Archive for February, 2008

(From Destination: Cache Creek Magazine)

“I’ve been told it’s absolutely the best golf course in the Sacramento market, and it’s comparable to courses down in Monterey,” says Daniel Kane, Director of Golf for Cache Creek Casino Resort. This is the type of feedback Kane has been getting about Cache Creek’s newest guest amenity, the Yocha-De-He Golf Club.

Golfers will find that Yocha-De-He is more than just a place to play golf – it’s a premiere golf experience. “It’s a championship-caliber golf course managed by Troon Golf, the leader in upscale golf course management,” says Kane. “This means we are creating the country club experience for every guest, with services from bag drop to food and beverage services to overall care of the course itself.”

These high standards have been implemented with plans that the golf course will attract corporate events from a national market as well as collegiate events and professional tours. “The experience is great, especially from a service level, which begins with valet parking, and golf course staff will make contact with golfers six or seven times over the course of a round. They’ll receive a five-star service level.”

Kane’s goal is to ensure that golfers maximize the enjoyment of their round while playing the course. That’s why tee times will be set at 15 minute intervals, rather than seven or eight minute intervals, like many other courses. This will ensure that golfers won’t feel pushed or pressured during their round by other golfers.

“I want to make sure everyone has a great experience,” says Kane. “Golfing Yocha-De-He is more about the experience than anything else.” Part of that experience comes from the secluded setting of the course, and the course design, which heavily showcases the natural beauty of the surrounding valley, thanks to course designer Brad Bell.

According to Bell, the best destination resorts with golf courses are ones that offer something people don’t get to see everyday. “Yocha-De-He is very noteworthy,” he says. “Many of our patrons will never again have the opportunity to play a course like this. There are several ‘wow factor’ moments, because the site itself is so beautiful.” Bell’s background includes the creation of Teal Bend in Sacramento, Turkey Creek in Lincoln, and Coyote Moon in Truckee.

His latest creation, Yocha-De-He, covers close to 165 acres and is nestled in a secluded valley about a half-mile from Cache Creek Casino Resort. Bell says one of the most remarkable features of the course is the first tee. “It’s set on a 170-foot high cliff with the hole 460 yards down in the valley,” says Bell. “It offers a majestic view spanning the entire valley and offers an exciting way to begin play.”

Amenities available for golfers include the unique driving range spreading out into the valley hillside, practice putting greens, a hospitality cart, and a golfer’s comfort station. The course will feature an expansive clubhouse and restaurant to be completed in the fall of 2008.

Kane is excited at the prospects that the golf course holds for Cache Creek guests, and can’t wait for the public to come and experience Yocha-De-He for themselves. “I’m really happy with how it turned out. We’re going to show golfers that our course is the hidden gem in Northern California.”

Greens fees are $85 for 18 holes, a cart, and access to the driving range. Tee times are available Wednesday through Sunday, with times dependent on daylight hours and weather. Call (530) 796-4653 for more information.

It’s every golfer’s dream, forever eluding the majority of those who participate in the sport – a hole in one. But that elusive, seemingly unobtainable dream came true for golfer Jason Edwards on Jan. 18 at Cache Creek Casino Resort’s newly opened Yocha-De-He Golf Club.

“It was pretty amazing,” said Edwards, who is the surveillance manager for the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians Tribal Gaming Agency, which actually oversees gaming operations at Cache Creek. “I didn’t believe it was in at first,” he said. “It kind of went a little bit right, and I got a break on the green, and it went right on in.
There was definitely a ‘wow factor’ to it.”

Edwards’ footing didn’t quite feel right on hole number 15, so he took off his golf shoes and put on his sneakers before proceeding to hole 16, where he scored the ace. The ball he hit wasn’t particularly special, just one he had found on the course.
So, with the wrong shoes on and a found ball, he stepped up to the tee with his 7 iron, which he proceeded to hit around 170 yards and into the hole. “It took a couple of small hops right onto the green and went on in. I was stunned,” he says.
Luckily, there were three other golfers with him to record the occasion. “I’ve been playing for 21 years and have never witnessed a hole in one,” said Ray Patterson, who was part of Edwards’ foursome that afternoon.

“Ray actually somersaulted his way up to the green,” joked Edwards. “He was the first one to verify that the ball was actually in the cup.”
According to the United States Golf Association, the estimated odds of acing a hole with any given swing are one in 33,000. That puts Edwards in quite an elite club. In addition to that honor, he’s the first golfer to hit a hole in one on the course since it opened to the public on Jan. 2. Another golfer had the honor of recording Yocha-De-he’s very first hole-in-one during a round before the course officially opened in December on hole number seven.

Remarkably, this was the first time Edwards had ever played Yocha-De-He, and in addition to praising the quality of the experience and the layout of the holes, he had a message for course designer Brad Bell: “Let Brad know that I tamed his course.”

Two-hundred pounds of gingerbread. Four-hundred pounds of frosting. A toy Christmas village and train chugging around it 24 hours per day. These are all components of a mammoth gingerbread castle created by Cache Creek Casino Resort’s pastry chef, Alberto Ortiz.

“This is a thousand pound project, from the foot to the top,” says Ortiz, when summing up all the various parts – edible or not – which make up the giant cookie-based structure he painstakingly created over the course of a month with help from other kitchen staff members.

The finished piece stands at the entrance to Cache Creek’s Harvest Buffet restaurant, where visitors and gamblers can’t help but stop on their way past to marvel at the level of detail given to the confection creation. Gamblers, diners, and resort guests of all ages suddenly become kids again when they see this sugar-junkie’s dream palace.

In what has become a regular holiday tradition at Cache Creek, this is the fourth year that Ortiz has built a castle like this one for the resort. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “I really enjoy every minute of building this.”

A lot of fun and a lot of work. At its base, Styrofoam pieces are dipped in frosting and then applied to the structure making up the “mountain” upon which the castle sits. The special frosting, which acts as cement for the structure, and also doubles as a blanket of snow, is called “royal icing.”

“It’s made out of powdered sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and lemon juice,” says Ortiz. You dip something in it, and in fifteen minutes, it becomes super-hard.” This substance is also piped into crevices to seal the structure and hold it together. “When you apply it, the next day, it’s like cement,” Ortiz says. It’s okay to eat, but better to look at, according to the chef.

All of the gingerbread walls of the structure are custom designed and cut by hand. Ortiz doesn’t use any template to build his masterpieces. “I should have been an architect,” he jokes. He’s done so many gingerbread buildings, it’s become second nature. “I have it in my head what I need to know – I don’t have to think about it anymore.”

Each year Ortiz picks a different theme. This year it is “silver and blue.” The details, such as the Christmas buildings, and Christmas train are from his own collection of Christmas decorations. He also incorporates scrap materials he can scrounge, such as the columns that make up the castle towers, which are actually cardboard rolls that carpet was once wrapped around.

Cache Creek isn’t the first place that Ortiz has plied his trade. He’s worked at places like the St. Francis and Fairmont Hotels in San Francisco, and Sun River Hotel in Oregon, building gingerbread buildings for them as well. “I’ve been doing this for years,” he says. “I’ve been in this business since 1968. Building the gingerbread castles is more like a fun thing for me. It takes me away from normal production, and lets my mind rest. I look forward to it every year.”

Sometimes working at odd hours of the night to finish his creation in time for the holiday season, Ortiz says the hard work was all worth it. “Their faces when they see this, that’s the reward I get.”