Silver Oak Golf Course: The best course you'll find for your buck in Northern Nevada

Silver Oak Golf Course General Manager Tom Duncan has a habit of making his mark on some of the area's more beautiful golf courses. 10 years ago, he was involved with the launch of Dayton Valley Country Club. Now the Arnold Palmer designed course is one of Northern Nevada's greatest courses.

10 years before that, Duncan helped with the beginning of Eagle Valley, a great public golf course that has since prided itself on its low green fees.

So when Silver Oak began its development a few years ago, Duncan already knew how to turn it into one of the area's premier courses.

"If you've seen Dayton Valley, then you know how good of shape it's in," said Duncan, who's son T.J. plays golf for the University of Oregon. "That's what I brought to this course."

Now Duncan has turned Silver Oak into a definite must play. Even better, it's probably the best golf course you'll find for your buck in the Reno-Tahoe-Carson City region.

At Genoa Lakes, head pro Tim Davis said that 90 percent of their play comes from out-of-towners. Thus, Genoa's green fees run upwards to $100 for a round of golf, depending on the season.

Silver Oak's rate during the peak season is $40 per round. After 3 p.m., the rate drops to $25. While the twilight rate seems irresistible, remember that if the afternoon winds pick up, which almost happens daily, then Silver Oak becomes a miserable playing experience.

The picturesque back nine features five holes that are built into the foothills that border Carson City's western edge.

"When you get up there, you get some great views of the city," Duncan said.

Besides the cheap green fees, the course is also playable. Measuring just 6,564 yards from the tips, it's truly a course for golfers of all abilities.

The layout contrasts a country club setting with homes lining the course on the front nine to the dramatic high desert backdrop of the back nine, which is more challenging. Considering the differing terrain, it's amazing that the condition of the course hasn't diminished since it opened all 18 holes in June of 1999.

"You get some courses that when they open they are in great shape but then deteriorate over time," Duncan said. "Here, the conditions are the same as when we started, if not better."

The course does lack a signature hole and on the back nine, the course plays a bit unfair. A few holes are uphill the entire way. The par-5 12th, which measures 522 yards from the championship tees, plays nearly 50 yards longer because of the steep incline. But there aren't any downhill holes, except for two short par 3s. Also there are a couple of holes with severely elevated greens, which makes it difficult to calculate distances, especially for somebody playing the course for the first time. But as with most courses, course knowledge eventually results in lower scores.

Since the course is relatively short, the par 5s present the best birdie chances. Even No. 12 can be birdied with two long and accurate shots. From the blue tees on the back nine, both par 5s aren't longer than 500 yards. And on the front nine, although not reachable in two by most golfers, the par 5s still are birdie opportunities because both fairways are wide open. So by laying up and firing an accurate third shot, these become holes to score on.

"That's what make the course so fun to play," Duncan said. "It can be as difficult or easy as you want."

In just a few years, Duncan has transformed a once deserted sagebrush field into Northern Nevada's newest golf jewel.

For more information, please call 841-7000.

Directions: From U.S. 395, turn left (or West) on College Parkway, then take your first right and follow the road to the parking lot.

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