As I mentioned in my North Bay Short Course Blitz, this was a unique trip that was mainly centered around rounds at four different private clubs in Northern California. Everything else was just checklist filler and playing it by ear, which is why I ended up playing so many short courses along the way.
The first private club we played was Marin Country Club. A friend of mine recently bought a number of rounds through a charity auction and I went in on some of them. I was actually slated to play Marin last month in an NCGA outing, but we ended up getting the auction for much less and obviously we could make arrangements to play on our own time. The second part of that statement was only kind of accurate as some limited availability at a couple of these clubs made for a lot of last-minute changes in planning as this trip came together. You’ll see as I get into more reviews that the routing ended up being a bit wacky—just like that of nearby Mill Valley.
Nonetheless, we were able to book a 1:00 foursome tee time at Marin Country Club on Wednesday. We teed off on time (maybe even a few minutes early) and were out there amongst plenty of member groups. It was a beautiful day and there were a lot of people out playing. We were behind a slower foursome all day, but still finished in under four hours.
Marin was originally designed by Lawrence Hughes back in 1954 and then later renovated by John Harbottle III, who was so skilled at restoring these older courses and finding a nice blend of modern and classic design touches. You’ll see his name a few times as I go through my reviews for this trip.
The two nines at Marin are somewhat different. I personally liked the front nine more. It embodies the Bay Area golf style with hilly terrain and a beautiful setting. Even though I played it quite poorly, my favorite hole on this side was the par-4 5th. It features an uphill tee shot with a minor forced carry. Then, it doglegs left back down the hill. I thought this was a fun hole. The 8th was another nice par-4 that presents you with the first water hazard on the course.
The back nine flattens out and opens up. However, it does bring a lot of water into play and also some OB streets and houses. It kind of runs out and back along a big hazard that’s sometimes just a ditch/creek and sometimes a wider pond. It comes into play on most holes of this side, but the landing areas away from it are usually pretty generous. Aggressive players may bring it into play more often if going for risk/reward lines.
One interesting quirk about Marin is that that it is a par-72 with only three par-3s and three par-5s in the mix. If you like a lot of par-4s, then this is the club for you!
The course conditions at Marin were fantastic and so were the club facilities overall. The tee boxes and fairways were excellent. I noticed a few very minor iffy spots on the back nine, but overall everything was great. The bermuda rough was almost out of dormancy (still a little light in color) and cut down to a favorable length, so it was almost always easy to hit from. The bunkers were also ideal with soft sand that was perfectly raked/dragged. The greens were receptive enough and rolling pure at medium speeds. I can see the greenskeepers getting them really quick when they need to for tournaments. With all the natural slopes here, it always pays to be below the hole.
I really enjoyed my round at Marin Country Club and would highly recommend it if you ever have a chance to play out here in an outing/tournament or as a guest. I remarked a few times during the round that this was a very “pleasant” members course. It can be as challenging as you want to make it if you are off your game, but it is also a relatively forgiving layout that won’t ever beat you up too much.
If this were the only nice private club I had played on this trip, my review might be even more glowing. It ultimately didn’t quite measure up to a couple other courses I played on the final day of the trip, so stay tuned for those reviews…
Some pictures from Marin Country Club (6/19/19):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)
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