Dayton Valley Country Club: The Word is Out in Nevada
The Golf Course at Dayton Valley Country Club has it all. A splendid track of 18 Arnold Palmer designed holes. A serene high desert setting. And a friendly staff ready to accommodate your every need. But still Dayton Valley tends to get scoffed at. The reason: location.
"It's one of the greatest courses you'll ever play but there's only one problem; it's in the wrong zip code," said one area golf course general manager. So while some courses in Northern Nevada thrive on location, Dayton Valley's selling point is something more relevant: it's probably the best maintained and designed layout of any of the golf courses in the Reno-Tahoe-Carson City region.
"Sid Salomon, our golf superintendent does a fabulous job," said Jim Kepler, Dayton's General Manager and PGA Director. "I think we work on the fairways more than anybody else does."
And as for those who visit the Lake Tahoe area or live in Reno, Kepler was quick to point out that Dayton Valley is less than a hour from both Lake Tahoe and Reno. "We've been here for nine years and I know that we probably get more play than two-thirds of the courses in Reno," Kepler said. "In California or Arizona, people drive 45 minutes to play and it's not that big of a deal."
Since 75 percent of Dayton's tourists play have already heard of the course prior to their visit, it's obvious that the word is out. It's not difficult to see why considering that for the past six years, the PGA Tour has held its' qualifying school at Dayton Valley.
"When the tour players come here, they don't tear it up. Kepler said. "They have a tough time with it. The greens are flat and reasonable because I think Palmer decided that the course was tough enough without making the greens tricky."
The course is littered with sand traps and water hazards. But all those hazards make up what truly is a beautiful golf course. And the grass is a premium turf, a mixture of both blue grass and rye. "I think Palmer enjoys bunkers and undulating greens. And his courses always have lots of water," Kepler said.
Saying that, Dayton Valley is void of the so called "signature hole" because, well, there are so many different holes that could be its signature hole.
"I would say that aesthetics wise, No. 16 is very popular," Kepler said. "It plays very tough but everyone wants to say that they've played Dayton's No. 16." The hole is a beautiful par-3 measuring 234 yards from the tournament tees and the tee shot must carry water the entire way. Most players use anywhere from a 3-iron to a 5-iron from the championship tees, which are the second longest and most popular set of tees for the men.
As for the women, Kepler said they just love playing Dayton Valley. "We've had our most complaints from our seniors because of all the water. A lot of the shots require a long shot off the tee, but the ladies love the course because it plays a lot shorter from the red tees."
Which begs the question, if the PGA Tour holds their qualifying at Dayton, it must be tough right? "As you move up on the tee box, the trouble gets away from you," Kepler said. "I think it's a tribute to Palmer. From the gray tees, the course is really tough. But up front on the tee box, the course is a lot more wide open."
And while No. 16 is the most popular, No. 9, a 450-yard par 4 from the grays, is by far the toughest, according to Kepler. "On No. 9, the tour players almost average a five on it some years," Kepler said. "We actually have to move the tees up for them because it plays so tough. And then it still plays tough."
The main reason it's so tough isn't because of the length, but because the second shot is hardest on the course. Most player's second shot measures anywhere from 140-170 yards but it must again carry water the entire way to a tiny green that slopes towards the water and has a few pot bunkers on its backside.
But what's nice about Dayton Valley is that at the beginning of both the front and back nine, the holes start out easy and then get increasingly more difficult. Kepler again attributes that to Palmer, who said that he likes to start courses out easy and then make them tougher. So while No. 9 may damage your score on the front nine, remember that starting at No. 10, the holes start out easier.
The 18th hole is the classic finishing hole, a 517-yard par-5 with a lake on both sides of the fairway. The green guards the right side of the same lake that most likely took your ball on No. 9. It's reachable in two but the second shot might be equally as difficult as No. 9. The smart play is laying up and trying to save par.
The course record is a 64, which is held by two players, including current tour player Casey Martin, who fired his record round during PGA Tour qualifying.
Green fees are reasonable, $95 during the peak season before 2 p.m., and then the rate drops. But the green fees vary frequently so the best idea is to call ahead of time to find out the current rates. However, Dayton almost always lowers their rates around holiday weekends like Labor Day and Memorial Day, sometimes as low as $45.
So if you pick Northern Nevada as your golf destination, don't believe those people who try to tell you that Dayton is too far off the beaten track. Dayton Valley isn't that far away and it is as much of a must play course as Edgewood at Tahoe or the Golf Club at Genoa Lakes.
"We have the best putting surfaces in Northern Nevada and the course speaks for itself," Kepler said. "We're not going anywhere."
Dayton Valley Country Club
51 Palmer Drive
Phone: (775) 246-7888