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Standing on the 17th tee at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, you get a feel for all of the outdoor activities that encompass the Lake Tahoe/Reno region.

There’s the boaters docking alongside the beach near the 17th fairway, there’s the hiking and biking trails to the east, the spectacular hotel/casinos to the south, and the still snow-capped ski mountains to the north and west.

All within an hour’s drive of each other.

Yet, perhaps the most underrated outdoor resource in the region is the abundance of wonderful golf courses to play. Many golfers in New England have some familiarity with Edgewood Tahoe, which is showcased annually on NBC Sports as the site for the American Century Championship, the largest celebrity sports/entertainment golf tournament in the country.

But a Golf The High Sierra Tour offers so much more, namely a network of 18 golf courses and multiple lodgings in both Nevada and northern California that can be catered to individual preferences for a perfect golf vacation.

“Each package can be customized according to the needs and budget of the individual or group,” said Larry Windsor, communications director for Golf the High Sierra. “You can choose from multiple courses, multiple tee times, lodging properties, and more, and you can do it all online or by phone.”

Let’s start in Reno, which is known as  “The Biggest Little City” and they’ve got the neon lights and gaming bells and whistles to prove it. Overlooking the downtown skyline in nearby Sparks is D’Andrea Golf Club, an elevated, forgiving course that is spread out over a lot of real estate as it meanders through mountainous foothills and high desert canyons. It’s a perfect primer to unwind and start your golf tour, although there are six other options in the surrounding Reno area. Other popular choices are ArrowCreek Country Club, The Resort at Red Hawk, and Wildcreek Golf Course.

When heading south toward Carson City, we took a little detour off the main highway and onto Route 341, which winds its way through the mountain side and lands in historic Virginia City, a reminder of the Old West in the late 1800’s. Remember the TV show “Bonanza” with wooden sidewalks and swinging door saloons? It’s a great place to catch a late lunch.

The Carson City area offers two outstanding layouts at Dayton Valley Golf Club and Genoa Lakes Golf Club. Afterward, head downtown to Doppelgangers for their rotating, seasonal microbrews on tap, and visit the state capitol building across the street. For dinner, Red’s Old 395 Grill  is a must-see with its 1923 Monarch steamroller, an extensive menu, and a 101 beer selection.

The highlight of the golf tour is Edgewood Tahoe, which is nestled right at the south edge of the lake in Stateline, Nev. The drama builds from hole to hole, culminating with a 547-yard, par-5 16th hole that funnels toward the lake and a 175-yard, par-3 17th hole with the right side beach serving as a natural sand trap. During the celebrity tournament, a massive collection of boaters drop anchor and take in the action. The 18th hole is another par-5 at 501 yards that finishes along the lake and leaves you shaking your head in awe when you walk off the green.

Crossing into California and following the lakeside’s northwest route, there’s time to take in some of the area’s historical sites. Thegrounds of Valhalla, the Pope Estate, and the Thunderbird Lodge are where San Francisco’s elite spent their summers a century ago. The visual splendors of Inspiration Point at Emerald Bay and King’s Beach are awe-inspiring before circling back into Nevada for a round of golf at the Incline Village Championship Course. A stay at the newly-built Ritz-Carlton Highlands in Truckee, Calif. is worth splurging, both for the service and amenities, as well as the surrounding scenery of Northstar-at-Tahoe ski area.

An old 19th century lumber and railroad town, Truckee now features shops, boutiques, and art galleries, as well as numerous dining options. It also boasts several memorable golfing experiences. Timilick Tahoe was voted No. 1 Best New Private Course for 2010 by Golfweek (accessible for GTHS planning). The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing, which recently went semi-private, is a must-play for its creative club choices and tactical strategies, and annually hosts the (NFL) Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic. Also, Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Greenwood offers challenging terrain amongst towering pines and surrounding mountain peaks, and Coyote Moon is the home of a spectacular 227-yard, par 3, 13th hole where a tee shot drops more than 200 feet to an oblong green.

As twilight turns to dusk, The Cottonwood Restaurant at Hilltop Lodge is the place to go. It overlooks the city lights below and offers an ambitious, sophisticated menu with array of culinary delights.

The final leg of the tour takes you deep into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a quaint, secluded area of rustic towns, scenic valleys, and pristine lakes. Whitehawk Ranch in Clio has garnered excellent reviews, including 11th best public golf course in California by Golfweek since it opened 14 years ago. Also, Plumas Pines Resort in nearby Graeagle is a challenging, picturesque course with rolling terrain. Longboard’s Bar & Grill at the resort is definitely the place for food and drink. From here, nearby Route 70 East to Route 395 South takes you full-circle back into Reno in about an hour.

For more information, visit www.golfthehighsierra.com, or call toll-free at 877-332-4465.

 

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