This is the fifth in a series of articles reviewing the top 20 public golf courses within easy reach of Los Altos.
Surrounded on two sides by south San Jose housing developments and on the others by turkey- and deer-populated rolling hills, the Santa Teresa Golf Club course was originally constructed in 1962.
The front nine is quite flat, with wide fairways and trees that have matured over the past 45 years. The back side has a bit more elevation change, with six holes wandering the lowest slopes of the hills below Mount Umunhum. Both nines are crossed by a large set of PG&E power lines. The course does its best to minimize the unsightly visual impact of these wires and towers, but they do come into play on a couple of holes on the front side and detract from the otherwise graceful setting.
The last five years have been good to the course and result in my ranking it the 16th best public/semi-private golf course within 45 minutes of Los Altos.
A new irrigation system makes fairways and roughs a consistent and solid green, unlike years past. In addition, greens and tees and some greenside bunkers were rebuilt starting in the early 2000s. Now all this construction is complete and the result has added significant challenge, interest and atmosphere.
While most fairways are free of obstacles and the roughs are cut short to speed play, the greens really make this course. They are very large, with multiple pin locations toward the perimeters. The extra size allows greenskeepers to move the flagstick frequently, giving each area a rest. During the week, when play is not as heavy as on weekends, more difficult placements are used.
Reading greens on Santa Teresa can be quite challenging. The "poa anna" grass surfaces are mowed daily, with a target speed of approximately 10 on the stint meter – which is fairly quick. This means players cannot be too aggressive with the long putts often faced. Add to that the well-hidden drainage slopes and the subtle terracing, and many a par opportunity becomes a double bogey.
The course is managed as a high volume, good quality and affordable golf venue with a strong record of encouraging new golfers. For the quality, it truly is a good value. In addition to an extensive teaching program, it has a beautifully maintained short nine-hole golf course. This extra nine gives beginners the feel and quality of the real track – but not the difficulty. On the full-sized course, they have added an extra set of tees, located where experienced drivers land their shots, to give youngsters and beginners a 200-plus-yard jumpstart on each hole. Where were these ideas 50 years ago?
The golf course is located at 260 Bernal Road, San Jose. Greens fees range from $15-$57, and carts cost $26.
For more information, call (408) 225-2650 or visit www.santateresagolf.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."