The Takeaway: Based on the photos I saw of Somersett before playing it coupled with the anticipation of my first experience on a Tom Kite course, my expectations were a bit lofty if not at least hopeful. Unfortunately, I walked away from Somersett disappointed in a handful of ways. First, the course was clearly secondary to the top priority of doing the housing development which always results in a routing that feels forced and thus yields some poor and/or uninspired holes. Next, the bunkering was excessive and felt like an attempt to make up for a lack of attributes that generally make up a quality golf course. It's like the short guy that buys a truck and puts a big lift on it so that he feels big and tall to cover up the fact that he isn't. Finally, the setting was uninspiring and some of the holes were just goofy in execution. All of that being said, the conditioning was excellent, the playing corridors generous, and the greens were unique if not compelling. For someone that lives or works near Somersett then joining the club makes sense, however it's not among the elite tracks in the greater Tahoe area. Grade C-
Designer: Tom Kite and Roy Bechtol in 2004
Phone Number: (775) 787-1800
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Somersett Golf and Country Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 2019 Championship Trail, Reno, Nevada 89523 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Tom Kite and Rob Bechtol teamed up to design Somersett as part of an upper end residential community in Reno. The course is heavily bunkered and no trees are found across the desert landscape. The undulated greens are the biggest defense to the course where some pin locations can be flat out diabolical to contend with. Coupled with the greens are the strong winds that commonly roll through Somersett which cranks up the difficulty. Uneven lies are common throughout the layout due to the undulated fairways that are a result of the natural terrain combined with the need to design sufficient drainage. The course is maintained in excellent shape and the strong elevation changes bring intrigue to several locations in the routing. I would be surprised to find anyone walking the course particularly if they are going to utilize the practice range which is no where near the first tee. The clubhouse is a work in progress with temporary structures being utilized for the time being and thus services are limited.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 588 Yard Par 5 – Easily the best hole on the course and the one with the most intrigue. This double dogleg par five winds between a pair of water hazards and sets up a risky opportunity to reach the green in two for players long enough off the tee. The bowled out green site provides forgiveness to players coming in from a long distance while the bunkering around the putting surface will prove to be a better fate than the water fronting it. The views from this elevated tee are some of the finest on the course.
Best Par 3: 6th Hole – 221 Yards – This enjoyable downhill par three plays to a huge green that sits in a bowl area on the left but slopes away to waste areas on the right. The drop to the green is significant enough that the often windy conditions can create an increased factor to contend with when taking aim. The bunker in front pinches the green to create the shallowest depth on the putting surface at that point and should be aimed away from even when the flag is on that crown.
Best Par 4: 11th Hole – 371 Yards – Driver can get you in trouble here. With water crossing the hole from right to left, this downhill tumbling fairway runs out of room quickly on the right and eventually on the left. The approach shot over the water from a downhill lie proves to be one of the most anxious and intimidating iron shots of the day.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 566 Yards – The approach shot on the 18th is what makes this hole. A hazard crosses in front of the green and an untamed hillside rests behind. The risk reward nature of this final hole creates an excellent way to finish the round, particularly if a match is on the line. The green isn't overly large so laying up and wedging on will be the wise play for most golfers.
Birdie Time: 4th Hole – 505 Yard Par 5 – Honestly, I can't believe this isn't a par four. The hole plays way downhill to a tumbling fairway that adds extra yards to your drive every time. I hit my tee shot over the bunker on the left side of the fairway and had enough roll to leave myself a wedge into the green. In the hole's defense, a huge tier runs through the green creating a bowl in the front left that can quickly add up strokes putting from. However, anytime you can take an iron into the green on your second shot on a par five makes walking away with a birdie nearly an expectation.
Bogey Beware: 5th Hole – 438 Yard Par 4 – 5th - 4 Yard Par 4 - Well, the stroke you hopefully picked up on the previous hole may be given right back here. There is no nice way to put it; this is the worst hole on the property. The fairway runs hard from right to left and tee shots that land in the center or left side of the fairway will almost surely end up bounding down the hill out of play or at best into one of the drainage bowls that have been created. The approach shot plays into a three tiered green that runs away from you and makes attacking a back pin treacherous to say the least. With a poorly designed fairway and little forgiveness found anywhere on the hole, the key here is to simply minimize the damage.