Introduction to Santa Rosa

In this blog post we’re going to take a look at the best public golf courses in Santa Rosa.

In the heart of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa is a charming city an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.

Being just a 45 minute drive from the renowned Napa Valley, Santa Rosa also shares a reputation for its world-class wineries. But there is so much more to this city. 

There is a stunning natural beauty to the surrounding landscape, especially as you climb up into the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. You’ll also see Hood Mountain perched on the horizon. 

A historic downtown, bustling arts scene and intriguing restaurants, wine country charm meets Californian hospitality.

Let’s jump into the best golf courses near Santa Rosa.

See also: What are the best public golf courses in Napa Valley, California?

The best public golf courses in Santa Rosa, California

RankGolf Course
1Foxtail Golf Club (North Course)
2Windsor Golf Club
3Valley of the Moon Golf Course
4Bennett Valley Golf Course
5Foxtail Golf Club (South Course)
Table showing the best public golf courses near Santa Rosa, CA

1. Foxtail Golf Club (North Course and South Course)

Foxtail Golf Club, Santa Rosa, California, Permission Given - resized

The fantastic Foxtail Golf Club is located in the city of Rohnert Park, a mere ten minute drive south of downtown Santa Rosa. 

This hugely popular club is well known to many visitors to this part of Sonoma’s wine country. And this is due to the presence of the DoubleTree by Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel positioned onsite.

One of the appealing factors choosing to play at Foxtail, is the fact there are two championship courses to choose from. The South Course and the more demanding North Course.

The first of the two to arrive was the South Course, opening back in 1963 and designed by the reputed Bob Baldock. It’s a fine parkland layout which most recently enjoyed a major renovation by Donald Knott and Gary Linn.

Measuring just shy of 6,500 yards from the back tees, this is a wonderful layout known for offering really affordable green fees. 

The course is marketed as being perfect for families and higher handicappers. And whilst it is definitely no North Course, it certainly isn’t a pushover. 

Yes the layout can be a little formulaic with a simple ‘out and back’ design in a lot of the fairways. Yet to score well, you absolutely need to hit the ball straight. You also need to avoid the water which is present on at least half the holes!

But the premier layout and the one most popular with the more accomplished golfers, is the superb North Course.

Designed by Gary Baird in 1974, this is longer and considered the most challenging of the two. 

A good handful of holes have water which comes into play. Whilst you’ll find plenty of fairway bunkers, doglegs and tricky approach shots during your round. 

Plenty of mature trees and foliage create a charming character to the site. No one could accuse it of not being pleasant on the eye. 

In 2003, it also enjoyed a significant renovation and redesign, which only further enhanced its appeal and offering.

2. Windsor Golf Club

Windsor Golf Club, Santa Rosa, California, Permission Given

In the town of Windsor, 10 minutes drive north of Santa Rosa, is one of the wine country’s finest public golf courses, Windsor Golf Club.

This fine course has pedigree, having been a past host of the PGA Nationwide Tour. More recently in 2019, it hosted the LPGA Symetra Tour, which is the LPGA’s development tour.

One of Windsor Golf Club’s determining features is quite simply the natural beauty of the site. A verdant plot carpeted in majestic live oaks and other native trees. 

A handful of large lakes come into play as does a meandering creek which is best avoided. 

The routing, which was designed by Fred Bliss in 1989, traverses flat and hilly sections, which keeps things interesting. Eye-catching fairway bunkers are strategically positioned across a mixture of narrow and wide fairways, with a handful of doglegs thrown in for good measure.

All in all Windsor Golf Club is an attractive proposition for getting a quick round in when visiting the area. As usual, for the best value, check out their twilight rates which start around the $40 mark. 

For what it’s worth, know there is a fantastic eatery onsite, Charlie’s Restaurant. It has a fine reputation in the local area and is well worth enjoying its diverse menu post round. 

See also: What are the best public golf courses in San Francisco, California?

3. Valley of the Moon Golf Course

Valley of the Moon Club, Santa Rosa, California, Permission Given - resized

East of the city, heading into the Oakmont neighborhood, is the popular Valley of the Moon Club. 

Despite being wrapped around a sprawling housing estate, the club occupies a pleasant piece of land. On one side you have the rising foothills of the Hood Mountain Regional Park. Whilst on the other, miles and miles of dense woodland. 

Valley of the Moon is a semi-private club with a thriving membership, partly due to the abundance of events it runs and the superb restaurant you’ll find onsite. 

It also has two golf courses to choose from, the championship layout called the Valley of the Moon Course. And the shorter Executive Course called the Sugarloaf Course.

Both were designed by the legendary Ted Robinson back in the early-60s, when the club was instead called Oakmont Golf Club. At the time, the Valley of the Moon Course was the West Course, whilst Sugarloaf was known as the East Course.

Today, both courses have matured nicely and offer a pleasant and challenging round. Clearly if you’re going to be playing in the area, I’d recommend the Valley of the Moon Course. 

From the back tees this fine parkland course measures just shy of 6,400 yards. So although not the longest, you have to hit it straight. Off a number of fairways, expect to find large waste areas, tricky rough or out of bounds. 

There is no elevation to worry about, all-in-all this is a largely flat course. But again, it isn’t all straight-forward with some challenging shots and delicate strategy-play required. 

Alongside the Sugarloaf Course, this is a great club and the kind of place you’d be happy to spend a day, especially with its fantastic practice facilities.

4. Bennett Valley Golf Course

Bennett Valley Golf Course, Santa Rosa, California, Permission Given - resized

A popular municipal course just south of the city, Bennett Valley Golf Course offers great value and a fun round of golf.

The club is overlooked to the east by the prominent Bennett Mountain, known locally as Bennett Peak. At nearly 2,000 feet, it forms the backdrop to your round at Bennett Valley.

The course first opened for play back in 1969 and was designed by the relatively unknown Ben Harmon. Harmon only designed a handful of courses in his architectural career, all located in California.

Here at Bennett Valley, Harmon kept things simple with clearly an eye on ensuring this was a playable and not overly challenging layout. 

Due to the natural beauty of the site, maybe he realized there was no need to go big on design quirks or crazy layout features. And let it be known, this is an elegant site. 

Panorama aside, the feel is traditional with mature trees dotted everywhere. Pines, oaks and aged native redwoods. Certainly in the back 9, there is a simplicity in the routing. But the large trees will keep you honest.

The front 9 features a bit more intrigue in the routing and is definitely my preferred nine to play.

Although there are no fairway bunkers to contend with, Matanzas Creek does snake its way through the site. So beware stray shots as it will happily collect them up for you. 

Please rank this content 🙂

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply