Looking down n the par 3 3rd Impressive views on the 11thTunnel vision from the 12th tee
A 25-minute drive from Silverado is the Arnold Palmer-designed Hiddenbrooke, a course that has been rated in the top five of public golf courses in the US. Going by the courses on the list, a few that I have played, I’m really looking forward to playing this track. You really do receive a warm welcome here, from Andy in the pro-shop to Alice who will take care of you in the grill, it was a pleasure to meet both of them as well as Carmen who is the marketing director for the course.
My playing partners for the day are Ray, who is a member at the course, and Louie, who is on holiday and visiting friends in California – two great guys who are a pleasure to meet and play golf with. This is one of the things I enjoy most on this trip. Playing golf in the US, you can be partnered up with someone (if you choose to) so if you’re thinking about coming out to play golf by yourself, don’t worry – you’ll meet and play with some great people on your travels.
First off I have to say the course is in need of some TLC, but this is comparing it to some of the other tracks I’ve played on this trip. Trust me, if you’re reading this and from England, it’s in great shape compared to the condition of some of the courses we regularly play on. But the reason I mention this is because you can see from the design that this is a great course, and when it first opened they had 40 people on the green staff. Now they are down to eight, which is obviously going to impact upon upkeep. But to be fair to the guys that are still here, they do a great job and anyone who comes to play will not be disappointed.
At 6,782 yards from the back tees it doesn’t sound like that long a track, but you wouldn’t want to be walking this course. Apart from some of the hills, it’s a long way between greens and tees, so a buggy is definitely the order of the day. If you’re doing 36 holes a day like me, you need to save some of that energy to swing the club!
The course is surrounded by hills and there are some great views – Arnold has used the topography to great effect. There are some fantastic par-3s out here, none more so than the 151-yard 13th hole that is played from an elevated tee across a valley to the green below. It’s an even better hole from the very back tee, but they have closed that down now due to the effort it took to get a mower up there and maintain it. But do go and have a look.
The 15th is another par-3 played from an elevated tee, but this one weighs in at 202 yards and although it’s downhill, because of the wind that’s apparently always against you the hole plays that length. There are actually three par-3s on the back nine and the third one is the 17th, which is sandwich between two par-5s and played over water. Make sure you take a look at the 16th from the very back tee. It’s played from an elevated tee and if you get a good shot away you will have around 279 yards left to the green – the same distance Louie has left himself. He manages to smash his 3-wood to three feet and then misses the putt!
The 18th is a great finishing hole, and when you play your second or third shot into the green you will see why. It’s like playing into a mini amphitheatre surrounded by bunkers and mounds. There are seven bunkers – one at the front and four front-left and two massive bunkers in the mounds at the back of the green. Add lots of other mounds on the right and the movement on the fairways as you approach the green and you really need to be putting the ball in the right areas if you want to finish with a birdie.
And if you do, I’m sure Alice will recommend something cold and refreshing for you and your friends to celebrate with, while you look back on the great course you’ve just played. Get round quick enough and you may just want to go back out again.