To golfers like me stuck in the traffic jams and the stress of the high cost of living in the Bay Area, Saddle Creek is the ultimate value-oriented escape.
It's tucked away in tiny Copperopolis in Calaveras County among the foothills of the Sierras. Inside the gated community are welcoming resort-style amenities that help public golfers feel like a member during their visit or stay.
Golfers staying in the plush Lodge Bungalows can simply park their car and never leave. The staff will deliver a golf cart to your door for your round.
Even if you aren't playing, the clubhouse and its fine Copper Grille restaurant and the practice area are all centrally located within walking distance. The fitness center complex, located a short drive away, features an outdoor pool and hot tub perfect for the family, along with outdoor horseshoe pits, tennis courts and bocce ball courts.
The course, designed by Carter Morrish, is the center of this universe. It rolls up and down the surrounding hills amid dozens of spectacular homes. No two holes run parallel to one another. The wide fairways are generous, but if you do go astray, tall fescue will devour your ball. Uphill holes (such as no. 6 and no. 10) and the approach shots over water on the par-5 eighth and the par-4 ninth holes are the toughest challenges.
It's about as close to a five-star golf experience as a hidden gem can get.