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Played with my monthly group at La Mirada on Saturday, 6/1/19 at 9am on a cool, cloudy day without much wind. Range on mats and main putting green was closed. One shop guy working hard to keep up but a great attitude. Not that busy at that time but clubhouse area was packed as we finished 5+ hours later.

We debated during the round about the translation into “golf English” of “La Mirada”. The prevalence of no grass in many playing areas of the course led us to think it could mean “the bare dirt”. Based on our experience today, we all agreed that it could mean “the bad lie”. All holes had scattered or large bare areas where the ball could rest in a multitude of flat/ridged/muddy/cratered forms, but bad lies could be had on “grass” or in the non-fairway areas, as well. My experience in the front bunker on #2, where my ball came to rest in a deep trench that looked like it had formed from a dozen golfers blasting out and not raking behind them, led me to think that the translation could be “the ditch”.

Greens were the "best" part of the course, fairly firm and not showing many ballmarks, but bumpy and rolling at medium+ speed. Coming here over the years (once per year or less) it seems to me that the size of many greens continues to shrink as American Golf continues to tighten its budgets. Fairways where we found grass were thin and tight, rolling out OK but giving uncertain lies. Rough ranged from bare/thin to more lush in lower areas of the course. Most bunkers had adequate sand (but see above!) but it was often very wet and/or packed. We played the Blue tees and they were OK, but frequently pushed well forward of the Blue plates, especially on the par-3s.

OK for a slow casual round.
I wanted to get some swings in before a tourney this weekend, and after the unhappy pro shop experience at Tijeras Creek a couple weeks ago I decided to try down at Talega. I really like the layout down there but have been put off by recent reports of poor conditioning – it had been 24 months(!) since I’d been down there. With the recent wet winter I hoped that vegetation would be in better condition and the course had had time to address the bunkers and some other conditioning issues.

It was the first sunny day we’d had for a while in south OC and the warm weather and only light breezes made for a pleasant afternoon at 2pm on Wednesday, 5/29/19. I was paired with a threesome of vacationers from the San Fernando Valley who had played the course in the past. They were anxious to get started, so we jumped out early with no warmup – we started on #10 as the shop told us they were doing bunker work on the front nine. I paid $42 with cart on GN, which apparently was less than the threesome paid.

Overall the course was in pretty good condition. Fairways had pretty good coverage, the usual tight turf that promoted runouts off the tee, and the ball generally sat OK. Rough was generally 3-4” deep and you had to pay attention to get a solid strike on the ball. We played the white tees, which were frequently pushed forward of the white plates, and tee turf was generally good. As usual the tee on 17 was torn up and bumpy.

Greens were firm and rolled at medium speed, with good coverage. Greens on holes # 7 and 17 were badly marked up with unrepaired marks and scattered small bare areas. Sand traps we were in were in generally good condition, although frequently wet and packed down. The left front greenside bunker on #3 had plenty of sand but the underbaggie was showing in some parts. Greenside bunkers were marked as GUR on #s 2 and 5 and improvement work was evident.

Cost cutting at Talega continues. The basic carts had a cooler but no water/ice, and no club cleaner/ball washer on the cart. The GPS is downgraded now to a simple ProShot with basic yardages. The main building men’s bathroom accessories are gone. Many ongoing changes that affect the visual and strategic aspects of the course continue – on the right side of hole #2 several traps in the driving area have been removed. On #4 along the right side of this “driveable” hole traps have been removed or made smaller. Traps in the driving area on #11 are much smaller. The greenside trap on the right front of #18 is smaller, and the large trap behind the green has been eliminated.

I had pleasant playing partners but they were very casual in their approach– hitting a 2nd ball, freely giving putts, and PICKING UP MY BALL WHEN WE WERE SEARCHING FOR IT, etc. A nice touch is divot sand refill boxes – I saw them on #5 tee, #8 tee, # 10 tee, and after 11/15 greens. The course uses entry/exit gates to control cart wear on fairways. Lakes were full and the course had an overall groomed look.

The light was out in men’s bathroom behind #4 green – the locked door was propped open with the soap holder. The safety mirrors at the entrance to path tunnels after #1 and en route to #10 were missing.

Recommended – the blind teeshot on the par-5 #15 is still the most visually intimidating tee shot in SoCal, and without a 'picture' GPS or a yardage book, you have no idea where you are going.
Had a great time at the GK event Saturday, 5/18/19, at Desert Willow Firecliff. The weather was golf-perfect and the course was in wonderful condition. Played with 3 new (to me) GKers and we really enjoyed the round and the company. Thanks to GKers Rich, Esper, and Phil for a great time – Phil hadn’t played in several months and his game was scattered to the four winds, but he kept a good humor and even came out ahead on golf balls.

Greens were great – fairly firm, great coverage and rolling smoothly at medium-fast speeds. We saw almost no ballmarks. Fairways were like carpets and rough was very consistent, just deep enough to make you pay attention. If it gets some dampness it will be much tougher. Tees were flat and good except for a couple of par-3s that had some damage. Sand was in great shape (we all remember the event a couple years ago!!), although deeper and softer than most of us along the coast are used to!

Large grass driving range, chipping green and putting green with realistic and frighteningly fast conditions. Starter got us out on time. Saw the cart girl several times. Cart guys were very helpful as we finished up. Plenty of divot mix available on cart and refills, although they don't put containers on the par-3 tees.

Fun time seeing others at the grill afterward, although crossed signals meant that it was tough to get food or drinks as the bar closed earlier than expected. Nice prizes for all – AndewZ28 was praised from afar. Thanks to Johnny for setting up this great venue and a nice event. It's a long hump for me but love the venue and the company.
Wanted to get some swings in before the GK Desert Willow outing so walked on to TC around 3pm on Wednesday, 5/15/19. Golfnow offerings for the 3pm-4pm time period had been running for $39, so was stunned when stoic, unmoved staff memeber in the shop told me $60! GN does not let you book a single, and I don’t have the Creek card, so I asked him to match the online rate but was told “next time book with GN”. Was able to finally get a $53 rate, which was still disappointing given the GN advertised rate. Overall an unhappy interaction to start the afternoon.

I was hoping for a nice afternoon, but the weather was cloudy and breezy, getting pretty cold as the clouds increased – where are we, Puget Sound? The wind finally dropped off some on the back nine, although you still have to be very aware of the crosswind on the narrow, challenging 12th hole. I was paired with a twosome and we were joined by amiable local Pat, who was fun to play with and we had a relaxed round, finishing in ~4 hours. Recent reviews of TC have been good, and we found the course in good shape, playing the white plates (6,206/69.5/125) – many of the blue tees were up at the white plates, or even in front of them.

Greens were in pretty good condition, with good coverage, firm but holding well-struck shots, a little bumpy in the afternoon and rolling fairly slow at less than medium speed – we continuously left putts short. Many greens had LOTS of old ballmarks.

Fairways had good coverage but the ball sat pretty tight. Rough ranged from short and benign to 2-3 inches that grabbed the club and made distance control difficult. Fairly shaggy collars around the greens made putting from off the green pretty impossible. Tees were flat and in good shape, except for a couple of par-3 teeboxes that were torn up, and there was no divot mix container or it was empty. Sand was ample and in good condition, although pretty damp out in the middle of the bunkers.

Saw a cart girl several times. Refill rack of divot mix on the 10th teebox. Basic but newer carts – no GPS, no cooler, no ballwasher. Many sprinkler heads marked. Staff started warning us on #15 green that we might not finish (carts must be in before dark), but we were able to complete the round ahead of the last couple groups. TC is pricey and the shop experience was not great for me – that’s why I only play here about once per year.
Played with my monthly group at (supposedly) 9am on a warm, sunny Saturday, 5/4/19. Course was packed and overbooked as we teed off 45 minutes late, then struggled thru a 6-hr(!) round. MM is probably in the best shape I've ever seen it after this winter's rains. Landing areas are more receptive, rough around the edges of the course doesn't allow errant shots to run forever into oblivion on dry hard ground, and greens are receptive, although still quick.

Fairway lies are fairly tight but mostly good. There are scattered bare areas throughout the course. Tees were flat and in good shape, except for the white teebox on #13, which is lumpy and uneven. Rough is fairly low and benign unless you get well off the line of play, and can then be thick and juicy. Sand was in god condition, a little damp but with good playing depth. Greens were uniformly very good, with no bare spots and consistent coverage, semi-firm but receptive, rolling at a medium+ pace.

A couple of major changes (since I last played here) on holes on the back nine substantially change the approach and difficulty of those holes. On the par-5 11th, which wraps severely left around a tree-covered hillside, several large trees have been removed along the left side. Although blind, the drive is much more open along the left and amenable to a bold drive along the treeline, with the slope then moving the ball to the right. The second shot, uphill to a perched green, is also wide open with the removal of a couple of large trees that were about 125 yards out - the hole is now a realistic 2-shotter for the longer hitter. On the par-4 18th, a tree/bunker combination along the right side, in the landing area of tee shots, has been removed. The tree/sand previously constricted the landing area and made this closing hole very challenging - now it's a much more wide-open short par-4.

Adequate water available. We saw a cart girl several times. "Marshals" generally rode around not interacting with players. Range on good quality mats. Putting green doubles as a chipping green and has taped "putting course" laid out on it to further interfere with warmups. Recommended in current condition, but the shop doesn't care how long it takes you, so be aware.
Played Redhawk at 916am on Wednesday, 5/1/19, with GKer Andrew1 for a senior rate of $45 with cart. Weather was sunny and mild with little wind until the last few holes. Small bucket was $5 on OK mats on the range; however, the path/steps from cart parking down to the range was one of the most uneven and treacherous that I’ve ever seen. There are 4 different putting greens ranging from flat to Matterhorn. Basic carts, cooler but no ice, and no GPS, but a yardage book available. Striped poles at 150 in the fairways, and some sprinkler heads are marked. After all the rain over the winter the course generally looks lush, and rough was fairly deep and juicy.

Greens were in very good shape – full and lush, smooth and holding shots, rolling at medium speed with not too many ballmarks. Greens are surrounded by deep/steep swales and grass bunkers that were generally lush and damp, a challenge to play from. However, we did seen several areas in these grass bunkers that were dry/thin/clumpy that would make recovery challenging. Fairways were generally good, with tight turf but good coverage – we saw only scattered bare areas. Tees were generally OK, but some sloped behind a right-handed golfer. Lots of sand here looked OK from a distance, but we encountered varying conditions in 4 greenside bunkers – thin/wet/packed in one and damp/fluffy in others.

No cart girl today. No marshal. Shop does not offer a posting computer. Divot mix bottles had many small rocks (and a few bigger ones!) mixed in with the sand. Refill rack on #10 tee.

The course needs to address the huge hump in the road on the exit road with appropriate signage and paint for better visibility before a motorist leaves the entire underside of his car smeared across that hump!
Played with a high school buddy on Monday 4/8/19 using an UnderPar certificate, $33 each at 1pm, which is a decent deal. The course had punched greens 2 weeks ago – the practice green showed a lot of sand-filled holes but was cut tight and wicked fast. On-course greens were found to be a little slower and the punching marks were much less obvious, but it took us a few holes to dial back our terror and start getting the ball to the hole. Some fairway areas, mainly leading up to greens, have been punched in the past few day – the holes are empty and the punch cores are laying out on the turf.

Not my favorite type of course with the wall-to-wall kikuyu, but overall conditions were OK. Tees were level – we played the white plates, as all the white markers were moved up. I wasn’t in any sand. Fairway lies were generally good but some holes were fairly wet, others very dry. Rough could be cut short or juicy and damp. Greens are small and the overall slope of the property toward the Santa Ana River prevails.

Lots of red stakes around if you stray from the line of play. Most holes are pretty steeply uphill or downhill – “flat” areas are frequently significantly sloped along the prevailing hillside gradient. Carts with a nice interactive GPS, and a yardage book is available. Many holes have some distance stakes in use.

We played as a twosome ahead of a threesome in a little less than 4 hours. Two-level range on mats hitting down into a hollow. Friendly service in the shop and the snack bar. OK for a casual round.
Played Los Amigos with my monthly club at 9am on Saturday, 4/6/19, on a warm sunny day with not too much wind until near the end of the round (just in time for #17 – gaakkk!!). We play here every Spring. The course is in standard shape with decent greens, dry fairways and rough, and OK sand. I was surprised that after all the rain we’ve had this winter the “turf” in fairways and greens was thin, dry, and clumpy, and the underlying ground was very dry and hard. Lies anywhere were a crapshoot, and even on grassy patches in the fairway the turf was thin and tight and the ball could sit down. Frankly, I didn’t have a lie at any point on the course the entire round that I had confidence in.

Greens were in good shape, fairly firm and showing few ballmarks (except the front of the new green at #11 – badly pitted!). They really didn’t hold shots but released all approaches. Tees were level but some were firm and others soft, making for uncertain footing. I was in 2 bunkers with good but thin sand.

Basic cart and no sand mix refills available on-course. Range on mats but a good deal - ~40 balls for $5. Good club sandwich in the snack bar afterward, but it took a long time to get prepared. OK for a casual round.

Left my rangefinder in the cart after the round (DOH!). Called Monday to see if anyone had turned it in - nope! It's gone! Dang!!$$$
Back after a 6-week(!) layoff recovering from a sprained knee – reading the GK site with everyone posting reviews, etc. made me crazy to get back out. The cortisone injection 2 weeks ago is finally taking hold and I’m hoping the knee is behind me.

Played with a high school buddy who had a UP certificate for $40 each – a decent deal for this course. Sunny and warm on Monday morning, 3/25/19, at 1130. Starter sending groups off regularly – we were out on time, paired with 2 singles, one a TO employee and the other the GM at Eastlake GC in Chula Vista - both guys on a busman’s holiday! They were younger big hitters playing (spraying) from the blue tees; we played white. Driving range extra $$ and on mats today in a constricted area near the wall-off fencing for the “Learning Center”. Fairly large putting green without any undulations but indicative of on-course green speeds. Carts with nice interactive GPS (but the incorrect pin locations today!) but no ball washer or ice chest. Play on the front nine was pretty pokey (2.5+hr) but we jumped ahead of the group in front of us at the turn and played the back nine faster, finishing in just over 4.5hr.

TO won’t punch greens until April, so we found the greens to be in very good condition – smooth, fairly firm, mostly released shots a bit, but rolling at medium-fast speed and scary fast on some downhillers! We didn’t see too many ballmarks. After all the rain the fairways were green but an indifferent mowing pattern meant some areas were great, some were bushy and clumpy, and some were pretty bare. All the rain meant that the rough was thick and juicy, and we had several instances where we had to search intently for wayward balls. The thick rough was especially problematic around the greens, making solid contact and distance control difficult. Tees were level and could use trimming, but otherwise uniformly good. Sand was fairly thin and damp but had been raked and was fairly soft.

Lots of hazard areas near holes 1-4 and 15-18 slows play in those areas, crimping the start and finish of the round. The drop area on hole 7, a par-3 over a lake, is in very poor condition – dry, clumpy, and thin. (And someone stole the “Drop Area” sign! Today we had a piece of paper, with “Drop Area” handwritten, stuck in the ground with a tee!!) Our cart started out with the low-battery light on, and we messaged the shop, and called, on the third tee, to no avail. Finally got them to exchange the cart on the 10th tee. Pricy, just OK ham sandwich at the turn. Hole handicaps on the scorecard don’t make much sense, with par-5s getting the lowest handicap designation.

Decent conditions here with some challenges for a relaxed play.
Played at 10am Friday, 2/8/19, with my monthly club. This is a private club that allows outside groups in a shotgun tourney one Friday each month. Old-school layout, fairly flat with some elevation changes around the clubhouse at the highest point on the property. After quite a bit of rain last week, everything was wet and soft, but carts had free reign and the really wet spots were marked to be avoided.

Greens were soft and many approaches spun back a long way. They rolled pretty well at medium speed, and several pins were placed in sneaky positions. By 2pm they were showing and holding a lot of footprints. We played preferred lies in fairways, so scattered thin areas were not a problem. Rough was generally damp and a challenge to play from. Tees were flat and OK. Sand was in good condition.

Interactive GPS (TKv) with some on-course markings (plates/stakes). The screen says "distance to pin" but the number given is to the COG. The carts have a club cleaner/ballwasher (nice!), but also have a very strict no-go setting when you stray far from the fairway or path - we had to back up to safety several times, sometimes in the rough between parallel holes! Adequate water available. No cart girl or marshal - there's a snack bar at the turn, and a single bathroom at the junction of holes 6/11/16. The larger scramble tourney in front of us was the slowest scramble play I had ever seen - we could have been 30 min faster.
I played Santa Anita GC at 10am on Saturday, 1/12/19, with my monthly club. We generally play here every January. It had rained early that morning, but the weather looked like it might clear around 9am. But, oops, it started sprinkling on #7 and pouring on #9. About half of our tourney group bailed out at the turn, but by the time we reached #11 the rain had stopped and we had clearing weather afterward. The course was not very crowded as a result of the earlier rain, and the many defections during the storm resulted in a very light crowd in the afternoon.

Greens very firm but with few ballmarks and rolled at a medium+ pace (they slowed down during and just after the deluge – LOL). Fairways with pretty good coverage everywhere. Rough could be very thin and playable or deep and juicy – we played lift/clean/place so lies were generally not a problem. Traps appeared to have adequate sand but it was obviously packed down by the rains.

Tee boxes were generally OK but #18 (we played the blue tees) is badly uneven and sloping to the left rear – this is a long dogleg right with a huge tree just to the right of a tee. A fade is almost the only play available here, but it’s hard to hit that shot off an uneven tee with the ball well above your feet!

Hole 3 doesn’t have a very well-defined fairway area – it seems like you are on deep, soft kikuyu everywhere! There are a couple other holes where the fairway definition is “vague” or where the mowers had not been in a few days.

Overall good conditions for a casual round.
Kicked off 2019 at one of my favorites in northern San Diego County with a GN Hot Deal for $33 at 1130 on 1/1/19. Hadn’t played since the La Costa GK outing and was trying out some new swing thoughts – joined Carlsbad locals Ralph and Chris, and we had a relaxed, enjoyable round in about 4 hours. It was pretty windy when we got started, but the blustery NE wind dropped to almost nothing by the time we reached the back nine, and we had perfect weather coming in.

The course is in decent shape. Greens were a mixed bag. Some were OK, some had light/dark areas scattered across them, some had large turf patches evident. Most were firm with good coverage, but all were bumpy and rolled at medium speed. With the windy weather there was a lot of small and large debris on all greens, but not too many ballmarks.

Fairways are dormant and tight – you get some good rollouts downhill, but we also had good strikes rolling back toward us on the uphill holes – frustrating! Many unfilled divots in all the fairways. We liberally used the sand provided on the carts, but the refill rack on #10 tee was populated with empty bottles. There is only scattered use of entry/exit gates for carts onto fairways, and the entry areas being used are badly worn down and bare. Rough was generally cut low and easy to play from, but also wasn’t much of a deterrent for offline shots running on into hazards or other disasters.

There was plenty of sand in all bunkers encountered. Tees were level, and par-3 tees were not too torn up, divot mix provided on some of these. The course has also placed sand bottles on some par-4 tees, but all of these were empty when we came through.

Carts are basic – no GPS, a cooler with just ice. The carts did have a ball washer/club cleaner, which is handy. The driving range is on grass, but the left side of the hitting area is sloping behind a right-handed player. There are few targets; the ball machine was not working. The clock at the range is a nice touch, but it was not adjusted from daylight savings time. No cart girl today, and the snack bar is a drive from the playing route.

I really enjoy the variety in this layout and the opportunity to let the driver rip on many elevated holes. As usual, #s 6 and 17 are beasts – all uphill, and into that NE wind on #6 I still had a hybrid to reach the green after 2 solid shots! There’s a lot of trimmed and untrimmed debris lying around waiting to be cleaned up, and the main creekbeds are choked with growth and debris, which would improve the aesthetics here but really doesn’t affect play. To decrease maintenance costs, the course is doing some turf conversions, primarily in the areas around tee boxes and leading out to fairways. They’ve replaced turf with crushed rock and the look takes some getting used to, but is effective.

Still recommended.
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