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Played in a GK Cup match with AndrewZ28 on Sunday, 4/15/18. His recent review is very informative and hits all the major points. Day started warm and sunny, but clouds and wind rolled in just after noon and the afternoon was cooler and blustery. First tee was slammed and we started 25 minutes late, then overall pace was 4:40. We didn’t feel pushed by the group behind, but endemic poor shots resulted in not catching the group ahead.

Greens were generally good with some scattered thin areas, but mostly receptive. All greens had scattered old and newer marks. Downhill putts toward the east, away from the hills, could be terrifyingly fast. Fairways were thin and tight and very firm, and more often than not a solid drive would not be rewarded with a good lie. Rough along fairways was short, dry and pretty benign; around the greens it could be a little bushier. Tees were OK, but most par-3s didn’t have divot mix containers. I was in one bunker – greenside #10 had only a thin sand layer over a packed base.

A rumored marshal was never seen. The divot mix refill rack at the 10th green was empty, as it has been every time I play here. All holes had lots of unfilled divots in fairways and rough. Cart girl came around a few times. The golf shop had noticeably less merchandise than on my last visit. A new trailer snack bar has been placed on the 2nd/11th tees, providing convenience but also increasing noise on those nearby tees.

I enjoy the layout at EG and conditions here are generally good. Today I seemed to find every slopey lie and uneven stance, but that was mostly due to poor ball-striking. Still recommended.
I played The Wilderness on Tuesday, 3/27/18, at 11am on a cool, cloudy day with a threat of rain and occasional blustery breezes. We are visiting family in the Galveston area and I was looking for a course I hadn’t played before. I saw some good reviews in local media and on GolfAdvisor, and played with my BIL and we enjoyed the round. The course was not crowded – we paid a senior rate of $35 (a steal with range balls and a yardage book) and finished as a twosome in ~3.5 hr, never catching the group in front or seeing the group behind.

This municipal course is cut out of a surrounding nature preserve and is isolated and quiet. Facilities include a rustic clubhouse with little equipment or clothing offered. There is a small grill that prepares sandwiches, etc., and a separate building to accommodate larger golfing parties. A grass driving range, a chipping area/sand trap, and two putting greens are offered. Carts are basic with no GPS. The holes are fairly wide open –only well-offline shots can get out into serious tree/brush trouble. There are relatively few sand traps, divided fairly equally between fairways and greens. Scattered large trees separate most holes. There is water in play on several holes, but forced carries are generally only off the tees, mainly on some par-3s. Otherwise ponds lurk to the side along a couple greens and fairways.

The course got a lot of water damage during last fall’s hurricane in the area and spent two weeks underwater. But a very proactive maintenance/regrowth program after the waters receded resulted in paths-only play only 6 weeks (!) after the hurricane. Greens and turf are fully recovered from that episode. Greens are generally elevated, with some having substantial internal movement, although there is no significant tiering (however, the 16th is a Biarritz-style green). They are large (up to 70 yards deep!) and were firm with thin cover, but we saw no bare spots and they rolled well at medium speed, with few ballmarks. Fairways were just coming out of dormancy and were thin and balls sat tight, but there were no bare areas. Rough was cut short and was very playable, but was very dry and with scattered bare areas. Rough around greens could be deeper in swales and areas that concentrate water. Sand looked adequate - I wasn’t in any. Tees were level and gave good footing – even par-3 tees showed few divots. Unfortunately, the Green tees we played (6,151/68.4/115) were frequently pushed well forward, so we likely played at quite a bit less than 6,000 yards.

Lots of drinking water available. We saw the cart girl a few times. There was a temporary green on the 14th hole (not really even cut as a green – just a hole and flag in the fairway!) as the course is rebuilding that green to reduce the severe slopes on the green that made it much different from any other green on the course. That was too bad for us, as the hole is one of the more interesting on the back nine – a dogleg right with sand left of the elbow and a pond right, with a potential forced carry uphill to the green on the second shot.

The course has a relaxed, friendly “locals” vibe and is a fun, relaxing play in good condition. Recommended.
We’re visiting family in the Austin area, and I met my cousin driving up from San Antonio in rural Blanco, Texas, for a fun round at this Texas Hill Country beauty just after noon on Thursday, 3/22/18. The course was built through what will eventually be a growing bedroom community that’s spread over a large area – right now there are only scattered homes built and you don’t see any on many of the holes. The course plays up and down gently rolling terrain benches, with scattered oak and mesquite trees lining fairways and playing sentry at doglegs and hole approaches.

Greens are large and firm, barely showing ballmarks but with some scattered old marks. Most have multiple levels and back left or right plateaus, some with very significant slopes. There are very few flat or gently sloped greens here. Only a few greens have fronting bunkers, but greens are also guarded by trees, drop-offs, and lakes/creeks. Repeated plays are needed to best know the right angles to approach greens, and knowing the pin position is critical to being on the right portion or level.

Fairways were firm and tight, just coming out of winter dormancy – fairway lies were mostly green and most often good. Rough was dry/dormant and very low – it could be patchy or bare; the margin between fairway/rough was usually only distinguishable by subtle color changes. Around greens the rough could be bushy/wiry and challenging for controlling pitches and chips.

Sand – there are not that many bunkers overall on the course; they are generally large, with conditions varying from very good depth/texture to almost no playing layer above packed mud/grainy sand with small rocks. Tees were flat, cut low, and gave good footing – par-3 tees were pretty torn up and the dormant grasses were not able to keep up with the divot damage.

The course has a prevailing open aspect off the tees, with fairly wide fairways. Hole 10, a twisting uphill par-5, showed a very different visual aspect compared to other holes; a 2-level fairway split by a vegetated rock slope (marked as a hazard, probably to discourage golfers from risking injury looking for balls), a pond in front of the tees, a creek along the right side of lower fairway, then crossing the fairway diagonally beyond tee shot range and going up the left side to a pond left of the green, The fairway on the second shot is lined with trees on the right, but sloping to the left into a large bunker fronting the pond. This hole is seriously visually intimidating all the way through, from the tee to the blind second shot to the approach tucked behind a bunker with a steep drop-off to the pond on the left. The hole begs you to take chances, but can also be played safely with 3 straight 7-irons!

The area had a very dry winter and many of the water features, a big part of the course aesthetics and challenge, were dry – this definitely affected the visual appreciation of the course and surroundings. GPS on the carts, and a yardage book is available – the GPS is small but interactive, but the hole position was wrong on all greens on the front nine, and distances were also occasionally very wrong – we noticed this mainly on the par-3s (but errors were 20+ yards!!).

This course is out of the way, but a fun and challenging play and definitely recommended.
I met up with my old Vegas work buddy for some golf. He was in town from the Sacramento area to play in a club volleyball tournament. We had played a lot of golf together while working in Sin City, and since then we’ve tried to get together once a year for a golf getaway. We previously hit Mesquite/St. George, SoCal, Bend (OR), Paso Robles, and the Central Valley.

Ocotillo was our final Round 4 at 8:15am on Thursday, 3/1/18. We played the White/Gold rotation, from the White tees. We got a good $55 members rate for our morning start. This course was very different from the others (Las Sendas, Papago, and Raven) in that it is grass and water, period. Water on 14 of the 18 holes – some that must be carried or played along, some that you tee over, some that is farther from the line of play. And lots of grass – fairways are pretty generous and most holes allow for optional lines of play. It’s like Florida in the Arizona desert.

Conditions were good. Fairways and greens were lush – we had good lies, few ballmarks due to green firmness, greens rolling smoothly at medium+ speeds. Tees were large, flat, and in good shape. Rough was 2-3” and required your attention. Sand was a mixed bag, with some being fine, and others having only a thin playing layer over a hard-packed base.

From the White tees driver may be taken out of your hands due to proximity or runoffs to water – take a good look at the yardage card provided. No GPS, but some sprinklers are marked. Many greens are significantly angled to the fairway, so even on some of the shorter holes being on the correct side of the fairway makes approach shots much less stressful. And watch out for those green tiers, especially if you are putting back to front!

Phil Mickelson’s management group recently bought Ocotillo, and members here get access to some of the very pricey private clubs in the Phoenix/Tucson area that Phil’s group also own. Service at the bag drop and in the command center/shop was courteous and efficient. Saw the cart girl numerous times and food and service in the grill afterward were very good.

Good for a relaxed play as long as you can control your ball. Recommended.

Many thanks to several GKers in the Phoenix area who provided suggestions on where to play, given our restrictive geographic and cost criteria. We tried to get a mix of course types so we weren’t playing the same type of course over and over again. Thanks to chilipalmer99, dcoachl, bmcnicoll, sbarajasjr, and UNCLEDDBOY23 for suggesting great venues.
I met up with my old Vegas work buddy for some golf. He was in town from the Sacramento area to play in a club volleyball tournament. We had played a lot of golf together while working in Sin City, and since then we’ve tried to get together once a year for a golf getaway. We previously hit Mesquite/St. George, SoCal, Bend (OR), Paso Robles, and the Central Valley.

Raven Phoenix was our Round 3 at 2:15pm on Wednesday, 2/28/18. This was our most expensive round ($75 for twilight rate) and the round with some of the most disappointing conditions. For our Phoenix trip we tried to play courses with a variety of settings – Las Sendas was a mountain/desert course, Papago was a no-frills open desert course, and Raven is more North Carolina meets southern New Mexico. Lots of grass, many large trees generally well off the playing lines, and only small areas of desert/scrub to play over.

The course is pleasing to the eye, with trees and mounding dividing and isolating the holes. Fairway conditions were very good with good cover and lies. Rough was cut fairly low and was OK to play from – farther offline could be problematic for hard-packed desert-type sand, larger bushes, and vegetated drainage features. Greens were uniformly very good – firm, released most shots, and rolled smoothly at medium+ speeds. We had problems with many of the tees. Sand was unacceptable (see below).

The course was busy when we arrived after our morning round to eat lunch – OK food and on/off service at the grill. Range was busy and there was a lot of activity with range/practice green/loading/unloading all in close proximity. We didn’t use the range – the large putting green had speeds and contours consistent with what we found on the course. Starter was keeping a tight rein on groups loading up and going to the tee (on time). Once out there it’s isolated and quiet.

The negatives – although it had rained the night before, the bunkers we encountered during our morning round at Papago were in great shape – a little damp, but a grainy sand that shed water and had adequate depth to play consistently and well. At Raven, the bunkers did not handle the aftermath of the rain as well. Almost all the bunkers had puddles of water in the lowest points. The rest of the bunker had been machine-raked, but the effect of stirring up this 1½ - 2-inch layer was to make the consistency of the top layer like wet cement, and we struggled with bunker shots the entire afternoon. Given the fee we paid for a twilight round, I found the bunker condition to be totally unacceptable.

We also noted that on many holes the white tee boxes were not level, either sloping to one side or being mounded in the center. Par-3 tee boxes were particularly bad, in addition to being very chewed up. Many of the white boxes are on small pads and/or are set up very narrowly, making divot damage a greater possibility. I don’t recall if divot mix was provided on the part-3s – in most cases, I believe that it was not.

While fairway and green conditions were very good, I noted that there was a lot of repetition in the design of holes at Raven. Holes 3 and 9 are straight par-5s that play to the west, and set up to my eye much the same. Holes 12 and 17 are straight par-5s that play to the east, and again set up to my eye much the same. Holes 11 and 14 are par-3s the play in the same direction and to similar length, and, since the course uses a front-mid-back flag rotation, these holes also have the same pin color. Hole 7 is a longer par-3 that plays in the same direction as 11/14 and sets up similar to the eye, with just a longer club. For the par-4s, holes 5 and 15 play in the same direction and are very similar. So you don’t get the variety of hole designs at Raven that you do in some other settings.

Overall, we enjoyed the layout and conditions and recommend it, with the caveat of addressing the identified condition issues.

Many thanks to several GKers in the Phoenix area who provided suggestions on where to play, given our restrictive geographic and cost criteria. We tried to get a mix of course types so we weren’t playing the same type of course over and over again. Thanks to chilipalmer99, dcoachl, bmcnicoll, sbarajasjr, and UNCLEDDBOY23 for suggesting great venues.
I met up with my old Vegas work buddy for some golf. He was in town from the Sacramento area to play in a club volleyball tournament. We had played a lot of golf together while working in Sin City, and since then we’ve tried to get together once a year for a golf getaway. We previously hit Mesquite/St. George, SoCal, Bend (OR), Paso Robles, and the Central Valley.

Papago was our Round 2 at 7:40am on Wednesday, 2/28/18. We added this morning round late in our planning, and after seeing some of the big $$$ numbers for morning rounds at better-known venues, we opted for a more reasonable $69 each at what is regarded by many as the best muni in Phoenix. We were joined by local GKer dcoachl on a cool cloudy and breezy morning that saw some sunshine later in the day.

Papago is meat and potatoes golf – there are no big homes on the course, no fancy landscaping, no upscale touches. The course is draped over a sloping shelf below the Papago Peaks and facing downtown Phoenix. At this time of year you see green fairways and greens, straw-colored very short rough that is tight and patchy, and then you are in bare desert with packed sand and pebbles or a shallow erosion gully that begs for a rock iron or an unplayable drop. There are scattered large trees that only come into play on a few holes, or if you stray well off the intended lines. Many holes are doglegs with sand in the elbow and large bunkers guarding greens. A couple of water hazards.

Greens and surrounds were lush and perfect. I think these were the best greens we had on the trip. The course is obviously putting resources into the greens. Some are fairly flat, some pretty sloped, a few have some distinct tiering. All rolled great at medium and then increasing speed as they dried out from showers the night before. They were firm and most shots released – we saw very few ballmarks. Tees were flat and in good condition. Very good sand in all the bunkers – again, probably the best we encountered on the trip.

Fairways were also overseeded and provided good lies. Rough was a short dormant grass that gave a tight lie but could be patchy or near-bare. If you get outside the dormant rough it’s hard-packed sand desert with lots of little rocks. The rough was so short and firm that offline shots could quickly get out into the desert areas.

Even from the White tees here the par-5s play short and the par-3s play very long. Three of the par-3s are 195+ from the white markers – two of the three are on the same downhill line. Several of the par-4s look similar, playing across the slope and doglegging around sand in the elbow. Cart paths are very informal – most are simple dirt, a few short areas are paved, and in some cases you are just driving across rough/desert.

GIVEN ALL THAT – things may be changing in the near future. The ASU golf team is moving to Papago next year, as their current venue (the Karsten Course at ASU) is scheduled to be bulldozed for university expansion. The parking area and small trailer clubhouse were a zoo of activity the morning we played as a new clubhouse is being built and the practice area will soon more than double in size. A lot of money in a City/private venture is being put into the course, so in the near future you might see more landscaping, actual cart paths, some design tweaks, facilities to accommodate spectators, and a restaurant where you can get more than a hot dog or breakfast egg muffin.

Altogether a fun, relaxed play with good muni conditions. Recommended.

Many thanks to several GKers in the Phoenix area who provided suggestions on where to play, given our restrictive geographic and cost criteria. We tried to get a mix of course types so we weren’t playing the same type of course over and over again. Thanks to chilipalmer99, dcoachl, bmcnicoll, sbarajasjr, and UNCLEDDBOY23 for suggesting great venues.
I met up with my old Vegas work buddy for some golf. He was in town from the Sacramento area to play in a club volleyball tournament. We had played a lot of golf together while working in Sin City, and since then we’ve tried to get together once a year for a golf getaway. We previously hit SoCal, Bend (OR), Paso Robles, and the Central Valley.

Las Sendas was our Round 1 at 2:30pm on Tuesday, 2/27/18. Late morning the weather was clear and sunny with only a light wind, but it transitioned to very windy with rain showers later in the afternoon, and the weather on the back 9 wound up beating us up as much as the course did. The course winds around several large rock uplifts and through a high-end residential community. There was more slope here than I initially thought there was going to be, as the community and the course is pushed up against the foothills rising on the east side of the valley, looking down on the valley floor and downtown. Fairways are generous but offline shots can run quickly into desert waste areas.

Greens and green surrounds were in excellent condition. Greens were very firm, allowing almost no ball mark, although we saw evidence of quite a few older ball marks. Greens rolled smoothly at medium+ speed. Some greens are tiered, and others are pretty severely sloped, and putts breaking away from the rock outcrops and downhill had plenty of speed. Rough around the greens could be lush or spotty, and areas that gathered a lot of balls could have a lot of divot damage, making lies in those areas chancy.

Fairways were in good shape and lies were good, ranging from tight to lush. Some fairways are fairly flat, and others are real rollercoasters with rolling swales and runoffs to desert washes – it looks to me like the amount of fairway movement is tied to proximity to the rock outcrops and the need for fairways to function as drainage conduits. Rough was fairly short and thin, and quickly gave way to desert, where lies ranged from playable to unplayable to lost. Tees were flat and in good condition, with par-3 tees being pretty damaged. Sand traps were groomed and in good condition. Sandy waste areas could be packed firm or powdery, making playing from there chancy.

Small grass range with only about a dozen hitting stations and unlimited balls. Small putting green, somewhat worn in the middle, with about six hole locations around the outside. Also, a pitching green with the sandtrap that’s sloped pretty steeply. Starter was ushering off multiple groups of four spaced appropriately. The course has multiple restaurants, and a very busy clubhouse area with a large group of outside people, not golfers. The golf shop is fairly small and compact. I got a pleasant greeting, but the guy was reluctant to let me go to the range three hours early (I wanted to warm up, then eat lunch), saying they had “a lot of guests”. And no cart, please – walk to the range! Yardage book available, but no GPS on carts, which featured a small basket and a cooler with ice, but no water. Saw the cart girl several times, and adequate water was available on-course. Nice, well-located bathrooms. Staff was hand-filling(!) divots on tees at 1 PM! – nice!

Unfortunately, I messed up regarding the tee time, and we reported to the first tee a few minutes late. The twosome we were to join was long gone, and we had to wait for two other groups to tee off before they were able to work us back in. So we teed off about 30 minutes late (scheduled: 2:04pm [twilight] to help hold the cost down [$55]). That bit us at the end, as we played the last few holes in gathering darkness (all the cloudiness from that fast-moving front didn’t help, either!), and after hitting tee shots on the 18th hole we couldn’t find our balls, so we missed out on this Z-shaped finishing par-5 playing around two lakes. Bummer!

This is a very nice and challenging course with a lot of beauty. Highly recommended. I'm really surprised that this is the first posted review in 4.5 years!

This was my first time getting back to Phoenix-area golf in 20+ years. Many thanks to several GKers in the Phoenix area who provided suggestions on where to play, given our restrictive geographic and cost criteria. We tried to get a mix of course types so we weren’t playing the same type of course over and over again. Thanks to chilipalmer99, dcoachl, bmcnicoll, sbarajasjr, and UNCLEDDBOY23 for suggesting great venues.
Played on Sunday, 2/11/18, in a GK Cup 11 match with lotrgolfer48. Great time with Matt, Jim, and Ron with very good course conditions. One of my favorite tracks in San Diego County. Other than holes 1 and 4, greens are great – firm, held shots, rolling at medium+ speed. Not too many old ballmarks. Fairway lies were consistently good. Rough generally cut short and firm, but with scattered bare areas and bushy patches. Always recommended.
Played Friday morning, 2/9/2018, at 10am in a shotgun start with my monthly club. This course allows outside play on some Fridays, and our club plays here every February. Conditions were pretty good, with good fairway coverage, greens looking good with only scattered bare/rough spots, and sand damp but adequate to hit from. We played lift/clean/place, so even where we had deeper bushy rough we were able to get the best lie possible.

The facilities here don’t set up too well for larger shotgun tourneys – there’s only a hitting cage with 5 mats, and the putting green up at the cart area is very small. There’s another larger green down by the first tee, but outsiders might not know it’s there. Carts now have a ball washer and a small interactive GPS (F/M/B only, not distance to the pin location), and there are colored distance stakes on many holes. Scattered divot mix refill boxes, some with scoops.

Shotguns can be slow, but we were our lead group, finishing in ~4.5 hr and about 2 holes in front of our next group. Good for a relaxed play.
Played with my monthly group at 8:15am on Saturday, 1/13/18. Crazy warm weather for January – 80*+ today with clear skies and no wind. [Another 1 million people from the Northeast just decided to move to CA – great!]. As previous posters noted, the clubhouse and shop are undergoing extensive renovation – the new outdoor patio looks nice, but the shop is skeletal right now, and bathrooms are only in poorly-maintained porta-johns – ugh!! Range balls are chipped/cut/worn, and mats are also pretty worn. Putting green is in very nice condition. Started on time behind a couple 5somes and pace was expected 5 hrs. Not much divot mix provided initially, but we filled up from a bin on #8. Lots of unfilled divots in fairways and rough.

At that time of the morning everything is very wet, and the course still shows the heavy rain we had a few days ago, as the soil here is mostly clay and dries very slowly. Almost every shot wound up with mud on the ball. Fairway and rough turf is dormant and/or thin, with lots of scattered bare areas. Not a lot of rollout in the damp conditions. We played winter rules (LCP) but good lies were sometimes hard to find. Tees are also thin, and being wet they were quickly torn up between the markers even this early. Many were also sloping, with the worst offenders the 4th (to the right) and 18th (to the left, when you really need a L>R shot there!).

Greens were the best part of the course. They all had good coverage, rolled well at increasing speed as they dried out, and were pretty firm but receptive. Not too many unrepaired ballmarks. I didn’t remember this much slope on some of these greens (I play here just once a year), and the guy setting the pins chose some very slopy areas today! The position on hole #8 was really unfair – just below the crest of the runup to the upper tier. There was almost no way to stop the ball near the hole in any direction, and even putts from directly below the hole stopped near the hole, then rolled back 6-8 feet. I think the 5some in front of us took 18 putts!!

Sand was in good condition, ample in all greenside areas, fairly dry, and raked.

OK for a casual round.
Another great day with GKers at the wonderful Rams Hill GC – I grouse about the long drive but love the course and the great conditions. I think the thing I like most is that on almost every hole you can pull your driver and not be nervous about a disaster unless you totally wig out. There’s room off the tee on every hole – you can be rewarded by a good drive with a look at the green and a chance for birdie with a good second. I hit a couple poor offline drives and found bunkers – from there you have to work to make a score, as it should be. But the overall approach is relaxed and enjoyable.

All aspects of course conditioning were great, especially compared to other SoCal courses recently played. Greens were more receptive this year than in some past years, and rolled great at consistent speeds. I think the practice green was a little firmer/drier than the on-course greens, and we spent much of the day fearing the runouts and leaving putts a little short, especially on the slick downhillers. Fairway lies were great everywhere, and rough near the fairways was cut fairly short and playable. Tees were good, with some being a little more wet than others. Sand was consistent and wonderful – after having to chip out of concrete greenside bunkers last week at Hidden Valley, sand in these was ample and consistent.

Had a great time with Steve, Keith, and Dave – although the K/D ongoing in-depth discussion of Phoenix-area golf got a little old after a few holes. Good food and many great prizes available afterward, and good to see familiar faces again. As usual, we’ll see about making the trip next time(!).
Started the year on January 1st at Hidden Valley with a $26 GN Hot Deal at 11:50 am on a sunny, warm day with very little wind. Even after playing HC a few times I’m still amazed when I drive in and see the incredible amount of elevation change across the course – standing on the practice putting green, the 13th tee looks like it’s built on a sheer cliff face many stories above, and below that are the terraces of the 12th green and then the 18th fairway. Those types of views are all over the course – looking way up at other holes, or down across several holes as the layout sprawls down the canyons before you.

I was down at the first tee on time (pro shop has been moved to the events building while the restaurant renovation continues), but the Rodriguez threesome I was originally assigned to didn’t show. An Asian threesome was just teeing off, but declined to allow me to join them after the starter approached them. Eventually I was paired with a local father/son and another local guy. (The f/s name was memorable – pronounced like ‘kahoots’, but with a un-rememberable Czech spelling.) The father had two sons who had played Norco HS football (including the son in our group), and the third guy had played at Norco as well. Nice enough people, but it was constant chatter about Norco HS football - past, present, and future. For 18 holes. Almost non-stop. On the 11th tee I finally had to ask them to STOP TALKING! Who knew there was so much to discuss about Norco HS football!!?

These guys were pretty casual golfers and not that skilled. HV’s first hole was a bad way for our group to start 2018 – our foursome probably logged a total of 40 strokes on that sloping par-5 with many hazards about. I think we donated about 6 balls to hazards just on that hole. And that trend continued for the rest of the day. Eli Callaway was smiling from the grave with the several sleeves of his namesake balls donated to the wild by these guys today. I’m sure the group behind us was thrilled to watch this preview of their round!

As I stated in past reviews, I really want to like Hidden Valley. There are a lot of fun holes and a mix of short and long, and some drives where you can really let out the slack. And where else is the number 1-handicap hole a par-3?! (Hole #5) There’s not a level lie anywhere at HV, including on most of the tee boxes. When you have a course with this much slope everywhere, and you are trying to control shots to sloping fairways, and you are often hitting downhill onto steeply-sloping greens, the course has to be receptive, especially the greens, or it quickly becomes unplayable. That’s the case it’s getting to at HV, where the greens are extremely firm, and full shots frequently leave only slight indentations. And if you can’t control your ball coming in, you often wind up with downhill putts on the firm, very slopy greens – these greens are crazy fast downhill, some of them silly fast. So lots of defensive putting, 3- or 4-putts, slowing play and making golfers unhappy.

Man, these greens are slopy! At this firmness and these downhill speeds, even 3-footers require a high level of attention. Greens had good coverage and rolled consistently. Several greens had lots of small rocks thrown out of bunkers scattered about near the traps. I don’t know if it was the end of the day as clouds gathered and temperatures dropped, but the 18th green was more lush than any of the others, and speeds were noticeably slower – I actually left a downhill/downcanyon putt short on my birdie attempt.

Fairway and rough coverage were spotty. Turf in those areas was generally short, dormant, and tight. There were many scattered bare areas, but there were also scattered sloppy wet areas around malfunctioning sprinkler heads. It was frustrating to see scattered sloppy/wet areas next to thin/dry/hard “fairway” or rough. Many fairways had areas roped off or festooned with colored flags to keep carts away, usually showing areas with problems from the watering system.

Tees were all very thin; some were almost bare dirt in many places. Most were sloping or uneven, some severely so. Some par-3 tees had sand in the divot refill boxes, but some had no scoop! Sand traps were terrible everywhere. You really had to chip from all greenside bunkers encountered – they had only a thin dusting of coarse sand over a hard base, and you couldn’t get a club under the ball. The right front bunker on hole #12 had a large trough in the bottom - anything in the bunker wound up at the bottom and was unplayable, unless you've spent time practicing flop shots from inside a milk crate!

The new GPS on the carts is nice – it is interactive, but distances are given to the center of the green, not the pin position. The GPS also doesn’t show the position of other carts – with the many blind shots at HV, it was difficult to know when to hit, another factor that slows play. Those comfy cushions on the carts come in handy, as the cart paths and driving areas need some serious attention. The onboard club cleaner/ball washer is nice. With all the sloping cart paths and steep hills, the carts’ speed governors were working frequently, but not that well.

Many holes have colored yardage stakes to give you a feel for placement on the holes. The course puts a yardage book on each cart, but my experience with this book in the past was that many of the yardages were incorrect. With the ongoing renovation of the main building, it’s a long way over to the temporary pro shop and a bathroom at the turn. No cart girl today, basically the end of a 3-day holiday weekend. There was no water jug on hole 5 tee – only an empty cooler rack.

I can’t recommend Hidden Valley until conditions are more receptive, given the severely sloping terrain and conditions.
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