Note: This course is now known as The Links at Rolling Hills.
Today, it was time for a rematch with this course. It’s one of the north state’s true hidden gems, even though it’s about as close to the I-5 freeway as any course gets. The problem is people don’t go out of their way to visit Corning, especially for golf, but this is becoming one of those “must-stop” courses in my mind after playing here two years in a row.
In a way, I can’t really decide if I love Sevillano Links or hate it. I guess the fact it brings something out in me points to loving it.
This year was a better experience than last, mainly because of the weather. Last year, it was pouring rain almost the whole time I was in this area. We had one day where it was clear and were able to get a good round in at Sevillano. I was actually impressed the course was playable at all after a huge storm rolled through the days before, but it was still kind of a soggy mess.
This year, the weather has been unusually dry in Northern California, so I got to experience Sevillano in a different way.
I won’t go into a ton of detail about the layout in this particular review, but you can check out last year’s review which talks more about the John Daly design and challenges it presents. I will say that even in nicer weather and course conditions, this layout is still a brute. It’s not for the faint of heart because of all the semi-blind shots, undulating fairways, abundant native grass areas and natural hazards, and difficult greens.
Needless to say, the course had its way with me once again, yet I can’t help looking forward to my next rematch with it. This is a place you definitely have to play many times before you can understand and appreciate all the little quirks and design nuances. One of the guys I played with was a local who’s played here plenty. He mentioned how much the course can change based on weather (wind, rain, etc.), which adds yet another wrinkle to it. That’s how most links courses are meant to be, though, so it’s perfectly appropriate.
My brother and I had a 9:00 tee time, but they had a frost delay and didn’t start play until 9:10. The price was only $40 with cart, so that was awesome. Our group ended up going off at 9:40. The pace was slow (4 hours, 40 mintues), but we were never pushed by anyone behind us. This course is simply not conducive to quick play because of the tricky design and time spent looking through some of the native grass areas for your balls.
What made this visit more memorable was getting to see Sevillano in its traditional “winter” state, which is a bit unusual to say the least. During winter months out at the desert courses I play a lot in SoCal, I’ve become accustomed to having dormant brown bermuda grass framing the green rye fairways. What you get at Sevillano is the opposite.
They do not overseed the grass here, so they retain bermuda fairways all year long. I want to come back and play in the summer someday when everything is lush and green, but the winter look offers more to talk about because it’s so unique. Right now, the fairways are dormant with a golden yellow color. They are framed beautifully by a thick cut of rough that the starter told me is a blend of rye and bluegrass. It’s nice and green. Then framing that rough is more “gold” with the native grass areas surrounding every hole. It’s quite a sight and perhaps a little disorienting, too.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure the formula adds up to ideal playability because hitting fairways is not necessarily a reward. In some places, the ground is more firm underneath and other places more soft. Add to that the effect of the grain with bermuda. If you are hitting with the grain, it’s pretty nice. Hit against the grain, though, and it will snag your club a bit. You really have to pay attention before you take your swing. Either way, be prepared for a very tight lie.
This is also true on putts from off the green. There are many opportunities throughout this course where you will prefer to putt from well off the green in old school links fashion, but putting against the grain is akin to putting on velcro. Of course, chipping against the grain with super tight lies is no fun either, so you are damned either way!
Otherwise, the course was in fantastic shape. I much preferred hitting from the rough because the lies were more consistent and the ball sat up nicely. The tee boxes, sand traps and greens were all in excellent condition, as well. The greens were firm and fast, which could be aggravating at times, but playing the way links greens should.
I’m not sure my family will be meeting up in Corning again next year for the holidays, but you can be sure Sevillano Links will make the rotation (along with Mt. Shasta Resort and Yocha Dehe) whenever I’m traveling north of Sacramento. Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt it’s worth a stop!
Some pictures from Sevillano Links (12/26/13):
(As always, links courses are never easy to photograph from ground level. I had a friend comment this course looked a little boring from last year’s photos. Believe me, this course is anything but boring!)