TRUCKEE, Calif. - Most golfers can't afford being a member or owning a beautiful home at the Schaffer's Mill Golf & Lake Club. But everybody and anybody can experience one wonderful day inside the gates at Schaffer's Mill. The private club near Lake Tahoe allows limited public tee times on Mondays.
What course architects John Harbottle III and Johnny Miller accomplished in the Martis Valley between Lake Tahoe and Truckee is a work of art. The 7,010-yard course (which opened in 2008 as Timlick before changing ownership in 2011) ends with a back nine as good as any in the region (including Edgewood Tahoe's famous lake-front finish in Stateline, Nev.) or in all of northern California for that matter (aside from Pebble Beach Golf Links, of course). While the front nine introduces the beautiful rolling fairways, all lined with impressive homes and towering pines, the back nine turns up the volume on these features. Simply put, these holes boast more personality and charm.
The 10th hole climbs uphill over a manmade water feature, leading to the risk-reward 11th, which is 302 yards of shot- and decision-making fun. The bunkering and shape of the par-5 14th and par-4 15th holes are simply majestic in their presentation. No. 16 looks simple enough until a tricky green repels your ball. The downhill tee shot on no. 17 ends with a picturesque reveal, a green and pond perched below. A stream crossing the 18th fairway feeds into a pond near the 18th green, finishing the day as a stout 605-yard par 5.
A new updated menu stocked with short-rib tacos and millionaire burgers is being unveiled at The Market in the clubhouse: Sound good, right? Life isn't too bad at Schaffer's Mill.