Norcal in September, Day 3: Sacramento Blitz

The third day of my recent Northern California golf trip turned out to be the busiest, as I ended up playing 63 holes in Sacramento. I visited two full regulation courses and three shorties, and I got started early as usual…

Wildhawk Golf Club • Sacramento, CA • 9/18/17

A friend and I played the two morning rounds together before splitting off to take care of our own course collecting priorities. We had a 6:52 time booked at Wildhawk, which was the first group out. They had us paired with another twosome, but we managed to split off and get off ahead of anyone else for the quickest round possible. The rack rate was $45 with cart.

The quickness of our round made Wildhawk a bit of a blur. I would say the course had a fairly familiar feel, as well. What’s funny is two of the local courses it reminded me of most were Wildhorse (Davis) and Wild Wings (Woodland). Apparently, Sacramento has an unintentional “wild” trio and they definitely fit together nicely.

Wildhorse is definitely a good comparison for Wildhawk. Both are somewhat modern style courses with some links-inspired elements (what I like to call a “farmland links” kind of style, for lack of a better term). It flows with the flattish overall terrain and the course is surrounded by a lot of farmland. Wildhawk is a relatively straightforward layout with tree-lined fairways and some undulations built in to keep it from feeling too flat.

The most memorable holes at Wildhawk come at the end of the round. The 16th is a fun short par-4 (319 yards from the tips, with all forward tee boxes playing under 300). Some aggressive hitters may try to drive this green, but it is very well-protected by a water hazard short/right. Going long could also put you in trouble because there is a wall of trees behind the green. Otherwise, it is a lay-up to the fairway and then a short shot in.

The 18th is a very strong finishing hole and easily the most distinctive hole out here. It is a double-dogleg par-5 that will make you think on each shot. The tee shot is fairly open and then the hole doglegs sharply left over a creek. That creek could cause problems for longer hitters, especially if trying to cut the corner to the second fairway. If laying up on the second shot, you are hitting over that creek to a somewhat narrow fairway that slopes left to right toward a big water hazard that runs all the way up to the green. Ultimately, the hole turns back to the right as you hit your final approach over the water to the green that slopes strongly from back to front. It is a great hole design that certainly offers longer hitters some risk/reward options, yet is also demanding enough all the way through for the conservative three-shot player.

Wildhawk was in nice overall shape, though playing pretty soggy first thing in the morning. The tee boxes were good. The fairways were mostly quite good. The rough was also pretty good throughout—not too deep with the ball sitting up most of the time. The bunkers were on the weaker side. I was only in a couple, but they were rather thin. The greens, like most of the ones encountered on this trip, were excellent. They were very wet and soft, so you had to fly it aggressively to the pin on approaches, pitches and chips. However, as squishy as they seemed underfoot, there wasn’t a lot of moisture sitting on top (as in no rooster tails). The surfaces ran super smooth and quite quick on putts. I can only imagine how great they would be once dried out a bit more.

All in all, I would say Wildhawk is a very solid mid-level option in the Sacramento area. It’s going to give you a slightly more interesting layout and better conditions than the muni tracks, but it won’t offer the distinctive design appeal of some of the area’s more notable courses.

Some pictures from Wildhawk Golf Club (9/18/17):

We didn’t have any time to waste as we drove across town along the side streets to our next golf destination…

Bing Maloney Golf Complex • Sacramento, CA • 9/18/17

My friend and I have both played all over Northern California on separate trips, so when planning something together it can be tough to find courses that neither of us had played yet. Bing Maloney was not the most exciting choice, but it fit the bill and they had a 9:33 tee time available for us. We used a GolfMoose 2-player voucher for this to make it a really inexpensive round.

As one of the area’s most popular municipal courses, you can almost always expect Bing Maloney to be crowded. That was true on a Monday. The round seemed slower than it was (it didn’t help that our first round was under two hours in sprint mode). We were paired with another twosome and still finished here in a little over four hours, which wasn’t too bad. I can imagine this place being really slow on a typical weekend, so I am glad we played on a weekday.

Bing Maloney actually has two golf courses. There is the main Championship 18 regulation course and then the Bing Express 9, which is a 9-hole executive. I ended up playing both.

Championship 18

This is a fairly traditional old school parkland design. It is flat and tree-lined. What you see is what you get, and it’s just fine for what it is. There really isn’t that much to highlight about it.

Easily the most exciting aspect of this round was that it turned out to be my 900th course played. Normally, I would pick something a bit more special to celebrate such a milestone. However, this is just how the trip worked out and it ended up being Bing Maloney. The way I see it, the whole trip was kind of a celebration of 900 and Silverado was the premier course of the trip to mark my personal achievement.

As a standard muni track, Bing Maloney is more than good enough. The layout isn’t anything that distinctive, but the conditions were above average.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with the conditions. Much of the “grass” from tee to green is a mix of different grasses, clovers and weeds. However, it is all cut down consistently and it plays fine enough. The tee boxes, fairways and rough were all pretty decent. I was in one bunker and it had nice sand. Once again, I was very impressed by the greens. I fixed a few stray ball marks here and there, but they were pretty well-maintained despite the quantity (and quality) of players this place gets. They were soft/receptive and rolling smooth at medium/fast speeds.

Bing Maloney is certainly not a destination course, but it’s a solid option for locals to enjoy. By the way, Bing Maloney was a war hero who served in some local government capacity. There is a little wall dedicated to him at the course, but I didn’t really take notes. I can’t find any information about him online, but most of Sacramento’s muni courses are named for various prominent figures in the city’s history including Bartley Cavanaugh, Ancil Hoffman and William Land.

Some pictures from Bing Maloney Golf Complex (Championship 18) (9/18/17):

Bing Express 9

The Bing Express 9 is a nice little beginner’s/practice course located at the Bing Maloney Golf Complex. It is a pretty basic par-29 layout with two very short par-4s and then a decent mix of par-3s ranging from 91 up to 177 yards.

I would say conditions were comparable to the main course, with the greens on the short course being just as nice (maybe even nicer). They were smooth and fast with minimal ball mark damage. You just don’t expect to find greens this nice on a secondary executive course at a muni facility!

That’s about all there is to note about the Express 9. It sits next to the small executive airport, so you also get to see some jets and small planes taking off and landing next door.

Some pictures from Bing Maloney Golf Complex (Bing Express 9) (9/18/17):

I played the Express 9 by myself as my friend went off on his own afternoon adventures. I zipped around there quickly and that started a mini “Short Course Blitz” for the rest of the day…

William Land Golf Course • Sacramento, CA • 9/18/17

It was just a short drive up to William Land Park, where they have a pretty decent little 9-hole golf course in the middle of the park. It wasn’t crowded at all. I jumped around a bit to avoid slower groups, and I also happened to play a few holes with another SoCal course collecting friend that I ran into here. I knew he was in town, but it was totally coincidental that we crossed paths at William Land. Such a small world!

William Land is a 9-hole course that is just under regulation length. It is a par-34 layout with one par-5 and three par-3s. Otherwise, it does not play like your typical executive. The holes are all of pretty standard lengths.

I would say the course design is also pretty basic parkland style. There are a few slightly elevated greens and it’s more interesting than I expected it to be. Still, nothing overly exciting. It just seems like a friendly local short course, and that’s good enough for me.

The conditions were pretty decent. They had a bunch of small marker flags throughout the fairway that seemed to signify some kind of upcoming maintenance. I am not sure, but the fairways were fine. The greens were also in good shape. Not as nice as the others I played earlier, but still pretty nice for a course of this caliber. I think the price was $22 total for 9 holes with a cart.

Some pictures from William Land Golf Course (9/18/17):

Last but not least, I had enough time for one more 9-hole round. I called around, but couldn’t get any answers that late in the afternoon. So, I went with the one I knew was open…

Bradshaw Ranch Golf Course • Sacramento, CA • 9/18/17

It was the end of the day and I was pretty worn out, so I came into this round just ready to get it over with and check it off my list. It was windy and a little chilly at this point n the evening, as well.

However, I ended up really connecting with Bradshaw Ranch. This is one that took me back to my own short course roots. This course is 9 holes of all par-3s. It was only $5 to walk after 5:00, so it was also a good deal. I kind of beat the after-work crowd, so the course was wide open ahead of me.

The holes range from 84 yards up to 218, so you get a little bit of everything here. There are really only two long-ish holes and the rest are on the shorter side. Bradshaw Ranch is right down the street from Wildhawk, so it would also fit in that “farmland” course category. It’s a pretty simple layout, but there are a few fun holes. The most interesting is the 3rd, which plays over a small water hazard in the back corner of the property.

The conditions were also pretty solid here, at least for a course on this level. The greens were definitely slower than anything else I played that day, but still pretty well kept. Otherwise, things were fairly lush and green throughout. They had a few small bunkers that were really nicely conditioned with a spiral rake job that was kind of mesmerizing if you stared too long.

Again, just a little local’s course, but one that I could really appreciate. This is a short course I can definitely get behind.

Some pictures from Bradshaw Ranch Golf Course (9/18/17):

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