Going Back to (Northern) Cali, Part 4: One More Day

Sunday was the last day of my four-day adventure through Northern California. I started on the coast and ended up in the Sacramento area for the final couple of days.

A friend and I played two rounds together on Sunday and then I broke off on my own for the third before making my way back home…

Auburn Valley Golf Club • Auburn, CA • 7/23/17

We bought this round through GolfMoose. I had a $25 certificate I won at a Greenskeeper.org event, so it was the perfect time to use it on a 2-for-$50 voucher at Auburn Valley. We did have to pay an extra $10 each to use it for a Sunday morning round, but it was still a great deal.

We had the 6:29 time and went off first. There really isn’t much of an early bird rush here, and that’s common at a lot of Norcal courses. We did run into some back nine players after making our turn, but they ultimately let us through and we were finished in about two hours.

I really like the Auburn area and it is a nice little spot for golf thanks to some beautiful scenery in the foothills. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing what Auburn Valley had to offer.

The scenery was certainly there. This course is very rural and isolated in a beautiful setting. The course has some good changes in elevation and nice views throughout. The layout was also fun and interesting with some tricky doglegs, a few hazards and plenty of natural areas in play. We even got visited by some local sheep and a goat (with a metal bar taped to his head?) early on in the round. They were just wandering freely on the course, but obviously were part of a neighboring ranch.

Auburn Valley used to be a private club (and may still consider itself semi-private). They have a pretty nice little locker room and it definitely feels like an older, rustic club atmosphere than a modern public clubhouse/restaurant like you’ll find over at The Ridge Golf Club nearby.

I probably found the front nine layout to be more interesting, but the back nine is much more scenic. There are a few homes and streets in play on the front nine while the back is almost totally out in nature. My favorite hole was probably the par-3 6th over a water hazard. It has a nice look and there’s not a ton of room for error on the tee shot.

Otherwise, I probably enjoyed the setting of Auburn Valley more than the course itself. Nearby courses like Darkhorse and The Ridge offer better designs and similar—if not better—scenery, so Auburn Valley falls closer to the back of the pack in this area.

The conditions were also a bit disappointing. The tee boxes were okay enough, though a few could use some leveling out. The fairways were inconsistent with plenty of spotty areas. The rough was even more inconsistent. The greens were moderately receptive and were the best aspect of the course. They were maybe a little bit bumpy at times, and rolling at medium speeds. There aren’t many bunkers on this course, but the one I did find on 18 was crazy soft on the upslope. My ball plugged and buried about 4 inches deep, so that wasn’t very fun.

Auburn Valley is a solid course and worth it for the right price, but if you are going to go this far out of your way for golf, you’ll be right to pick one of the more notable courses (hint: Darkhorse is awesome!!!).

Some pictures from Auburn Valley Golf Club (7/23/17):

Next, we made our way back to Roseville for a mid-morning round…

Woodcreek Golf Club • Roseville, CA • 7/23/17

This was another Costco voucher we bought in advance. We got turned away at Diamond Oaks the day before, but it worked out okay at Woodcreek. I only say “okay” because it was a 5-hour round on a very busy Sunday. Nobody stayed at home to watch The Open Championship I guess. We had plenty of time in between shots to park in the shade and watch the finish of the tournament on the phone, though.

It was slow going, but we survived on a scorching hot summer day and then had a bite to eat in the clubhouse afterward. They have a really good and varied menu here, so we gave it shot. I ended up getting chicken taquitos, which were good. Not great.

Woodcreek, like Wildhorse the day before, was designed by Robert Muir Graves. However, it’s a fairly different style course. The first couple holes here are rather plain as you work your way around the driving range. Then, the course starts to get more interesting as you go into the woods. There are some fun holes back here. The back nine has some open/long holes and some narrow/short target holes, so it’s a good mix. The 9th and 18th holes are by the clubhouse and both solid finishing holes with water in play by the greens.

I liked the 8th and 17th holes best, which are both par-3s. The 8th is in a nice little spot and I just liked the look of it. The 17th is a fun short one that plays slightly uphill to a very tricky green with a large shelf in the middle of it.

Most people who play here will probably remark about the 5th hole. It is a very odd and confusing par-5 that you likely have to play several times to figure out. As first-timers, we guessed on our lay-ups and we guessed wrong. You think you just have to hit over the creek to the left part of the fairway, but there is another big native hazard on that side that you want to avoid, as well. It’s an awkward hole made even more awkward by sub-par conditions that made it difficult to see the proper lines.

Conditions were also pretty mediocre here. You can definitely see how the drought took its toll and they haven’t quite recovered, as it is very rough around the edges. Tee boxes fine enough. The fairways had okay coverage, with lots of inconsistencies with shaggy sections and plenty of bare spots, too. The rough was a mixed bag, with some decent areas around greens and the rest being very spotty. The greens were firm and rolling pretty well. They were definitely the best part of the course condition-wise. I wasn’t in any bunkers, and that was probably a good thing based on what I observed.

Woodcreek is a decent course worth playing for the right price. Otherwise, it’s a muni that gets a ton of play. Don’t expect superb conditions or a fast pace. It has potential to be something better, but oh well.

Some pictures from Woodcreek Golf Club (7/23/17):

After a long round in the heat, I was pretty ready to get back on the road and start making my way home. However, I decided it was worth checking off one more short course along the way…

Campus Commons Golf Course • Sacramento, CA • 7/23/17

I picked this course partly because it is kind of by itself on my Sacramento “courses left to play” golf map. I figured it would limit my temptations to keep playing elsewhere afterward.

It worked out well as it wasn’t busy at all there. I wasn’t sure if they were even open, but the guy working there was super nice. I rented a cart to play the nine holes as quickly as possible. I think it was $24 total. There were a couple other people out on the course, but nobody got in my way and I finished quickly.

It’s kind of interesting as you cross over an elevated walking/bike path that runs between the pro shop and the actual golf course. The course itself is kind of isolated on that side, so it’s a decent little setting. The course runs right along the American River and that adds some charm on a few holes.

Otherwise, the layout is pretty simple. It’s a par-29 with two very short par-4s in play. The par-3s range from 148 yards up to 209. Conditions were decent and the greens were spotty, but okay enough for a course of this caliber. Beyond that, there isn’t too much to highlight about Campus Commons. It was a million times better than either Sunrise or Woodland Meadows the day before. I will say that!

Some pictures from Campus Commons Golf Course (7/23/17):

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