Golf course review: Martis Camp

August 3, 2008 8:12:45 PM PDT
Behold the wonder. If the Lake Tahoe/Truckee are wasn't already on your golfing radar, the addition of Martis Camp, designed by Tom Fazio, should lock it in.

Traditionally, golfers have not considered Lake Tahoe/Truckee as a playing destination. Aside from Incline Village, which opened in 1965, and Edgewood Tahoe in 1968, the area catered to snow lovers in winter, and boaters/hikers in summer.

In the 1990's, that began to change, however, with the additions of Lahontan, Coyote Moon, and then Old Greenwood. In 2007/2008, three more joined the rota: Grays Crossing, Timilick, and now Martis Camp, which represents more than a coming of age for the area. It is a long-awaited arrival.

There is heritage in Fazio's work, here. Forty years ago, Tom helped his uncle George shape Edgewood Tahoe. But, the courses are very different. While that Edgewood meanders through generally flat land, Martis Camp bounds through a heavily wooded, severe piece or property.

Fazio's routing is a masterpiece. Every hole is beautiful, using Fazio's signature style of faming as if in a photograph. And yet, none of his architectural features look forced or artificial. The course appears to have been there for years.

Martis Camp lures a player with its first four holes. It begins with a tree lined, but straight, 397 yard par-4. You will notice the sturdy Kentucky bluegrass fairways, and the spectacularly bright white, ragged edge bunkers, which remind us of older, classic courses. It's a good opening hole that allows a golfer to find his game.

The 367 yard, 2nd is also a par four, this time with a slight dogleg to the right. Although shorter, it builds in difficulty from the 1st.

The 195 yard par-3, 3rd plays short, over water, and is so stunningly beautiful you are not sure if you should take a picture or swing. Many golfers will do both.

The 552, par-5, 4th forces a tee shot over water and bunkers. About here, a golfer may realize that he is playing someplace very special. The joys and challenges intensify with every hole, every style, and every yard of changing topographies.

The back nine at Martis Camp is even better. It culminates with the 170 yard, par-3, 17th. . The green perches on the edge of a cliff, requiring good players to shape their shots in order to get close to the pin. The 17th is all carry, and will be particularly fun for pins placed on the right side of the green. Land your shot in the middle of the green, your ball will funnel right upon landing.

Every hole on this course could be a 'signature' hole somewhere else, but Fazio saved his official one for last The par-4, 468 yard, 18th is dramatic, and one of the prettiest holes in Northern California. Its fairway plays downhill, then rises to a green some 70 feet below a rock promontory. It is difficult, but playable, providing options to run or fly the ball onto the green.

Martis Camp is located next door to Lahontian and Timilick, just up from the Truckee airport. That's three excellent golf courses within a long drive of each other. Aside from playing them, your biggest challenge may be getting the opportunity to do so because they are private and exclusive.

With that in mind, make friends early and often.


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