Plumas Pines Golf Resort: Top Golf in the Sierra Nevadas

By Jeremy Evans, Contributor

Located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the town of Graeagle, Calif., has transformed from a once secluded retirement community into a popular vacation spot for people of all ages. "All the money that has developed in the Silicon Valley region has really brought a younger crowd to the area," said Tom Godman, who is the director of golf at Plumas Pines Golf Resort.

And because of the town's changed image, so too has its golf courses. With newer and more expensive courses being carved into the trees surrounding Graeagle, it's good to know that a beautiful yet inexpensive course like Plumas Pines still exists.

Built in 1980, this 18-hole par-72 Homer Flint designed course meanders through the Plumas National Forest while the middle fork of the Feather River, which is one of eight designated wild and scenic rivers, flows alongside several of the holes. Godman considers Plumas Pines a true mountain course, which is inviting to those Reno and high desert golfers in search of a different backdrop than sagebrush and brown hills.

Rather than seeing the Sierra's in the distance, as in Reno and Carson City, Plumas Pines reminds golfers from the parking lot that they're golfing in the High Sierra.

If that view escaped you, than teeing off from No. 1 won't. From an elevated tee box, which is the only one on the course, you hit towards the Sierra's, as most of the front nine spreads out beneath you.

The course isn't long, measuring just 6,504 yards from the back tees, and is rated at 71.6 with a slope of 127. "This course offers a definite challenge from the blue tees," Godman said. "But as you move forward, it becomes a very playable golf course."

Besides playable, it's in superb condition so golfers can't blame the course for a poor shot or a missed putt. Manicured wouldn't be the appropriate word to define Plumas Pines. The maintenance crew works constantly on each hole, either cutting the rough, fixing greens, or trimming bushes. All that can be attributed to Mark Callahan, who is the Plumas Pines Golf Course Superintendent.

"Mark has always done a fantastic job at keeping this course in tip top shape," Godman said.

So too are the conditions at The Golf Course at Whitehawk Ranch, which was built five years ago, and the recently completed, "The Dragon at Gold Mountain." But as the saying goes, "newer doesn't always mean better," and holds true when comparing Plumas Pines to its' golf neighbors. But Godman mentioned that he doesn't hold any resentment about the newer courses.

In fact, he's happy about them because it has resulted in more business for his course. He acknowledges that Whitehawk Ranch and The Dragon are beautiful courses. But he said you have to be pretty darn good to play at those courses, in particular the "The Dragon." "You could be a 4-handicap at The Dragon and still need to bring a couple extra sleeves of balls," Godman said. "It's just that tough."

Godman thinks Plumas is fun place to play for golfers of all abilities. And with green fees of $50 on weekdays, and $60 on weekends, it doesn't empty the wallet to play a round of golf. What makes Plumas Pines fun, is that certain holes entice golfers to gamble a bit and risk shots that normally wouldn't attempt.

Hole No. 6 is 310-yards from the back tees and only 293 from the whites. At an elevation of around 6,000 feet, and a downhill slope, it must be a driving hole, right? Well, take into consideration that the hill slopes right towards a lake, which also guards the frontside of the green. But it's holes like No. 6, 10, and 16 that allow golfers to test their limits. And since there are other places to make up strokes, players can try to get bold on such holes.

The best place for birdie is No. 3. Measuring only 484-yards from the tips and 458 from the whites, this par-5 is reachable in two shots. Accuracy off the tee is essential because the middle fork of the Feather River borders the left side of the fairway. The green is small and protected by a small bunker on the right. But there is plenty of space to lay up short of the green and still have a decent shot at getting up and down.

Accuracy is the most important part to scoring well at Plumas. Fairways are narrow and several holes have trees that are placed in the center of fairways, making golfers think about each shot.

But if your accuracy off the tee was left behind at home, you can still make it up putting. The greens are soft, which allow balls to sit down, and although quick, aren't tough to read. There aren't any multi-tiered greens or horrendous slopes, which will keep your scores low.

After playing a round of golf at Plumas Pines, it will make you want to revisit the course again and stay in one of the dozens of condominiums and houses built on the course. And luckily, many of the homes and condos can be rented out for weekends or extended stays. Located just an hour from Reno and five hours from the Bay Area (depending on traffic), a trip to Graeagle can be a convenient weekend getaway for any family.

For more information on property rentals, call Graeagle Properties at 1-800-836- 0269 or Plumas Realty at 1-800-655-4440.

Lessons are reasonably priced (anywhere from $35-100), and PGA Professional Brandon Bowling is exactly the guy you want to learn from. PGA magazine listed Bowling as one of the top young PGA professionals in the country.

Godman, Callahan, and Godman have put together a terrific course that every golfer must experience. It might not have the picturesque ads that lure a lot of golfers to Graeagle's other courses, but those who have visited Plumas know that it doesn't need pictures to promote the course. The view from the clubhouse speaks for itself.

Plumas Pines Golf Resort
402 Poplar Valley Rd.
Blairsden, CA 96103
(530) 836-1420

Jeremy Evans, Contributor

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