Pittsburg's Delta View Golf Course: A River Runs Through It

By F. Richard Allen, Contributor

PITTSBURG, Calif. - Delta View Golf Course is appropriately named. From the Mt. Diablo foothills it overlooks a vast and thriving waterway tied together by the delta; the confluence of the American River, (Gold Rush), the San Joaquin River, (vegetables which feeds the world), and San Francisco Bay.

Delta View (rating:71.4 slope: 130 from the tips) is relatively short (6,330 par 71), but some of the holes are very difficult. The flora and fauna are diverse and interesting. And as an "out of town" course (about 38 miles from downtown San Francisco) it's downright inexpensive.

The City of Pittsburg, Calif., owns the course, which is operated by one of two pros, a Mr. Kenneth Yuson. I talked to the other pro, Ratzi Aiello, who provided me with some good background information.

The back nine was established in 1947. According to Mr. Aiello, rumor has it that it was designed by Allister McKenzie. But the power company, PG&E, has significantly changed the layout, even if McKenzie did do the original work. The front nine, a much more recent addition, was designed by Robert Muir Graves and constructed in 1991.

Both nines are challenging in their own way. The fairways are lined with not only an abundant variety of trees, but also with dry gulches, wet creeks, ponds, marsh areas with tule bulrushes, bunkers and sand traps.

I enjoy walking these hills and feasting my eyes on the ever-changing landscape. However, the guy behind the desk in the pro shop will advise you not to walk unless you've done it before. Some hills are pretty steep.

Delta View has a good driving range. No mats, you get to hit off the grass. Chipping and putting is set up nicely by the first hole. Green fees are $18 during the week, and $24 Friday through Sunday. Delta View has a weekday special for two including a golf cart for 20 bucks each, which my riding friends love. What follows is a brief description of each hole:

I enjoy walking these hills and feasting my eyes on the ever-changing landscape.

No. 1 (par 4) is a dogleg right to 318 yards around a curvaceous duck pond. Mallards will quack and quickly rise off the water if you drop a ball into their midst. I know. The fairway off the green narrows between a weeping willow at the edge of the pond on the right and the fence on the left.

There are bunkers guarding both the pond, which is out of sight from the tee and the green just beyond. If you hit it straight away for 250 yards, you can turn right and look at the pin at sixty or so yards away. The pond is small and mighty tempting. It's clear enough to see many of the balls of those who have tried to hit over it.

No. 2 is the most difficult hole (543 yards, par 5) on the course. About 200 yards out it narrows right down to thirty yards or so with bunkers and sand traps on the right and a wandering pond on the left. Past this are the seven small hills of Rome...a good place to pray.

Within those hills lies the water ambush before the green. Even out at 350 yards the pin is not visible. Straight ahead is a fence. To the left is the hidden green with a large weeping willow at the back side. The green itself slants towards you and is bordered on the right by sand traps. It's a tough hole which measures your level of discipline and is a harbinger of things to come.

After No. 2 the straight, short and sweet No. 3 hole seems to best shows off the special, well cared for grasses. All of the greens are bent grass. All of the fairways and tees are blue rye grass. So much grass to enjoy and you don't have to mow it yourself.

The third hole is only 180 yards, a par 3 straight away with sand on the right, a hill on the left. This is one of the few "easy" holes on this course. The danger lies along the fence on the right. Past the green are some locust trees just a few years old. Up here, the wind usually rattles their leaves so they sound like their namesake.

No. 4 is a distinct dogleg right. (377 yards, a par 4). It's very narrow until the hill on the right opens up to the approach. It's a steep, small climb to the tee and then downhill to the fairway and a bunker with a sandtrap between you and the green. If you slice it off the tee it might forgive you, as part of the fairway is just over the first rise. The slope on the right is smooth enough to play off of if one wants some excitement. On the final approach a pond closes in on the left, with sandtraps on two sides backed by mature sugar pine trees.

No. 5 is a dogleg right par 5, almost 500 yards. This is the first of the serious climbs to the tee. Once up there though, the view is spectacular with a sharp drop down to the fairway. This fairway in front of the tee appears wide open with the ever golden hill to the right edged with a large stand of pine trees. There's not much to get in your way to the left. It's a long drive, 300 yards to the distinct corner around the hill and then another 200 yards uphill to the green. From the bottom of the fairway the green looks easy, if distant, but it is well bunkered and sandtrapped.

No. 6 is a saddleback 178 yard, par 3. The tee is high, the green is just a little lower, but there's a big dip in the middle of the fairway with drop-offs on either side. The trick (ho ho ho)is to keep the ball on the fairway. There's a hill behind the green with a fruitless mulberry tree. (After No. 6 and 7 you many give new meaning to the term "fruitless".) Bounce the ball off the hill or the tree if you want to avoid the fairway altogether and have the wherewithal... which I don't. No 7 is much like No. 6 except longer... 427 yards, a par 4. If you slice the ball here it will roll into the next county.

No. 8 is the most exciting hole on the course. You've been climbing continuously and you now find yourself facing the actual delta. The view is amazing with this grand waterway so close you can almost touch it... over five miles away. As you stand at the tee all you can see is the flag 344 yards almost straight down. Usually this high up there is a strong wind from the west.

A prudent golfer aims at about 9 o'clock into the wind because anything to the right of the tree line marching straight away is lost. Before you leave this tee take a moment to enjoy the view; toward the west is the bay of San Francisco. You can see the city of Benicia on the hills beyond the graveyard fleet. Ten miles to the east is the Antioch bridge leading to the American River and Sacramento.

No.9, although only a 220-yard par 3, is a challenge. Guarded by a large pond with a fountain in the middle of it, many are tempted to go for broke. Weeping willows bracket the grass to the right of the pond, and the fence and road come in on the left. A small hill backs the 9th hole for those who want to drive it over the water and feel lucky.

After a brief clubhouse stop, No. 10, a 350 yard par 4 begins with mature, tall eucalyptus trees which will line both sides of most of the back nine. Also there are few old coast oaks which dot the middle of these fairways adding a new twist. No. 11, (547 yards, par 5) much like it's counterpart No. 2, is very difficult.

The blue tees are on the wrong side of a fence, which borders a canal. Ground level is a little lower than the top of the fence only ten yards away. Like a water trap, this fence is intimidating. A slice here over the fence lands in a dry gulch. The fairway is a long stretch uphill to the green. Dogwood and sugar pines dot the landscape. Canadian geese honk at you from a safe distance. For some of us it seems any distance is safe. The green undulates up to the pin on this hole making a straight putt almost impossible.

No. 12 is a dogleg right 375 yard par 4. A stand of trees, mostly pines, is directly in front of the green forcing the prudent golfer to hit straight away and then up to the right to get on the green. Some may try to hit over the trees either because they think they can or because that's the way their slice develops. This green has a definite right to left break. If you come out of the trees and chip to the left of the pin, your ball is apt to roll downhill 20 or so feet. If you then try to putt it back up the green to the cup, you have to hit it hard.

No. 13 is a straight shot 130 yard par 3 with a hill on the right and a drop off on the left. The green is guarded by one sand trap on the left. No. 14 is a 434 yard par 5 dogleg right through oaks and eucalyptus up the hill to the green. These old trees lay over the fairway so far that after your tee shot you're better off hitting ground balls until the final approach.

No. 15 is a 203 yard par 3 from up on high to a gulch in between, hills on the right, cart path and trees on the left. It starts out very narrow, only about 10 yards wide, so be careful of the intimidation factor. The hill is steep at the green. There's one sandtrap on the right. The green is long and slightly uphill.

Holes 16, 17, & 18 are ugly triplets, all par 4s, all about 400 yards. They share a common run off on hard packed earth to a dry gulch on the right. On 16 you make a slight dogleg left through some tall trees, but after that it' s pretty much straight away to the green on the 18th. This is the only part of the course that lacks imagination and its obviously the part the power company had a hand in. Erector set power poles rising 100 yards into the air run down the right side of the fairway.

On the 18th there is an electrical grid behind a fence. The approach to the green is by far the most difficult. You can find a way around all the other water traps at Delta View, but not this one. The fairway is narrowed down by trees to the left and a hard packed out of bounds rolling down to the dry gulch, on the right. Straight ahead is a tule marsh, while overhead are some tall oak trees to stay under. Very tough.

At the back of the green to the left is the large club house bar window, so if you muff it, you can be sure it'll be good for a chuckle. Who knows, they may even be laying bets in there.

Delta View is a "mind game" kind of course. The front nine is all high, wide, and open, with handsome, panoramic views. What you might call the "set-up". But the back nine tunnels under tall trees to tricky tees forcing you to look inward where angst and angles dwell. Oh well... it's still quite swell!!

Pittsburg Delta View Golf Course
2222 Golf Club Road
Pittsburg, CA 94565

F. Richard Allen, Contributor

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