Wedding party bliss in Sonoma at Northwood Golf Club

A foray into the redwoods reveals a surreal and friendly spot to tee it up before tying the knot.

Hello Golf Advisor fam! It’s been awhile since we’ve chatted and I have some life updates for you all.

I got married! That’s right, your fave golf lifestyle reporter is now a married woman. So what does this mean for you?

First of all, I am officially changing my last name to Dixon. If any of you struggled with pronouncing my last name before (Kazantsev) fear not, as I have bid farewell to my maiden name. That said, the whole name change process is a lot harder than I thought. For example, a few weeks ago the Golf Advisor team was out on a shoot and I kept introducing myself as “Kira Kazantsev.” When you’ve been saying the same thing so naturally for the last 28 years, it takes a while for the new name to roll off the tongue.

Anyway, while I continue to contend with the name issue, I wanted to share a little bit about my nuptial celebrations. Obviously golf is a big part of my life. It’s what I do for fun, it provides a special bonding opportunity with my husband, it’s given me a pretty incredible career, it’s introduced me to some wonderful people, etc. So I wanted to make sure to incorporate such a special part of my life into arguably one of my most important life events.

Andrew (aforementioned husband) and I decided to host a golf tournament on the Friday morning before the big day on Saturday. This would not only pay homage to our love of golf but also force many of our friends who do not play golf to be guilted into participating. Growing the game, right?

Since we were getting married in the Sonoma Wine Country, we needed to find an affordable public course nearby that would be willing to host our motley crew and not be too strict with pace of play and rules. (We had groups of 6 each spread out over five holes with many beginners, so this wasn’t going to be a high-stakes nail-biter…or was it?)

In order to find such a place, I turned to my colleagues at Golf Advisor and Managing Editor Brandon Tucker had the perfect recommendation: Northwood Golf Club in Monte Rio, CA. It was just a 30 minute drive from where we were staying, it’s a gorgeous public course, and they’d probably be willing to work with me considering our group’s *ahem* various handicaps. So I called up the head professional, Vern Ayres, and we were in business!


My first impression of the course was, This is why people love Northern California! Picture the sun filtering in through towering redwoods and their branches hanging down over beautifully manicured fairways, with the last of the morning mist just burning off. You might walk the course and find it oddly familiar. That’s because it was designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who also designed Augusta National, Pasatiempo, and Cypress Point. The family-friendly facility has a "come one, come all" vibe that to me is one of the most precious things to find at a golf course. There was a true welcoming spirit that could coax even the most novice golfer into feeling comfortable on the golf course. Green fees range from $19-54, so it's affordable as well.

We played a pure scramble format and had an absolutely wonderful time in the most gorgeous of surroundings. Foray Golf provided matching golf outfits for all of the bridesmaids, so if the idea of golf wasn’t appealing to my friends, at least they got some amazing clothes out of the experience.

If you plan to visit Northern California soon, make sure to squeeze a round at Northwood in between wine tastings and tell them I sent you! Hit em’ straight!

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Celebrating at Northwood Golf Club

Kira K Dixon (formerly Kazantsev) is a reporter for Golf Channel's Golf Today and Golf Central shows and Special Contributor to GolfPass. Kira grew up playing golf and was Miss America in 2015. 
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Kira- Happy to host your wedding ‘family’ for such a fun event at our cathedral in the redwoods!
Vern Ayres
Host PGA Professional
Northwood Golf Club

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Northwood is where my uncle taught me how to play many years ago. Nothing better than the sound of balls knocking off the beautiful Redwoods, really taught me how to hit the ball straight!

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Northwood is a GREAT spot!! Beautiful 9 holes through the redwoods and a pleasure to play, plus Vern is one of the nicest PGA Pros you will ever run across!! Glad you enjoyed it!!!

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Wedding party bliss in Sonoma at Northwood Golf Club