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The Pacific Ocean is a water hazard. Hitting into the rough means trying to find your ball in a 1,000-year-old redwood forest with 200-plus-foot trees. Swaying mustard growing between the rows of rolling vineyards distracts you from a birdie putt.
Welcome to golf in Sonoma County. With a mild climate that encourages year-round play, fantastic off-the-fairway diversions, and a stunning
natural setting, Sonoma County features playful resort golf courses for beginners and challenging links for pin-seekers chasing par.
If you’re a golfer who loves hearty red wines, Windsor Golf Club is a prime location. This former stop on the PGA Nationwide Tour represents Wine Country golf at its best. The challenging layout carves through a gently rolling landscape dotted with lakes, a meandering creek, and majestic oaks.
After a morning on the green, the afternoon will be all about the reds — Cabernets, Zinfandels, and Syrahs — found a few miles away in Alexander Valley. Grab a picnic lunch on the way in Healdsburg and take your picnic to Hanna Winery and enjoy a great glass of wine with tremendous views.
Lodging Recommendation: Hampton Inn & Suites –
the ideal launching point for your Wine Country adventures. The inn is located within easy reach of Highway 101 and the Charles
M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport. It's
just minutes from the Windsor Town Green, which offers free outdoor concerts and moonlight movies, plus shopping and dining in the many
boutiques, restaurants, and cafes that line the green and nearby streets. And there's no resisting the spectacular bounty of the Windsor
Farmers Market on
Thursdays, June through August.
Experience one of Northern California's most impressive golf courses at the Links at Bodega Harbor. Perched along the spectacular Pacific coastline, this course combines breathtaking natural beauty with the award-winning design of Robert Trent Jones II.
And off the course, there's no need to go far to taste wine. Gourmet Au Bay is a waterside wine bar, bottle shop, and gift store featuring small-production, award-winning wines and coastal-inspired gifts. Enjoy the view as you sip a flight of wines served on a mini-surfboard, and dine on delicious food from their wood fired oven, including soups, flatbreads, and seafood.
Made famous in the early 1960s as the backdrop for scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's film classic, “The Birds,” Tides Wharf Restaurant remains a distinctive destination for locals and travelers from around the world. In addition to the popular restaurant and bar, the Tides Wharf also features a fish market, gift shop, snack bar, and a wholesale seafood business.
Lodging Recommendation: From its seaside perch, Bodega Bay Lodge offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, the calm Bodega Bay, and the rugged shoreline. It's perfect for a romantic hideaway, family excursion, or company retreat.
At its heart, the Sonoma Golf Club at the Sonoma Mission Inn is a treasured "core golf" experience set on 177 acres of rolling terrain highlighted by massive oaks, lakes, and sweeping vistas of the Mayacamas Mountains and neighboring vineyards. You're sure to appreciate how the balance and blend of long and short holes creates a perfect rhythm as you move through the round.
Then, explore wine while enjoying being outside in the amazing Sonoma Valley weather. At Benziger Family Winery a tram pulled by a Massey 375 tractor (see photo) takes visitors through the Sonoma estate vineyards, gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries for a 45-minute adventure in winegrowing. The tour includes a visit to the underground estate caves and a wine tasting.
Lodging Recommendation: After golfing and wine tasting, relax and indulge at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Once checked in, enjoy Willow Creek Spa onsite. You’ll find this is the ultimate elegant oasis, blessed by natural mineral hot springs in the Sonoma Valley, an idyllic, world-famous wine growing region abundant with local products. The resort’s acclaimed Santé restaurant exudes the California Wine Country experience.
Image credit: Sonoma County Tourism