Tahoe Donner - aerial view of hole 13
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Tahoe Donner - aerial view of hole 13
Like every hole at Tahoe Donner, the 13th winds through a beautiful corridor of trees. Courtesy photo
Tahoe Donner - clubhouse
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Tahoe Donner clubhouse
Tahoe Donner's clubhouse is a great spot for drinks and dinner after a round. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - Cary Bickler on hole 4
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Tahoe Donner - Cary Bickler on hole 4
Architect Cary Bickler, seen here on hole 4, is renovating Tahoe Donner. Courtesy photo
Tahoe Donner - hole 5
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Tahoe Donner - hole 5
The 375-yard 5th is one of the rare short par 4s at Tahoe Donner. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - hole
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Tahoe Donner - hole 7
Large rocks are great natural hole markers at Tahoe Donner. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - hole 6
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Tahoe Donner - hole 6
If golfers can skirt a tree in the fairway, they get a nice look downhill to the 6th green at Tahoe Donner. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - bridge on hole 8
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Tahoe Donner - bridge on hole 8
This small bridge on the 8th hole crosses over one of the many hazards at Tahoe Donner. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - hole 12
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Tahoe Donner - hole 12
Golfers must hit over a wetland to reach an elevated green on the par-3 12th at Tahoe Donner. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - hole 13
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Tahoe Donner - hole 13
A golfer tees off among the trees on the 13th hole at Tahoe Donner. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - periscope on hole 18
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Tahoe Donner - periscope on hole 18
This periscope helps golfers see if the 18th fairway at Tahoe Donner is clear. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Tahoe Donner - hole 18
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Tahoe Donner - hole 18
The finishing hole at Tahoe Donner is dramatic, tumbling off an elevated tee to a green guarded by trouble in front. Courtesy photo

Popular Lake Tahoe-area course Tahoe Donner Golf Club renovation nears completion

An ongoing renovation by architect Cary Bickler will enhance one of Lake Tahoe's most scenic - and challenging - public courses.

TRUCKEE, Calif. - More than $2 million is improving Tahoe Donner Golf Club just in time for the Tahoe Donner Association's 50th anniversary this year.

Architect Cary Bickler is spear-heading the project, which is ongoing. When GolfPass visited the course in early June, the new greens looked perfect but had yet to be mowed to proper heights, and two holes, the par-4 third and par-5 11th, were playing as temporary par 3s. But the work, when completed, should eventually unlock the potential of Tahoe Donner. Golf Operations Manager James Murtagh said both holes should be open by June 18.

The 7,002-yard course, which opened in 1975, has always played too narrow for most amateurs. Roughly 1,000 trees lining tight fairways have been removed to allow more room for sprayed shots and as a fire break, according to Murtagh. Several cart paths have been moved, while expanded forward tees and improved drainage in certain areas should enhance the overall playing experience. The most noticeable changes are coming to the 11th, an uphill par 5 that features a trio of imposing new fairway bunkers on the left. I'm glad I only played it as a temporary par 3 because it looks like a daunting challenge, even at 494 yards.

There's great variety throughout the round. Four greens on the front nine are sunken below the fairway, meaning they could be blind if you're out of position, but they're also very forgiving by accepting shots running down the hill that avoid any greenside bunkers. Other surprises ... a tree in the middle of the fairway at no. 6 and a blind fairway on the last hole. Golfers must peer through a periscope on no. 18 before hitting to make sure the fairway is clear.

The Lodge clubhouse is a great spot for dinner and drinks with a nice patio overlooking the course and a small pub area to enjoy the game. The food is top notch. Considering how loaded Truckee is with public golf - Coyote Moon, Old Greenwood (host of the PGA Tour's Barracuda Championship), Gray's Crossing - an improving Tahoe Donner will eventually be able to hold its own. Peak season green fees at Tahoe Donner are $130.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Popular Lake Tahoe-area course Tahoe Donner Golf Club renovation nears completion
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