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March 4, 2011 > East Bay offers a plethora of golfing opportunities

East Bay offers a plethora of golfing opportunities

By Kevin Yin

Whether you're already an avid golfer or simply interested in exploring the sport, the East Bay presents a variety of excellent venues, from Hayward to Milpitas, for your enjoyment.

Among them is TPC Stonebrae. Nestled in the hills of eastern Hayward, Stonebrae is the crown jewel of East Bay golf venues. Designed by Scottish golf course architect David Kidd, when it opened in October of 2007, Stonebrae was named one of the top five new private clubs in the country by Golf Digest.

"It's just gorgeous up here," said TPC Stonebrae General Manager Jody Brothers. "You're 30 minutes from downtown Oakland, but at 1,500 foot elevation. On clear days, you have a panoramic view of the Bay Area, from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to San Jose."

In addition to the splendid setting and the quality of its course, Stonebrae's association with the PGA Tour lends it preeminence among the many courses of the East Bay. Stonebrae will host the Fresh Express Classic, a stop on the PGA Nationwide Tour, from April 14-17.

"It gives the golfing public and golfing world a bit of a glimpse at just what a quality course we have here, but at the same time it's an opportunity for the property to participate in raising a bunch of money for local charities," Brothers said. "At the end of the day, all tournament proceeds are donated to charity, so it's an opportunity for us to host an event and give back to the community."

Stonebrae is by no means the only option for quality golfing in Hayward. Skywest Golf Course and Mission Hills Golf Course, operated by the Hayward Area Recreation and Parks District (HARD), offer East Bay golfers two entertaining and distinct options. Skywest is an 18-hole, par 72 championship course which HARD's manager of Golf Operations Dan Giammona says is deceptive.

"It's a relatively flat tree lined course that looks like it plays easy, but when you're actually out there it's a tough course which plays longer than the 6,700 yards it's listed as," Giammona said. "It's a beautiful course."

Mission Hills is a 9-hole executive course that, according to Giammona, is well suited for golfers with busy schedules.

"If you don't have four hours to play gold, you can play Mission Hills in an hour and a half," Giammona said. "I think it's more of a secret for everyone out in the Hayward Area. People may have heard of the course but not even know it's there. It's a little jewel and I think that once people play it, they're going to be hooked-especially if they enjoy the short game."

South of Hayward, options are plentiful as well. Easily accessible to Fremont residents is the Fremont Park Golf Course with nine holes. Located adjacent to Lake Elizabeth in the heart of Fremont, the par-32 course and driving range is the only golf course in Fremont.

"It's a very difficult golf course," Fremont Park golf instructor Ken Powell said. "It's considered a short course, but it's very narrow. The condition is always good and as far as nine-hole courses go, it's as good as anything around."

The Sunol Valley Golf Club bills itself as "one of the most affordable golf courses in the San Francisco Bay Area," whose mission is to provide "a course for the working man." Sunol Valley hosts two separate 18-hole courses, Cypress and Palm, which offer guests two distinct experiences; Cypress is touted for its "tranquil setting," while Palm presents a more rigorous challenge.

In Milpitas, Summitpointe Golf Club features another 18-hole course whose setting, at the intersection of the South Bay and East Bay, is at once leisurely and invigorating. It provides a broad view of the South Bay and gentle rolling hills.

"It has incredible views," said Summitpointe instructor Kim Stevens. "Once you get to the top of three and four, you can see all the way from San Jose to the San Mateo Bridge. The greens are immaculate, they're quick and they roll true."

The par-72 course runs 6,329 yards and is complemented by a full range of amenities including a restaurant, driving range, putting green and practice bunker. According to Stevens, Summitpointe is also the only course in the East Bay which offers Nike Golf camps during the summer.

"If you were going to compare it to courses in the area, I would put it in the same difficulty as Stonebrae," said Stevens. "On our driving range, you can hit balls into water, which is fun for some people. We also have a really awesome learning center and junior academy that are year around."

TPC Stonebrae: (510) 728-7878;
Skywest: (510) 317-2300;
Mission Hills: (510) 888-0200;
Fremont Park: (510) 790-1919;
Sunol: (925) 862-0414; and
Summitpointe: (408) 262-8816

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