The sun was shining; the air was clean and crisp this late summer day; the views were outstanding; the birds were chirping; our stomachs were filled (Spindleshank’s); but then it all changed at Hole #1.
The sign read, “AIM AWAY FROM HIGHWAY, golfers are responsible for all damage or injury from errant balls”. The sun ducked behind the clouds; the air turned muggy and sweat formed on our brows; the birds stopped singing; and the food turned in our stomachs. All we heard (and saw) was the traffic on Highway 28 to the right that was starting to crowd the first fairway. In our minds, that made this landing area very narrow and dangerous. This was a slicers nightmare on the opening hole. Then it all changed again.
Two of our shots found the middle of the fairway and the other landed in the trees to the left. The sun reappeared; the birds started singing; and we could once again take a big breath of the clean Lake Tahoe air. My advice to anyone who has a big slice…listen for the traffic noise to decrease, then swing away. This is an easy starting hole if you pick your safest club to find the fairway. At the green, you will find the putting surface guarded by three bunkers and sloping dramatically from back to front. We escaped the first hole without hurting anyone!
Hole #2 is a par 4 with a slight dogleg to the left. The dense growth of trees to the left line the entire length of the fairway. It’s open to the right as the road starts to work away from the course. The fairway narrows as you approach the green. Large pine trees tower over both sides of the green and throw in a bunker to make this number two handicap hole a real (but fun) challenge. Hole #3 is a sweet, long, downhill par 3. Your tee shot must carry some vegetation in the fairway and a small bunker in front of the green. If you come up short (me), you;ll be pitching uphill to the green.
Hole #4 is a par 5 or is it a par 4? It’s both! On the scorecard it’s a par 5 and you should play it that way. Once again dense trees line both sides of the fairway, but they should not be a problem (unless you’re in them) because the landing area is large. As the fairway ends the par 4 green is straight ahead, and the par 5 green is to the left with a pond guarding the front edge. This hole is 444 yards from the white tee box. If your drive is far enough down the fairway, you will have a decision to make. Do you attempt to carry the pond and get on the green in two, or lay up and take the safer approach? My short drive made the decision easy for me and I was happy with a par.
A short, tree-lined (sound redundant?), tight fairway greets you at the fifth hole. Be aware that there is a small brook that spans the width of the fairway two-thirds of the way out there. We didn’t know it was there, but as we walked down the fairway we saw that two of us had expertly placed our shots just short of the water. Another reason to occasionally check the scorecard! A miss (that’s very negative thinking) with your approach shot is better left as a large tree can block the green for any shot from the right side.
At the par 3 sixth hole, you go downhill to a creek and then uphill to the green. If you can place your shot through the tight chute of trees, the area around the green is wide open. Hole #7 is a long par 5 and the number one handicap hole. If you hit your drive and second shots into the trees left or right, your fourth, fifth or sixth shots will leave you an excellent approach to the green. Oh, and don’t forget the water that needs to be carried just to get to the putting surface. I loved this hole and felt good about my bogey. Just a fun, gorgeous hole!
Have I mentioned yet that all the holes have a dense population of trees lining the fairways which make this a beautiful course, but also makes it challenging for the not-so-straight driver of the ball? Hole #8, like many of the other holes, has a fair landing area between the trees. It is only 323 yards and I thought I hit an excellent second shot that I expected to find on the green. Instead I found my ball resting in an evil bunker that spans the front of the entire front of the green. By evil I mean there are steps leading down into it! By now you should be able to know what’s coming at Hole #9. You’ll need to visit to find out yourself.
Rating – Ace: Historic Old Brockway Golf Course at the Lake is family owned and operated since 1978. It is a gem in the Lake Tahoe area. The fairways and greens were in excellent shape. As you may have gathered, there are plenty of trees that make this course beautiful but may play havoc with your golf game. It will challenge anyone’s game, and the smart play is to hit the clubs that you know will make the little white (or orange) ball go straight. Hopefully you have one in your bag!
Lane was a gracious host and he shared a bit of history about the course. It was the home of the First Crosby Clambake. Yes, that’s the tournament that has turned into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. For all you Baby Boomers, as you stare down the 2nd fairway, you might be able to see the ghosts of Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe riding up toward the tee box. The original opening scene to Bonanza was filmed at this hole. More Bonanza trivia – the original scene showed the four from the waist up because none of them could ride horses! When you are in the area, make sure to stop for a quick 9 (and breakfast at Spindleshank’s) and tell Lane, Always Time for 9 sent you.
400 Brassie Ave., Tahoe City, CA 96143; 530-206-0391; www.oldbrockway.com