For those still digging out from Muirfield Village mud, step lively: The PGA Tour’s new season begins on Thursday. The wraparound format, with 2014 events taking place in 2013, (as the European Tour does — and it makes little sense there, either) means that players looking to get off to a fast start need to do at least one thing: sign up for the event. At this week’s Frys.com Open, most of the game’s elite are on vacation. A full field will compete, though marquee names are in short order. Only two of the world’s top 50 players, Hideki Matsuyama and defending champion Jonas Blixt will tee off. What the top tier folk will miss is CordeValle, one of the rising stars in golf. Between the Rosewood-managed hotel and the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course, CordeValle pampers with the best of them. It surely deserves a better cast.
A 30-minute drive south of San Jose to CordeValle puts you squarely in the heart of dot.com country. This Silicon Valley club was built in 1999 to be a retreat for high-fliers, but when the bubble burst, a resort component emerged, allowing the well-heeled public to hack into this 7,368-yard, par-72 beauty. Liberally dotted with oaks and sycamores that stand out against the straw-colored hills, the ravine-slashed layout features artfully sculpted bunkers, slick greens and views of the adjacent Clos LaChance vineyards. Some feel Jones’ gorgeous sprawls of sand overwhelm, but undeniably, they’re handsome and eminently testing — descriptions that define the rest of the course. The nines are reversed for the Frys.com event, the better to showcase the drivable 17th, with its greenside backboard helping to funnel well-struck shots even closer to the hole.
Why spend a small fortune to stay and play here? It’s free from coastal fog, the service is off the charts, with cheerful staffers carting you from place to place and the house-made chocolate chip cookies are the ultimate diet smackdown. The dinners are first rate as well. I sat next to Ian Poulter during a Ferrari gathering in August and neither of us left much on the plate. An added bonus: The winery next door serves up tasty grape at tasting parties.
The entire package has allowed CordeValle to emerge with an identity of its own, free from the long shadow cast by its Bay Area competitors. Two weeks ago, Ellen Port captured her sixth USGA title here, winning the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur. In 2016, CordeValle will welcome the U.S. Women’s Open, bringing in the greatest in the game. Perhaps the greatest men will one day flock to CordeValle. It’s worthy.