I already mentioned that I was a bit all over the place on this particular Northern California trip. That is nothing out of the ordinary for me. I was coordinating with some friends for the various private club rounds we played. Time and day limitations at certain clubs forced us to mix up our routing and make the best of it.
So after playing Marin Country Club on Wednesday (and then McInnis Park afterward), I made my way up toward Red Bluff. If you don’t know where Red Bluff is, don’t worry because it’s not exactly near the Bay Area. It’s a town located off the I-5 just before you get to Redding, so it’s kind of out of the way unless you are heading to the more northern parts of Northern California.
We took this detour in order to play the normally private Wilcox Oaks Golf Club. We bought twosome vouchers on GolfMoose.com earlier this year and needed to cash them in when traveling together. We ended up with four players—all of us hardcore course collectors—and an 8:00 tee time. We actually played a warm-up nine holes at nearby Oak Creek Golf Course (to be reviewed separately in the second Short Course Blitz for this trip).
The fact that Wilcox Oaks is now offering GolfMoose deals shows that they aren’t exactly as “private” as they used to be. It sounds like they are offering some more opportunities for local players to access the course. They still consider it a private club, but maybe inching a bit more toward that “semi-private” distinction to generate some additional income.
Wilcox Oaks probably isn’t a course worth going as far out of the way as we did, but I’m always up for an adventure and the voucher deal was too good to pass up ($69 for two players, plus I used a gift card to reduce the rate even further). However it worked out, I was there and I was going to make the most of the visit.
In the end, I really liked Wilcox Oaks and found it to be a much better course than I expected given the location (not just in Red Bluff, but being situated right off the freeway). It opened in 1957 and was designed by Ben Harmon. It’s a fairly traditional design that reminded me of some Central Valley courses and maybe a little Central Coast flavor thrown in there, as well.
The course is moderately hilly and the landscape is peppered with a ton of old oak trees. Other than a few holes close to the entry road and a stone’s throw from the I-5, most of the course feels secluded and there are no houses around it. It is a very pleasant setting for golf. The staff was friendly and we were out on the course before all the members arrived later, so there were no issues as unaccompanied guests. We did catch up to a back nine fivesome to make the final few holes play a lot slower, but it was still a great pace of about 3.5 hours.
In general, I would say the fairways at Wilcox Oaks are pretty forgiving and the greens aren’t overly protected. However, there are some tight tee angles with the trees in play. The hole that comes to mind is the par-5 12th, which has you hitting through a very narrow chute of trees. After that, the hole opens up and is pretty simple from there.
Another interesting hole is the short par-4 10th, which has kind of a semi-blind tee shot and then a sharp dogleg left and an uphill approach to a very tricky little green. This hole really requires you to position your tee shot well (make sure you get out past the corner) or you will be scrambling for your score.
Perhaps the most interesting design feature at Wilcox Oaks is the fact that it finishes with a short par-3. I guess this would be considered the signature hole over water and near the clubhouse. I’m not sure if it was originally the finishing hole because there are different ways the back nine routing could flow. Some golf purists will probably not like this hole being the finisher. It doesn’t bother me much, though.
The conditions were great here. The tee boxes and fairways were excellent with just a few very minor weak/thin spots here and there. The rough was pretty consistent and lush throughout. The greens were receptive and rolling well at medium speeds. The bunkers were also nicely maintained with soft sand.
For the price we paid with the GolfMoose deal, Wilcox Oaks was certainly worth it. The detour was a bit much for this trip, especially when some other plans up this way fell through. If I lived anywhere near Red Bluff, however, I would certainly take advantage of this deal and any others that allowed me to play here. There isn’t too much else around here. Rolling Hills (formerly Sevillano Links) is the only other obvious choice in this area until you get up into Redding/Shasta, out east toward Chico or all the way back down to Sacramento.
Some pictures from Wilcox Oaks Golf Club (6/20/19):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)
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