The Stanford University Golf Course in Palo Alto, California is a classic layout on the campus of Stanford University. Originally designed in the 1930’s by William F. Bell and George C. Thomas Jr., The Stanford course meanders its way through the foothills around campus. The front nine is played at the base of the hills, while the back nine weaves in and out of the surrounding terrain, with significant elevation changes on several holes.
The clubhouse carries just the bare necessities, but the staff is exceptionally accommodating. The driving range is a significant distance away from the first tee, so make sure to show up well in advance if you plan on taking advantage of the world class practice facility. If you don’t have time to make it to the range before you tee off, a practice putting green near the first tee allows you to quickly get a feel for the speed of the greens.
The 1st hole is a par 5 that plays to a maximum of 514 yards in length. Make sure not to top your ball, as the drive requires you to hit over Junipero Sierra Boulevard from the elevated tee to the fairway below. Fortunately, ample room on each side of the fairway provides some relief from first tee jitters, and a solid second shot means that there is the possibility of making an eagle to start your round.
The 3rd and 4th hole are back to back par 3’s, and both require forced carries over waste areas. The best miss on both holes is long, as the hazards extend along the sides of both greens. The third hole is longer, and can be reached with a long iron, but the green on the 4th hole is tiny, requiring a more accurate shot with a mid iron. A large hump in the middle of the third green requires accuracy off the tee in order to have a putting chance of making birdie.
The 12th hole is the Stanford University signature hole, a long par 4 with an elevated tee shot. Several trees in the middle of the landing area present a challenging dilemma, either play up the sides of the fairway, and hope your ball remains on course, or take a chance that your ball could be in the middle of the fairway and you don’t have a chance to go for the green. One interesting quirk on this hole is that it plays as a par 5 from the White tees and a par 4 from the Black and Cardinal Tees. Because it is a par 5 from the White tees, they are actually placed further back on the teeing area then the Black Tees are, even though the total yardage of the Black Tees is greater.
The 14th Hole is a intimidating par 3, playing to a distance of close to 200 yards from the back tee. Another forced carry over a large ravine is the first obstacle the player faces. The green is basically dug out from the side of the mountain, and any errant shots require a brutal downhill chip from heavy rough to the green below.
The Golf Course is owned by Stanford University, and is open for play to all Faculty, Students and Alumni of the University. Unfortunately, guest privileges are very limited, and unaccompanied guest play is not allowed. One extra benefit of attending Stanford (in addition to all the others that come with attending such a prestigious university) is that current students are able to play the course any day of the week for $25. Guests must pay as much as $135 plus cart fees, which considering the quality of play is still a tremendous value for golf in the Bay area.
To reach the golf course from San Francisco International Airport, take the 101 highway south to State Hwy 92 towards Half Moon Bay. Proceed on Highway 92 to I-280. Follow I-280 South for approximately 10 miles to exit 24 Sand Hill Road. Merge onto Sand Hill Road and turn right at Alpine Road. Take the first left onto Junipero Serra Boulevard, and follow the signs to the course.
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