Laid-back Cordova Golf Course in Sacramento is the perfect fit for the casual golfer

By Ted Johnson, Contributor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- When you walk out to the putting green by the pro shop at Cordova Golf Course, you'll probably notice that the dress code is far from country club standards.

Cordova Golf Course - 14th
Cordova G.C. plays a strong role in maintaining the golf culture of Sacramento.
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If you go

Cordova Golf Course

3 stars out of 5 (based on 2 reviews)
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9425 Jackson Rd
Sacramento, California 95826
Sacramento County
Phone(s): (916) 362-1196
18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 63 | 4915 yards | Book online | ... details »

There are more board shorts than Tommy Bahama-style bermudas. Most of the baseball caps have the bills on the back of heads, and the logos lean more towards heavy metal bands rather than golf equipment companies. Closer examination reveals tattoos, bigger jewelry in the piercings and tank-top shirts.

And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, the golf industry needs more places where people outside the traditional demographics of the game can come and enjoy themselves. Cordova, located about 15 miles southeast of central Sacramento, provides that opportunity.

This course is nearing its 50-year anniversary and it plays a strong role in maintaining the golf culture of Sacramento, one of the best cities in the country for municipal golf. This is a course aimed at providing an entry into the game. The cost is cheap and the access is total. Anyone interested in getting interested in golf will find Cordova G.C. to be a good place to start.

Cordova G.C.: The course

Cordova Golf Course consists of 18 holes but measures only 4,832 yards, which makes it sort of a graduate-level executive course. Six holes measure more than 380 yards, and there are 10 par 3s for an overall par of 63.

More than that, though, is the terrain (flat) and the spacing between holes (plenty). The green structures feature minimal bunkering and, for that matter, minimal elevation, which can be troublesome in that it can be difficult to gauge how far exactly approach shots need to be hit. But the lack of depth perception is secondary, and the greens are small and relatively flat as well.

So for the aspiring golfer who dreams of playing in the U.S. Open, this course is hardly a test. For the beginner -- no matter the age or the gender -- or those wanting to return to the game, Cordova does just fine.

"It's a very welcoming golf course," said Assistant Professional Dirk Schmidt, who has been a head pro at several top-notch courses in the Sacramento area. "The market here is for those who play the less-than-average amount of golf -- the beginners, the juniors, even women."

Flat, wide open and short, it's the sort of course where husbands can bring their wives or girlfriends for a quick round. It's a good place for juniors to take their first swings on the course. Sideways shots, topped drives and chunked approaches are the norm, and no one seemed uncomfortable in being unable to hit it like Tiger Woods. I'd bet that in many groups, mulligans are played more than first shots.

The golfers I saw on Cordova were having a good time. And the fact that the course has a first-rate grass driving range and does about 65,000 rounds a year proves that it meets some demands of the local market.

"You can't beat the price," said Schmidt when commenting on how busy the place can get.

Cordova Golf Course: The verdict

This is not a course where you can expect the strict traditions of the game to be religiously observed. This is a place designed to provide recreation. In that scheme, Cordova Golf Course is perfect for those new to the game. Here are four reasons why:

It's an easy walk. Nothing is better for golfers than to begin the game by covering the ground on foot. It develops a deeper sense of distance and helps create an innate sense of how far you really hit the ball.

It's open. That means big slices and hooks and out-and-out shanks do not end up in lakes, creeks, wetlands, canyons or barrancas. They're on grass somewhere with probably a fairly good chance of getting back to the green.

It's manageable. Three times the course presents three successive par 3s. The big drive is exciting, and there are holes designed to allow that to happen, but the best way to get better at golf is to learn how to hit short irons at the pin.

It's all about having a good time. Two couples I watched on the 18th hole one Sunday afternoon will not make any U.S. Open any time soon. Some swings missed completely. Upon connection, the shots went well right and mulligans were called for. They weren't holding anyone up, so they wanted to get some good shots before they left the course.

And who can begrudge that?

Ted JohnsonTed Johnson, Contributor

Ted Johnson has been writing about golf for more than 25 years. Having traveled the world with his clubs, he counts himself lucky to have played Cypress Point, but Turnberry’s Ailsa, Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath in Australia and Ireland’s Royal County Down tend to rotate as favorites. And then there was the trip to Vietnam, where he found himself in Vung Tao and his luggage in Ho Chi Minh City. That’s why to this day he carries a toothbrush in his golf bag.

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