Wednesday Jul 22 2009
Yocha-De-He: A natural beauty
By: Jeffrey Weidel Special to the Journal
New course near Woodland offers a scenic, fun experience
For thousands of years, the Patwin Indians roamed the southwestern portion of the Sacramento Valley, often spending long stretches of time hunting and fishing in the pastoral grasslands and rolling hills of the Capay Valley. Among this group of Indians, there was a definite respect and reference for the natural beauty of the Capay Valley. It was a tranquil region, providing a peaceful setting where generations of tribal people felt right at home. Certainly any golfer who has experienced a round at Yocha-De-He Golf Club would still describe this valley as tranquil and come away with immense respect for its inherent beauty. That beauty is evident in the surrounding hills and also in the layout of this feel-good course that is located up Interstate 5, about 25 minutes from downtown Woodland. Although a member at Silverado County Club’s enticing 36-hole layout, George Altobell of Napa was standing at the first tee on an early Saturday morning in July, gazing from the elevated tee box on the first hole, contemplating his shot and the aesthetic appeal of the Cache Creek Casino course. “I just love the beauty of the course and the uniqueness of all the holes; it’s a really fun course to play,” Altobell said. “My wife (Linda) and I love it here. It’s the type of course that makes you think instead of just stepping up to the tee and blasting away.” Don’t get the wrong idea, some “blasting” is required at any of Yocha-De-He’s five tee selections, and even big hitters can be humbled by the distance, which goes 7,334 (slope of 136) from the back tees. Even the preferred red tees (6,449 yards) will require some long tee shots to score effectively. Sacramento golf architect Brad Bell did a fair amount of mounding and constructed a 19-acre lake on the Rumsay Band of Wintun Indians’ land, manufacturing a course that has some very enviable qualities. Yocha-De-He offers generous fairways that tolerate mistakes, and the greens are over-sized and conducive for getting there in regulation. Making that par or birdie putt is typically not routine, but certainly the course is ripe for producing a good or great round. “It’s a very fair course, the type where if you play well you will definitely be rewarded,” said Chris Traina, a first-time player from Roseville. “I like that there are risk/reward holes where you have decisions to make. But everything is right in front of you. There’s not much guesswork.” Yocha-De-He possesses some unique qualities. At No. 15, a split fairway is an option off the tee, while the 17th is a bottle-necked, short par-5 that begs golfers to try reaching the green in two shots while disregarding the urge to avoid the water hazard by laying up. The finishing hole at 18 also flirts with water and will provide a challenge to all levels of golfers to finish with a pleasing par. A fantastic GPS system, that will actually show you how far away the group in front is located, will serve as a friendly tour guide. Club selection is never a guessing game at Yocha-De-He, which is a good thing considering all the sand traps that are possible landing areas. Green fees are quite steep on Friday and Saturday at $105. Twilight rates (after 3 p.m.) are much more reasonable Sunday through Thursday at $55. Jeffrey Weidel is the former Editor of the Press-Tribune in Roseville and has been an avid golfer for over 15 years.