Golf Course Reviews
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Played on Black Friday, 11/29/19 to avoid the shopping crowds, with my brother and his longtime friend. We got a pretty good GN non-refundable $80 deal at 1110am. The course was more crowded than I expected after all the rains we had the previous 2-3 days, but Friday morning the sun was out, although cool, and we had some blustery wind on the first nine, calming down and cooling quickly after clouds moved in, but no rain until we got to the parking lot to unload the carts. After the previous rainy days, it was path-only everywhere, which didn’t bode well for my bum knee, but SF is fairly flat and the walks to-and-from the cart were not arduous. My spraying the ball worked against my plans to hit all shots near the cart paths – LOL. I didn’t rate the course due to the CPO.

The course was in fairly good shape after the heavy rains. Most greens here are pushed up from the surrounding areas and drained very well – they were pretty firm, held shots easily, and rolled with some bumpiness at medium speeds. Fairways were pretty wet, with lies ranging from lush to very thin, with very thin getting picked most of the time. Rough had been cut very short recently and was pretty easy to play from, and in some cases was dormant and didn’t slow errant shots very much at all. Lots of ESA here and we all visited it.

Traps were obviously very wet, but staff was active in the bunkers during our round, and most bunkers had been at least partially groomed, so that was helpful. We played the white tees (and the white plates on par-3s) as the course played long after the rains, and they were generally OK, with some sloping to the back of a right-handed golfer.

Carts are basic but powerful, and they do have a ball washer/club cleaner. Even after the rain, the driving range was on grass today. Since I last played here regularly a few years ago, many large trees and connecting shrubs/brush have been cleared out, opening up sightlines and giving the course a much more open feel. A Men’s Club member joined our threesome, and he had no social input to the group at all until we arrived at the 18th green, and never filled a divot or fixed a ballmark.

I’ve always enjoyed SF but can’t recommend it without a good price deal.
14 Likes.
Played with the GK Gurus at noon on 11/24/19 – thanks to Mark and Wendy for an enjoyable round, and to Johnny and Oak Creek for setting up the visit. My first time here in a few years (cost) and first time I have used the practice facility. I’d heard it was top-notch, and there are many very nice touches like an attendant, bathrooms, a large grass hitting area, a clock(!) on the ball shed, and multiple chipping and putting greens, as well as a practice bunker. Very nice facility!

Check-in was quick and friendly, and cart attendants are good at anticipating your needs. Carts are very nice with ball washer/club cleaner, interactive GPS, and cooler with ice and water! A yardage book is also available, and the course website offers hole maps with yardages. [The GPS gives interactive distances to course features, as well as pin location. Our GPS has many/most of the pin locations wrong; we were able to figure out most locations by the flag color.]

We started off rather slowly as the group about 3 slots ahead of us reportedly had cart trouble, but the course cleared that up after our 4th hole and we moved steadily after that, finishing in about 4.5 hr. Weather was sunny and warm with generally very little wind. We found the course in very good condition overall.

Greens were firm, held well-struck shots, and rolled well at medium+ speed. Speeds were consistent, although as the afternoon went on and temperatures dropped they slowed down a little as we noticed what looked like one of the grass types on the green (maybe) blooming(?). Fairway lies were generally good; turf was getting into dormancy and was tight and allowed rollouts. Rough was generally fairly short and playable, but some areas could be more lush and the ball could sit deep – these areas were mainly around the greens. Well off the normal playing lines you could get dry ground and thin/bare areas. Tees were generally good, with only a few uneven or slightly sloping (see below). I played White, and a few times moved back to play from the White plate as the markers had been moved well forward. Sand encountered by my playing partners was in good shape, but when I went into the bunker on the right-front of the downhill par-3 #11 I encountered very thin sand over a firm base and several long metal pins from the underliner sticking up into the bunker.

Over the years the course has opened up more as many of the large trees that framed holes or dictated playing lines are now gone. Also, bushes/brush framing tees and holes have been reduced/removed, opening up sightlines. The trap along the right side of #14 has been removed; that was one of the main defenses for that short hole. The pond on #3 has some ugly fencing around it, I assume as a control over waterbirds getting onto the green. [I didn’t see any fencing on #18 pond.] Tee boxes on the par-3 #7 need serious shaping and leveling.

Overall, I enjoyed the course, the conditions, and the company. Recommended with a good price.
11 Likes.
Played with my monthly club at 7:45am on Saturday, 11/16/19, on a chilly morning that warmed up quickly under clear sunny skies with almost no wind. After seeing GKer Andrew1’s review from last weekend I was concerned about what conditions we would find.

The course certainly wasn’t in pristine shape but it was generally playable. Overall, the course is very wet and there are many areas that need to be avoided. Many mushy areas and areas that had been heavily damaged by tires rolling through the muddy soil, whether carts or course equipment.

Greens were in pretty good condition, although bumpy. They were fairly firm and held high shots, rolling at a medium pace. Only the green on hole #17 was problematic – the green was very wet and badly showed shoeprints and spike marks everywhere. Fairway lies were variable between lush and bare dirt. Rough was similar – you could find fluffy 2” grass or dried hardpan. Tees were torn up mainly from being so wet and damaged by shoes and spikes. Many were moved forward from the yardage plates, and often were uneven and bumpy. Greenside bunkers usually had adequate sand, although the right front bunker on hole #18 had almost no playing layer. Fairway bunkers were generally just dirt.

Even at this early hour the pace was 4.5+ hr. Carts have an interactive GPS that shows the hole location, but our cart had the wrong program, apparently.

OK for a casual round.
7 Likes.
Driving home to the LA area from my weekend in the Roseville area with an old Vegas work buddy on Monday, 11/11/19, decided to stop at Castle Oaks based on Top 25 rankings and past reviews, walking on at 715 and was paired immediately with a father-son team from Toronto who had played the course several times, so I got the benefit of some ”local” knowledge. Started out brisk and chilly on a clear, sunny day that warmed up nicely, and we had almost no wind. The first tee was fairly busy and we kept pace, finishing in around 4 hours.

Both nines start out here with challenging holes with a combination of length, lakes, trees, narrow openings, and elevation changes. You need to be hitting crisp, straight shots right away to avoid getting into a scoring hole early. The final 4 holes (15-18) are also a challenging mix of shotmaking needs, including a long iron approach over a deep swale to a deep, sloping green (15), a terror-filled short iron over oblivion to a perched shallow green (par-3 16), a tee shot over a group of 3 oaks where you can bite off as much as you dare on the dogleg (17), and a decision to go the long way around or hit to an island fairway between 2 lakes to cut down the distance on the approach shot (18).

While the layout is diverse and challenging, the greens were easily the best part of the course, with wall-to-wall lush coverage, firm but holding well-struck shots, and rolling smoothly at medium+ speeds. Fairway lies were usually good, although the ball could occasionally set low. Rough early on was wet and could be treacherous, although later after drying out was much more playable. Some tees were sloping to the rear of a right-handed golfer, and no divot mix boxes were provided on the par-3 tees. Tees looked like they might not have been moved after Sunday’s play. Sand was in good condition, though a little damp this early.

Carts are basic. Saw the cart girl a few times today, even on a Monday morning. Didn’t use the driving range. No GPS, but a yardage book is available, and colored posts are located on most holes. Bathrooms are just basic but useable. The course nicely uses old railroad ties for an interesting mix of slope control, cart direction, and aesthetics. We quickly used the sand refills in the carts and there was no refill rack, so at the turn we pilfered some full sleeves from the waiting carts. The course uses a red-white-blue pin rotation, and needs to mix it up a little on the pin placements, to avoid giving golfers similar looks as you go through the round (first 3 par 3s were red flags; red flags in similar positions on holes 2, 5, and 14 with similar green shapes; etc.).

The course is pretty far off the beaten path in rolling hills west of the foothills of the Sierras, but definitely worth a play if you are in the area. Definitely recommended.
7 Likes.
Scenic and playable course in a retirement community that is in very good condition for the third round of my golf weekend with an old Vegas work buddy on Sunday, 11/10/19, at 1154 am on a warm, sunny day with almost no wind.. Front nine (Lakes) plays in a loop around housing development with scattered water features, and the back nine (Oaks) plays through a very nice oak woodland. Nash/Casper design – they do many of the Sun City courses in the Southwest – has some teeth to it in terms of some narrow hitting lanes, many bunkers, some imaginative green undulations, and use of trees and water (on the front) and large oaks on the back to dictate where the best position for your ball is. [However, the 18th hole is poorly designed and needs some reworking to make it more fair and give players more options.]

Conditions were very good. Greens were lush, fairly firm but mostly receptive, and rolled smoothly at medium+ speed. We saw very few old ballmarks. Fairway lies were mostly lush and good. Rough was 2 3” with mostly good coverage – on the back nine, under the oaks, you could get bare-ish lies and lots of debris. Tees were flat and in good shape (I played Blue). Sand was damp but groomed and in good condition.

No GPS, but a yardage book is available, and the course uses 150-yd poles and some plate markers for distances. The course was fairly busy and we played in ~4.5 hr. for $35. Recommended.
4 Likes.
Second round of my golf weekend with an old Vegas work buddy on Saturday, 11/9/19, at 1050 am on a warm, sunny day with almost no wind. We played with a MeetUp group he belongs to and played Whites in just over 4 hours. Rudyclub’s recent review hits the high points. Greens were punched several weeks ago and had healed well – greens had good coverage and rolled well at medium+ speed.

There is a nice 3-tierd grass driving range with assorted targets. Basic carts, and no GPS, but a yardage book is available, and most fairways have 200/150/100 markers. Plenty of divot mix available, refill rack at the turn, and boxes of mix on the par-3 tees. Recommended for a casual round.
8 Likes.
This is a gorgeous course routed through an oak woodland laid across a broad west-facing slope just getting into the foothills east of Sacramento. Played the first round of my golf weekend with an old Vegas work buddy on Friday, 11/8/19, at 1115 am on a warm, sunny day with almost no wind. Green fairways were strikingly routed between the oaks and straw-colored rough, lots of elevation change in some holes and across the property, and pretty uncrowded for a Friday early afternoon. Many elevated greens and some narrow hitting lanes make for a challenging yet exhilarating venue.

BUT THEY DIDN”T TELL US THE GREENS HAD BEEN PUNCHED AND SANDED!! We booked online and no info provided there. The course apparently didn’t notify Greenskeeper.org because no mention on the GK site. No word from the counter guy when we checked in. All greens had been punched and sanded around Nov 4-5 after cutting them down to a nub. Many unfilled punch holes and all the greens were stupid fast like putting on a billiard table. Or linoleum. No way to control downhill putts as we often got rollouts of 10-15 feet, and many of the greens are already so steeply sloped that many pin locations were almost impossible to access.

Other than the greens, conditions were good. Fairway coverage was good with lies ranging from lush to tight. Rough along the fairways was playable at about 2 inches – further out it was a crapshoot with bare dirt, bark, trees and wild grass, etc. I was in 3 greenside traps and conditions were good, one a little thin and the other 2 with a nice sand layer. Tees had also been punched and sanded and were a little fuzzy, with several sloping behind a right-handed golfer.

No yardage book available, but the interactive GPS by GPS Industries was very nice. This seems to be really late in the season for green aeration. Maybe because of the altitude here (1,500 ft). Without the aeration I would recommend the course enthusiastically.

Didn't rate the course because of the punched greens.
8 Likes.
I really liked this course. I’m a fan of links-style courses and this one was great – firm fairways with tight but good lies, lots of fairway undulation and runoffs, and rolling, challenging greens. First time here, and I was reminded of Links at Summerly (when it was in playable condition) and Angeles National.

Thanks to GKer Alex326 who responded to my Meet-Play post and drove down from Monterey to join me at ~8:30am on Thursday, 11/7/19. Alex is great to play with and we had a relaxed, fun round.

Greens were firm but fairly receptive and rolled well at medium+ speed. Coverage was good and speeds were consistent. Only negative was the large number of old and unrepaired ballmarks on all greens – these impacted the visual appeal of the greens and required some attention before you could execute your line. Fairways had good coverage and, though tight, the ball generally sat up nicely. Rough was brutal – getting in that wet monkey grass was a definite penalty and frequently a lost ball. Tees were flat and very playable – we played White, and a couple of times moved back to where the Blue markers were to conform to the white plate distances. Sand was the one big negative – greenside, I was in one bunker with OK sand, although very thin and firm. Fairway bunkers were more likely to be groomed mud.

I had booked an 8am time and was running late driving up from Orange County. I arrived around 8:15 and the shop was great in working us out ahead of a scheduled shotgun tourney. We wound up playing as a twosome with no one pushing us in ~4 hours. Definitely recommended. Wish I could pick this course up and drop it in SoCal.
8 Likes.
Played at around 1pm on Sunday, 10/27/19, getting in a casual round around my birthday. After the hot summer and recent warm temperatures, a brisk south wind and cloudy skies dropped the temps into the high 60s, and that south wind meant that most of Talega’s holes played with a stiff crosswind, with all the fun ESA out there waiting for errant missles. I was scheduled to be paired with a threesome, but after arriving I was sent out with another single ahead of that three. Unfortunately, we were sent out right after a four-group tournament of laughing, chatty mixed couples – there were four groups on the first tee when I arrived. Any hope for a casual but routine Sunday afternoon vanished, and we waited on every shot over the next 5 hours. They sent us out in separate carts, and when not hitting my partner was on his phone, so there was not much of a social element to the round.

Course was in decent condition that was basically crapshoot lies everywhere – fairways, rough, and sand could be good or thin or bare. You got what you got. Tees were good. Greens were receptive and rolled well at medium speed.

It’s unfortunate to see the neglect of the course infrastructure over the years from where it used to be. Fences need painting and repair in many places. From afar bunkers look like salt/pepper dirt and no sand. Some bunkers are still marked GUR as the (seemingly) 10-year bunker renovation program continues. And many strategic bunkers have been reduced/eliminated. The previous good-quality GPS has been replaced by a simple ProShot with only basic distances. And the clock on mine was way wrong. And the unit kept resetting itself on each hole.

No cart girl today, or marshal. Given the temperatures, adequate water was available. Course uses entry/exit gates to control cart wear on fairways, but many golfers don’t use them.

I like the layout here, so I return occasionally.
10 Likes.
Played with my monthly club on Saturday, 10/12/19, at 9am, but didn’t tee off until 9:35 as the course was punching out 5somes and they already a half-hour behind at 9 o’clock! Weather was clear and warm with almost no wind, and course had no condition issues, so slow play was completely on the players. Overall a 5-hr round.

Conditions were typical for what you get at Lakewood – everything was just OK. Greens were receptive and rolled at medium speed, getting a little quicker as the day progressed. Only green #6 showed any signs of last month’s aeration. Fairways had mostly good coverage but you could never tell when you would get a thin or bare area or an area with critter mounds. Rough was dry/bare or ranging to thick/juicy. Sand was mostly fairly thin but playable, but partners also encountered deep/soft as well as no sand areas. Tees had various problems – boxes on 5 and 11 were sloping to a right-handed golfer’s rear; on 4, the markers were set up in the middle of a recently resodded area(!), so everything was soft and uneven; some tees had been punched with large holes and not (yet?) sanded.

Most of the white tee markers were placed forward of the white plates. Cranky starter was pushing you to get out on #1, where waiting awaited – no rangers. OK for a slow casual round.
8 Likes.
Little bit late. Played with GKer itslikeimsayin in our GK Cup match at 11am Saturday, 9/28/19, joined by mpisarski. I hadn’t played here since 2010, and did not remember some of the significant elevation changes within some of the individual holes. Repeated plays here are definitely a benefit to know the correct hitting lines and approach lines.

Greens were receptive and rolled very nicely at medium speed. Sand was a little damp but very playable. The only tee that was sloping was on number 14. In the fairway you were usually on good turf, but rough was wildly variable depending on where you were and how far off the fairway you ventured. Holes like 2, 4, 12 and 13 have difficult, long uphill approaches and are very challenging. Many of the other par fours are short and more amenable to surgical placement of drives and approaches.

We played blue tees. Simple GPS in the carts was difficult to understand and gave conflicting yardages - you’re better off with your own tools. I knew my day was going to be more difficult when my rangefinder died on hole #2. Paid $40, started on time, played in 4 1/2+ hours on a steady, slow day. Simple clubhouse has a casual, locals vibe. No range; you warm up into some nets, but balls were good and turf good. Recommended – I’d like to get back sooner than another nine years!
8 Likes.
Played Diamond Bar with my monthly club at 9am on Saturday, 9/14/19, on a very hot day with not enough wind to cool things down very much. My first round in 2 months, with my ongoing knee problems, made for a hot, slow 5.5- hour slog that was pretty standard for this course on a weekend morning. We got a little break on the front nine with plenty of shade scattered by the large trees, but the back nine is more open and that’s when we got the brunt of the day’s heat.

Conditions were the same as when my club played here last September – decent greens that were receptive all day (getting plenty of water!) and rolled at consistent speed but many old ballmarks, chancey fairways ranging from good to bare, challenging rough around the greens and really juicy stuff farther out, thin but playable sand, and many tees sloping to the back of a right-handed golfer.

We were sent out on time to join the slow queue. Our cart locked up on #7 but the shop sent out a replacement quickly. Saw the cart girl a couple times but the snack bar at #10 tee was closed again. Adequate water available. Not great, not terrible. OK for a casual round, with notations above.
8 Likes.
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