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Best Places to Golf in the Wine Country

Best Places to Golf in the Wine Country

Vineyards roll across the valleys and up into the foothills of the Napa, Livermore and Sonoma wine regions, with the fairways of many golf courses rolling right along beside them. Here is our take on the best places to golf in the Bay Area's Wine Country. A round of golf, a bottle of wine and thou . . . . 

Napa Valley Golf

A spectacular Napa Valley landmark for more than 140 years, Silverado Resort and Spa is anchored in an antebellum-style mansion and two Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed, championship golf courses that were recently updated by new owner, World Golf Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. Beneath the arms of ancient valley oaks, golfers find the parkland-style layouts challenging, with ponds, lakes, and meandering creeks.

 

Another Johnny Miller masterpiece, on the south end of the Napa Valley, Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club is laid on sloping terrain, with dazzling views from nearly every hole. Famous for nearly perfect, multi-level greens, the 7,297-yard course runs around lakes, cherry trees, waterfalls and (what seems like) miles of grapevines. In The Grill restaurant overlooking the 18th green, look for Eagle Vines’ own estate-grown chardonnay and cabernet.


Across the road, Chardonnay Golf Club is planted with acres of chardonnay and merlot vines. Water and canyon crossings supply the test, with steady afternoon breezes from San Francisco Bay adding to the fun. The 8th hole is notorious for a 100-foot-wide, five-tiered green menaced by pot bunkers, while the “Grapes of Wrath” 14th plays from high above an “island green” completely surrounded by vineyards.

 

The Napa River comes into play at Napa Golf Course-Kennedy Park, a busy municipal layout opened more than 50 years ago, and still offering reasonable rates. In mid-valley, redwoods loom along fairways and the ponds of the nine-hole Vintners Golf Club. Meadowood at the tony Meadowood Napa Valley resort sports a sweet, narrow, 9-hole woodland track open to guests.

Tri-Valley Golf Courses

Tucked away in a idyllic corner of the Livermore Valley Wine Country, lined with stands of sycamore, oak and cottonwood, the Course at Wente Vineyards rocks and rolls through woodlands, vineyards and grasslands up to high ridge tops. The award-winning Restaurant at Wente Vineyards is a favorite of wine lovers.

 

Golf Digest gives Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore a 4-star rating for its Scottish heathland-style Rees Jones design of three 9s—the Merlot, the Chardonnay and the Zinfandel. The expansive teaching and practice facility caters to Northern California Golf Association members and to the public.

 

The newest track in the Tri-Valley, routed around Happy Valley Creek, Calliope Preserve in Pleasanton earned a spot on Golfweek’s “Best Municipal Golf Courses”. From the 13th tee, golfers enjoy dramatic views of Mount Diablo and an oak-studded valley below.

Silicon Valley Golf

At the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains in San Martin, CordeValle, a Rosewood Resort is frequented by Silicon Valley titans, who flock to the  Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course (the home of the PGA TOUR Frys.com Open). Fairways roll like ocean waves across an isolated valley that is inhabited by massive, mossy oaks and 50-foot-tall sycamores; rocky creeks and deep arroyos attract the little white ball. Vineyards careen down from Clos LaChance winery, a popular spot for après-golf tasting.

Golf in the Sonoma Wine Country

Noted for his work at Augusta National and Cypress Point, the iconic golf architect Alister MacKenzie designed Northwood Golf Course in Guerneville in 1928. Nine holes ramble on narrow fairways between towering redwoods––listen for the bonk of your ball on the tree trunks. 

 

Another stunner opened in 1928 and now updated to 21st-Century stands, the Sonoma Mission Inn Golf and Country Club is a private enclave available to guests at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Former host of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the course flows in grand style beneath mature spreading oaks, requiring pinpoint accuracy to avoid the trees, lakes and deep bunkers.

 

Within minutes of dozens of Sonoma County wineries, Windsor Golf Club comprises a tough test, with crossings over lakes and a year-round, rocky creek, plus battalions of huge trees and yawning sand traps. A reviving libation is called for at Charlie's Restaurant.

 

—By Karen Misuraca

Travel and golf writer Karen Misuraca is the founder of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld.com and DeepCultureTravel.com.

 

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