Course Review: Rancho Murieta Country Club (North Course)

As I mentioned in earlier reviews from this trip, I had one private club a day lined up for three days in a row. That made it pretty easy to plan the rest of the trip around. I started with Woodbridge on Sunday and then played Brookside on Monday. Tuesday’s main round was at Rancho Murieta Country Club in Rancho Murieta, which is just east of Sacramento.

They actually have 36 holes here (North and South). Unfortunately, the South Course was closed while I was there for its fall aeration and maintenance. The North Course just completed its maintenance the week prior. I knew things wouldn’t be in perfect shape, but I wanted to get out here while I could.

Not long before the trip, I noticed that Rancho Murieta was posting some tee times on GolfNow. This is normally a private club and it’s considered one of the better clubs in the region, so that obviously caught my attention. I called up to ask about it and they said it’s something they are trying out, probably at least through the end of 2018. The tee times are only available after 11:30 daily, but they typically have a 1:07 hot deal time on most days. That’s what I purchased for the North Course. I also happened to have a couple GN reward codes piled up, so I used those and the round only cost me about $35 total after the fees and such. Too good to pass up, even with aerated greens.

I arrived early, but the place was busy enough with members (especially with only one course open that day) that the pro shop guy made it pretty clear I would have to wait until my tee time. It didn’t matter anyway because I had a friend joining me and had to wait on him to arrive. I didn’t really know the guy much at all. He just happened to be someone I joined up with when I played over at Bartley Cavanaugh the evening before. When I mentioned I was playing Rancho Murieta, he went ahead and booked his spot to play with me. It worked out fine. We teed off around 1:00 and played as a twosome. We played through a couple member groups (including one with Scott McCarron in it—I guess he’s from this area) and otherwise enjoyed a solid 3-hour pace.

If I’m not mistaken, the North Course at Rancho Murieta was originally designed by Bert Stamps in the 1970s and then redesigned by Arnold Palmer in the 1980s. I had a feeling I’d really like this layout and that was definitely the case. There are plenty of houses around, but nothing that felt too close on the course. Beyond that, it is pretty hilly with plenty of trees lining the fairways to offer a fairly secluded feel.

One of the prettiest holes comes right away on the par-3 2nd. It features an elevated tee. You hit over a small water hazard to the green below. There are a handful of downhill approach shots on this course, but I would say the majority of greens are elevated. There are quite a few approaches where you are hitting a semi-blind shot up to a relatively well-protected green. There are some very deep greenside bunkers here, so you want to try and and avoid those when you can.

Overall, Rancho Murieta has a very pleasant setting to go along with a fairly demanding layout. It had a similar feel as some other courses I’ve played in the North Sacramento area around Roseville/Lincoln/Auburn. I’ve generally enjoyed most of the courses I’ve been to around there, so Rancho Murieta was no exception.

By most accounts the North Course is considered the premier course of the two at Rancho Murieta. I could see parts of the South Course driving in and the conditions didn’t appear to be quite as nice.

The course was in good overall shape, but like the others I played on this trip I wouldn’t say “great” for private club standards. There are certainly still some after-effects from the maintenance the week before. There was lots of sand on many of the tee boxes and in some of the fairways, too. The fairways were mostly good with some thin spots scattered throughout. The rough was mostly lush, but inconsistent throughout. The greens will need another couple weeks to recover from the punch. They were bumpy and a little slow, but not too bad. It’s clear they are usually in good shape, though. The bunkers were on the thin/firm side, as well. The conditions weren’t quite top-notch that soon after fall maintenance, but everything else here was pretty nice in general.

I’m hoping to get back up to play the South Course before the end of the year. I don’t know if they will continue to offer any public tee times beyond that, or it may be something they do again next year in the fall/winter seasons. Or, they could go fully public at some point. You never quite know, so that’s why I like to jump on these opportunities while they are for sure available. If you are in the area and have always wanted to play Rancho Murieta, now is your chance!

Some pictures from Rancho Murieta Country Club (North Course) (10/2/18):

(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)

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