The legendary Jack Benny quipped, “Give me the fresh air, a beautiful partner, and a nice round of golf, and you can keep the fresh air and round of golf.”
Ever since the Scots introduced golf—as we know it—in the 15th century, countless hackers have shared those same sentiments. However, most any golfer will admit there is a magnetic draw to the game once they start to play and that no matter who you are or who you’re playing with, the sport can unquestionably be a frustrating pastime and, at the same time, one of the most exhilarating ways to spend time in the outdoors. Fortunately, golfers in and around Solano County, whether new to the game or seasoned veterans, need look no further than their backyard to discover the diversity of golf course challenges to match any skill level.
Sure, there is a long menu of “bucket list” courses around the world most golfers would dream to play, but that experience will definitely create severe leakage in the wallet. In fact, some of these desirable courses can be found right here in California but with high gas prices, the money spent to fill a tank—or two—just to get there could easily cover multiple rounds of golf minutes from home. If there is a silver lining for golfers to the economic doldrums of recent years, Solano County—by its enviable position between Sacramento and San Francisco—is the beneficiary of a broad demographic of golfers from a wide radius, able to take advantage of affordable golf on classic and modern design courses.
One of those jewels, Mare Island Golf Club on the western edge of Vallejo, has the distinction as the oldest course west of the Mississippi, having been established in 1892. Until 2001, it remained a nine-hole course before renowned architect Robin Nelson expanded the layout to 18 holes and, in doing so, added nine links-style holes to the existing traditional tree-lined fairways with small greens. The scenery at Mare Island GC doesn’t disappoint with vistas of San Pablo Bay, Mt. Tamalpais and, on a clear day, the Golden Gate Bridge.
Across Highway 80 from Six Flags, Blue Rock Springs Golf Club boasts two courses and a lighted driving range. The older West Course—renovated in 2006—features tree-lined fairways and smallish greens while over at the newer East Course, players will encounter many side-hill lies and undulated greens designed by Robert Muir Graves.
Tucked away amongst Vallejo’s rolling hills, the King of Golf, Arnold Palmer, put his royal handprint on this tranquil landscape to design Hiddenbrooke Golf Club. With a layout meandering through canyons and water coming into play on several holes, Hiddenbrooke GC has been the recipient of numerous awards and was the host venue for the LPGA Samsung World Championship (2000-2002).
Fairfield is home to two well-maintained, player-friendly courses. Rancho Solano Golf Course, known for its country club-like setting, is the barometer for any course claiming to have large, undulating greens, while over at Paradise Valley, golfers are treated to oak tree-lined fairways and creeks affecting play on half of the holes.
For the perfect pairing of golf and wine, head to American Canyon for a taste of Chardonnay Golf Club, an 18-hole semi-private course serving up six par threes, six par fours and six par fives carved through 150 acres of vineyards.
Although now 16 years old, The Golf Club at Rio Vista was the last course to be built in Solano County. Located far from the hustle and bustle along the Sacramento River Delta, architect Ted Robinson incorporated plenty of water on 14 of the 18 holes. Bring an extra stash of golf balls.
Rounding out the Solano County scorecard is Green Tree Golf Club on Leisure Town Road in Vacaville, Cypress Lakes Golf Course at Travis Air force Base, and the region’s only nine-hole course, Joe Mortara Golf Course, located on the inside of Solano County Fairgrounds.
With indifference to the challenges, golf courses throughout Solano County take advantage of the natural surroundings to make every adventure—at the very least—visually stimulating.