The Takeaway: Grade A-
Designer: Jack Nicklaus in 2001
Cost: Private Private (Walking with caddie encouraged)
Phone Number: (707) 569-2915
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Mayacama Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1240 Mayacama Club Dr., Santa Rosa, California
Accolades: Ranked 82nd on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in America and 11th in the state of California.
What to Expect: Mayacama delivers the kind of experience you yearn to get back to; peaceful, remote, beautiful, and pure. The club celebrates its proximity to wine country with a majestic clubhouse and winery while still delivering with a most excellent and remote golf course that tumbles gently through the rolling meadows and aged oak trees. The secluded acreage is a perfect setting to take golf back to its roots as Mayacama has done by making the course "walking only" with caddies. You won't be distracted by yardage markers, tee box signs, or carts; you will simply be one with nature and golf. The approach Nicklaus took on this property is celebrated by both classic course and modern course enthusists. It is easily one of the greatest golf intimacies offered in America and one that too few of golfers are able to experience.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 18th Hole – 559 Yard Par 5 – The final hole at Mayacama with its risk/reward options falls right in line with many of the other holes at the course. From the elevated tee the golfer is afforded a generous look at the hole, but isn't able to see the water hazard beyond the trees on the right. A good drive can turn on the green light to reach the green in two, however the putting surface is much wider than it is deep thus greatly reducing the chances of a lengthy approach staying on the green. Ideally the golfer will hit a high fade that take the water out of play on the right while affording the opportunity to potentially get kicked back to the green from the hillside on the left if the ball doesn't fade enough. It is a beautiful hole and exciting finish to this amazing golf course.
Best Par 3: 3rd Hole – 178 Yards – The golfer is quickly introduced to the impressive and extreme terrain found at Mayacama as they leave the 2nd hole and take on the 3rd. The green on this one shotter is found to the left of a hill and provides the only flat place to hit your ball before the terrain cascades off to the left and into the forested brush. The bunkers are found at the front left portion of the green while the back portion of the putting surface may be out of view depending on the tee location. Anticipation mounts as you walk along the undulated path that leads from the tee box, through the forest, and over to the green. It is a very demanding and rewarding hole to play well.
Best Par 4: 10th Hole – 397 Yards – The back nine starts off with a great par four that doglegs left around a pair of fairway bunkers. With trees and brush framing each side of the hole, a premium is placed on accuracy off the tee to setup the approach shot that is played over a ravine. The downhill approach affords a wide landing area to hit from to a green that gently wraps to the left around a bunker and away from the golfer. The green sits back is an amphitheatre of trees and reinforces the secluded feeling this course offers.
Best Par 5: 15th Hole – 537 Yards – The 15th hole is one of the funnest to play on the property and offers a risk/reward opportunity right off the bat. If you are willing to challenge the three bunkers on the left side of the fairway you may be able to carry them and put yourself in position to reach this green in two. From the right side of the fairway the chances of reaching the green in two is greatly reduced due the extra yardage that will have to be covered while trying to carry the large ravine and bunker in front of the putting surface. There is a bit of a backstop behind the green that can help slow down balls coming in hot at the wide boomerang shaped putting surface. The fairway goes downhill the vast majority of the way before flattening out near the ravine and leaving an uphill approach. This is one of Mayacama's most memorable holes.
Birdie Time: 16th Hole – 322 Yard Par 4 – Given the right circumstances, this green is driveable if the tee shot hugs the right side of the hole. A large pond protrudes out the left side of the green and can be difficult to see from the tee, so a little course knowledge here is helpful so that you don't take a risk you are prepared to handle. There are two small bunkers on the right side of the hole, one in the fairway and the other by the green. Plenty of fairway exists to layup in if you elect to do that and then wedge it close. A solid risk/reward hole with options make this a great birdie opportunity and fun hole to play.
Bogey Beware: 2nd Hole – 525 Yard Par 5 – On the card, one might expect a 525 yard hole to be a great birdie opportunity rather than being found in the bogey beware category. However, with only one warmup hole behind you, the 2nd hole at Mayacama starts delivering some formidable challenges. The tee shot plays uphill and must carry a heavily forested ravine to a fairway the pushes balls towards the bunker on the left. From there the hole plays downhill to a green that is protected by eight bunkers and is perched in the side of a hill with the fairway coming in tightly at a 90 degree angle from the left side. Going for the green in two is a very risky proposition since there is virtually nowhere that offers a safe bail out area and target isn't very large. From the layup position the golfer will likely have a slightly downhill lie and will have to carry five of greenside bunkers to hit the perched green. Anything short will be in the sand or kicked out of play while approach shots that go long will likely find the other side of the ravine. This is a great hole that is jam packed with trouble.