Gorgeous Gilroy: Eagle Ridge

Oak-studded course stands as Silicon Valley’s premier public club

You say Gilroy, I say garlic.

But the hundreds of golfers who play Eagle Ridge Golf Club every day might say otherwise.

Though the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival happens down the street, the club’s 7,005-yard course attracts the golfer’s attention in the Santa Clara Valley.

Set on what were previously cherry groves just 30 minutes south of San Jose, Eagle Ridge presents a challenging yet meticulously maintained track set amongst mature oak and meandering creeks. Its 74.3 rating and 140 slope are some of the highest marks in the region. But course architect David Dale and developer Dan Hancock were actually shooting even higher.

“He wanted to have it pretty darn tough,” Dale said of Hancock, then president of Shapell Industries. “It fell short of the 145 slope he had hoped for but it’s a test.”

What Dale and his team at Golfplan Dale & Ramsey created was a 18-hole, championship golf course ideal for tournament play, incorporating the existing movement of the land, frequent natural water features and spectacular views.

Though the course’s signature hole is the 12th (top), a 438-yard par four featuring an Augusta National-esque arched bridge back left of the green, each hole displays its own balance of uniqueness and beauty.

Hole seven is the player’s introduction into the northeast-facing foothill’s canyon where various tributaries stream down connecting to the course’s main waterway, Uvas Creek. The short, reachable par five sets up Eagle Ridge’s most breathtaking holes, eight and nine, a pair of par fours responsible for the golf course’s name.

“I’ve stood on that fairway a number of times where an eagle has actually come down and grabbed a rabbit off the fairway,” Dale said. “We were on a site visit before it even turned dirt and there were eagles hunting rabbit.”

The highest point on the property, the teeing ground at the ninth provides golfers with views of the southern Santa Clara Valley, as well as the longest par-four yardage on the course at 458.

Eagle Ridge offers a perfect blend between a need for precision off the tee and undulating, quick green surfaces that are sure to test the Bay Area’s most skilled players. The risk-reward 15th (right) displays this best. A long hitter could attempt to reach the 330-yard, downhill par four with a big drive but would risk falling short into a creek fronting the shallow green. Laying up short into a wide open fairway would prove the safest play, but a number of challenging pin placement options make the 15th more than just a short par four.

With tournament play in mind, the original plan for the 17th transitioned into a much different hole with the eyes of Johnny Miller observing the design process. The dogleg left, 549-yard hole was initially slated to feature a bunker down the fairway’s left side to discourage players from shortcutting the dogleg by clearing a set of oaks. The bunker was scrapped, allowing players an opportunity to gain ground on an opponent as a well-placed drive over the oaks sets up an approach under 250 yards into the par five.

As Eagle Ridge moves further into management rule under KemperSports, it’s sure to remain one the premier  public club’s  in the Silicon Valley. So follow the scent south to Gilroy. You might just start thinking golf over garlic.

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