Marin Country Club

December 29, 2007 4:26:25 PM PST
Marin country club may have the nicest weather of any golf course in northern California. It sits in beautiful valley, surrounded by expensive homes. In summer, it's downright hot. In winter, it is possible to play in shirtsleeves.

Even at 6457 yards from the tips, Marin Country Club is not particularly long, but it counters that with tight driving areas, water on thirteen holes, hilly terrain on the back nine, and devilish mounds guarding some of the greens.

Familiarity with Marin breeds both contempt and admiration. If you're greedy, it'll hurt you unless you're extremely accurate.

The 373 yard, uphill, par four 1st can be brutal. You face OB on the right, a no-man's land to the left, and a blind shot into the severely sloped, fast green.

Members looking to make comebacks in matches favor the 5th, 6th, and 7th holes. If the course has a weakness, you'll find it here. Then again, that's a matter of opinion. They call this stretch, "a strength."

The 352 yard, par four 5th demands a blind, uphill shot into cresting chute. Your only level lie is at the top, leaving you 150 yards to the green below. If you hit it hard (over a tree to the left), you can have as little as 30 yards into the green. But don't hook it. You'll be out of bounds.

The 159 yard, par three 6th requires another downhill shot. When standing on the tips, you cannot see the green, far below. Carry a creek, thread the bunkers, and hope you make your putt on another fast, sloped green.

The 475 yard par five 7th is another "love it or hate it" hole. You'll face OB left. A creek guards the right, snakes in front of the green, and then winds to the left. Unless you challenge that creek with your tee shot, you won't have a level lie for your second. If you lay back, you may roll into the creek, which cuts across the fairway about 100 yards short of the green, but I don't think the course provides much of a landing area. You're safer trying to carry it beyond. But if you like risk and reward, you'll love this hole. With a driver and fairway wood, a strong player can easily reach this hole in two, making eagle a distinct possibility. But?you'll have to make that swing with the ball below your feet. Play a big cut.

The straightaway, 483 yard par five 10th, looks simple on paper, but can be daunting from the tee. Out of bounds guards the left. Water borders the right. With a good drive, you can reach the green in two, but that leaves little room for error. Experience teaches that you'll have a better chance by hitting a three or four wood, then a seven iron, and finally a wedge.

Marin's members are quite proud of their new clubhouse, and they should be. Once there, order a chocolate Sunday. That desert is a tradition here, and they do it right.

For most of 2007, the course has undergone major renovations. We look forward to the results.

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