Clear Creek Tahoe sits at 5,600 feet of elevation on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. While it meanders through mountainous terrain and boulder formations, it maintains the rugged links feel that the design duo of the Coore and Crenshaw are famous for. Generally, their layouts rely on the organic contours of the land to challenge and captivate golfers, and Clear Creek is true to their minimalist approach. The fairways are lined by evergreens that stretch to the sky, bunkers are bound by jagged edges dressed in native grasses and dirt cart paths complete the feeling of golf as God intended.
I like to say that brushing the dust off your golf bag at the end of a round is a surefire way to tell that you’ve just played a Coore/Crenshaw.
There isn’t a bad hole on the property. Each one offers something unique off the tee and you’re sure to be tested once you reach the green. For the sake of space, I’ll cut it down to the five best holes (which are actually just my favorites) at Clear Creek in no particular order:
No. 2: 178 yards, par 3
The second hole is a slightly uphill par 3 that plays 178 yards from the tips, with a green that’s framed by bunkers and large boulders. The beautifully crafted hole seems innocent enough from the tee, but the combination of playing at elevation and the threat of swirling winds make club selection imperative if you hope to get it close to the pin. The green is sloped from back to front with a ridge separating two tiers. The windswept greens can be lightning fast, so you want to stay below the hole – a trend you’ll notice throughout the Clear Creek 18.
No. 3: 508 yards, par 4
The third hole is one you won’t forget. A 200-foot drop off separates the elevated tee box from a fairway that doglegs right. The hole stretches 508 yards, but the combo of a downhill tee shot and playing at elevation means to don’t want to take more than 3 wood off the tee. Hitting driver brings the threat of going through the fairway. A club that goes about 220-240 will suffice – I went with hybrid both days and it worked out fine. Although the conservative approach off the tee is the right one, you’re still left with a second shot that’s anywhere from 180-200 yards into a green that’s protected by a pot bunker on the right and creek about 40 yards short. Once you get to the green, you’re rewarded with one of the flatter putting surfaces on the property.
No. 6: 515 yards, par 5
The sixth is a reachable par 5 where there’s a thin line between an eagle and a triple bogey. It’s a slight dogleg left off the tee, but favoring the right-center of the fairway will offer a better angle into the green (remember, everything plays one to two clubs shorter at 5,600 feet, so it’s OK to sacrifice a shorter shot for a better angle). The green is the most treacherous at Clear Creek. There are really only two places the pin can be located to give golfers a fair chance: middle tier left or middle tier right. A 15-20 foot false front is just waiting to gobble up your ball, and anything beyond the pin with some backspin is likely to roll all the way off the green – as it’s sloped from back to front. To get an idea of just how much it’s sloped and the speed of the green, check out this video I posted on Instagram. Several members have expressed concerns over the severity of the sixth green, which has caused Coore and Crenshaw to consider re-designing the complex. Personally, I enjoyed the challenge and appreciated the precision needed to get the ball close.
No. 9: 443 yards, par 4
Any hole where you have to hit your tee shot over a road is just fun. Couple that needing to carry a grouping of boulders that resembles a pyramid and you have the ninth at Clear Creek. Three wood should be more than enough club to put you in good position off the tee. The green is sloped from right to left, and the ideal approach shot is a draw that takes advantage of those contours to have the ball roll close to the pin.
No. 13: 635-yard par 5
The 13th is a beautifully designed par 5 that’s the perfect example of how Coore and Crenshaw allow the land to shape their vision. It plays 635 yards and has a fairly generous landing area off the tee. A fairway bunker on the righthand side blocks the golfer’s vision of a hazard that stretches the length of the hole and falls off into a wooded area. If you take an aggressive approach on your second shot, make sure you have enough firepower to reach the green or you’ll find yourself playing from the native areas and unable to ground your club – or just unable to find your ball at all. It’s just safe to the keep the second shot left and leave your self with a wedge into a green that’s slightly sloped away from you on the backside. A view of the Sierra Mountains from the green adds to the wonder of this great golf hole.