Nicklaus stops in Truckee to inspect signature course | SierraSun.com

Nicklaus stops in Truckee to inspect signature course

Dan Savickas

Dan SavickasJack Nicklaus, along with his "army," takes a truck tour of Old Greenwood golf course.

Old Greenwood will surly be the talk of Truckee’s golfing community as the only Nicklaus Design Course in the Tahoe area.

The course, set to open July 4 of next year, stretches 7,542 yards at an elevation of 6,000 feet above sea level and will be open to the public.

“I know what’s out here,” said Jack Nicklaus. “There’s ponderosa pines, soft rolling terrain, vistas and beautiful views. We try to utilize all of these aspects the best we can.”

The front nine holes are set throughout the ponderosa pines with no homes in site. The back nine holes are intertwined in and out of the 99 sites being sold this summer, which look out over Martis Valley to Northstar.

The course has a traditional design to keep the course walkable.

This was Nicklaus’s third trip to Old Greenwood, and three more trips are being planned. Every aspect has had Nicklaus’s personal attention and involvement.

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Nicklaus strolled around the course, which now consists of long open field of dirt and rock with two of his head designers Jim Lipe and Chris Rule. The three men walked around the greens as Nicklaus spoke of different possibilities of play.

“I want this to turn around this way so it contains the shot,” Nicklaus said. “I want to pitch up around this tree.”

He made every scenario and shot seem so feasible. It almost sounded elementary.

“You not sure what’s going to work until you get out here,” Nicklaus said. “The next time I see the course its going to be green, not that it matters to me, I’m colorblind.”

“The real fun is on opening day, I get to use it as a final and see if all of the shots worked out.”

At one point a journalist from a Reno television station asked whether it was tougher to design or play a course.

“Well now it’s playing them,” Nicklaus laughed. “Design isn’t difficult, it’s common sense. I just use my knowledge of the game and try to put in some interesting shots.”

Nicklaus explained he doesn’t believe in a signature hole. “I’m building 18 signature holes, that’s what I was hired to do.”

The Golden Bear, as Nicklaus is sometimes called, lead to the naming of one of his courses in Northern Michigan the Bear. When asked if this course name had any particular meaning to it, Nicklaus replied, “I don’t even know what the name is. What are we calling it?”

“Old Greenwood,” someone replied.

As it turns out, the course is named after Caleb Greenwood who was an early traveler and hunter in the area.

Later in the day property owners and press had a sit down with Nicklaus where he described each hole.

As he spoke of the greens, the bunkers and the water features, it sounded like he was describing a course he’d played a thousand times.

“You’ll have to see it, it’s a pretty hole,” Nicklaus said; obviously describing the vision in his head, since right now the course is brown, dirty and not at all breathtaking despite a few views.

“On the 17th hole, I said to one of my designers, how would the fifth hole of Pebble Beach fit in here? When I say this, I mean philosophy wise; I never copy a hole. But I was thinking we’ll call it Old Greenwood number five at 17. “

The course will obviously not be along the ocean as Pebble Beach is, but it will follow the Truckee River and feature four lakes connected by stocked trout streams.

Nicklaus claimed even though his clubs don’t always make it on his plane, he is never without a fly-fishing rod.

“I don’t have to make this course aesthetically pleasing, it already has that. I just need to put in a few good golf shots and we’ve got a course.”

Not only is Old Greenwood a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, but it is also the only one of Nicklaus’s courses in California aiming to gain the Audubon Signature Program.

The Audubon Signature is provided by an international institute, which designs environmental plans for the course and surrounding property. The goal is biodiversity conservation, environmental quality and sustainability.

In order to gain this signature East West will have to follow a program developed by Audubon in all aspects of the development.