In this blog post we’ll take a look at some of the best golf courses in Bakersfield in sunny California.
This thriving city in the southern reaches of the San Joaquin Valley is renowned for its agricultural heritage and rich landscape.
It’s not on the other hand renowned as being a golf destination.
If you’re here for a few days, you’ll find enough good golf to keep you entertained. Although, befriending a member of one of the private golf courses in Bakersfield is probably your best bet to play a better course.
Easily accessible with Meadows Field Airport and the CA-99 bisecting the city.
The best public golf courses in Bakersfield, California
|1||The Links at Riverlakes Ranch Golf Club|
|2||Sundale Country Club|
|3||Kern River Golf Course|
|4||North Kern Golf Course|
1. The Links at Riverlakes Ranch Golf Club
In the San Troupe neighborhood of Bakersfield you’ll find the Links at Riverlakes Ranch. The club is located north of the Rosedale Highway, ten to fifteen minutes out of the city.
This hugely enjoyable and scenic course is without doubt one of the best public golf facilities in Bakersfield.
It was designed by David Dale and Kevin Ramsey, opening for play in 1999. Despite the fact this is a relatively flat plot of land, the duo incorporated many subtle undulations and created plenty of movement in the land.
They also devised an intriguing routing with no back and forth holes. Instead the course meanders through a relatively desirable residential area.
And creating such an entertaining layout is all the more impressive considering the site is split in two by the Friant-Kern Canal.
Many architects would have struggled to work with this imposition. But Dale and Ramsey have done a fantastic job working in harmony with it.
If anything, it only goes to make this layout all the more difficult. There were already a lot of water hazards in play, but the canal exponentially increases the risk of getting wet.
Now you understand where the ‘Links’ comes from in the header!
Plastered throughout the 200 acres are plenty of California Redwoods and elegant pines. Likewise, orchards and native plants all combine to create a tapestry of greenery. This is a wonderful place and great value.
2. Sundale Country Club
Located a stone’s throw from the private Stockdale Country Club, in south west Bakersfield, is Sundale Country Club.
What was once a private club is now semi-private and fully open to the public.
It opened in 1963 and was designed by the late Jack Synder, who enjoyed a hugely successful career in golf.
Having designed golf courses all over the U.S. and abroad, he’s probably most well-known for pioneering the growth of golf in Hawaii. At least six golf courses were designed by him.
Sundale Country Club might not quite rival some of those iconic island projects, but it is an enjoyable round nonetheless. Synder’s belief was that ‘golf should always be fun and enjoyable’, and with that in mind, it’s maybe not surprising Sundale isn’t overly challenging.
The greens are small, so accuracy is key. But generally the fairways are open and not too penal. Whilst the greens roll well but aren’t too fast.
3. Kern River Golf Course
Kern River Golf Course is another immensely popular municipal golf course in Bakersfield.
It is located west out of the city in the Choctaw Valley and has occupied this spot since 1951.This is when the celebrated architect William F. Bell, and his son William P. Bell, were responsible for devising the routing we continue to play today.
First and foremost this is a stunning location. The site is overlooked by the Sierra Nevada Mountains whilst the snaking Kern River runs alongside its eastern perimeter. It’s also positioned right next to the serene Lake Ming.
But most importantly is how much fun it is to play.
The fairways are wide and encourage driver play off the tee. In fact pulling out the driver is all the more appealing due to the lack of hazards.
The only consideration off the tee is keeping it relatively straight and avoiding the trees. But even if you do find the trees, it’s very unlikely you’ll lose a ball. And the only bunkers you’ll find are green-side.
This definitely appeals to a certain quality of player. For example, single handicap golfers might find the layout lacking in challenge.
But the quality of a course is not simply how difficult it is to play, but also in the eye of the beholder! Hence why despite the lack of hazards, Kern River remains so popular.
4. North Kern Golf Course
The last of the public golf courses in Bakersfield, North Kern Golf Course follows a similar theme to some of the others on this list.
Existing since 1953, making it one of the oldest courses in Bakersfield, this public layout is both affordable and enjoyable.
Just off Quality Road, it’s a ten minute drive from the Meadows Field Airport and a twenty minute drive to downtown.
The location is remote, with absolutely no housing surrounding the course. In fact, regardless of which direction you look, on a clear day you will see for miles and miles. Looking east, you’ll see the distant ridges of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
As for the layout, this municipally owned and managed course keeps things simple. Within a square plot, there is a fair amount of back and forth. The layout is certainly more functional than it is imaginative.
On the flip side, you can come here, relax, not lose too many balls, and then enjoy the nice clubhouse restaurant afterwards.