INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - The Championship Course at Incline Village lives up to its name.
It's every bit the championship challenge, despite being a resort-style course near Lake Tahoe. Water lurks on seven holes, giving it a target-golf feel. Five-star reviews outnumber four-star reviews 2-to-1 on Golf Advisor.
I'd recommend playing from the white tees like my foursome did. They might look short on the scorecard (6,000 yards), but that's where the "incline" part of the name rings true. A number of holes - including the first and last - climb dramatically uphill, playing a couple clubs longer. The 7,106-yard layout, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. before a 2003 renovation, rides such dramatic terrain in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that plenty of lies end up on an incline (up or down) as well, leading to tougher-than-normal approach shots.
The most memorable hole is no. 6, the most difficult of a solid collection of par 3s. It's rare that a par 3 ranks as the no. 2 handicap, but it's so tough to pull the proper club for the downhill tee shot and still fly the large hazard protecting the green.
If you're hungry or thirsty, the Grille at the Chateau inside the clubhouse is popular with local non-golfers who come to dine on the patio. Don't forget about the club's Mountain course, which targets women, juniors and beginners with a scenic collection of short par 4s and 14 par 3s. It's a fun place to play for a more affordable, faster round of golf.