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By: Blaine Newnham


The FAM is history, a week of media types playing golf around Lake Tahoe finished. They wanted us to get the feel of the diversity of desert golf one day and mountain golf the next, of the misplaced urban energy during a stop in the old railroad town of Truckee and the blessed lack of same in the Mohawk Valley of California's Plumas County.

It is a perfect place to do it all. Mountain biking, rafting, gambling, horseback riding, dining out, and darn good golf. Here are some of my FAVS on the FAM.

MOST ENJOYABLE PLACE TO PLAY GOLF - Whitehawk Ranch, 45 minutes from Truckee, an hour from Reno, in old California. The place just feels right. Rustic cabins overlooking a meadow. Tall trees. Blue skies. A clubhouse that features burgers. A practice area that makes sense. A course you can almost handle. The kind of golf I found at Tokatee in Oregon. The whole package is stunning.

BEST COURSE WE PLAYED - Think it has to be Edgewood Tahoe, the host of the annual summer celebrity tournament where quarterbacks and hockey players go at it for pride and $600,000. Strong course, but playable. The finish is exhilarating. Located within walking distance of the big gambling clubs in Stateline, Nev., at the south end of the lake. Green fees in summer more than $200. The 17th hole is right along the beach, right along the beach.

BEST COURSE YOU DON'T KNOW - Grizzly Ranch, also in Plumas County, is a bold mountain design by Bob Cupp. Private, but open to 40 tee times or so a day at a price of about $125. Also tied up in a promotion with Whitehawk, "Play the Ranches." You think you've gone for a hike through the wild flowers.

MOST SCENIC COURSE - The back nine at Coyote Moon in Truckee is spectacular, one par-3 down a mountainside and over a roaring creek. Another green is nestled against boulders that allegedly act as a den for coyotes. The course not that far off I-80 has no homes.

BEST NICKLAUS COURSE I'VE PLAYED - Old Greenwood in Truckee and not far from Coyote Moon is a very gracious and subtle design for Jack Nicklaus. Great shape and it should be for $185. Also home of golf academy with excellent equipment and instructors. Just a few minutes to Truckee.

AN AREA TO CONSIDER - The courses around Tahoe have short, five-month seasons. On the sunny slopes east of the Sierra and south of Reno is the town of Genoa and two courses, Genoa Lakes and Genoa Resort. Both have the hand of Northwest architect John Harbottle all over them. The Lakes course, I think, is better. Unfortunately, they have redone six holes on the Resort course, not all for the better. Both courses have views of snow-capped mountains. Feels like the Old West.

SHOWING IT CAN BE DONE - As you can imagine, they severely limit the use of pesticides and herbicides on the Squaw Creek course in the meadows of Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The weather is also harsh at over 6,000 feet. Architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., had his hands full. The result is an exciting design, much of it target golf over wetlands. I like the design and the shots you have to hit. And the condition of the course is better than you might think. The scenery is swing-stopping.

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