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After a long year away, finally made it back to Los Amigos and found pretty much what I expected to find there. 'The Friends' is a short track with plenty of good scoring opportunities and fairly simple layout with the exception of the last three holes which are beasts.

Conditions are about what you would expect right now at this course. You will find serviceable fairways with good to decent coverage but a slew of thin areas and browned out spots, but you can still get the job done. The tee boxes are pretty beat up without a doubt, but the bunkers as usual remain in very good shape. You'll almost always find great sand traps here.

Greens are running at medium speed, have good coverage, but are definitely a good bit on the spongy side, and far too many ball marks from lazy golfers who seem to think that a low-cost course deserves low-energy personal sacrifice to fix the damage. Speaking of low-budget, the carts are about as basic as it gets - no frills personified.

POP was great for a Sunday though so have to give props for that. No waiting outside of a few minutes on the par 3s but the rest was a breeze. So, in summary, Los Amigos is feeling a bit of the summer dry spell but it's still in good working shape and, as long as you're not expecting anything too spectacular, you won't be too disappointed.
Saturday round with my monthly golf group at Skylinks this past Saturday, riding the white tees with a $78 greens fee (a little steep but standard stuff on the weekends). Course was in good shape overall with a few exceptions, namely too many ball marks on the nice greens (who pays that much to play and doesn't think to fix ball marks on the greens?), some thin bunkers that even had twigs/small branches coming out of them, and beat up tee boxes.

The fairways though, while not a vibrant green, had very good coverage and it was rare to find a poor lie. Rough was not very penal so it often provided a nice, cushioned surface to hit from. Layout is always good fun at Skylinks and playing from the whites for the first time because of the group made it really enjoyable as a good driving day resulted in lots of short irons into the greens.

Carts are in good shape with a standard GPS system that could use some updating, as in the ability to be able to pick out layup spots and get yardage for them. Cart service came around often on a hot weekend day, so that was good.

Course was very crowded in the parking lot but actually moved pretty well throughout the day for a 4.5 to 5 hour POP - not bad for a busy Saturday. Fun day out and recommended right now.
Bit late on this review but played a twilight round at Harding last Friday and found the course to be in pretty good condition overall, but the real problems were back in the clubhouse where the line was huge because their systems were down, credit card transactions took forever, and of course the cafe/snack bar is closed so you have to use the food truck that's stationed outside for now.

Fairways are in pretty good shape overall and the greens were in serviceable, medium speed condition with a decent amount of ball marks to contend with though. Sand was just okay in the bunkers and the tee boxes are level but in some need of TLC.

POP was right on four hours as we finished up on 18, so that was good. No cart service around and the new ownership (I think) means that you can't purchase booze at the snack bar at the turn (8th to 9th hole actually), but that might be a question of the time you're trying to buy beers.

Always a fun time at Harding though which I continue to enjoy more than Wilson overall. But that's just me ...
Last golf day for a few weeks ahead of trip to Europe, so got in a very late twilight round at Balboa on Tuesday with a buddy who happened to be playing it solo with a 3:30 tee time. $30 to ride the black tees - no worries! Could we finish in time? Go figure - courses tend to be pretty quiet on Tuesdays so we buzzed through the entire course in just three hours. Fantastic!

Balboa is actually in very nice shape right now in relationship to expectations for this heavily-trafficked course. Fairways, while a bit thin in places and somewhat burned out, provided mostly good lies with the exception of the frequent divot damage from a clientele that does not use the sand in the carts. But there were also a few nice sections with great coverage. Rough was very thick in some places but inconsistent overall.

Greens were rolling pretty nice as well and held shots perfectly. A few too many ball marks of course (see divot damage remark above), but overall the simple and straightforward greens here with minimal adventure to them played quite nicely. Medium-fast even. Solid job from the grounds crew.

Worst part of the course as usual are the bunkers with their thin layer of hard-pack sand, and the tee boxes which seem to rarely be rotated and are beat up pretty good, but at least they're very flat and you won't spend all day trying to find a soft spot to dig your tee in.

No cart service unfortunately on a very hot day, but understood for a quite Tuesday afternoon. Luckily there are drinking fountains all over the course, but they take a minute or two to get 'almost' cold enough to be refreshing.

Overall, not a bad time to play Balboa at all. Oh yeah, it was also kind of wild seeing the local fire raging in the distance off the third hole tee box. Looks like LA's finest though did a good job of putting it out pretty quickly - thanks for all you do!
Our GK Cup final result notwithstanding, it was a fabulous day to play at Oak Creek and the club went above and beyond in terms of customer service, hospitality and course conditions overall. It was a really great experience in Irvine from soup to nuts.

First off, wanted to thank Oak Creek for taking such good care of us for the event, and Johnny for working with them to get it all organized. From the bag drop to starters to the wait staff in the restaurant - all top notch performances and the type of service that makes one want to come back again and again.

Course was as intriguing and fun as I remember it from my first and only time last year playing it, but this time the green conditions and overall playability increased to maximum effect. The Fazio design is one of his best and really allows for some experimentation and expression on the course, which is fun. Penal, but also generous with sort of 'bowling alley bumpers' fairways that help funnel you back into play. But all within reason of course to still challenge the good players! Super fun layout.

Greens were really nice to play from. Fair and accessible, not overly-gimmicky or sloped just for the sake of making your day miserable, the putting surface played medium fast and rolled like a dream. You could definitely land decent approach shots with little trouble of rolling off, yet it was still imperative to rein in the speed of your putts. But overall, a joy to play on now.

Fairways were in good shape overall with mostly great lies and some sections even very lush. Not too many thin or browned out areas to contend with, even with the high temps of late. The rough was varied in length but some of it was quite deep, like on the left side of 18 where one of Gary00's shots was magically discovered by Kassper7 because it could not be seen whatsoever from two feet away, yet was not plugged in the least. Good times.

Bunkers that I experienced only on the front nine had nice coverage to them, and I heard no complaints from the others in our final group on the back nine. At minimum they were getting the job done just fine. And the tee boxes were mostly in good shape as well, with just one having some 'firm footing' hard to find and a few others a bit shaggy, but nothing too terrible.

Cart service came around early and often on a super hot day, so that was great. Food and drink in the restaurant pre and post round was very nice as well. Carts have a fantastic GPS system with a huge screen ala Tesla cars and it seemed to be quite accurate in terms of distances, while also providing flyovers with actual voiceover tips. Great!

All in all, a top experience and Oak Creek definitely went above and beyond the call of duty to make this GK Cup final an incredible experience. The only thing missing at the end was that darn trophy! But congrats to Andrew and Gary who played absolutely LIGHTS OUT for the win!
First time playing Talega this weekend with a monthly group that moves all around SoCal finding new places to play. I was excited to test my game at this challenging course, and I'm actually glad that my group (12 players) all decided we'd play the white tees so the skins would be even. I don't think I would have had as good of a time struggling with some of the carries and narrow approaches from the blues.

There are some interesting quirks to this course, so let's get those out of the way. The driving range is a solid 7-8 minute cart ride from the clubhouse. The 10th tee is so far away from the clubhouse that you start worrying that you've certainly missed it if playing for the first time here. And what can you say about the 15th hole? You reach the tee box, look around in every direction, and have absolutely no idea where to hit. Why? Because there's not even a glimpse of the fairway as it's completely obstructed by tall trees grown up along a ravine. Luckily two our guys played there regularly and were at the tee box to let us know. Trim those trees!

Now for the good stuff ... very fun track to play with a nice variety of holes. There are surprisingly a large amount of wide fairways to attack, which is sometimes rare with these hilly, target-oriented courses. The approaches can narrow for sure, but mostly it's the uneven fairways that will test you the most. There are some forced carries and there are also plenty of water holes that are really fun and challenging, like the par 5 6th and par 4 18th.

Greens were in nice shape with the exception of a patchwork on that famous 15th green. Rolled medium fast, held lines well and the greens are tough, but manageable. A few bigger slopes to contend with, but mostly fair and forgiving. Fairways were a mixed bag of mostly good with some great areas, but you could also find some thin lies, especially around the greens. Bunkers were pretty thin and disappointing, and the tee boxes were just a tick below good for all 18 holes.

We had a good cart service throughout the day and the discounted $89 greens fee was borderline acceptable, but it's the OC and it was a beautiful day and it's more than enough fun to justify it. Just. Carts were just a tick above good with one of those basic GPS systems that only spits out numbers but not the course overview. It is what it is.

Talega is a fun and engaging track that is worth playing right now, but even more so if you can manage to get a little bit of deal. Just don't go there to get in a light, quick practice because you practically need to bring your passport by the time you get to the range.
Twilight action at Montebello and the course did not disappoint for $32 to ride from the blue tees. Met up with two friends there on a beautiful, warm Friday afternoon after braving the infuriating traffic on the 60 for far too long and arriving just before the late tee time.

Greens are definitely the highlight of the course. Holding shots well, really nice coverage, rolling medium fast and true. No major tiers or difficult slopes to navigate here, and even when you see a break, it's probably not as severe as you may think. But they're very fun to play.

Fairways had some nice coverage in a lot of areas (especially on the back nine), but there are still plenty of thin or burned out areas to avoid, especially on the fairways fringes. Rough can be pretty thick in some spots with patches big enough to hide your ball away, but other sections are not as bad. Tee boxes were a mix of good and very shaggy and poor, while the bunkers were all very poor. They just can't seem to get the bunkers in order here. Like ever. And that's a shame. You're basically chipping out of every bunker. There's no sand to take.

No cart service all day which was a bummer, but maybe we started too late and it's only for the weekends. Either way, the course layout is actually quite fun and you'll likely use most of the clubs in your bag. The 18th is a quality closing hole as well, but there are a lot of fun holes here despite the overall conditions not being all that great.

I would definitely go back to Montebello if the opportunity came up again soon. The track just agrees with my game and, with the exception of those pesky bunkers, never leave without having a good feeling.
Just a quick review after last weekend's GK Event at the usually very solid La Costa resort. Like most of the others have stated, it was not in the ideal shape that usually greets you when you get down there. And to make it worse, the three-hour drive in inexplicable Saturday morning traffic already got things off to a bad start.

We got out to the first tee though (in our case the third hole for our shotgun) and were greeted with burned out fairways, poor bunkers and far too many Cart Path Only holes which was all the more frustrating due to the less-than-ideal course conditions.

Greens were in pretty good shape though and very tricky to manage. Plenty of tiers, false fronts and severe slopes to test the best of putters. This was a PGA course for a reason. Routing is very strong though and some of the holes are pretty awesome, just a shame that they were visually so disappointing.

Cart service was good though and the staff did a good job taking care of us. Always a fun time to join up with fellow GK'ers, in this case new GK stud Matt and the terrific father-son duo of Ken and Kendrick. Special thanks as always to Johnny for getting us out there.
Part two of the OC double dip was a trip to Arroyo Trabuco for the first time ever. Walked on and got a holiday price of $115 to ride from the blue tees. Now, before I get into the course review, I'm very curious as to how to grade certain aspects of this course and its management.

Now, any course that you shell out over a hundred dollars for, you're going to have expectations. So when I saw the sprinklers out and running full speed on the first hole green, I thought, 'Okay. No big deal.' I mean, at least don't put the pin on that same side of the green, but whatever. Unfortunately, this same situation would be repeated on 4-5 holes throughout the day, two greens which were so drenched with water that little lakes were formed on the green and we had to alter shots around them. Sorry, but that's just poor. Really poor.

So do I ding the greens rating or just the rating for Customer Service? I kind of went half and half, but I'm curious what the final rating will be. Although to be fair, the greens looked nice but rolled actually pretty slow and were looking like they were in need of a press. Held shots well though and were pretty challenging in terms of tiers and undulations.

Now to the good part ... fairways were in mostly very nice shape, as were the tee boxes and did not have any gripes about the bunkers whatsoever. Rough had its moments that made club selection quite imperative, and there is no shortage of OB areas to torment your scorecard.

This course is tough. Very tough. You have to be very good picking out the right spots and getting the ball there. There are not many 'easy' holes at all. In fact, almost every one of them is downright difficult and nerve-wracking. You can blow up a scorecard here quite quickly. But if you get into a nice little groove, which I did on the back nine for a while, then it's actually a pretty cool track. It's very isolated so you don't worry too much about houses around the property, and the views are quite nice all day. No complaints on the location - it was made to be a golf course.

So what was my overall impression of Arroyo Trabuco? Look, it's a quality track that can easily justify the price if they don't take their customers for granted by rolling their eyes at any complaints about things like sprinklers on the greens. Some really quality holes that will challenge you all day. POP was a bit slow as well, but the cart service came around numerous times on a hot day.

Would I go back? I would, but I would wait to find a good deal online, but of course they don't do that. So we'll see. Mixed feelings for sure but I can easily see another trip and a whole different feeling when I leave. Time will tell.
First of a double dip this 4th of July weekend with Kassper7 as we headed down to the OC early to play a round at San Clemente. Check-in was easy and they even gave us free tokens for some range balls. The range is a bit underwhelming and small, but it's perfect to just loosen up the bones after a decent drive down south before heading to the first tee.

Rode the blue tees for something crazy like $37. What a steal. This course is in very nice shape right now overall, with the highlight being great greens. Do they look fantastic? Not really, but they play unbelievably well. Fast, smooth and receptive to approaches - superb.

Fairways are in very nice shape as well, and the rough is not too penal at all except in a few areas. Bunkers were fine and the tee boxes just a little beat up but nothing to complain about. Overall though, same type of optics around the course as the greens. It doesn't necessarily look like the best manicured course, but it certainly plays like one right now. Look, you're going to find a bare spot here or there just off the fairways, but again, for the price you're paying it's an absolute robbery.

One interesting thing about the layout that I can't recall at too many places is a couple of holes with absolutely no fencing or natural boundaries. The par 5 5th and 12th holes are simply wide open towards the parallel streets bordering them. It's almost off-putting for a minute while you get to the tee box and realize that there is literally NOTHING stopping your errant shot from going through a house. Fun!

Great day out though and really enjoyed San Clemente. Highly recommended at the moment.
Played our GK Cup 13 first-round matches at Lakewood on Sunday and the course is doing just fine as summer finally begins. If your expectations are not out of whack, what you'll get here is a solid round of testing golf with nice conditions that will work for any golfer.

Greens are in very good shape actually. A few too many ball marks for sure, but the speed and consistency of the roll is very good right now. Very receptive to approach shots as well, and even consistent throughout the day.

Fairways are maybe not the most green you'll see around SoCal right now, but the surface is very playable no matter what color it looks like, and you're also going to find a lot of good lies. Sure, there are some thin spots, but overall you should be quite satisfied. Rough is not very penal at all so worries to go just off fairways a bit.

Bunkers were in working shape with no major complaints at all. Tee boxes had some damage from overuse but were mostly level and functional. POP was definitely a surprise because we were actually having a lot of fun with our foursome of Kassper7, Mrkich and USCDodger, but we finished in a little over five hours, so that was not optimal.

Good, challenging yet fair layout at Lakewood that is a good option to play right now if you don't want to play Skylinks prices for quality golf in the LBC.
Played the Babe on Saturday for my monthly Flex Tour round along with Kassper7 and my FT buddies Tommy and Jason. It was an absolutely beautiful summer day with temps getting up to the low 90s. We had an 8:20 tee time and rode in carts because there are some long walks at IH that would make walking a real time consumer. Do they even allow walkers?

Anyway, one thing before getting to course conditions. While Industry Hills is a wonderful 36-hole facility with some of the best public golf in SoCal, the organization pre-tee off is a bit haphazard. You have to take a shuttle down to the range but you can't buy range balls when signing in with the starter. Cash only. What? Okay, but it's probably a good idea in the future to simply go straight to the range, and then take the shuttle back up to the starter. They won't let you get carts first and take them to the range. It's all a bit 'odd.' But anyway …

Course is in very nice shape right now from tee to green. It's not a 10 all around for sure, but you're going to have a hard time finding a lot to gripe about. Tee boxes (we played the blues which is a big difference from the whites!) were in mostly good shape with flat spots and good coverage. The bunkers looked okay but I only found one all day and it was of the fairway variety. Fairways had nice coverage, and the rough was not too penal at all. There were a few thin spots on every hole, but overall good shots would find nice coverage.

Putting was an adventure because the greens at the Babe have so many undulations and tiers. There was some ridiculous pin placement going on though, most notably the top, tiny shelf on the 11th hole that was smaller than a Smart Car and saw every ball just roll right off onto the apron. But the speeds were not overly fast - maybe 10 to 10.5 at best, but still very tough with all the other factors. Coverage was good though and they held shots well.

In terms of layout, the Babe kind of requires the best of your game. It's narrow as can be on many holes, so you can get in trouble quick. From the blues at least though, you're going to need distance as well. There are no easily reachable par 5s here and there's a 260 yard par 3 on the front nine that's a bit nasty. It opens up a bit more with the back nine holes, but by then the damage has likely been done. Just know that this is definitely a course where you don't have to feel bad about playing the whites if you're a double-digit handicap.

Cart service was seen early and often throughout the day, so that was good. Price was $84 which was more or less justified for the quality of the course you're playing, but you can definitely find better midweek deals and I think they're even doing a Sunday special for just $64. That's a great deal. But yeah, overall you're going to have a find day if you spend your four hours at the Babe anytime soon.
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