ArrowCreek Golf Club: Reno's best kept secret

By John Kensington, Contributor

RENO, Nev. -- When visitors think "green" in Reno/Lake Tahoe, they aren't necessary thinking dead presidents or felt-covered gaming tables these days. The area is fast becoming one of the country's hottest new golf meccas.

Arrowcreek Country Club
Located at the far southern reaches of northern Nevada's largest city, the Legend at ArrowCreek holds the high ground in more ways than one.
Arrowcreek Country ClubArrowCreek Golf Club's Legend course in RenoArrowCreek Golf Club - Reno skyline

Featuring a wide array of uncrowded courses harmoniously crafted with nature, sporting breathtaking vistas and reasonable greens fees, golfers are beginning to relish the region.

Yet it seems only the savviest (or luckiest) golf travelers discover the finest expression of these merits, all wrapped up in a course perched high above the city of Reno. The name? ArrowCreek Golf Club.

Located at the far southern reaches of northern Nevada's largest city, the public Legend Course at ArrowCreek holds the high ground in more ways than one. Nestled into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, the layout makes full use of its varied terrain, providing for some exciting and challenging golf. ArrowCreek Golf Club's Legend Course shares the hillside with the members-only Challenge course, a Harbottle/Zoeller design.

The dual facilities found at ArrowCreek allow the public to be treated to several private club touches. The player relations staff are exceptional; even the marshals have a kind word for you. The clubhouse, reminiscent of a mountain lodge, is well appointed with locker rooms, a fully stocked pro shop, and a fine restaurant offering superlative views.

Mark Range, Director of Golf at ArrowCreek, says, "We have plans to expand the clubhouse even further in the near future, to take advantage of the remarkable panoramic views which are our main asset."

After witnessing all of these high class touches, you might expect to dig deep at the pro shop cashier. Surprise! While the maximum rate, charged during peak summer weekends, players can get on during the typically gorgeous months of April, May, September, and October for an average of 50 bucks.

These rates include shared cart and use of the practice areas. Mr. Range adds, "Our rates now are as competitive as they have ever been. As more people have played the course, word is getting around."

For now, you will typically have the place to yourself, at least during the week.

ArrowCreek Golf Club: The course

The layout begins with two short and straightforward holes, after which golfers get their first taste of ArrowCreek's many challenges.

Three is a mammoth par five, measuring 560 yds. from the middle tees. Players face a blind but straightway tee shot to a progressively rising fairway, and will need a mighty drive to merely see the green on their next shot. Ah, but what a view! The green lies on the opposite side of a deep barranca, through which the gurgling Thomas Creek flows. The twin peaks of Rose and Tallac, which peer over your shoulder throughout the round, appear to be especially interested in your approach strategy here.

Those who chose the safe path, can hit an iron into position further up the hill to the right. The bold path is to attempt a full carry onto a very shallow strip of green. Whatever your decision, land on the far side of the day's pin position and you will face a nearly impossible two-putt.

Just think, what would the King do? Few are surprised to learn ArrowCreek is an Arnold Palmer design. True to his swashbuckling reputation as a player, there are "risk-reward" considerations to be found throughout the course.

Another of these comes at nine. The formidable length of this par five - 610 yards from the tips - is mitigated by the altitude (which gives players an extra 10 perent on their tee shots) and the downhill cascading fairway. It was from this tee box that I hit the longest three wood of my life --- 375 yards!

Long drives beget a tough decision from the ninth fairway, however. Those who chose to attack the green in two risk the wrath of a creek-lined cleft, which lingers fifty yards short of a precipice-perched target.

I pretended I was Arnie, of course, and went for it. After I got up-and-down for birdie, I took a moment to appreciate the excellent view of Reno's casino-rich skyline, afforded from the green of one of the area's great gambling holes.

The back nine opens with the only hole at ArrowCreek Golf Club to feature a sizeable water feature. Ten is a straight away par four with a large pond fronting a green shallower than a boy band's lyrics. The key to success on this hole is to get as close to the water as possible without going in. Be careful, at around 5,000 feet elevation you'll hit that drive farther than usual!

Players will find thirteen through fifteen to be a key stretch on the back nine. Both thirteen, a 408 yard par four, and fourteen, a 504 yard par five (middle tees) are downhillers that fly along the edge of a forbidding chamfer. This gully dominates the golfer's sightline, as both fairways are somewhat hidden from the tee.

The proper way to attack these holes is play to the far left side and allow the contours of the fairway to carry the ball to a satisfactory location. Unfortunately, the downhill lies found in these fairways make accuracy difficult. Both greens are large but fraught with danger, should you attack them with an "accidental" fade.

Speaking of danger, 15 is a true "card wrecker." A tremendously tough par three of 212 yds. from the middle tees, this is a hole every gambler should love - all or nothing. Visually intimidating, the green lies sixty feet or so nearer to sea level than the tee box. In between is nothing but a deep sage-dotted barranca, and the wind. Should the day's zephyrs pretend to be more foe than friend when you play, take an extra club and play far left to a bail-out area. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

ArrowCreek closes with one of the toughest par fours in the state. eighteen, which plays an astonishing 473 yards from the tips, climbs progressively uphill from the tee box. While the landing area is fairly generous, the fairway is undulated; you may find the ball lies uncomfortably above or below your feet as your set up for the all-important approach shot.

The target is elevated, and fronted by a shallow creek. Should the pin be located in the back, the approach must carry the creek and a deep bunker to a very small target. Many a promising score has been ruined on this dastardly closing hole.

Adjourn to Redfield's, ArrowCreek's top notch restaurant, to review your round while sampling a microbrew, or one of the tasty selections from the grill. Should you find yourself emerging outside after twilight, you will be treated to a stunning panorama of city lights twinkling below. That final view, as it happens, will cap your day of golf most appropriately, for few shine brighter in the firmament of northern Nevada golf than ArrowCreek.

John Kensington, Contributor

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