Yosemite's Wawona Golf Course

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Visitors to the Wawona area of southern Yosemite National Park have the unique opportunity to tee up on a historic golf course—not, perhaps, the first destination that comes to mind when you think of the Sierra Nevada. For fans of the fairway, the Wawona Golf Course provides an absolutely unforgettable setting. Established in 1918—before the Wawona section was even incorporated into the boundaries of the national park—the Wawona Golf Course was the first in the Sierras. It remains one of only two golf courses inside a national park, the other being the Furnace Creek Golf Course in Death Valley. The architect Walter Favarque laid out the Wawona greens to integrate pleasantly with their landscape context of broad, stream-crossed meadows and rich forests of ponderosa pine, incense-cedar, and other conifers. Set at about 4,000 feet and treated to a mountain backdrop, the Wawona Golf Course is open from spring through autumn (the exact schedule from year to year depends on weather conditions, of course). It’s a nine-hole, par-35 course, boasting four par-4, three par-3, and two par-5 holes along 3,050 yards. The total set of tee positions accommodates a par-70, 18-hole experience—all in a rolling forest and glade context. Whatever your skill level, you’ll have a blast playing out in Wawona’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere—and you’ll appreciate the course’s affordable rates. Keep an eye peeled for black-tailed deer, ravens, and other wildlife while you’re playing. Appropriate given its special home in one of America’s most spectacular protected landscapes, the Wawona Golf Course is a particularly “green” one. It’s certified in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, an innovative system designed to improve a participating golf course’s environmental footprint. Using reclaimed gray water to maintain its pesticide-free grounds, Wawona is a rare organic golf course, showcasing the sustainability efforts of the GreenPath protocol instituted by DNC Parks and Resorts, Inc., which manages the facility. The Wawona Golf Course includes a putting green, a pro shop, food and beverages, and other amenities, and rents out golf carts. At mealtime, you’ll be well-situated to take advantage of all the Wawona Dining Room has to offer, as well. This venerable, Victorian-style dining room, features elegance and serene verandas, bringing the glamour of the Old World to the rugged, peerless mountains of the American West, and providing the perfect place to feast for Wawona golfers. In between rounds on the Wawona Golf Course and luxuriant feasts at the Wawona Hotel, be sure to check out the area’s other standout attractions. The celebrated Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias—those mighty conifers that are the most massive living organisms on Earth—is not far away near Yosemite’s South Entrance, providing a mesmerizing complement to the challenge and fun of the green. You’ve also got the Pioneer Yosemite History Center close at hand, a wonderful place to explore the region’s cultural heritage and view vintage buildings up close. It may surprise a first-time traveler to Yosemite National Park that a long-running, world-class golf course exists in the same geography with Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, the Mariposa Grove, and all the other jaw-dropping natural landmarks that have made this corner of the Sierra Nevada a sacred space in America. But that’s part of the magic of Yosemite: Human history and scenic grandeur integrate here on a mighty scale. The Wawona Golf Course is another expression of that integration, and yet one more of the myriad activities that can fill countless Yosemite vacations.

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