A view of Northwood Golf Club in California.

Patrick Koenig

Our educated crew of course raters has caught pegs in the floor nearly all over the place. Many of these programs you’ve in all probability know, however some are much less famend — not less than for many golfers. In Best Course You’ve Never Heard Of, we rejoice these sneaky-good designs.

Each July, the Sonoma County hamlet of Monte Rio, Calif. (pop. 1,152), turns into the backdrop for a two-week conclave of a secret all-male congregation often called the Bohemian Club. Simply north of the forest grove the place this society meets, on an elbow of the Russian River, lies Northwood Golf Club.

Designed in 1928 by Dr. Alister MacKenzie for members of the Bohemian fraternity, this 2,893-yard, 9-hole course is set in an ethereal glade, guarded by stands of redwoods. The routing tacks by the conifers, requiring deft hybrids and lengthy irons off the tees and surgical approaches to tiny greens. The bones of MacKenzie’s design are nonetheless current in some of the greens whereas remnants of fairway bunkering endure as grass depressions strewn all through the course.

Northwood Golf Club is open to the public.

Courtesy Picture

Challenges start immediately on the 1st gap, the place the Good Physician constructed a fronting bunker right into a greenside mound that shunts balls left to a inexperienced that falls away right into a small dell. The 2nd gap is a standout, with contours in the fairway and a semi-blind method to a cape-shaped inexperienced pinched by tall timber on either side.

The inexperienced is constructed right into a ridge, which a savvy participant can use to financial institution a ball onto the placing floor. Different examples of MacKenzie’s crafty genius embrace the sharp back-to-front cant of the 4th inexperienced; the remainders of his clouds-in-the-sky bunkering type on the par-5 fifth; and the fantastic 110-yard, par-3 eighth. A distant cousin to the fifteenth at Cypress Level, this diminutive magnificence requires a soft-dropping shot to a tiny inexperienced camouflaged by 4 MacKenzie-style bunkers.

Northwood is a interval piece and a beautiful stroll amid arboreal splendor. A public facility (weekend inexperienced charges prime out at $32 for 9 holes and $45 for 18), it may use some restorative touches to shine what MacKenzie constructed a near-century in the past. Regardless, the course stays shrouded and secluded in time, like the Bohemian movers and shakers who go to each summer season.

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