Mon09222014

Food & Wine

For a taste of Florida golfing, play Las Pasitas course in Livermore

This is the second in a series of articles reviewing the top 20 golf courses within easy reach of Los Altos.

Sandwiched between Livermore's airport and Interstate 580 sits the city's municipal golf course, Las Positas. The course was built in 1966, and for years it looked like a hardpan-ridden, wind-swept torture track to many of those zooming to the Valley along that well-traveled highway corridor. But, in 2003, with the advent of a new maintenance philosophy and an investment in irrigation, the conditions at Las Positas improved immensely. The fairways and greens are now in excellent condition and allow the basic (and appealing) design of the course to show its true self.

Those golfers homesick for Florida, or those wondering what designs in the Southeast are like, will enjoy holes 1, 4 and 5, which have plenty of water and fairways that slope toward the ponds. Other special holes include numbers 8 and 9, which cross water and have enough length to create challenging green approach shots.

Forty-year-old trees are now full grown and line most fairways. Fortunately, they are usually back far enough to interrupt only the most wayward shots. The grass used in the rough is very friendly and makes hitting from there easier than usual. This is especially advantageous around the greens, as the ball sits up and the chipping stroke goes through the ball without grabbing. The greens are good in the summer and are said to be extraordinary in the winter, when they are groomed fast at 12 and 13 on the Stint meter, nearly U.S. Open speed.

The freeway noise on holes 13 and 14 is a bit much, and the afternoon wind can increase difficulty significantly. Save for these distractions and the occasional private jet landing next door, a round at Las Positas is a walk in the park. And if you want a shorter walk, try their adjacent 9-hole executive course.

On a lighter note, Las Positas boasts a goose-chasing dog named Perk, who is marginally successful at keeping waterfowl poop off the fairways.

Las Positas Golf Course is located at 917 Clubhouse Drive, Livermore. Greens fees are $10-$40, cart fee is $26. There is cart access to fairways.

For more information, call (925) 455-7820 or visit www.laspositasgolfcourse.com.

Longtime Los Altos resident Doug Dawson is a recently retired manufacturing business manager who is researching and writing a book, "Northern California's 100 Best Public and Resort Golf Courses."

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