TRUCKEE, Calif. -- From the towering pines and mountain
views, to a trout stream on the 10th hole, Jack Nicklaus said
Monday the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada made it easy to
design his newest golf course.
"The good Lord did most of it. We just put a golf course inside
it," Nicklaus said as he kicked off the grand opening of Old
"The piece of property is loaded with great trees. It's got
some great views. We moved very little dirt on this project," he
said. "You don't try to fit a round peg into a square hole."
The 7,542-yard layout just south of Interstate 80 near Truckee
resembles the course at Reno's Montreux Golf and Country Club --
home of the PGA Tour's Reno-Tahoe Open -- which Nicklaus also
"This has been about four years in the making," said Blake
Riva, senior partner for East-West Partners, developer of the
600-acre resort community which is to include 99 luxury, custom
"We wanted to have the best golf course in the Lake Tahoe area
so we thought to do that we should partner with the best in the
business," he said.
"Jack's done a great job. Having a world-class golf resort here
is good for the whole region."
Nicklaus used a wooden driver -- a replica of the one he played
with in the 1970s -- to hit a ceremonial first drive at the
462-yard, par-4 opening hole. Earlier in the day, he hit a few
putts on the 18th green, draining his second attempt from 50 feet.
"You didn't think I was going to miss two in a row, did you?"
he joked with a crowd of more than 100 people. He also participated
in a "cup cutting" ceremony on the green as a substitute for a
"It's the first one I've ever been involved with," Nicklaus
Fellow golf star Peter Jacobsen, who also designs golf courses,
joined Nicklaus for an interview before the round of golf.
"It's a challenge to design a course for a Tiger Woods from the
back tees, all the way up to my mother, who is a fine player but
does not compress the ball like she used to," Jacobsen said.
Nicklaus said he designs his courses with the average player in
mind, then extends the back tees to accommodate longer hitters. A
certain number of tee times will be made available to the public
each day at the semi-private resort.
"I want to make sure the golf course is very playable and very
user friendly. The back tees are for your brochures and your
scorecard and your advertising," he said.
Based in Beaver Creek, Colo., East West Partners plans four
resort communities in the north Tahoe area under the banner of
Table Mountain Resorts. The Old Greenwood course is the only Jack
Nicklaus Signature course in California that is part of the Audubon
Signature Cooperative Sanctuary Program offering planning services
to help new developments protect natural resources, the developers
"Of all the Nicklaus Design golf courses that I've worked on
and played on, this one undoubtedly has some of the most beautiful
natural surroundings," said Chris Rule, a Nicklaus Design
associate affiliated with the Old Greenwood course.
About 300 people followed Nicklaus and his son Jack Jr. as they
played all 18 holes on the par-72 course Monday afternoon. Nicklaus
said the 600-yard, par-5 10th is one of his favorite because of the
fishing creek that runs the length of the left side of the hole.
"You fish on the left side and play golf on the right side,"
Nicklaus and his son spent some time fishing at Little Prosser
Creek near Truckee on Sunday. He said he nearly snagged a 5-pound
brown trout, but it got away. He said he'll probably spend more
time fishing than golfing in the future, while not attending Little
League games and football games of his 17 grandchildren.
"Probably next year I'll go back to Augusta [The Masters] and
probably go back to St. Andrews [British Open] to say goodbye. That
will be enough for me," he said. He said he doesn't practice
enough to shoot much better than an 85 in tournament conditions.
"I don't shoot any better than that now, and frankly I really
don't care," Nicklaus said.
"I worked very hard at this game for 50 years or more. I think
it's just time to do something else. I would rather, frankly, go
down to Little Prosser Creek."