Golf Course Reviews
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Always great to get together for a GK Plays! Thank you Johnny for another fun event, and thank you to GolfMoose, Linksoul, Cleveland Golf and all the sponsors for such a cornucopia of prizes. Enjoyed the day yesterday with rudyclub, Andrew1 (whose name isn't Andrew!) and jefffassel. Shotgun pace was right around 4:30.

Conditions are mediocre to great, but mostly in between. The course definitely plays better than it looks. It's sort of splotchy in spots and several greens have some fresh sod issues and a light top dressing of sand (or maybe fertilizer?). Greens were smooth and quick for the most part. Full shots took one bounce and then stopped quickly. Fairways were lush, nice to play from. Rough was also lush, sometimes difficult. Tee boxes good. Bunkers were mixed. Nice sand and seemed to be nicely maintained, but I found a rock in one and in another, my ball rolled up to the back and stopped on a very steep angle instead of rolling back to the bottom. Then that portion of the bunker had very little sand and was clay-like underneath. Overall the course seemed much wetter than I would expect, considering how we've had no recent precipitation.

Having now played both La Costa courses, I definitely prefer Champions. Legends felt like a slightly nicer version of Riverwalk to me. I know they are part of a beautiful resort, but I consider the normal prices for these courses to be absolutely absurd.

The bright sky didn't cooperate for great picture taking, but I still created a Flickr photo album of 27 photos here:
I dug Nickesquire out of golf hibernation and convinced him to join me here today at 7:00 a.m. using a “Buy One, Get One Free” green fee coupon I had. Normal price $110 so we paid $55 each. We were paired with a single who was a nice guy except he would drive ahead and keep playing the hole out of turn if we were searching for a ball. Poor etiquette; a little annoying. Gorgeous morning with shirt-sleeve weather and mostly sunny/partly cloudy skies. We were the second group off and pace was excellent. The group in front disappeared very quickly, so we never waited on them, and we kept things moving enough to not have the twosome behind us pushing us. Total 3:20.

All of the turf is in fantastic condition. However, although the greens are lush, smooth and pure, they’re pretty slow right now. It’s not like they’re furry or anything, just much slower than you would expect for how good they look. Maybe it’s by design or maybe just a product of still letting them mature after overseeding? Also, they didn’t hold shots very well, but I wouldn’t necessarily say they were firm. They’re difficult to hole putts, as there is lots of slope and rarely do you find a straight putt. Some have crazy undulations, like the par-3 14th, shaped like a fidget spinner with one prong significantly elevated above the other two. (Same architect as Redhawk, so slightly reminiscent of the practice putting green there.) Fairways were lush, providing great lies all day. Rough was lush and probably 4 inches deep. It was difficult to find balls in it until you were right on top of it. Semi-penal, depending on how deep your ball settled. There are also a few areas of exceptionally deep rough (like knee deep in spots) that are farther off-line, some of which are marked as lateral hazards. Tee boxes excellent. Sand was great, too. Overall the course is in very nice, overseeded condition; the greens just need to speed up and then everything will be almost perfect.

I had played here several times in the past but I don’t think I’d been back for 20+ years. It’s a fun course with some good elevation changes, tricky greens, quite a few water features and lots of pretty views. Pro shop attendant and starter were both very friendly. The club seems to have a very active membership and it was cool to see a whole bunch of pull carts lined up outside due to the fact that many members walk.

Here’s my Flickr photo album of 48 images:
Played out here today, Saturday 11/25, on an 11:50 GolfNow "Hot Deal" for $32. There were lots of times available on GolfNow, so despite a traditionally busy golf weekend, I thought this "under-the-radar" course might be less busy than others. Wrong. It was super busy and play was slow. I was sent out by myself between a bunch of foursomes (I guess the other 3 who bought at 11:50 never showed up) and the front nine took about 2:30. Then on the approach to the 11th, the group ahead of me waved me up and said they wanted to let me through all day but there was nowhere to go, but now several groups in front of them had bailed. I played the next few holes very quickly but then caught people again. Back nine pace was 1:30 for a total of just over 4 hours. Unseasonably warm and sunny, little wind, but fortunately there are lots of big trees out there to provide shade.

Course conditions are pretty good with some "good, but..." thrown in. Greens roll fast and smooth except they seemed prone to spike marks, which made them a little bumpy if you hit one. Full shots stopped quickly but short game shots were difficult to control on the speedy greens. Fairways had good coverage of light green/tan grass, but it was dry and seemed to disintegrate when a club came in contact with it. Still mostly provided good lies. Rough was the same as the fairways, just a little longer and with some sketchier thin spots. Kudos to the course, however, because they seem to put the emphasis on maintaining the grass around the green complexes, which was much greener and lusher than the rest of the fairways or rough. Bunkers were good. Tee boxes were nice lush grass but a little bit long...maybe not mown for a couple days.

This was my first time here. It's an old-school course surrounded by an old-school neighborhood. Typically I associate private courses (this was private until recently) with having more character than your typical muni-type course, but that perception doesn't really fit here. This is a pretty straightforward layout, very flat and not all that interesting. That's not to say it's bad. It's just a little boring. I don't necessarily feel a strong desire to return, but I wouldn't turn it down, either. There are a few water hazards that are hidden due to being elevated a bit, one of which I totally missed noticing the yellow stakes and hit my approach shot right into it.

Here's my Flickr photo album of 30 pics:
Played here Saturday with a 12:30 "Deal" time. I'd wanted to play here for a long time and recently found a day they were allowing TeeOff promo codes, so I used a 25% off code to pay around $32. When I arrived, they didn't have my reservation, but I showed them the confirmation email and one of the guys said sometimes the reservations don't show up in their computers. They radio'd over to the starter and ended up getting me right out, actually a few minutes ahead of my time. Very friendly staff all around. I was paired with 3 others and POP was sorta slow but luckily got moving just in time for us to finish right after the beautiful sunset. Total around 4:30.

Conditions are pretty good. The greens were good but were maybe the low point. They were lush, medium speed and a little bumpy. I'm sure they are better in the mornings, but they were showing lots of ball marks and minor flaws in the afternoon. They were very soft; full shots stopped right where they landed. Fairways were mostly very nice, a little thin in a some spots. Rough was also pretty lush and not very penal. Blue tee boxes were good. The bunker sand was very nice...definitely above average, which I appreciated.

This was my first time ever playing here. I enjoyed the course quite a bit. There's tons of water that comes into play. Maybe the only faults are the surrounding city streets encroaching in spots and a lack of elevation changes. I played terribly, so I'd like to get back out there to redeem myself.

I created a Flickr photo album of 41 photos here:
I’m not sure what was up with GolfNow when I booked this trip, but sixpez and I also got an incredible deal out here for 10:23 Sunday morning. Saturday’s blue skies had turned to clouds, but otherwise the weather was still very comfortable. Again we played as just a twosome.

Like Oasis the day before but to an even greater extent, Revere Concord looks great from a distance but is a little bit rough around the edges upon closer inspection. The greens were great; medium fast, accepted full shots well and rolled smooth. The fairways were deep green but lacked consistent coverage, so lies weren’t always great. The dormant rough was stringy and tough in some spots and less penal in others. Tee boxes were a little chewed up and it appeared no one had cleaned up broken tees for a while…they were everywhere! Bunkers were okay.

This was my second time playing Concord and I like the course quite a bit. The four par 3s are all really good. The downhill par-4 first is a fun way to start a round, and the long downhill par-5 18th is a blast.

Here’s my Flickr photo album of 34 photos:
Played here Saturday afternoon with sixpez on his quest to play anything and everything. Turned out to be a pretty fun nine-hole course, albeit overpriced at $25 for 9 holes ($35 for 18, which isn’t bad.)

The course was generally in good condition, except for an odd stretch of a few holes that seemed all dried out. The greens were smooth, medium speed and accepted full shots well. Fairways looked to be partially overseeded and were light green compared to the dormant rough. Mostly good lies in the fairway. Rough was a little more inconsistent. Tee boxes were okay; the 9th was all messed up. I’m not sure the course has any sand bunkers. It looked like the few they once had have transitioned to grass bunkers.

We were fortunate to play here late in the day with beautiful sunlight, which really accentuated the beauty of the last few holes. The par-3 9th is one of the most unusual holes you’ll find anywhere, but really fun with a water hazard fronting the green and reeds that conceal the surface from the tee.

Here’s my Flickr photo album of 17 photos:
Booked an amazing GN Hot Deal for Saturday, 11/11 about a month prior for my 5th Annual November golf trip to Nevada with sixpez. We had a 9:30 time and were sent to the tee as just a twosome, despite the tee sheet being seemingly full most of the day. We caught the group ahead of us by the third hole but pace was pretty decent, finishing in about 4:00. Ideal weather: mid 70s, sunny skies and little wind.

Course conditions are quite good. Greens were a little slower than expected and difficult to gauge the speed at first, but they were smooth and accepted full shots well. Overseeded deep green fairways contrasted with the semi-dormant rough. The fairway grass was nice but not as lush as it looked from afar... just a little patchy here and there. Rough was pretty fluffy and sometimes easier to hit from than the fairway. Tee boxes were good. I don’t think I was in a bunker.

This is a nice course that, unfortunately for it, comes with a dosage of Wolf Creek Envy. The course offers views of nearby Wolf Creek that make Oasis (Canyons) pale in comparison. It shares some of the same features of its famous neighbor but on a very toned down level, as the course winds its way through reddish sandstone hills. I think I actually enjoyed the course more in hindsight than I did in the moment. There are some really nice par 3s — three of which play severely downhill, which is fun. The downfall of this course is the surrounding community encroaching on it…lots of streets and tract homes diminish the overall aura of the place.

For the amazing deal we got, I highly recommend this course. For rack rate, I think your money is better spent elsewhere in Mesquite.

To view my Flickr photo album of 43 photos, copy+paste this URL:
Played out here with dconnally today at 11:16 ( "Deal" time minus 20% promo code). Got there pretty early and I had a delicious breakfast burrito while David hit a small bucket. Employees were all really friendly. We knew going in the greens were aerated about two and a half weeks ago, but we figured that was sufficient time for them to heal. The practice green still showed lots of visible holes, but it didn't seem to affect putts. Then the greens on the course seemed to be even more healed, with barely any evidence of aeration. Weather was great and POP was, too, for the first seven holes. It wasn't very busy and most of the course was twosomes reluctant to join up into foursomes. We played the front in about 1:45 and the back in a little under 2:30, for a 4:10-4:15 total. After having a foursome behind us on the front, a twosome caught up to us on 14 and we invited them to join us, which they did.

Conditions are really nice. Greens varied between medium speed and medium-fast, seemingly getting faster later in the day. They were soft and full shots stopped very quickly, or even backed up a bit. Fairways had great coverage and are fast and firm...lies were a little tight as a result. Rough wasn't too deep, maybe two inches at the most and provided good lies. I was in one fairway bunker and it was good. Tee boxes were good, although maybe a little tilted on a couple holes.

This was my second time here. It's weird because I really like lots of holes out here, but as a whole, the course just isn't that compelling to me. I think it's really a great example of how much residential courses can be hindered by being surrounded by houses. Even though there are quite a few fun holes, I feel the course lacks character. I'm sure I'll be back, though. (I'd much rather play Marine Memorial if in this specific region.)
Played here yesterday at 1:52 with dconnally and abbacat. Hot day but consistent breezes kept it quite comfortable all day. It was very gusty when we arrived, so I chose to play the white tees (6,316 yards). (They could use a tee option between the 6,316 whites and 6,829 blues.) POP was pretty good at about 4:20.

The course reopened from overseeding and aeration October 1 and is in pretty good condition. It wasn't a "Palm Desert"-type overseeding where the whole entire course is a dark green stripe show afterward, but overall the turf at Oak Valley is in good condition. Greens were mostly smooth, occasionally bumpy, medium fast and accepted full shots well. They seemed to get softer later in the afternoon. Tough to read with some subtle and not-so-subtle breaks. Fairways had good coverage, a few thin spots here and there but mostly nice lies all day. Rough was healthy with good coverage and was deep in some spots, mostly greenside. I wasn't in a bunker but they looked really nice. Tee boxes were the low point; not a big deal because you can tee it up, but several were domed and some had not grown back in all the way since maintenance. Overall conditions are quite nice, and once the sun got low, the course looked amazing in the late afternoon light.

I hadn't played out here for about 3.5 years, which is way too long of an absence. Interesting layout with lots of elevation changes, no housing on the course, great mountain views and a challenging and beautiful course.

I made a Flickr photo album of 52 photos that can be viewed here:
Played here today with a 1:48 tee time through GolfNow. A traffic jam on the southbound 5 caused me to be a little late, and I started about 10-15 minutes past my time. They sent me off by myself and I ended up sandwiched between a bunch of foursomes. It was very busy out there today and POP seemed slow, but overall was right around 4.5 hrs. I played through one group at the turn, but still had nowhere to go. Very friendly staff all around, but I was disappointed that every water jug past the 4th hole was completely empty on a hot afternoon. Quite windy at times, as usual for this course.

I've definitely seen this course in better condition. The first few fairways were somewhat scruffy, but they seemed to improve later in the course. Still not as nice as I've found in previous visits here. Same for the rough and the greens also seemed a step down from normal conditions out here. Today the greens had nice, healthy turf, but showed a lot of footprints and ball marks in the late afternoon. They ran medium-fast and were a little bumpy. They were very receptive, with full shots stopping very quickly. The new bunkers look great but still felt maybe a bit thin on sand to me; I expected them to have lots of fluffy sand. Tee boxes decent.

I love the setting and layout of this course so much, I still had a great time. But hopefully as temperatures cool a little and they complete the upcoming aeration, conditions will improve somewhat.
I was very fortunate to be invited to play Desert Forest on Sunday, September 17. It took me a while to get the scorecard to Johnny to add it to the database, so I'll focus more on the course and less on conditions, because I believe the course is now in overseed mode anyway.

Desert Forest is the original "desert" golf course, designed by Red Lawrence and opened in 1962. The course was renovated in 2013 by a former Coore/Crenshaw associate, Dave Zinkand, who came in and modernized the bunkering and added more contour to the greens. The result is a really exceptional course: No dramatic elevation changes, but wonderful ground movement on many holes. Unlike many desert courses, it's extremely walkable, with tee boxes located very near the previous green (what a contrast from Quintero, which I played the day prior). Another Arizona/desert rarity is that there is no housing on the course.

While beautiful, the course doesn't look all that intimidating, but it plays very tough. Obviously, lots of desert comes into play if you're not hitting it straight, and many greens are elevated and significantly undulating. It's a great challenge that ate me alive, but I enjoyed every second of it. I achieved a first, too: I hit a low screamer of a drive (about 8 feet off the ground) that would've been great... IF it hadn't lodged itself squarely in a saguaro cactus about 100 yards away! That was fun/funny.

Conditions were excellent for late summer, as the course hosted a 14 NCAA men's teams the following weekend for the Maui Jim Invitational. (Local boys ASU took the title.) Fairways and rough were very lush, greens were smooth and medium-fast (I believe sometimes they are much faster here), bunkers and tee boxes were all good. From pictures I've seen, I suspect the course is even more impressive after overseeding.

If you ever have the opportunity to play here, take it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Huge thanks to the member who organized this outing, if he ever happens to read this.

I posted some photos to the photo gallery here, but if you want to see my full album of 65 images, copy & paste this URL:
Played here Saturday, 9/16 to kick off an Arizona golf weekend. Had a 12:01 "Deal" time through but arrived around 10:00 due to driving across the desert faster than I anticipated. After hitting a few balls and putting for a few minutes, I was able to hit the first tee around 10:35, by myself. Played the first few holes at my own pace, but then ran into groups on the 4th or 5th hole and waited the remainder of the day. The staff and marshals all did an amazing job of explaining that there was really nowhere for me to go due to groups stacked up in front of me, but they gave me all kinds of different options to circle back and play the front nine twice plus the back nine later, etc., in order to avoid the back-up. I thanked them for their concern but chose to just play the course in normal order and I took my time taking pictures, etc. One marshal even gave me a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie because he felt bad for me. The whole staff, from greeters at the gate who take your bag, to the pro shop, beverage cart, marshals, etc. were outstanding. I don't remember the last time I received this level of service at a course. It seemed like everyone working there genuinely cared that I enjoy my round. Total POP ended up being around 4:30.

Conditions are very good, playing a little better than it looks due to most of the grass being medium to light green this late in summer. Greens were fast and mostly smooth, although there were quite a few healing ball marks on them. The greens accepted full shots very well; balls stopped pretty much where they landed. Fairways were lush and provided good lies. Rough was maybe a little less lush, but still quite nice for September. Tee boxes were good. Bunker sand was excellent.

It's a pretty fun layout, very reminiscent of another Rees Jones desert course, Cascata (even with lots of similar pointy hills nearby). It also reminded me somewhat of Trump National L.A., with nearly every fairway surrounded by trouble on both sides. You don't have to miss far off line to be in the desert here. Really nice par 3s, especially on the front side, both of which play from significantly elevated tees that provide great views across the course and desert.

One more note: Carts had basic text GPS with yardages to the front, back and middle of each green. The layout could really use a monitor with hole routing, etc. However, a marshal told me they will have all new carts and some sort of brand new, state-of-the-art GPS system when they reopen from overseeding in about a month or so.

Here's my album of 62 photos:
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