On a trip filled with marquee rounds, Montrêux was definitely one of the centerpieces. In all honesty, it was the main excuse for this trip. The NCGA comes out to Tahoe every year. They usually play Edgewood Tahoe and another club in the area. This year, they returned to Montrêux Golf & Country Club in Reno and I decided to sign up. It was the kick in the pants I needed to finally break the seal on the Tahoe region!
Unfortunately for me mentally and physically, the outing fell on the fourth day of the trip (Monday). By the time this round came about, we had already played 13 rounds and most of them were pretty quick. I knew Montrêux was going to be a very slow round with a full shotgun field of 124 players. The pace really wasn’t as bad as it could be with that many participants, cart path only rules in effect and a very, very challenging golf course. Still, it took over five hours to complete and it pretty much broke my spirit.
At the time, I really wasn’t able to enjoy myself. I wasn’t feeling well and I certainly wasn’t playing well, making a rather tough course even tougher. I really was more of a photographer than golfer on this day. However, now that I have had some time to separate myself from how bad I felt during this round, I can hopefully write a proper and fair review of this course.
Honestly, I hope to come back and play Montrêux again under better circumstances because it really is a cool course. It’s in a gorgeous natural setting at the base of Mt. Rose. There are big trees, boulders and some really nice houses along the course. The clubhouse is breathtaking. It’s done in a Swiss castle/chateau style and has all the high-end amenities you could ever hope for at a private club. The staff here was fantastic, as well, and the event was quite well organized for such a big crowd.
The course itself is also quite stunning from holes 1-18. My group started on the uncomfortable-shot-to-start-with par-3 11th hole. It plays slightly uphill and requires a forced carry. It set the tone well for much of this course that was designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus. Semi-blind uphill approaches are pretty common out here, just as you’ll find at a lot of Nicklaus courses that have any elevation changes in play.
The elevated green complexes are typically guarded by bunkers that you want to avoid and collection areas the can fall off on all different sides. The greens have plenty of undulation and most are kind of narrow and diagonally oriented (did I mention it’s a Nicklaus design?). Without prior experience here, it’s a very tough course to try and time your first time out. It’s a good members’ course because they’ll have more time to figure it out and understand where to aim based on certain pin placements.
I should note that not all of the greens are elevated, but quite a few are. There are some level and downhill shots, as well. I will say that the course ramps up in challenge if you start on the first hole. My group was a bit unfortunate to be thrown right into the fire with a demanding stretch of uphill holes. The front nine plays a bit more open. The back nine tightens up and starts its uphill climb on the par-3 11th hole and then begins its descent with the par-3 16th.
Whether you are going uphill or downhill, the back nine definitely provides the more dramatic and scenic side of the course. There is never a dull moment here. The aesthetics are great and the holes will test every bit of your patience and skill.
It all culminates with one of the most spectacular holes you will ever see. The par-4 17th is something else. The yardages look long on the card (Golden Bear = 464, Alpine = 450, Montrêux = 421, Tahoe = 405). The NCGA had us playing the Montrêux tees. However, this hole actually plays much shorter because there is a massive drop-off from the tee to the fairway. It’s not the most wide open looking shot, though, so it’s hard to just swing away from the elevated perch. You still have to pick a line and execute or you can easily lose your ball left or right.
After that fun tee shot, the rest of the hole plays level. However, there is a creek hazard in front of the green and you still have to work for a decent score after a safe drive. It’s a demanding hole that is as intimidating as it is beautiful. Whatever score you take here, though, it’s a hole you won’t soon forget.
As I expected, the course was in great shape all the way around, as you’ll see in the pictures. It was very lush and nice with everything being well-manicured. The bunkers, though difficult to escape, had incredibly soft white sand. The greens were nearly perfect and they were rolling super fast. With the hilly terrain here, putts can be difficult to read and it’s hard to be aggressive with any chips or putts. Montrêux was simply in fantastic shape by any standards.
Though the course may play tough for a first-time visitor, I would highly recommend Montrêux if you ever get a chance to play here. It’s a wonderful club with a very memorable layout.
Some pictures from Montrêux Golf & Country Club (6/18/18):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)