by Robert P. Farmer
You'll get little argument that California's Wine Country is one of the
most romantic spots you're likely to find in the US. The mere mention
of a Wine Country Weekend conjures images of a handholding, shop-strolling,
cracker-and-cheese nibbling, bubbly-sipping extravaganza. It's
a Couple's Paradise.
But what about a foursome? Not talking here about double dating; talking instead about four guys looking for fun in Wine Country -- namely, the kind of fun that can only be found on 18 holes. In addition to the couple's thing and the girl's spa weekend, Wine Country is a great destination for a guy's getaway. In today's world of the metrosexual, the pampered guy is not unusual in these parts. There are dozens of places in the region where men can find their bliss, whether in the mud, the steam, or on the massage table.
Usually, however, the aforementioned involves a romantic partner. No, when it comes time for guys to get out for a swinging good time, they usually head for the golf course. Napa and Sonoma are great places for a guy's weekend getaway. The valley golf courses provide enough challenge and drama to keep golfers of all abilities interested. And when the round is done, the guys are within a chip shot of some of the world's best man-size steaks and cabernets.
Chardonnay Golf Club in Napa is one of my favorite choices for a round with the guys. It's affordable, fun, and diverse. It's comprised of three 9-hole courses, allowing you to perfectly tailor your day: play only 9 or play all 27, depending on how long you want to wait before the martini.
Equally well known in Napa is Silverado Resort, where your group can chose between the two 18-hole Robert Trent Jones-designed courses. The courses play among ponds, lakes, and creeks; with tricky trees coming factoring into several holes. For the post-round cocktail and dinner, Silverado has two good choices: the recently refurbished Royal Oak, and the venerable Grill at Silverado, a casual atmosphere ideal for lying to your friends about your score.
Also worth considering in Napa is the Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park, an excellent municipal course designed by Jack Fleming along the banks of the Napa River. Beautiful and affordable, this verdant, oak-studded course gives every skill level in your group a chance for a memorable round.
In Sonoma the standard-bearer for the game is Sonoma Golf Club, at the gracious Sonoma Mission Inn. Straight, flat, and with wide fairways, it'll cause the big hitters in your group to salivate uncontrollably. That is, of course, until they get onto the green and watch their putts go rolling wildly left and right - yes, they're that tough to read.Easier, and arguably more fun to read are menus. After the round, the guy's getaway gets into gear at one of Wine Country's many places for a dry martini and dry-aged steak. My favorites are Saddles in Sonoma and Cole's Chop House in downtown Napa. Saddles, located at MacArthur Place Hotel, is an excellent post-round watering hole. Serious bartenders pour serious martinis into huge glasses, and the dining room--unfussy and barnlike--is the perfect setting for huge steaks expertly prepared. A side order of steak fries is mandatory for every golfer.
In Napa, though it's not super convenient to any golf course, Cole's Chop House is worth the effort. Start with a round of 'maintenance free' martinis (what could be more apt for a guys-only weekend), served with blue-cheese stuff olives. Before long you'll be forgetting about those bad shots and digging in to one of 21 dry-aged steaks on offer, all served unadorned and just the way guys like it.
Other Golf Courses in the Napa/Sonoma area:
Eagle Vines Vineyards & Golf Club
Rooster Run Golf Club
Windsor Golf club