Historic golf in a unique setting: Mare Island Golf Club in Vallejo, California

By My Nguyen, Contributor

Historic as golf in the Bay Area is around Olympic and Harding Park, 19th-century golf can be found east of the bay in Vallejo at Mare Island Golf Club.

Mare Island Golf Club
Historic Mare Island Golf Club plays along the San Pablo Bay and Napa River.
Mare Island Golf ClubMare Island G.C.
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Mare Island Golf Club

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Established in 1892, Mare Island Golf Club is the oldest course west of the Mississippi. The course was originally just a nine-hole layout before it was recently expanded to a full 18 holes. Now, the golf course offers two distinct nines. It starts out with a more traditional front nine featuring small greens and tight fairways lined with Eucalyptus trees.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 70 | 6150 yards | Book online | ... details »

Opened in 1892, Mare Island is the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi. Reviewer njwrightboys3, a Napa-area golfer, keeps coming back to the course for its "scenic beauty as well as the history that goes with it."

Mare Island Golf Club is one of five courses in Vallejo. On GolfNow.com the club has the second highest number of reviews after Blue Rock Springs Golf Club's East Course and West Course.

Located just 30 minutes from Napa Valley, Mare Island is wedged between the Napa River and the San Pablo Bay, providing the course with memorable water views from almost every hole. The layout starts at the former Marine Barracks, meanders south to Lake Rodgers and then circles back around to the start.

"The views of the Bay, Carquinez Straights and Mare Island Channel are fantastic," according to dagarret, who has been playing the course since 1976 when it was only a nine-hole layout. On clear days you can see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

He noted that the new nine holes blend in seamlessly with "the original course's personality," while at the same time enhancing the overall experience.

U000004699051 is a low handicapper who finds the layout to be very hilly and there's never a flat lie." He warned that when "combined with the wind, this can be a very challenging course."

U000004977994 -- a higher handicap player from Sacramento -- agreed, saying, "Mare Island is like playing two courses in the same day -- a links-style course and a wooded course."

The front nine has a more traditional design with tight, tree-lined fairways that open up on the links-style back nine. The course is characterized by its hilliness, with elevation changes throughout ranging from subtle to dramatic.

"This is not a particularly long course," wrote Mtc2431, an avid golfer from Berkeley who has reviewed courses all across California, but he recommended that you "gauge your distance control as there are many uphill and downhill approach shots." The small, undulating greens play lightning fast, and they're often flanked with bunkers.

The par-70 course measures to 6,150 yards from the back tees with three tees total. Most of the intermediate-level reviewers rated the course as challenging, and many of the lower handicappers commented on the tough up-and-down of the course. 93 percent of the reviewers say they would recommend it.

With $58 green fees on the weekend, it's slightly more expensive than the $46 rates at nearby Blue Rock Springs, but a majority of reviewers rated it as a great value for the money. As u000004488842 put it, "with its tight fairways, small challenging greens and elevated tee boxes, it's hard to find a better value in the San Francisco Bay area." He also added, "The views of the Bay off the back nine are second to none."

In addition to the course, Mare Island also has a driving range and two practice greens available next to the first tee, just a short walk from the clubhouse.

My NguyenMy Nguyen, Contributor

My Nguyen has been writing for the Golf Channel's TravelGolf Network since 2008. She has written about hundreds of golf courses throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as many courses in Europe.

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