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Where I played: Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course

September 24, 2019

Welcome to our “Where I played…” series, in which a resident GOLF staffer runs through a recent day at a course you might play in your future. On this occasion, we’ve got Edgewood Tahoe..

Every summer, one of golf’s most beautiful mountain settings gets blighted in the foreground by Charles Barkley’s swing. The event is the American Century Golf Championship, and the course is Edgewood Tahoe, a pine-fringed layout set along the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.

Opened in 1968, the course was designed by George Fazio. But you know the golf writer cliche, to be read aloud in a pompous, patrician accent: Mother nature really deserves the credit. Never mind that this side of the lake has been developed to a point that would make John Muir weep. It remains a place of astounding beauty, and the course sits in the middle of it. There’s a mountain high to playing here that owes to something more than the altitude alone.

Course: Edgewood Tahoe, Stateline, NV

My tee time: First off, Tuesday morning, Sept. 10, with a frost delay that pushed us back until 8:30 a.m.

Course type: Resort/public

How I got on: A friend booked a time to celebrate his 70th birthday

Difficulty: Edgewood tips out at more than 7,500 yards, but this is golf at ego-boosting altitude. So plan on gaining 10 percent or more on your distances. Up here in the thin air, how far you fly it matters less than how straight you hit it. With a number of holes framed tightly by trees, the stoutest challenge is finding the short grass.

How to get there: Reno is the closest major airport, about an hour away. But I made the roughly 3-and-half-hour drive from the Bay Area, following Highway 50 on a scenic route through the Sierra.

Fun facts: How picturesque is this track? Tiger Woods included it in his original EA Sports video game. It looks nice in pixels, too. In other celebrity news, Charles Barkley has never won the American Century. But a number of big names have. Tony Romo successfully defended his title here in 2019, and apparently he’s feeling pretty good about himself, as he’s now about to play on a sponsor’s exemption at the Safeway Open, on the PGA Tour.

Notable holes: The three closing holes at Edgewood kiss up again the lake, but the 16th is by far the best of the trio. A 564-yard par-5, it starts deep in the trees and hurtles toward the water, with a tee shot pinched by a bunker and a pesky pine tree. An interesting array of bunkers give you something to ponder on your approach, and the green backs up against the lake, with snow-topped mountains ringing the horizon.

I loved: The crisp mountain air, the pristine conditions (you’d be hard-pressed to find purer greens) and, of course, the surroundings. This is the sort of place worth strolling through in almost any circumstance. Bonus: you’re playing golf.

I didn’t love: The par-four 11th. An oddball par-4 with a pine tree in the fairway that’s meant to be a quirky obstacle but plays as a goofy and extraneous feature. Even the Lorax would see the need for its removal.

In sum: Here at altitude, greens fees are elevated (they start at $280 weekday in the summer, and $250 in the shoulder seasons), but they don’t feel like nose-bleed prices. This is a rare setting for golf, and while the architecture itself isn’t earth-shattering, the atmospherics make it truly special. $250? You could squander that in 15 minutes at any number of nearby smoke-filled casinos. Now, that would be a waste.