Setting the scene at the 1st Reflective mood at the par 3 11thEarly morning sun on the 17th
There are two courses at Silverado, the North and South, which opened for play in April 1967 when the Silverado Country Club & Resort came into being. The original 18-hole course was redesigned into two 18-hole courses by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, and the North course, which is the track I play, has just been through another redesign, this time by 1976 Open Champion Johnny Miller.
If you have already read my review of Sonoma GC and how that takes course maintenance up another notch from Windsor, then Silverado takes it to a whole new level. I have never seen this many green-keeping staff in one place – and believe me I see them all as I’m first out chasing them round, making it round in two-and-a-half hours. There are at least two if not three or four guys on every hole.
It’s in pristine condition. I’ve never seen holes cut so sharp, not even when I played in good amateur golf tournaments. You would’ve thought they have a major tour event coming through anytime soon, they are that good. They have machines that rack the bunkers. They even have machines to blow leaves off the cart paths. You can see why I’m pretty impressed by the condition of the course. Even the tees are in great shape.
Tim Geesey, who is the director of golf operations, explains the reason behind commissioning Johnny Miller to undertake the redesign. The idea was to stretch the course so there are more teeing options for players to choose from, and judging by the end-product I think it was a very good decision. The back tees have been put in some great places that really add character to the holes and offer you a good but fair challenge.
This is obviously a resort course so there are hotel rooms and housing around the estate, but nothing too intrusive and you’re only aware of it on the opening two holes and the 12th. All the par-3s are tough. This is no easy course from the back tees, but as mentioned you do have a lot of tee options now, so no matter where you choose to play from you’ll enjoy the course.
The standout holes for me are the par-4 458-yard sixth. It’s a great driving hole and the way the green sits in the trees, surrounded by the traps, it just looks stunning. The par-4 347-yard eighth is a dog-leg left and from the back tees you play over the creek and then up to a raised green, which again is protected by some great bunkering.
I also enjoy the finishing run of holes from 14 through to 18, but a special mention to the 17th as I love the design of this hole. It’s a dog-leg left of only 357 yards from the back tee, but with the dew still on the ground and the sun breaking through the early morning mist, it sits beautifully on the eye. I must admit I take a moment not to think about the shot I have to play but the sheer beauty of the hole and the way it just seems to be at one with nature. California dreaming? This moment certainly is, and one I hope you too get to experience.