STATELINE, Nev. - All of America's newest golf resorts have been built far off the grid ... except one.
The Retreat & Links at Silvies Valley Ranch is three hours from civilization in the high desert of eastern Oregon. Sand Valley feels like another world altogether in rural Wisconsin. Streamsong Resort hides deep in the phosphate-mined dunes of remote central Florida, miles from the theme park chaos of Orlando.
Perhaps this is what defines the greatness of the new Lodge at Edgewood. Golf's newest resort sits right in the heart of the action in South Lake Tahoe. It hugs the shores of Lake Tahoe, possibly America's most beautiful natural treasure outside of the Grand Canyon, and maybe Yellowstone or Yosemite. And yet the Lodge at Edgewood maintains that relaxed vibe like the place is yours alone. The resort grounds are surrounded by the bustling traffic from the Heavenly ski village and towering casino hotels. However, once you're inside the gates, you've escaped reality. Looking out on the lake, all you see are the snow-capped Sierras on the other side.
The 154-room, LEED-certified lodge debuted in June 2017, adding a stay and play component to the adjacent Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, a really good George Fazio routing dating to 1968. It has redefined luxury on the lake. It's not a stretch to say that golf's newest resort might be the best built in the past decade, at least where accommodations are concerned. The Lodge at Edgewood was ranked No. 1 in the Top 15 Continental U.S. Resort Hotels and the Top 10 West Resort Hotels categories in the 2018 World’s Best Awards by Travel + Leisure magazine.
It's almost unfathomable to think that this space for decades was a parking lot used for the golf course. Maybe the lyrics for the famous Joni Mitchell song need to be rewritten - "They paved a parking lot and put up a paradise." A long weekend stay with my family proved to be the spectacular getaway needed to recharge before the rigors of back to school. Whenever I update this story on my favorite family golf resorts, the Lodge at Edgewood will most certainly be included.
Lodge at Edgewood
I haven't been to another resort where everything you need is so conveniently located just steps away from the front door. Especially the golf course and the beach on the lake. Once the valet parked our car, we didn't touch it. If we went anywhere, a lux shuttle bus was available anytime free of charge.
The Lodge at Edgewood greets guests with a three-story wall of windows in the hotel's great room, looking out onto the lake. The details to accentuate the theme of an alpine lodge are fantastic. Grand wood beams and a stone fireplace paint an inviting picture for first-timers. Unique light fixtures drop from the ceiling. Artistic deer heads hang high upon a wall. The white wall along the grand wood staircase is decorated with tree carvings. On your right is the bistro bar for a homespun cocktail or local brew.
Our second-story, lakeside room had a balcony view to die for. Little touches - decorative logs under the gas fireplace, a mountain mural on the small refrigerator and a pair of french doors that open up a huge bathroom to the bedroom - give the room a homey cabin feel.
Where the lodge really got it right is its backyard event lawn. There's several fire pits and space galore for lawn games like corn hole and oversized chess. On our second night, there was enough room for a small corporate dinner held near the ninth green and a wedding ceremony taking place behind the golf course clubhouse - all while my children played lacrosse and other families chased small toddlers. Everybody was having a great time waiting for a magnificent sunset over the mountains.
During the day, our teens bounced between the cool waters of the crystal-clear lake and the warmth of the heated outdoor pool and 25-person hot tub. Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are available for rent to get out on the water.
The bistro in the hotel offers great menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner with seating indoors and out on a patio. Our breakfast one morning was exotic with bold helpings of cinnamon dough waffles and pumpkin bread french toast. We spent one fantastic sunset dinner dining at Brooks' Bar & Deck, the famous 19th hole at the clubhouse overlooking the 18th green and the lake. The Edgewood Restaurant inside was recently selected as one of the "100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2017" by OpenTable diners.
My wife sampled the spa to get her moment of clarity. She got a traditional Swedish massage, but for the golfers, there are Pre- and Post-golf treatments to set you right. The co-ed relaxation room has its own soaking hot tub and fireplace.
Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
Edgewood, home of the American Century Championship, the golf party thrown for celebrities and athletes televised on NBC every July, is the only course in the region to actually touch the lake. It's resort friendly with 11 doglegs to the right and endlessly beautiful.
Whereas other redevelopment projects tend to take away holes on the water, Edgewood Tahoe actually gained one. The construction of the lodge forced several holes to be redesigned, the end result being a terrific new ninth hole that bends gently left much closer to the shore than the original. The finishing stretch of the back nine is great for match play or the stableford scoring used in the tournament. The par-5 16th hole reintroduces the lake views. A tree blocks the middle of the fairway (just like on no. 8), but for most solid players, it's reachable in two. The par 3 at no. 17 runs parallel to the shoreline. Any misses right end up on the beach or under waves. The finishing hole following the lake is one of the great risk-reward par 5s on the planet. A pond pinches the green from the left, often forcing players trying to go for it to miss a shot that drowns in the lake.
While I was there, the maintenance crew was clearing out brush from the various creeks and ponds on the course, giving it a really clean look. The greens were lightning good. Take Shadow Creek - the $500 showstopper in Las Vegas - and the mind-bending Wolf Creek in Mesquite out of the mix, and Edgewood Tahoe would be the top public/resort course in Nevada, hands down.
South Lake Tahoe
You don't have to be a gambler or skier to appreciate South Lake Tahoe. Sure, the casinos are there if you need them for a little nightlife - maybe to catch a comedian or go dancing in a club - but plenty of people avoid them. The ski village is a great for people watching and going out to dinner in summer. It's close enough that you can easily walk to town from the lodge, or get picked up/dropped off by the resort shuttle. There's live music in several spots, and plenty of stores for browsing. It's become family tradition to stop by the Rocket Fizz candy store and buy some Bottle Caps, an old-school, hard-to-find sugary delicacy.
Riding up the Heavenly Gondola delivers the jaw-dropping views of the lake from high elevation. There's also summer activities - mini-golf, trampolines, etc. - for kids and food and drinks served high on the mountain.
We realized how lucky we were to have the resort beach to ourselves after seeing how busy the public beach at the Round Hill Pines Beach Resort was one afternoon. Fortunately, the Tahoe Serenity, a 63-foot yacht, whisked us away from the dock nearby for an enchanting three-hour pleasure cruise to Emerald Bay across the lake. The chance to feel the breeze on the water without the worries of owning your own boat made the journey feel sweeter.
Between the lake, the lodge and the links, summer is swell in South Lake Tahoe.