I’ve lived in California for 3 years and have spent most of my free time playing as much disc golf as life allows and playing as many courses as my wallet allows. I recently played several of the Tahoe region’s courses. I played the Bijou course to practice the high elevation disc golf skills needed for the 19th Annual Tahoe Pro/Am, Sierra Tahoe Series #4. I also played the Truckee course for an Ace race last year. These two courses are very similar in their basic nature – they are both mainly flat high desert courses with a good mix of technical holes and open longer arm testing fairways.
Most recently, I played North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista, Ca. This course is by far my favorite course in the area. I learned to golf in the mountains of Flagstaff so I appreciate the elevation change of a good mountain course. The Tahoe Vista course, as the locals call it, has a really good mix of elevation, technical shots through the trees, and shots that challenge your arm . The tee pads are rubber mats, which sometimes I don’t like, but these tee areas are really well done with reinforced landscaping keeping them flat and consistent.
Hole One starts with a brisk walk up the hill in front of the parking area making me wonder if I should have brought a hiking pole. The walk is well worth it when you realize the first view of the course is at a maintained grass fairway in the foreground with the lake and Tahoe peaks in the background. It is gorgeous. Be wary of the wind and the way your disc could either hyzer out into the short manzanitas on the left or flip into the parking lot on the right. After that, make your way into the manzanitas to the left of the basket.
The next several holes challenge you with tight lines around the pines. Some elevation change makes what seem like easy holes harder. The manzanitas play several roles on this course – your disc will rarely get any skip or slide here. If the tee signs - which are professional, clean, and very useful – read that the hole is 250′, that is how long your throw has to be. You will not be able to reach that 350′ hole with your usual 275′ drive and 50′ skip so make the adjustment and throw your disc accordingly. You will also have to keep a close eye on your discs because the 2′ manzanitas can make finding your discs difficult; play with some friends so it is easier to find discs and have more fun.
The holes meander back and forth up the slope until they make a right turn back down and towards the soccer fields. Once you start playing around the soccer fields, the holes open up and you are challenged with some more distance for a few holes. There are still gaps to hit but usually just one. There are still elevation changes to navigate as you play around the other side of the practice fields. Test your arm, get a few of the rare skips on the course, and play the big hyzer lines that don’t work on the really technical holes. After several arm testers, the holes approach the soccer fields again ending the front nine on a monster uphill drive over a gorgeous rock slide.
Walking back towards the parking area, be prepared for more elevation and more technical throws. Hole ten is a short but tough shot threading through some gaps up a really steep slope. Some of the underbrush might be of use as you hope your disc does not catch an edge and roll back down the hill. As a good short hole should, you will be tested with a need for accuracy and a big risk portion of the risk/reward equation. The course opens a bit for a few holes where you can unload a bit - but not for long.
Much like in the front nine, the course begins to wind its way back and forth up the slope with several technical holes that also have some distance to them. This area has less manzanita shrubs but does have more trees to contend with – adding to the wonderful variety this course has to offer. Pick your lines well and you can score on a few of the holes in the lower teens. Soon the course goes up the hill where I caught up with a group of very friendly locals who offered to let me play with them for the last few holes – a great course and a great disc golf community as well.
We played holes 17 and 18 together which turned out to be very representative of how great a course this is. Hole 17 is a very straight throw headed down a very narrow line. I threw my max weight Mako straight down the tube, catching a really late branch and dropping within 15 of the basket. Thanks to the fellas that showed me the way. Hole 18 turned out to be the longest hole of the course with a nice power-arm par 4. Make the first gap with a stable RHBH and come down in the clearing ready for a second drive that could give you a look for a birdie 3, otherwise, another approach for a solid par 4.
I discovered that Tahoe Vista is by far my favorite course in the area. It is super accessible, has some excellent variety in hole lay out and strategy, the golfers in the area are welcoming, and the environment and views are incredible. I cannot imagine a trip to the area that would not include a stop at Tahoe Vista for a round. Make sure you bring some friends, your camera, and have a good day of disc golf that includes Tahoe Vista.