Johnny Miller, the Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa, California is that extra special place.
Miller, a 25-time PGA TOUR winner and U.S. Open champion, is part of an investment group that purchased the resort in 2010. Since that time, Miller and his group have worked diligently to improve all aspects of the golf and overall resort experience.
Spread out over 1,200 acres in Napa Valley, the Silverado Resort & Spa is the ideal resort for golf and wine lovers. Miller makes sure the courses are in top notch condition and you're within an hour's drive of more than 750 tasting rooms in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. You can play golf in the morning and in the afternoon explore the wineries by private car, limousine, van, train or trolley.
Rest assured, you don't have to be a scratch golfer or wine sommelier to enjoy this part of the world. Miller's courses are very playable and enjoyable for all skill levels and the friendly folks at the tasting rooms will educate you in a light-hearted way about all things wine.
Silverado has two 18-hole championship golf courses, which are managed by Troon Golf. The North is the headliner layout and is the site of the PGA TOUR's Frys.Com Open (October 6-12, 2014). Miller has meticulously improved the North course with the clearing of trees, adding new trees, creating new bunkers and adding new fairway grasses.
"Johnny Miller has probably played more rounds of golf at Silverado than anywhere else," Silverado's director of golf Tim Geesey told me while we enjoyed some ice tea at The Grill on my visit. "He played in several junior and amateur tournaments here and then later won PGA TOUR tournaments at Silverado in 1974 and 1975. He knows the courses very well and is doing everything possible to make them great places to play for every type of golfer."
Dotted with redwood and oak trees--some that are as old as 300 years--the courses have a parklike feel. Add in some beautiful landscaping around the tee boxes and the golf experience is exceptional. If you want to play a leisurely, somewhat quiet round, play in the afternoon because Geesey says, "Nearly 80% of our rounds are played before 1:00 p.m. because everyone heads to the wineries in the afternoon."
North Course--Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the course stretches to 7,200 yards for the pros. For the average golfer, the blue tees are at 6,793 yards and white tees at 6,302 yards. Keep in mind, too, when examining the yardages, that the ball doesn't travel as far in Napa Valley air. Miller put a lot of thought into the placement of the bunkers and when you're standing at the tee box, you can't just grip it and rip. You've got to think you're way around this layout. Everything is in front of you on this course and it's very playable for the mid-handicapper. Miller's enhancements have created an exceptional resort course experience and a worthy site for a PGA TOUR event.
South Course--Overshadowed by the North, the South Course with it's 6,612 yards from the blue tees and 6,207 yards from the white tees is a bit kinder and gentler. If you only play a few times a year, I suggest playing the South first before moving on to the more difficult North. The South, also originally designed by Jones, Jr., offers tree-lined fairways, water hazards and undulating greens. For the ladies, it plays at 5,376 yards from the burgundy tees.
For a video view of the courses, click here to Golf Travel Guru T.V.
Silverado Resort has 380 rooms and suites. The menu encompasses standard guest rooms, junior suites with spacious king rooms with sitting areas and one-and-two bedroom suites, which have a full kitchen, dining room, living rooms, master bedroom and bath. Each suite has a wood-burning fireplace and balcony with views of courtyards, swimming pools or golf courses.
I stayed in a one-bedroom suite, which was decorated in soft muted earthtones that evoked a sophisticated Napa Valley feel. The full kitchen came in handy as there's a great Safeway grocery store about ten minutes from the resort, where you can load up on snacks and other items to make quick meals. As you would imagine, Safeway has a superb wine selection as well. A couple of small details I really liked about my suite were the large oversize showerhead, the bar style counter in the kitchen and the luxurious Euro-style linens. Too bad it was extra warm on my visit in July because I would've loved to have cranked up a fire in the fireplace.
Some highlights of my unit include:
--Egyptian cotton sheets
--Wood burning fireplace
--Stainless steel kitchen appliances
Here's a partial list of the resort amenities:
--Two signature restaurants
--16,000 square foot spa
--10 swimming pools
--13 tennis courts
--Main Lounge's Patio Terrace
--3 Bocce courts
10 Little Things I Liked:
1. The Burger Dog available at the snack shacks on the Silverado courses. Yes, these are the same phenomenal delicacies that became famous at the Olympic Club.
2. The displays of Johnny Miller's old MacGregor golf clubs in the clubhouse.
3. Great pace of play. The members at Silverado play at a good clip and the resort guests follow the lead so a four hour round is possible.
4. The laid back atmosphere throughout the resort. The beautiful landscaping makes you feel like you're strolling through some upscale college campus loaded with great amenities like a spa and terrace bar.
5. You can walk to the William Hill Estate Winery from the resort.
6. The frosty and delicious Napa Smith Brewery pilsner I enjoyed at The Grill bar after a round on the North Course.
7. The spectacular view of the surrounding mountains from my balcony.
8. The Keurig single serve coffee maker in my one-bedroom suite.
9. The bagpiper that marches up the 18th hole in front of the Terrace Bar at Silverado on Fridays and Saturdays.
10. Tim Geesey, Silverado's director of golf, who is profoundly dedicated to making the golf experience at the resort one of the best in the world.
DINING & LOUNGING
The Grill at Silverado--Overlooking the golf courses, this casually elegant restaurant offers indoor and alfresco dining, Happy Hours on the weekdays and complimentary corkage fees on Sunday. Popular entrees include Pablo's Pollo Loco (pictured below), American Kobe Burger and Cabernet Braised Lamb Shank.
Royal Oak--It was closed for the season (I visited in July). Specialities include Angus Beef steaks and fresh grilled fish.
The Mansion Lounge--On cool evenings, it's a great place to sit around a stone fireplace and enjoy a Napa Valley wine or cocktail. You can also enjoy an outdoor setting on the patio terrace, which overlooks the golf course. From 10:00 p.m. till close, a late night bar menu is offered.
THINGS TO DO
--Visit the more than 400 wineries within a 45-minute drive from the resort. Some of the largest wineries are Beringer, Castello di Amorosa (pictured below) and Robert Mondavi. Most of the wineries in Napa Vally are smaller and family owned and fun and interesting to visit. Some of the wineries Silverado has close ties with include, Artesa, Andretti, Bell Wine Cellars, Chimney Rock, Black Stallion, William Hill and Silverado Vineyards to name a few.
--Hot air ballooning
--Olive Oil tastings
--Dine in the town of Napa, about a 5 minute drive, which has numerous restaurant options in a revitalized downtown area. Enjoy a gourmet experience on the St. Helena Highway (the main wine road for Napa Valley), where there are several Michelin starred restaurants.
--Take in a concert at Uptown Theatre in Napa.
--Shop at the Oxbow Public Market, Napa Premium Outlets and Napa General Store.
For more information on things to do in the area, click to Visit Napa Valley.
The resort is located at 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa, California 94558, about 55 miles from the San Francisco International Airport and 45 miles from Sacramento International Airport.
GET THE SCOOP
For more information on the resort, go to www.silveradoresort.com To check on rates and availability, call 800-532-0500 or 707-257-0200.