Not unlike the casino that accompanies it, Sevillano Links offers its customers a variety of choices. The first choice, and the one that will set the tone for the day, is made before the first swing: which set of tees to play from?
While most courses offer two or three choices, Sevillano Links has five options: Olive, Challenge, Tournament, Championship and John Daly. When deciding how to tackle the course, golfers should keep in mind this Tehama County jewel is touted as a “John Daly signature course.”
Although Michael Stark of Arrow Golf Construction handled the bulk of the day-to-day architectural work, the infamous free-swinging PGA touring pro’s paw prints are all over the place.
It didn’t hurt that Daly and Co. had 400 acres of grasslands to work with, and all that room reminded Daly of his favorite wide-open Scottish links courses (he did win the 2005 British Open, after all). Plus it’s no secret Daly loves hitting his driver.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that only the longest of hitters should even think about playing Sevillano from the John Daly tees. The olive-shaped tee markers are painted black, which is a pretty ominous clue in itself, but the scorecard tells the full story.
From the tips, as they say, Sevillano Links is a jaw-dropping 7,823 yards. For the sake of comparison, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Long Island, N.Y.—considered one of the toughest courses the pros play—measured 7,214 yards for the 2002 U.S. Open when Tiger Woods won with a score of 3-under par. And he was the only golfer to break par.
According to the rating system developed by the United States Golf Association (USGA), a good score for a scratch golfer (a golfer who typically cards scores of even par 72) playing from the John Daly tees is 77. At River Tasalmi, a benign nine-hole course in Redding this correspondent has been known to frequent, the rating is 61.
So the black tees are out. The next option is the gold-colored Championship tees. At 7,341 yards and an extra stiff rating of 75, that is still way too much ground to cover for most mortals. The Tournament tees, at 6,737 yards, are no bargain either unless you happen to carry a single-digit handicap. Even then the tee blocks are so far back you’re dealing with a lot of blind tee shots.
This brings us to the copper-colored and aptly named Challenge tees. From this set of tees, the course is a manageable 6,092 yards and sports a humane rating of 70. The key word here is manageable. There are still plenty of hurdles to surmount, but at least a golfer of (ahem) marginal abilities can proceed with a glimmer of hope.
And as the late, great Robin Williams took such delight in pointing out, that was the ultimate aim of the Scottish inventors of the game. After sending golfers through an obstacle course of rocks, shrubs and tall grass, armed only with “a little f***ed up stick,” the malicious designer offered some closure: “Right near the end, I’ll put a little flat piece with a little flag to give you f***ing hope.”
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.