, head golf professional at Dayton Valley Golf Club since 1995. "And now we're getting golfers back who haven't played the course for 10 years."

The marketing has been proactive at Dayton Valley Golf Club thus far, as you'll find the $40 special in area travel guides and newspapers. But it's good for residents and tourists alike, seven days a week. Locals should inquire about their $242 per month membership package that includes full driving range and golf cart use.

Dayton Valley Golf Club: The course

Dayton Valley Golf Club was built by Arnold Palmer's design firm in 1995 and represents a championship-caliber test, enough to host the PGA Tour Q-School Stage One here each year since it opened.

The golf course stretches to more than 7,200 yards, and the rough can be thick in spots, especially off the greens, which can play quick. There are some golf courses in the area that are resort friendly and others, like here, that will rev up a lower-handicapper's engine.

The golf course was built as the centerpiece of the Dayton Valley residential community -- and it feels that way. Some holes are lined with housing on both sides and a bit too closely to fairways (at least when the wind is up). That seems to be a common routing flaw during the golf course real estate boom of the early 1990s in every part of America. Other holes are open to one side but appear as though housing could be there in the future.

But some holes are pretty and a real joy to play, capped by the collection of par 3s, the first of which comes on the par 4 and is encircled with huge, dramatic bunkering. The par-3 sixth brings water into play, requiring a shot over water and two large bunkers that fall into the water. The final par-3 16th is a shot up to 234 yards almost entirely over water.

Dayton Valley Golf Club's open location in the Carson Valley also makes the course susceptible to high, swirling winds. Valley golf around these parts can reek havoc on players for its ability to swirl around. A tee shot can be into the wind, and then the wind can get behind your back on the approach. It can happen that fast and throughout your entire round.

Consider yourself warned.

Dayton Valley Golf Club: The verdict

Dayton Valley Golf Club isn't as spectacular as the golf courses that are on the other side of the High Sierras around Truckee or Graeagle, but it's also about one-third to a quarter of the price of most of those high-end mountain courses.

If you're planning a golf tour around the High Sierras region of Reno, Lake Tahoe and Carson City, this would be a good, value-laden warm-up course that plays as tough as any course you'll see during the week, especially if the wind is up and swirling.

It's also at an elevation and location that can usually be played 12 months out of the year, so check it out if the mountain courses are under snow, as they usually are until at least May.

Carson Valley stay and play in Minden

About 40 minutes from the golf course, the village of Minden, Nev. is a good base to stay if you're planning on heading over the mountains into Lake Tahoe the next day (which is about 30 minutes to the south shore with no construction delays). There is a brand new Holiday Inn Express that is affordable and offers free breakfast.

Or if you want some local color, head to the Carson Valley Inn, a larger hotel and casino. Minden is also close to Genoa Lakes Golf Club, home to two championship designs on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

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Dayton Valley Golf Club - hole 6Dayton Valley Golf Club - hole 18

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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

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