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Handicapping by Jim Cowan A


Enjoying the Far Corners of the NCGA Region


t the time of this writing, I am two weeks out from my High School reunion. Time to polish up that


old line. “So Jim, what do you do?” “Well (fill-in the blank with the name stolen from a sideways glance at his/her nametag), I rate golf courses for a living.” Not entirely true. Not entirely


false. But an exquisite response for such an occasion. As we put a wrap on another successful Course Rating season (my 21st with the NCGA), I reflect on both the good and the bad. And much of what I saw this year was pretty grim, as a painfully historic drought pushed many a NorCal golf course to the brink. Dried up creeks and ponds, withered rough, baked out fairways and/or greens, etc. Let’s hope that the promised rains arrive this winter. Of course, we do NOT rate courses for the conditions that we experience on the day of our visit. Rather, we rate based upon “normal” or average conditions mid-season in a


Furnace Creek


normal non-drought year. And I am not ready to concede that drought is the new normal. So rating in 2015 was a challenge


and sometimes required a healthy imagination for both myself, and the dozens of dedicated volunteer raters who make our program what it is today. But there were high points this


year as well—boy, were there high points! Every once in a while the planets


align themselves just right (Pluto too), and we strike gold with our every-six- year visits: 2015 was such a year. And it’s not what you think. There


was no Pebble Beach or Cypress Point on our schedule this year, though there were a few of their closest kin. I am talking about some of my favorite places in the far off corners of the NCGA. We hit three such literal corners


this year. >


NORTH COAST In 2015, we rated in Eureka and further north in Crescent City, just


footsteps from the Oregon border on the coast. There is just something spe- cial about getting away from the big cities, driving among the redwoods, and smelling the marine air. It’s also the perfect spot to beat the heat as the temperatures are always on the mild side.


I keep kicking myself for hav-


ing never toured the Avenue of the Giants, the redwood-drenched route that parallels Highway 101 starting just north of Garberville. Next time for sure!


>


NORTHEAST If you inspect a California map


closely, you can almost draw a triangle that connects Susanville, with Fall River Mills, with Alturas (the extreme northeast corner of the NCGA). Cattle country, some fine, fine fish- ing—and the site of four NCGA ratings this season. Neat, neat little towns with friendly people and a healthy helping of civic pride. The highlight for me is always driving through “Main Street” Susanville with banners heralding each native son


Sierra Star


66 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2015


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