Golf Course Review: Sevillano Links

Sevillano Links opened in October, 2007, as part of the Rolling Hills Casino, which is owned by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians. That casino receives much more play than the course, which was almost empty the day we played. Its eighteen holes are magnificent, and well-worth the two-and-a-half hour drive up I-5 to Corning.

This is a John Daly Signature Course, which means he added his name and some influence to a design by architect Mike Stark. At 7823 yards from the John Daly tips, the course is long, and about to get longer with additional teeing grounds to provide each hole with a par-5 option. That's just marketing, however. The real course, which plays as short as 5429 yards, is a links-style gem.

Stark began with gently rolling pasture and designed a course that appears as if he poured strips of grass onto the terrain. Sevillano Links is a minimalist and subtle design. It has a good mix of par-4's. The par-3's vary in length, up-or-down elevations, and types of hazards, including water. Some of the par-5's are like odysseys. Depending on your choice of tees, some of the holes may be difficult, but they are fair, with ample landing areas, and laid out with good rhythm. Easier holes follow tougher ones, allowing a struggling player to catch his breath, and not feel overwhelmed.

The 252/315/350/376/386 yard, par-4, 3rd, sold us early. This is an excellent risk-reward, dogleg right, downhill, across tall grass and two bunkers. A conservative player could make par on this hole with two irons. A better player can hit straight-away with a driver or hybrid, leaving a wedge into the green. The boldest of us might challenge the dogleg for a birdie, or even better. The 3rd is all about choices, and that's what we liked about it.

The 334/373/384/458/492 yard, par-5, 5th, is another terrific hole. It, too, doglegs right, then over a ridge, into a slot, and then up to the green. Be careful how much of this hole you try to cut off. When we say that the grass appears poured onto the course, we thought of this hole, in particular.

On the back, the 477/516/532/587/624 yard, par-5, 15th, is challenging, fun, and memorable. The uphill routing provides two fairways, split by a lake. The more risky, inward routing requires a carry over water, but offers a straight-in approach to a receptive green. The right-side also requires a forced carry for the third shot, but with less margin for error into the green.

The 135/159/172/192/225 yard, par-3, 16th, provides a different look along with a pleasant and cooling change of pace. From an elevated teeing ground, golfers hit to a green with water and wildlife on three sides. While not particularly difficult, the 3rd is beautiful.

Sevillano Links concludes with one of the more brutish par-5's, anywhere. It is 561/585/614/628/686 yards into the wind to an elevated green. Frankly, this hole is a bit much, and yet only the #5 handicap. Maybe John Daly can reach this green in two, but some of the guys in our group took four or five.

One telling test of a golf course is whether you will want to play it again. As such, I should note that right after finishing eighteen, we returned to the starter and played Sevillano Links a second time.

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