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Check out course in Rohnert Park

San Mateo County Times
March 2004

by Gib Papazian

In taking a road trip to play golf outside of San Mateo County, it is important to consider whether the quality of golf and corresponding fees are worth the journey.

Foxtail North in Rohnert Park is a worthy destination for the public links player looking for value without having to fish out a handful of Jacksons to bat the ball around.

First, a little history. Located off Hwy – 101, 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Foxtail Golf Club is the site of the former Mountain Shadows golf courses.

Neither one of the Mountain Shadows layouts were impressive and in past years we passed them over for consideration to recommend to our readers.

Three years ago, CourseCo, which manages Crystal Springs and Metropolitan Club in Oakland amongst others, took over the complex and sought to reinvent the poorly run facility.

After changing the name to Foxtail, they hired Gary Linn, formerly of R.T. Jones, Jr’s design firm, to remodel both courses.

The South Course was reopened first and although improved, it does not possess the appeal to warrant a long drive despite modest fees.

The North was completed in May 2003 with impressive results. Despite using the same routing, Linn did a masterful job of transforming a bland, run-of-the-mill public layout, into a golf course with strategy and visual appeal.

The key is the bunkering, starting on the first hole. A long par-five that moves gently left, the hazards are arranged to force players to tack back and forth in deciding how much to bite off on each shot. Finding a way to make the 2nd shot on a long par-5 interesting is difficult, but this opening gambit lets players know what they are in for immediately.

It is a theme carried out all around the golf course, including many spots where menacing bunkers are placed 25 yards in front of greens to foreshorten the perspective. Even straight holes invariably twist, wriggle and writhe around hazards, forcing a decision.

We found ourselves seeing hints of Alister Mackenzie everywhere, especially from the tees. Shorter hitters can smooth a shot to safety, but low handicappers are constantly forced to squeeze the driver between water and yawning bunkers or lay back leaving a longer approach.

A favorite hole is the 10th, a left-to-right Cape Hole. Wrapping around an expansive lake to a green clinging to the edge of the hazard, at 330 yards it seems a 3-wood and short-iron. But too risky a line over water gets wet while the cowards play to the left finds waiting fairway bunkers.

It is a theme carried out the entire course, water or bunkers where the player is likely to try and push the envelope just one inch too far. There is always the safe play, making Foxtail North an ideal match play course – an equally enjoyable round for the average golfer as well as the low handicapper.

In keeping with CourseCo’s philosophy, the course was reconstructed to provide natural habitats while irrigating with reclaimed water. The Audubon Society has recognized Foxtail for their efforts in conservation while severely limiting the use of pesticides.

Conditioning used to be an issue under former management, but we found everything well maintained, especially given the constraints imposed by Audubon certification. The lies in the fairway sat up on healthy turf and the putting surfaces rolled true.

It is no great accomplishment to present a well-conditioned golf course and charge green fees of $100 or more. The most impressive part of Foxtail is its value for the money.

Fees on the North Course are $48 on the weekend before noon and $35 thereafter. During the week, it is $32 before noon and $24 after. Carts are $13 on either course, but it is an easy walk with no hill climbing.

Foxtail has a convenient driving range and good restaurant and bar. If your group is planning on spending the night playing the South course the next day, there is a DoubleTree Hotel adjacent to the property as well as affordable accommodations close by.

To contact Foxtail, phone 707-584-7766 or on the web


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Knott & Linn Golf Design Group, LLC
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Photography Courtesy of John & Jeannine Henebry

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