You might almost believe it after playing TPC San Francisco Bay at Stonebrae. Architect David McLay Kidd has designed a wild, rolling, strategic layout for golfing purists who appreciate a round as eighteen individual and memorable games.
McLay Kidd is Scottish, after all, and the son of a course superintendent. He designed Bandon Dunes in Oregon, and has followed that up at this new private club high in hills of Hayward.
Even with five sets of tees, TPC San Francisco Bay at Stonebrae is a demanding golf course with challenges and nuances. It will seriously challenge and punish golfers who cannot control their balls. Nor is it a golf course that most of us would want to walk. Distances between some holes feel more like vertical commutes. In return for that carting compromise, however, Kidd found wonderful holes in more than one-thousand acres of grass, hills, valleys, canyons, rocks, and protected areas.
Kidd placed long-haired bunkers in all the right places. From the back tees, especially, he uses elevation changes, the natural landscape, forced carries, and high brush as both defenses and inspirations. Even then, he restrained himself. You will not find one overt gimmick on the golf course.
Stonebrae's first four holes wind through a housing development, but you will be focused on the course. Those holes are good, and a preamble to the fun which follows. The course makes its lasting impressions in the middle holes. There, your only reminders of civilization will be some unfortunately large power lines, and low-flying jets descending into Oakland, far below.
As TPC Stonebrae is a private club, you may encounter difficulties in playing it without buying a membership or finding a friend. The latter, especially, will be worth the effort.
And, you will be able to vew the course up-close when the PGA brings in a Nationwide Tour event, beginning in April, 2009.