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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:
Played in the GK Plays Saturday and had a great time. The whole event was well run at a really nice venue. Huge thanks to Johnny and all the sponsors, especially Linksoul and Golf Moose for my winnings!

I agree with lots of what Sal wrote in his excellent review. The course conditions were good, even if this late in summer, the course doesn’t look super lush. There are varying shades of green throughout the course right now, mostly light green but playing really nicely. Greens were smooth and medium fast, but there was an abundance of ball mark damage on many greens that raise some questions I don’t have answers to: What’s a course supposed to do if people don’t fix their ballmarks? And why was it so prominent here? Otherwise, the greens were good and held full shots well, except the one green that really needed to, the par-3 16th. I know both myself and mpisarski landed short irons on the green and bounced right into the back bunker, and I heard tales of the same happening to several people in another group. This wouldn’t be worth mentioning except that my approach shots on nearly every other hole stopped immediately upon landing, and then the one hole that tucks the pin in an area of green only about 10 yards deep is rock hard. That’s unfortunate. Fairways provided great lies all day, some with more cushion than others. Rough was also in good condition and could be penal or easy depending on whether or not your ball settled down in or not. The tee box (combo tees) grass was a little long and puffy for my liking, but otherwise they were good. The bunkers I was in were pretty hard packed and could use some additional sand or a really deep raking.

I’m probably being a little more critical than normal in those comments above due to the typical rack rate out here. Some of those things I wouldn’t expect at a course with such a lofty price tag.

Layout-wise, it’s very solid but unremarkable. The course is not very captivating, especially relative to its price. I liked the 10th, 13th and 14th holes, but never did I step onto a tee box and think to myself, “Oh, what a cool hole.” All of this probably sounds like I didn’t enjoy myself, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I had a great time and would like to play the Legends course one day. The resort seemed quite busy and the service all around was very friendly and efficient.

I made a Flickr photo album of 35 photos that can be viewed here:
After 36 in the morning yesterday at Cimarron, I found an incredible price for one of my favorite courses, La Quinta Mountain (see GolfNow forum thread for details). I played by myself starting at 1:57 and basically had the course to myself (to start, anyway). Starting on No. 10, I caught some groups, played through one, and then waited the rest of the way. POP was still great at around 3:20 or so. It was hot but not too bad and there was a nice breeze throughout much of the back nine to keep things tolerable.

From the parking lot/clubhouse, the course looked to be in really nice condition, but the greens ended up being a bit disappointing. I know it's summer and they have to be kept longer to survive, but they were inconsistent speed and cut throughout the course. They were all slow to medium-slow, but some were shaggier than others. Not terrible, but definitely a step down from Cimarron in the morning. They accepted full shots well. Fairways and rough were nice for August. Both the waste bunkers and standard bunkers were in really good condition. Tee boxes were good.

Another unfortunate development is there's a huge construction project taking place between the 14th and 15th fairways, which is the beginning of the marquee stretch of the course. There's a lot of grading going on and bulldozer-type vehicles parked on raw dirt. I called the pro shop this morning and a woman told me they're building some sort of flood plain. (From the look of things, I feared/still fear houses are being built between those two holes.)

Overall, very happy to get such a great deal on one of my favorite courses. Had the greens been more consistent, I would've been even happier.
Played 36 with sixpez yesterday morning using two-for-$39 UnderPar deal. Can't beat $19.50 pp for two rounds of golf! In a weird twist of fate, our morning round found us paired with the same guy mpisarski and I were paired with last year when I used this deal! Like Keith said, we were finished with both rounds by noon, so no complaints on POP, even if the course was surprisingly busier than expected during our second round.

Conditions are really nice, relative to the time of year. The greens were very smooth, a little crusty on top and slow to medium slow. Despite being pretty firm, they accepted full shots quite well. Fairways were mostly very nice (for August). Same for the rough, but it might have had a few more thin areas than the fairways. Bunkers were by far the low point. They were wet, uneven, compacted and looked like no maintenance had occurred in them for months. Try to avoid! Tee boxes were all good.
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:
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