One of the many greens surrounded by vineyards © Robert Kaufman

One of the many greens surrounded by vineyards © Robert Kaufman

Back in early December, Northern California finally took a drenching but it was far from what was media-hyped as the “storm of the century.” While it brought a record amount of precipitation for a short amount of time, with some areas sustaining severe flooding, for a moment, there was a dripping of relief to the Golden State’s long-running drought situation.

 Grapeless vines make for easier ball picking © Robert Kaufman

Grapeless vines make for easier ball picking © Robert Kaufman

Now, nearing the end of, typically, the wettest month of the year, not a raindrop has fallen from the clouds onto this corner of the world in six weeks.  So, when dry conditions combine with springtime temperatures in the middle of winter, the only sane thing for golfers to do is keep the swing sharp on the links. Then post pictures on your social media channels to rub it in the cold faces of your followers continuing to dig their way out of the frozen tundra in most other areas of the country.

 Tee box at the downhill par-3, 16th provides a dramatic landscape view © Robert Kaufman

Tee box at the downhill par-3, 16th provides a dramatic landscape view © Robert Kaufman

Well, that’s exactly what I did. With no disrespect to the King of civil rights, I took advantage, as did a few of my buddies, of MLK Day to head out to the Napa wine country for a round at Chardonnay Golf Course. Fittingly, all 18 holes of this Algie Pulley-designed layout is a smooth blend of six par fives, six par fours and six par threes weaving around acres of Chardonnay and Merlot vineyards. Depending upon your level of teetotallering, there’s a choice of five sets of tees aptly named Sovereign (6,939); Imperial (6,570); Double Magnum (6,185); Magnum (5,890); and Bottle (5,229).  

 Empty wine barrels are used to indicate yardage © Robert Kaufman

Empty wine barrels are used to indicate yardage © Robert Kaufman

This time of year, all the vines are fruitless so, there’s no game delay caused from any grape tasting. Nor is there any tasting room along the route to slow the pace of play but the setting definitely provides enough intoxication to keep the swing fluid and a smile of disbelief for playing golf in January in Northern California.

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