Squaw Creek: An Olympian Experience

Skiers have long carried the torch for Squaw Valley, and golfers can do the same, at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, Calif.

Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, has been a world-class ski resort since visionary developer Alex Cushing built the first chairlift there in the 1950s. Squaw Creek made the revered site a world-class golf destination.

In fact, there are days in the spring when you can ski and play golf at Squaw Valley, where twin Olympic torches still burn at the entrance.

(Click HERE for a special Stay & Play package from Squaw Creek)

Squaw Valley was the site of the first “Miracle on Ice,” when the United States shocked the favored Soviet Union and Canadian teams to win the Olympic ice hockey gold medal in 1960 behind the goaltending of Jack McCartan.

The Olympic Ice Arena where Carol Heiss also won a gold medal in figure skating, an indoor-outdoor facility that was open to the public for years after, is gone.

However, recreational skiers still schuss down KT-22, where 19-year-old Penny Pitou became an American hero by winning silver medals in the downhill and the giant slalom.

Robert Trent Jones Jr. had only 80 acres to work with for the golf course, but he created a par-71, 6,931-yard masterpiece through a meadow in the Squaw Valley basin with five majestic Sierra peaks as a backdrop.

The result was a course with several mountain holes and others with a distinct links feel.

Utilizing the terrain rather than reshaping it, Jones Jr. created a classic target-golf layout on which water comes into play on 11 holes.

Because he had limited terrain to work with, Jones sculpted the fairways in the shape of an hourglass, opening in the driving area at about 150 yards from the green.

The first six holes and Nos. 12 and 13 at Squaw Creek hug the mountain at the base of 7,750-foot Snow King, and the rest of the course winds through the environmentally protected meadow that is traversed by cross-country skiers during the winter.

You know this is a different golfing experience when you play the first two holes, strong par 4s, around the Squaw Creek chairlift, which whisks resort guests to the top of the Red Dog ski run to start their day during ski season.

The 406-yard first hole plays up the hill through the trees, and the 430-yard second goes right back down the hill to the resort. Your tee shot on the second should be to the right of a large pine tree on a plateau in the fairway, but beware of the elevation change on the approach.

The fifth and sixth holes still have the influence of the mountain on the left but serve as a transition to the meadow.

Squaw Valley opens up to the golfer, with 8,900-foot Squaw Peak as sentinel in the distance, on the tee of the 386-yard par-4 fifth hole. The 210-yard par-3 sixth presents a challenging and spectacular tee shot into the prevailing wind over a large lake.

The 513-yard par-5 13th plays downhill to a fairway that slopes from left to right and back up to a two-tiered green that sits on the highest point of the Squaw Creek course, with a panoramic view of the valley and a glimpse of 9,050-foot Granite Chief.

The last three holes give Squaw Creek a finish to remember.

The 204-yard par-3 16th is all carry across the wetlands to what amounts to an island green, while the 429-yard par-4 17th is the No. 2 handicap hole. No. 18 is a par 4 that measures 484 yards from the back tee. There is a huge lake to contend with on the length of the hole.

The lake comes into play on the tee shot and again on the approach if you are on the right side of a narrow fairway, with wetlands down the left side. Three traps guard the green, including one in the bailout area on the left.

Before and after the golf, enjoy all the amenities of the Resort at Squaw Creek, an all-season, world-class resort located a short drive from Lake Tahoe in the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California.

Squaw Creek offers guests a shopping promenade, four restaurants, extensive meeting and special event facilities, a full-service spa, a complete health and fitness center, and Mountain Buddies–a comprehensive children’s program.

Also within Squaw Valley are the Olympic Village Inn, Red Wolf Lodge, Squaw Valley Lodge, the Village at Squaw Valley, the Christy Lodge and numerous condominium properties.

Nearby are the River Ranch Lodge near Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, the Mayfield House, the Tahoe City Inn, the Pepper Tree Inn in Tahoe City, the Tahoe Marina Lodge in Tahoe City and The Inn at Truckee.

Other golf courses on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe are the Championship Course at Incline Village, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and its sister, the Mountain Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Northstar Resort Golf Course offers a unique Robert Muir Graves layout, with two completely different nines–the front through a wide-open meadow and the back through narrow chutes of trees over meandering creeks to postage-stamp greens.

On Tahoe’s South Shore are the elegant Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, site of the 1985 U.S. Senior Open, the 1980 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and the annual American Century Celebrity Classic; and the nine-hole Bijou Municipal Course, which has spectacular views of the lake and Heavenly Mountain Resort, another world-class ski area.

South Shore also is the site of two sporty muni-type courses, the executive layout at Tahoe Paradise Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe and the nine-hole Tahoe City Golf Course.

ON THE WEB: www.squawcreek.com


–Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

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