All photos by Matt Kartozian (Durka Durka Photo). 

Just when you think you are getting good at golf, you will find yourself in what amounts to a racecar crashing at 110 mph, flipping end over end while on fire.

I had spent some time trying to improve my game earlier this summer and I was getting results. In March, my handicap was a 20 and by July I had gotten down below a 15. My worst score since mid March had been a 100, with most in the low 90s and a sprinkling of mid to high 80s. All of that came to an abrupt halt on July 25.

If you are going to crash and burn, do it somewhere spectacular. I could not have picked a better course for my demise than Edgewood Tahoe, located in Nevada close to the California state line. Edgewood has a rich history and some very unique features. The course was built on what was a stop on the Pony Express and Wells Fargo stage coach lines in the 1890s. Edgewood is also the only golf course in the Lake Tahoe area with holes on the water. The 16th green sits next to the beach and the 17th and 18th play right along the beach on your way back to the clubhouse.

A group putts out on the 18th green next to Lake Tahoe.
A group putts out on the 18th green next to Lake Tahoe.

To me, one of the most unique things about Edgewood is the parking lot. How can something as boring as a parking lot be cool you ask? It’s all about location. Situated right on the beach, it has to be one of the most expensive parking lots per square foot in the world. The parking lot will soon go the way of the saber-toothed cat, however, as Edgewood is in the midst of a massive renovation and rebuild of their property. The parking lot will be replaced with an event lawn, and a new 154-room luxury hotel will open in the Summer of 2017 just steps away from the clubhouse.

Edgewood Tahoe's parking lot is literally on the beach.
Edgewood Tahoe’s parking lot is literally on the beach.

Edgewood opened in 1968 and was designed by George Fazio. There are four sets of tees that range from 5,310 yards with a 69.6/127 rating and slope to 7,552 yards and 75.1/142 from the tips. The last 25 years, Edgewood has hosted the American Century Championship, a celebrity tournament featuring stars like Justin Timberlake, Steph Curry, Charles Barkley, Jim Harbaugh, Jerry Rice and Alfonso Ribeiro to name a few.

I was set to play the course the day after the tournament wrapped up. Former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder won the tournament for the second year in row. Most of the signage and grandstands were still up when I played the next day, and the remains of the tournament gave the course a different atmosphere. With a little imagination I could picture the stands full, and that I was in the tournament — hopefully with Charles Barkley so I’d look like a decent golfer.

I played with Nicholas Vandermade from Edgewood’s marketing department. We elected to play the blue/white combo tees which were 6,610 yards with a 71.2/137 rating and slope. My coach had recently worked with me on a small swing change to help eliminate my balls acting like a boomerang off the tee. I had played a few rounds since the change, but I was not 100 percent dialed in yet. This was abundantly obvious on the first tee as my ball shot left and into a pond (I finished the hole with a snowman). This was not an inspiring turn of events to start my round. I repeated my left shot into the lake again on No. 2, but I managed to come away with a double.

No. 3 is the toughest hole on the course and my favorite. It’s a par-5 hole of 532 yards (from the whites) and doglegs right at its midpoint. The tee shot is straight forward; there are bunkers on the left and right, but the landing area is wide and generous. The second shot is where it gets complicated. Water on the left and bunkers on the right require an accurate shot. Ideally, the third shot lands on the elevated green that is ringed with large trees that make me think of it as a natural grandstand. It was one of my favorite views on the course. I have played Edgewood twice and have pared it both times, so I would be lying if I said my score had nothing to do with liking the hole.

Being in the mountains, it’s no surprise that there are large, old trees everywhere at Edgewood. What is a bit surprising is that sometimes they’re in the middle of the fairway. Nos. 8 and 16 feature monstrous pine trees close to your tee shot landing zone. Since my ball never goes quite where I aim it off tee, I aimed directly at the trees on both holes and took them out of play.

A massive, old-growth tree sits in the middle of the fairway landing zone on hole No. 8. A massive, old-growth tree sits in the middle of the fairway landing zone on hole No. 8.
A massive, old-growth tree sits in the middle of the fairway landing zone on hole No. 8.

No. 9 has been redesigned in recent years and now has a great lakeside green. No. 11 is a great hole to go for it. At 328 yards, you can choose to hit left to a large safe landing area or hit slightly right over a lake to cut the distance down. No. 12 is a 167-yard uphill par-3 with another great pine tree stadium surrounding the green.

No. 14 is one of the most scenic holes on the course. You hit into the 406-yard par-4 from an elevated tee box in the trees with views of the clubhouse and a large lake. As you work your way to your ball off the tee, you are greeted with a nice view of Lake Tahoe and the mountains behind the California side of the lake.

The final two holes are the jewels of Edgewood. No. 17 is a 140-yard par-3 that parallels the sandy beach, and you putt out with a great view of Lake Tahoe. During the American Century Championship it is also the home of many shenanigans. The beach and water edge is lined with fans and boats, and many of the players interact with the fans there. Justin Timberlake and Alfonso Ribeiro have danced, NFL linebacker A.J. Hawk tackled a fan (at the fan’s request) and Jerry Rice has thrown passes —  to recap a few great moments from the hole.

The par-3 17th at Edgewood has been host of many tournament shenanigans.
The par-3 17th at Edgewood has been host of many tournament shenanigans.

No. 18 is a par-5 of 501 yards that starts inland, though you can still see Lake Tahoe through the trees. On your approach to the green there are bunkers, trees and a water hazard that can come into play. Once on the green, only a cart path separates you from the beach and Lake Tahoe.

The 18th green offers a great way to cap a day at Edgewood.
The 18th green offers a great way to cap a day at Edgewood.

If you are looking for a great golf getaway, look to Edgewood Tahoe. It’s a fantastic course and with typical summer temperatures in the 70s, making it a great place to beat the heat.

If there is a moral to this story, it’s that you can still have a good time and enjoy a course while having a bad round. When you are playing well remember these words from Han Solo: “Great kid, don’t get cocky!”

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Matt Kartozian is an amateur golfer, professional photographer and journalist based in Phoenix, Arizona. He can often be found on the sidelines at NFL, NHL and MLB games, as well as racetracks around the world. Matt specializes in off-road racing and events like the Baja 1000. When not dodging racecars and linebackers, Matt likes to spend time on the golf course.

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  1. “Just when you think you are getting good at golf, you will find yourself in what amounts to a racecar crashing at 110 mph, flipping end over end while on fire.”

    Slightly over the top comparison.

    • Just when you think you are getting good at golf, you will find yourself in what amounts to a racecar crashing at 110 mph, flipping end over end while on fire. While in a hurricane, during an earthquake. In November after Trump has been elected. I do not think that is over the top at all. I think at best it is understated.

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