If you crave a round of golf while in Humboldt County, you're covered north, south, east and west, with options geographically and economically. Seven courses dot the area ranging from Willow Creek in far eastern Humboldt to Shelter Cove right on the Pacific Ocean in Southern Humboldt. Five are public courses: two nine-holers and three 18-hole tracks. Two are 18-hole private country clubs. Here's a quick rundown to get you in the swing and your clubs out of the trunk. Fore!
Designed and opened in 1960, this course provides an enjoyable, quick round of nine or 18. Located just a mile or two north of town, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club is public and affordable at $25 to $35. It's a short course at 2,530 yards and par 35. Some of the greens are amazingly small and hard to hit, but it's flat and easy to walk. Nestled in a mountain valley, the scenery is beautiful and the golfers friendly.
For tee times, call the golf shop at (530) 629-2977. 333 Bigfoot Avenue, Willow Creek.
In French, the name means the "beautiful prairie," and many pretty holes wind up and down through pine, spruce and redwood forests on this 18-hole, public facility. Several of the highest elevation holes have views of the Pacific Ocean, which is only a mile away.
Designed by golf pro and club owner Don Harling, it opened in 1967. It's relatively short at about 5,880 yards from the men's blue tees, 5,400 yards from the white and just over 5,000 yards from the women's tees. However, this par-71 course will challenge your skills with its trees, water hazards, dog legs and sloped terrain.
Green fees for 18 holes range from $31 during primetime on weekdays to $37 on the weekends. Savvy, cost-conscious golfers can enjoy a $20 "twilight" rate after 1 p.m. and $12 "super twilight" after 3 p.m.
For tee times, call (707) 839-3412. 1777 Norton Road, McKinleyville.
There may not be a more gorgeous 18-hole golf course in Northern California than Baywood. This private country club synthesized two courses, Bayside and Baywood, into one in 1958.
It's a tale of two nines at Baywood, with the front nine more open off the tees than the sometimes treacherously tight and long back nine, the holes of which are lined with majestic redwood trees. Situated in a valley about five miles from the coast, the par-72 track is mostly protected from the wind.
It is the longest course in the county, measuring 6,411 yards from the men's blue tees, 6137 yards from the white tees and 5,803 yards from the women's tees. It's also rated the toughest golf course in the county by the Northern California Golf Association.
Local non-members and out-of-towners can play this course with a member for $50. Travelers who belong to private country clubs can often get in for a round by having their golf pro call Baywood's pro. These reciprocal green fees are $65.
For tee times call (707) 822-3688. 3600 Buttermilk Lane, Arcata
This unpretentious, public 18-hole course features relatively short holes, flat terrain and not many hazards with which to grapple. It's an enjoyable and well-maintained course, especially considering how much use it gets.
The back nine offers more adventurous holes with some severe doglegs. The par-70 course measures just shy of 5,500 yards for the men and just beyond 5,200 yards for the women.
The staff is relaxed and hospitable, and will go out of the way to help you have an enjoyable round. Green fees are affordable, ranging from $13 to $26.
For tee times, call (707) 443-4808. 4750 Fairway Drive.
This immensely enjoyable 18-hole private course has a unique, devilish 6-6-6 routing of holes: six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s. There are three par 3s, par 4s and par 5s on each nine, which mean ample opportunity for pars and birdies.
Nine holes were originally established in 1927, but the course went bankrupt. It was resurrected in 1957 and the last nine holes were added in the late 1990s. The front and back are markedly different: The front is flatter and more protected from the wind, while the back nine has several holes, notably 12 and 13, that are exposed at an elevation of about 1,000 feet. The sometimes strong breezes make it more fun for the adventurous golfer to change his or her approach.
The course is immaculately maintained, with fast and hard fairways in the summer, as well as the quickest greens in the county. It's known as the most playable winter course in Humboldt because it drains so well in the rainy season.
Local non-members and visitors can play this course with a member for $45. Like at Baywood, travelers who belong to private country clubs can often play this course if their golf pro calls Redwood's pro. Green fees are $50.
For tee times call (707) 725-5194. 352 Country Club Drive, Fortuna.
The famous Benbow Inn just south of Garberville also owns a nine-hole course. The track features tight fairways, for which most golfers leave their drivers in their bags.
For Southern Humboldt residents or travelers, Benbow offers a quick and affordable round of golf with green fees ranging from $20 to $30. Total nine-hole yardage for men is about 2,600 yards, for women, 2,500. The hotel also offers packages with a golf round included.
For tee times, call (707) 923-2777. 7000 Benbow Drive, Garberville.
Located right on the Pacific Ocean in the southeast corner of Humboldt County, the remote community includes an airstrip for small planes and a nine-hole course circling it.
If you're vacationing in Shelter Cove, the course gives a golfer a chance to play amid the sea air for only $10, which you put into an honor-system drop-box. And the small planes taking off and landing are fun to watch.
For tee times, call (707) 986-7435. 1555 Upper Pacific Drive, Shelter Cove.