Diablo Creek Golf Course: An Attractive Alternative in Concord

By F. Richard Allen, Contributor

CONCORD, Calif. - Owned and operated by the City of Concord, this 6,848 yard course from tips to tips is handsome and exciting. Designed by Bob E. Baldock and built in 1963, Diablo Creek has recently enjoyed a landscaping facelift and it shows. Roses border a new cart path near the clubhouse and everywhere there is a well-tended look.

At Diablo Creek, from the blues the rating is 72.2 and the slope is 122. Weekday green fees are $18.00, weekend $21. Joe Fernandez is the head pro who is ably assisted by both Cory Criner and the man I spoke with, Don Valdez.

Diablo Creek, like Franklin Canyon to the west and Delta View to the east, sits adjacent to Route 4 which marks a busy corridor on the northern side of Contra Costa County. All three of these courses are well maintained and inexpensive. However, that's where the similarities stop.

Franklin Canyon and Delta View are both relatively quiet, being located some distance from the highway. Also they are much more challenging courses overall, built as they are into the hills and gullies of this area. In comparison, Diablo Creek is relatively flat and provided a not so challenging but welcome change. Many more golfers walk at Diablo Creek than do at either Franklin Canyon or Delta View.

The 1st hole is a 391 yard par 4 from the blues. With a slight turn to the right, the fairway is broad and flat with two good looking California laurels among many other trees helping to mark the boundary between the 18th hole on the left and the 9th hole on the right.

Behind the green on the first hole, Diablo Creek runs from north to south pretty much splitting the course between the front and back nine. Diablo Creek is where the real rough lies on eight of these holes and it's wise to avoid it.

The 2nd hole, a 340-yard par 4, is a straight shot between the aforementioned creek now on the left and a tulle marsh on the right which encroaches on the tee enough to intimidate.

The 3rd hole, the signature hole, is a 600-yard par 5 with a keyhole shot from the blues over 50 or 60 yards of water. If you want to go for it, the ideal shot is about 140 yards straight over the water keeping your ball to the left.

Past the water, the fairway doglegs dramatically left. What makes this especially difficult is that if you lay up to the right to avoid the water, the course is only about 10 yards wide along the trees which are 20 to 30 yards away...and through this opening you may want to drive it deep, especially since you're not taking the short cut over the water. To further frustrate your efforts though, if you do drive it too deep, you're back in the tulle marsh on the 2nd hole.

And finally once you make it to the turn, the fairway narrows down for a short distance along the water. In spite of the difficulties, it's a beautiful hole. Among many varieties of pines, there are also palm trees, a yellow willow, and a giant chinquapin.

The fairways on this hole are typical: the grass is cut short and the ground is firm and dry making it possible to take advantage of a long roll.

There's more water dividing the 4th, 5th, and 6th. The 8th takes you back down to the creek again and the 9th brings you back, both par 4s, both a little over 400 yards.

On the back nine, the 13th is a difficult par 3 over Diablo Creek to the green under a large California live oak tree. This hole provided my first lesson in the use of sand at Diablo Creek Golf Course. Simply put, the sand is deep, dry, soft and tough. This is not the place to use the sand traps as a catchers mitt when driving to the pin.

The 15th hole snuggles up against the foothills and belongs to a large, quiet, and surprisingly friendly coyote who meandered through our group as we walked down the fairway. He was an unexpected treat. He walked steadily at the diagonal passing within a few feet of each of us, reached the hill to our left and simply disappeared.

The 17th hole is a par 3, only 99 yards from the blues. Like the 13th, it's over Diablo Creek, but this time it seemed like fun. Land on the green which tips forward and the ball has a tendency to stick.

Diablo Creek Golf Course sports a putting and chipping green, a driving range, a Pro Shop and a grill. Everyone was courteous and efficient. They even sell fruit in the grill and they have the only "Natural Golf" training center in Northern California, headed up by Mike Murphy.

Diablo Creek Golf Course
4050 Port Chicago Hwy
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 686-6262
Call up to 7 days in advance as early as 6 a.m.

F. Richard Allen, Contributor

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