Saturday, July 14, 2012

Golfing At Bartley-Cavanaugh


If there’s one area golf course that demands accuracy off the tees, it has to be Bartley-Cavanaugh. Located in the small Sacramento River community of Freeport, Bartley-Cavanaugh is a links course designed by Perry Dye, the son of famed golf course designer Pete Dye.

Jen Sanchez putting on #4
Just like his father’s layouts around the country, the younger Dye has lined each fairway with mounds, made the hitting areas of most fairways a little higher than the rough. Plus, he’s installed railroad ties to define the water hazards and has placed some pock-hole bunkers next to a few greens to give the golfer the feel of playing an old Scottish course. 

Perry designed a few holes at Bartley-Cavanaugh almost exactly like his father’s signature holes found at TPC-Sawgrass in Florida. Number 17, a par-three of just 85 yards in length, is almost a spitting image of Sawgrass’ famed island green hole.

And just like Sawgrass’ finishing hole, #18 at Bartley-Cavanaugh is a narrow par four with water along the entire left side, high mounds along the right side and has a green fronted by a railroad tie wall.


In its early days, Bartley-Cavanaugh had the look of a Scottish links, but 17 years later, the trees have grown and now that has made it a more difficult course to play.

Located alongside I-5 north of Elk Grove, Bartley-Cavanaugh is squeezed into a 90 acre tract which makes the total length of the course just under 5,800 yards from the blue tees. That means several par-4 holes are a three-wood or long iron and a short iron to the green. A misaligned shot will result in hitting off the side of or behind a mound or even from an adjoining fairway.

Most greens are fairly large yet they are quite undulating. The putting surfaces are quite good, too.

The entire course is well-maintained, especially since Morton Golf, the company that has managed Bartley-Cavanaugh the past several years, began overseeing maintenance the first of the year. Morton also manages Bing Maloney and Haggin Oaks, courses like Bartley-Cavanaugh that are owned by the City of Sacramento.

Course manager Dylan Flynn, a graduate of the San Diego Golf Academy, has managed Bartley-Cavanaugh since 2005. He dispels any notion that his course is too difficult for a struggling amateur.

“Accuracy will help you score out here,” he said. “You can still hit a ball a little off kilter and still have a shot back to the greens. It will mean you may have an off-lie. The mounding will play with you a little.”

Flynn says his maintenance crews have worked hard in making certain the course stays in good shape.

“I would say we are pretty comparable to any of your daily-fee or any public course around here where people can walk up and play,” he said.

Flynn says the “playability” of his course is a big reason why golfers should play at Bartley-Cavanaugh.

“We have four levels of tees on each hole, we challenge any aspect of your game,” he said.

Like many golf course managers, Flynn is concerned that fewer people are playing the game nowadays.

“I think as an industry we’re struggling in getting people to our game and showing them the camaraderie you can have out here playing the game, “ he said.

To help encourage more golfers, Flynn says there are monthly Tuesday specials where you can play 18 holes for $29.99, including use of a cart.

“I think (green fees at Bartley-Cavanaugh) are pretty competitive,” he said. “As a municipal course, we compete with what’s out there.”

There is no driving range at Bartley-Cavanaugh, but there is a practice putting green and a small chipping area.

Here’s a highlight of play at Bartley-Cavanaugh (distances from blue tees):

#1 333-yard, par-4 and #2 311-yard, par-4: 

#2 is a narrow driving hole
You open your round with a pair of tight, yet short holes with large greens. Your putts won’t break as much as you think. 

#3 482-yard par-5 and #4 519-yard par-5:

The course opens up a bit for these back-to-back par fives. Number three has a huge green. There’s mounds in the fairways, especially on #4. If you do hit a mound on the fly, don’t be surprised if your ball ricochets right or left.

#6 312-yard par-4:

As pretty a golf hole as you’ll find anywhere. There’s water along the left side of the fairway and you’ll hit over the hazard to a narrow green fronted by one of the trademarked-railroad tied walls. There are high mounds behind the green so an accurate approach shot is necessary. You may choose to hit to a safe area to the right of green and chip it on with your next shot.
The view of a typical second shot on #6

#9 372-yard par-4:

Another picturesque hole with water and sand down the right side and a green tucked in between high mounds and the water hazard. Like most of the par fours, you need to drive accurately to score on this hole.

#11 485-yard par-5:

The only par five on the backside of the course. It has quite a bumpy fairway so you won’t have too many level stances on this fairway.

#12 137-yard par-3:

Par -3 #12
Another pretty par-3 with water and a railroad tie wall in front of a decent-sized green. If the pen is placed on the right side of the green, you’ve got a really hard tee shot. 

#13 275-yard par-4:

This is the most narrow fairway on the course – water right and tall mounds left. Don’t try to be Tiger Woods and attempt to drive the green. You’ll be sorry.  On the second shot, you’ll pitch to a fairly flat green

#14 335-yard par-4: 

The thing to watch for on this hole is that there is water directly behind the green. Very narrow fairway again here.
The island green of the par-3 #17

#17 85-yard par-3:

This is the signature hole with an island green. What makes it a little tough is deciding how to hit your wedge. It may depend on how much wind there is the day you play. It is a pretty large green, so be a little long and give yourself a putt. 

#18 371-yard par-4:

The finishing hole is a flip of the adjoining ninth hole. The water here is on the left and the mounds on the right. Hit your drive to the right side of the fairway so you won’t have to hit over water to the green.
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