Raising a glass to Silverado Resort’s North Course

The PGA Tour kicks off the fall series of its 2022-23 season Sept. 15-18 with the Fortinet Championship on the North Course at the lush and luxurious Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif. Silverado is the ultimate marriage of golf and wine, with the resort set in a verdant plain within an hour’s drive of more than 750 wineries about 90 miles from the San Francisco airport. 

The North Course is one of two tracks at the resort, both designed originally by the father-son team of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. and redesigned by PGA Tour Hall of Famer Johnny Miller, who was once a part-owner of Silverado. Miller won twice at the resort during his days on the PGA Tour. 

The two tracks encompass about 360 acres of the 1,200-acre property and are just one of the premier amenities of the resort that’s located about 15 minutes north of the town of Napa along the Silverado Trail. Both courses offer numerous water features, elevation changes and routings through oak, pine and redwood trees, some of which have been growing here for more than three centuries. 

The complex also features the main hotel building – which was built in 1870 and was a massive private home for almost 100 years before the property opened as a golf resort – as well as amenity buildings, cottages, and villages spread around the edges of the golf course and throughout the woods.

Silverado Resort

The North Course

Despite a relatively benign routing on slightly rolling terrain, the courses more than hold their own thanks to mostly small and devilish putting surfaces, some of which break in ways that leave even the best putters scratching their heads.

The courses have a parklike feel, an experience that includes some beautiful landscaping around the tee boxes. 

It’s quite a setting for a PGA Tour event, making the Fortinet Championship a getaway within a tournament for the Tour veterans and an eye-opening glimpse of things to come for rookies, many of them fresh from earning their card on the Korn Ferry Tour. 

The North Course plays at nearly 7,200 yards for the tournament and is the longest of the two tracks at the resort. The North’s difficulty is in the demand for execution off the tee to narrow fairways, and there are times when the simple approach may not be as easy as it appears. Miller put a lot of thought into the placement of the bunkers, forcing the player to think their way around this layout.  

The stretch between the third and sixth holes reveals the course’s difficulty, featuring trees that narrow the fairway, doglegs in both directions, and ample bunkering to further heighten the golfer’s focus.  

The S-shaped par-5 fifth sets up for a high left-to-right shot to get past the corner and have a chance of reaching the green in two. Too far or too little and you’ll find the rough, which is nearly impossible to hit out of and makes it tough to hold the green. 

The North shines on the back nine, with several signature holes and some of the most tricky spots on the course. The par-3 11th hole is surrounded by water on three sides and has several overhanging trees. The slightest mistake on the tee shot can create chaos and take the wind out of your sails. 

The bottom line is that the North Course is not gimmicky or unfair; everything is in front of the golfer and it’s very playable for the mid-handicapper. Architecture aficionados will enjoy the classic simplicity of the layout, but in no means is the North an easy course to score on.

The South Course

Somewhat overshadowed by its brother to the North, the South Course plays at 6,612 yards from the tips and is a bit kinder and gentler.  The South also offers tree-lined fairways, plenty of water hazards and undulating greens and it is plenty challenging as well. Its holes flow over gentle rolling hills, and the round reflects the beauty of the surrounding vineyards and homes, all sporting a unique Northern California charm. 

The Silverado Resort features 345 guest rooms and suites, 10 tennis courts, three bocce ball courts, three swimming pools, a 16,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 70,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. 

Other options in and near Napa 

Although the vineyards are the big draw in the Napa Valley, golf is a keen attraction as well, with the chase of the ultimate grape working hand in hand in the quest for the par or better on the links.  Here are three options in the area and one just outside the immediate confines more than worth the extra trip up the highway. 

Chardonnay Golf Club, American Canyon 

Routed through more than 150 acres of vineyards without a house in sight, Chardonnay Golf Course was built in 1991 and was designed by Algie Pulley right as the Napa Valley was exploding as a serious player in the wine world. The course plays at almost 7,000 yards from the back tees and rolls through terrain punctuated by lakes and creeks and elevation changes. The greens here, kept lightning quick, are the defense. 

Eagle Vines Golf Club, American Canyon 

This Miller-designed track opened in 2004 and plays through strand of oaks and cherry trees, with 27 acres of vineyards hugging the fairways. Eagle Vines has the most water in play of the Napa Valley courses, with the wet stuff part of the equation on seven holes – most notably on the cool par-5 sixth, with a pond right in front of the green, and the 14th, a par-3 with an expansive island green. Views abound here, and the course plays longer than it’s carded, even from the nearly 7,300-yard back tees. 

Vintner’s Golf Club, Yountville 

This nine-hole resort course has greens that have been voted the best in Napa Valley and has three sets of tees to accommodate every level of golfer. Originally designed by Casey O’Callaghan and opened in 1999 and renovated in 2003 by former PGA Tour player Bob Boldt, the course plays at about 3,000 yards, with wide fairways and sloping putting surfaces. Its stretch of holes from the par-3 fourth, which requires a carry over a lake to the par-5 sixth, played uphill to a green that moves from front to back, is the attention grabber here. 

The Golf Club at Copper Valley, Copperopolis  

About an hour’s drive east of Napa in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Golf Club at Copper Valley (former Saddle Creek Resort) was designed by Carter Morrish and Roy Bechtol and opened in 1996. It’s ranked as one of the top public golf courses in Northern California and the routing takes advantage of natural contours and water on 10 of the 18 holes. The course is laid out in a unique figure-eight routing, meaning no holes run parallel to each other. It’s off the beaten path, but maybe just what you need after a few days of wine tours. 

Chardonnay Golf Club