Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., CordeValle is considered one of his finest designs. The routing makes full use of the Northern California landscape, which features meandering creeks, sycamore trees, canyons and broad meadows.
Even though the golf course is only 14 years old, it already has hosted some major competitions, including the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour, the 2011 PGA Cup (first West Coast venue to conduct this Ryder Cup-style event since 1977) and The Gifford Collegiate Championship hosted by UCLA. The Senior Women’s Amateur will be the first USGA championship at the club.
Long before any golf was played at CordeValle, the property served as home to the Pitac tribe of Native Americans. Descendants of the Ohlone – also known as the Costanoan – the Pitac culture thrived some 8,000 years ago before it was discovered by Spanish colonial explorers and missionaries in the late 18th century. Pedro Fages led the first European expedition through the Santa Clara Valley in 1772, camping near what is now CordeValle.
In the early 1820s following Mexico’s independence from Spain, the Santa Clara Valley was divided into ranchos. The CordeValle region became part of Rancho San Francisco de las Llagas, with nearly 27,000 acres given to Carlos Antonio Castro in 1828. Castro focused on raising cattle for the hide and tallow trade, incorporating a soap factory and 500 acres of cultivated orchards, vineyards and gardens.
Martin Murphy changed the fortunes of the region significantly in 1844. He brought his wife and five children from Iowa on the first wagon train to cross the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Irish immigrant purchased a 9,000-acre parcel of Rancho San Francisco de las Llagas, which today is the San Martin area.
Murphy’s descendants inherited the property, although ownership changed hands several times. Lazard Lion purchased more than 5,500 acres of the ranch, including what is now CordeValle, cultivating the fields with fruit trees, barley, corn and alfalfa. By 1918, there was a burgeoning 40-acre vineyard. The ranch owner is forever memorialized by the name of the mountaintop overlooking CordeValle – Lion’s Peak.
Frank Hayes, one of Lion’s business associates, later purchased the property in 1921 and added a dairy, along with orchards that produced prunes and walnuts.
CordeValle has taken a new direction in recent years with the development of a golf course and spa. CordeValle consistently ranks as one of the top U.S. resorts by several publications. The resort features a winery, tennis courts, fine dining, golf, a spa and other outdoor activities.