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Played here Monday, 7/31 with a 5:50 a.m. tee time. I booked the earliest time they had available in hopes of playing a very quick round, but when I arrived, I was given two choices: Play with a threesome of local seniors about to tee off or play by myself behind them. I opted to play with them, but questioned the whole time why I wasn't given the chance to play by myself ahead of them. Anyhow, they were friendly and we had fun, but the round took probably an hour longer than I expected, finishing in about 3:40. There was no one in front of us all day, but groups were waiting on us from behind.

The course is in pretty good condition, especially for mid-summer. In reviewing my photos, I see more bare spots and dry spots than I noticed in person. Greens were a bit shaggy and wet on the front nine, but smoother and faster starting on the 10th. They were pretty great the rest of the way. Medium firmness. Fairways were very nice light color bermuda except where there are bare/dry spots. Rough wasn't quite as lush and also had occasional bare spots, but overall was pretty good. "Double Spades" tee boxes (7,036-yard tips) were fine. Bunkers were good.

I always thought the course looked pretty fun from the 15, and it lived up to my expectations. Playing the tips, there are lots of attractive desert-course tee views on this course. Holes 7-11 all play around lakes and are good holes. These are the holes you can see from the 15, so one minor bummer is the presence of billboards in view along the edges of those holes. Even though houses border some holes, they aren't very intrusive and I barely noticed them. There are a couple good risk/reward holes and many long, tough par 4s. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would definitely play it again.

I created a Flickr photo album of 54 photos than can be viewed here:
Played here on the second day of my mini trip up north with a 12:20 "Deal" time from Paired with two guys from Las Vegas, seemed like we waited on most holes all day but POP wasn't too bad. Total probably around 4:40. I took a cart even though it was cart path only. They are opening the fairways to carts on August 1. The starter told us we were fortunate because the course was super foggy earlier in the day, but had cleared by the time we started. It only remained clear until the 9th hole, though, and then we played the rest of the round under grey skies, which definitely hurts the aesthetics somewhat.

Conditions are good to great. Greens were fast, the kind that feel a little bit thin. They accepted full shots pretty well; medium firmness overall. Fairways were great for the most part. Since the remodel, there's not a ton of rough out here, but what there is was mostly in good condition and cut short. There are some longer areas that are semi-native looking with taller grasses around the extreme edges. I played the "Four Poppy" tees and the boxes were in good condition. Bunkers were excellent.

After playing Pasatiempo the previous day, Poppy Hills paled in comparison but is still a really nice course. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I really enjoyed it and it's very beautiful in places. I especially liked anywhere that the native areas and naturalistic bunkers came into play. I can't think of much more to add so here's a link to my Flickr album of 40 photos:
I took a quick two-day golf trip to Santa Cruz/Monterey earlier this week. I started here on Wednesday at 1:20. Paired with a couple visiting from out of town. I walked the tips. Excellent weather, slightly warmer than I expected and beautiful blue skies.

Conditions are excellent. Greens were smooth and medium-fast to fast. They weren't quite as glassy as their reputation led me to believe – I didn't putt any balls from on the green to off, but downhillers can get away from you pretty easily. They were semi-firm, with approach shots usually taking one bounce before stopping. Fairways were great; very good coverage, excellent cut, great lies all day. Rough was also in nice condition. Not too deep, maybe about 2.5 inches and the ball usually sat up top. Very lush in most places but there was some minor browning and sporadic thin areas. Tee boxes were great. They weren't pristine, but very good and never presented any issues as far as teeing up the ball. Bunkers were fantastic, some of the best maintained I've encountered in recent memory.

I've wanted to play here for a long time and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It felt like the most architecturally significant course I've ever played, if that makes sense. It has distant ocean views, fantastic rolling terrain, and amazing use of barrancas starting at the 10th that come into play on nearly every back nine hole. MacKenzie's bunkering that was restored by Tom Doak in 2005 is also magnificent. The collection of the five par 3s here is nearly unbeatable. The late afternoon sunlight streaming through the trees at the 15th green might be the prettiest spot I've ever been on a golf course. There are also some interesting maintenance practices at play here, such as no rough between the green and bunkers in some spots, which hurt me on the 6th hole.

This was absolutely one of the best golf experiences of my life and the course is definitely within the top 5 courses I've ever played. I took a million photos and created a Flickr photo album of 71 of them here:
Played out here today after finally getting a reservation to actually work at this course. Several times in the past few years I’ve tried, only to receive some sort of error message that couldn’t even be fixed by a phone operator. Today I tried one time and got a similar message, but then my reservation was accepted for the 12:20 time. With 25% off promo code, I got the lowest price I think I’ve ever seen for this course. Check-in was smooth but the starter was a little lax and sort of forgot about me, but no big deal. Eventually I ended up playing with a father-son duo visiting from Las Vegas; really nice guys. Weather was warm but bearable due to a slight breeze most of the day. POP was really good at almost exactly 4:00. Marshall came around a couple times and warned us that the back was playing slower than the front; nice touch to adjust our expectations before just hitting a slowdown. Beverage cart made probably four appearances.

Conditions are quite good, although I feel like the course looks better in my photos than it did in person. Greens were good. The unblemished areas were very nice, but little blemishes – nicks and ball marks – seemed prevalent on many greens. That said, I don’t think it ever affected any putts, and balls rolled smoothly and medium-fast speed. Greens were medium-to-soft firmness and full shots stopped quickly. Fairways are light to medium green and thatched or verticut – there’s some sort of ridge pattern on them, but it didn’t affect how they played. Some thin, dried-out spots here and there, but overall quite good fairway conditions. Rough was pretty lush, not too deep, balls typically sat up nice on top with a good cushion underneath. Black tee boxes were good. Bunkers were good, some a little crusty on top and maybe a bit on the firm side.

As I alluded to earlier, this was my first time ever playing here. I’d heard lots of great things and I came away both surprised and a little underwhelmed. I was surprised at how difficult the course is. There is tons of ESA and very tight-looking driving areas, even though when you get out to the fairway, there’s often more room than it appeared from the tee. Also surprised by the 16th hole, a beast of a par 4 at 465 yards with a completely blind tee shot. I was underwhelmed by the collection of par 3s. I guess Ted Robinson Jr. doesn’t share his father’s affinity for water hazards on one shotters, and I found all four pretty boring. Also, the par-5 13th hole is by far the worst hole I’ve encountered in recent memory. There are fairway bunkers left and right, but then if you avoid those, you might find yourself in an ugly, “fake desert” waste bunker right where the fairway should be. Why that exists is beyond me. If you want some sort of hazard there, at least make it a real native area, not some cobbled together collection of cacti and desert plants from Home Depot. Together, it gives the appearance from the tee that there’s no “correct” place to hit your drive, except to keep it short of the waste bunker. Very stupid, terrible hole. Generally, while there are some nice looks and interesting holes, I felt an overall lack of character typical of Ted Robinson designs. I’ll play it again, though. It kicked my butt with an abundance of penalty strokes and I'd like another shot with some local knowledge under my belt.

In case you’re interested, here’s a link to my Flickr photo album of 39 photos from today:
Walked on at twilight (1:30, $26 walking rate) Friday afternoon out here. Pro shop guy had me pay right away and was calling me to the first tee within about three minutes of putting my name on the list. Paired with two really nice guys. We all walked and POP was decent, although it felt like we waited a lot. Two groups in front of us was a slow group, but we still finished in about 4:10. I hoped heading to San Clemente would allow me to escape the scorching temps somewhat, but it was still hot (low 80s) and also surprisingly humid. There was some breeze that helped cool things down, but I was absolutely exhausted when I finished walking that hilly course. (It would have been a perfect litmus test for the Casey Martin controversy many years ago because not only was I physically tired, but also mentally. I’m quite certain I would have shaved several strokes off my score had I splurged for a cart. Anyway…)

Conditions are pretty good overall. Like Jay mentioned in the previous review, the greens are very grainy right now. Anything toward the ocean/setting sun runs out quite a bit, while putts headed the opposite direction are pretty slow. The down-grain putts aren’t necessarily fast, but they just don’t stop…they keep trickling and trickling. Kind of a fun challenge trying to read the grain and adjust your stroke accordingly, although I struggled and had multiple three-putts. The greens were pretty soft, smooth and accepted full shots well. Although again like Jay said, approaches with longer clubs definitely didn’t stick as well as well as short irons. Fairways are about 80-85% really nice and the rest some thin/browning spots. The rough is spottier with some thin/bare areas, but also some really lush kikuyu that can play tough if the ball sits down a bit. Overall rough was much more inconsistent than the fairways. Tee boxes were decent. I wasn’t in a bunker but they looked pretty good.

Always love this layout and it looked really nice in the afternoon sun yesterday. There are few (if any) courses I’ve played more than San Clemente, but I hadn’t played it since I started making photo albums of courses. So I created a Flickr album of 44 images that can be viewed by copying & pasting this URL:
Played my GK Cup 10 first-round match here on Wednesday with thingstodo. (See GK Cup 10 thread for match details.) We had a 3:00 twilight time, $23 walking rate. Both courses seemed busy but we got started right on time. Friendly guys in the shop who seemed on top of things. Excellent weather: Mid/upper 70s with at least some breeze most of the day. Paired with two guys both named Ken, which made things easy. POP was good. Front nine moved quicker than the back, but overall we finished in 4:30.

The course is in very nice condition! Greens were fast, mostly smooth (our foursome got a couple bumpy putts late in the afternoon) and accepted full shots pretty well. They were about medium firmness. Tricky to read, where some putts barely broke at all and others raced down ridges and slopes. Fairways were very lush and green, perhaps a little tiny bit shaggy, but the extra length made the ball sit up really nice. Maybe 5% of fairways have some browning and that includes a few larger, low-lying spots that were inferior to the rest, but overall very pleasantly surprised by how nice these fairways were. Rough was also very lush, probably about 3 inches deep and pretty dense, which kept the ball sitting up on top. Despite the really nice conditions, there wasn't much visual definition between the fairway and rough...very consistent greenness everywhere, but it'd be even more striking if there were cleaner lines or more distinction between the two (that's being VERY nitpicky...clearly it didn't affect play at all). Tee boxes were the low point. Good grass coverage but a little inconsistent in the type of grass, and also many were lumpy. Still not bad, but a step down from the rest of the course. Bunkers were mostly good.

This was my first visit to Mile Square in many years and my first time ever playing the Players Course. I really enjoyed it much more than I expected! Conditions definitely impacted that, but the layout is good, too. Lots of lakes, lots of bunkers, good width, decent variety of holes. The "openness" reminded me a little bit of Olivas Links and Goose Creek in spots, although it's not as good as either of those courses. Also, as I alluded to earlier, some tricky movement to the green surfaces that would require repeat play to learn well. For $23 twilight weekday rate in Orange County, it's a very good option! I definitely will keep it in mind when I want to play closer to home than I typically do.

I created a Flickr photo album of 37 photos that can be viewed by copying & pasting this URL:
Played here at 12:00 on Sunday, June 11 as part of an all-day unlimited golf UnderPar voucher with sixpez, robule and nachosgrande. The resort was very busy and the Palm course was running behind a bit, so we didn’t actually tee off until 12:20. Pace seemed slow but the total was around 4:30. Excellent weather for mid-June in the desert.

Conditions are good but a minor step down from Valley due to lesser condition greens. The greens on Palm had recently been verticut or somehow treated that caused little ridges all throughout every green. It was noticeable enough that when replacing a marked ball, you’d see the ball settle down in these grooves a tiny bit, which sometimes made “touch putts” a bit bouncy. Like Valley, they were firm, accepted full shots well and ran pretty slow. Fairways were good, maybe a tiny bit thinner than Valley. Rough had good coverage, not too penal. Tee boxes good, although one hole was really messed up (I think No. 9). Bunkers were okay.

While conditions were a small step down from Valley, I preferred the layout on Palm. The back nine is good and has some holes that offer a different feel than the familiar Ted Robinson “sameness” elsewhere. I really liked No. 10, a dogleg left par 5 where the second shot plays downhill. I loved the beautiful par-3 17th, chock full of flower beds and waterfalls and with practically an island green. No. 18 is also a cool hole running right along the lake and with great views of the resort. Fun times and an unbeatable deal with the UnderPar voucher at $100 per foursome for unlimited play. ($8.33 per round for us, considering we played three rounds.)

Flickr photo album of 30 photos here:
Played two rounds on the Valley course on Sunday, June 11 with sixpez, robule and nachosgrande. We had an UnderPar voucher for unlimited golf and also played one round on the Palm course. Started at 6:22 a.m. on Valley, and later around 5:00 p.m. Each of those rounds was under 4:00. Got fortunate with a great weather day that was hottest around 7:30 a.m. when the early morning sun was creating humidity from the watered turf. The rest of the day was very comfortable for mid-June desert temps.

Conditions are quite good. Greens were firm but accepted full shots well. Short irons would stop quickly, while mid and long irons took a bounce or two before slowing. The greens were pretty smooth but rolled slow/medium slow. Fairways had great coverage and provided good lies. Rough was also very nice, good coverage, not very penal except a few areas where it gets really deep in the second cut. Blue tee boxes were good, never an issue. Bunkers were good.

I'd never played either course until yesterday, so the UnderPar deal was a great way to knock 'em both out. They surpassed my expectations slightly. Very typical Ted Robinson designs but a little more elevation changes than I expected, some of which seems organic and others that are obviously contrived with mounding, etc. Definitely a fun day with fellow GK'ers!

If anyone's interested, here's a link to my Flickr photo album of 28 photos:
I had a 2:46 “Deal” time (minus 25% promo code) out here on Saturday, June 10. Amazing price for the quality of course. It wasn’t too busy out there, so they sent me out by myself, but there were two threesomes right in front of me all day. POP was still pretty good at 3:35. Beautiful blue skies, weather wasn’t too hot, and there was a decent breeze most of the day. Good water/ice machine right outside the clubhouse and abundant jugs all throughout the course to keep hydrated.

Conditions are very nice. Greens were a little crispy on top but accepted full shots really well. They rolled smooth and medium fast. They were very firm and it was very hard to make any ball marks, but like I said earlier, full shots did stop quickly. Fairways had great coverage of green grass, clean lines and cut short. They provided great lies all day. The rough was only about an inch deep and also had great coverage. There was some minimal yellowing in spots in both the fairways and the rough, but nothing too problematic. The black tee boxes were nearly perfect for the first 10 holes, but then there were some suspect spots on some of the holes on the inward nine. Overall still great, though. Bunkers were pretty good, although seemed to buck to conventional wisdom – fairway bunkers were fluffy and full of sand, while the greenside bunkers were thinner and/or had a little crust on top. Perhaps best of all, the course still felt very well manicured and doesn’t yet have that scruffy summer appearance some courses get when the temperatures rise and prices plummet.

I hadn’t played here in nearly 20 years and I enjoyed it more this time. The water holes are all captivating with Dye’s signature railroad ties bordering the lakes. Speaking of which, I wonder if they’ve replaced the railroad ties somewhat recently, because they looked very uniform and in great condition compared to courses like PGA West Stadium. All in all, the course looked great in the late afternoon sunlight.

I took lots of pictures and posted 46 to a Flickr album that can be viewed by copying and pasting this URL:
Played in the first group of Monday's GK Review Guru outing with JohnnyGK, rgm2525 and GDR23. Great times as always! Started a little past 11:00 and finished all 27 holes in about 6:45. Huge thanks to GK for setting this up and to Moorpark CC for having us out!

Conditions were outstanding! Greens were smooth, medium-fast and accepted full shots well. Fairways and rough were both very lush. The ball sat up great on the fairways. The rough was 2-3 inches deep and sticky in spots. Definitely a premium on staying in the fairway. The tee boxes were great, a little soft underneath the surface for my preference (my tee felt a little wobbly sometimes), but that's only if I want to get nitpicky. All of the bunkers I was in were good with plentiful sand. Not sure if this sand plays tough or I was having an off day, but I had a hard time hitting good sand shots and failed to escape the bunkers several times.

This was my first time here and I absolutely loved everything about the whole experience. It really surpassed my expectations. Right when you arrive there's a private club aura to the place. Big, beautiful driving range, nice chipping and putting greens. The course itself is unbelievably beautiful, lots of fun and also quite difficult. There are ESA lateral hazards on probably every hole and often on both sides, so controlling your direction is paramount. We played the tips, which also put a premium on distance (and makes a few holes extra fun and challenging). Tons of elevation changes. Just a fantastic course all around. The guys I played with have all played it several times and had their favorite nine. I think I'd have to agree with Johnny that Creekside was my favorite, but they are all wonderful. For me, it's not one of those 27-hole facilities where you definitely want a certain two nines. They're all great.

I took a ton of photos and created a Flickr photo album of 72 images that can be viewed by copying and pasting this URL:
I had the 5:32 a.m. "Deal" time here on Monday. Checked in around 5:15 and was given a cart key and told I could go whenever I wanted. It was still completely dark, so I hit some putts on the practice putting green, which had to be one of the purest, most perfect greens I've ever putted on. Then a single hustled over to the tee around 5:20, so I let him go and I played by myself behind him. He was really quick and I saw him finishing 17 as I was coming off 12. My POP was a leisurely 2:55. Cloudy, misty weather the whole round with very little wind to speak of.

Conditions are excellent! The greens were nearly flawless, although I did find a few fresh-looking unfixed ball marks on some greens, so I assume the speedster ahead of me wasn't fixing his ball marks. Otherwise they were smooth, medium-fast and accepted full shots well. Personally I feel firmer greens would suit this course better, but it's hard to complain at all about these (9/10). Fairways were also nearly perfect. Outstanding coverage and the ball sat up great. The rough had good coverage but was a little patchy, so I rated it a notch lower than the fairways. The tee boxes had fantastic grass but some were a bit spongy and lumpy, maybe due to playing so early and wet? Still very good, though. I wasn't in a bunker but they looked great.

I just love this course more each time I play it. I had so much fun being out there yesterday, just me and the course. Right now there are little yellow flowers blooming around the edges of the course (see my Instagram post) that have it looking awesome. There's also the orange-hued native areas that contrast so beautifully with the green fairways and rough. If you'd told me a few years ago that a flat, links-style course would become one of my favorite courses anywhere, I'd have told you you're crazy, but something about this place just casts a spell on me. Can't wait to get back again!
I played out here in yesterday's GK Review Guru outing with walnutgolf, zgolfinman and jmo1pro2. Great to meet you guys! We started at 11:00 and POP was good, around 4:10. Weather was cloudy and chilly at first, but then the sun emerged around the third hole and it was gorgeous the rest of the day.

Conditions are quite good overall. The course looks really great. The greens are definitely the highlight. They are very healthy with strong turf. Ball marks were difficult to make. They were smooth and medium-fast all day. They are more firm than soft, with full shots taking a couple little bounces before stopping. Fairways were good for the most part, nice coverage but a little inconsistent from one hole to the next. Even at their worst, they were just a little thin/dry. I never had no grass underneath my ball in the fairway. Rough also varied from very lush and pure to a little more spotty in places. Tee boxes were a step down in conditions but nothing bad, just not as well conditioned as the rest of the grass out there. Bunkers are the lone problem area; they all seemed pretty crusty and/or lacking sufficient soft sand.

I really love this course and the whole feel out there in that little valley. In fact, I was enjoying it so much, I ended up playing 36 holes. Eighteen just wasn't enough. Can't ask for a much better day!
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