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Quick little Saturday round at Penmar this weekend. For $20 it's almost always a great, quick option when time is short. You're never going to get pristine conditions here, and there's no range to warm up, but it's usually in good shape (with the exception of the greens and tee boxes).

Currently the fairways and rough are in nice shape, a few muddy sections to contend with though. Greens are slow and very bumpy. Sand is thin. Tee boxes are mostly in poor shape currently. POP can be an issue here but on this weekend we got lucky and didn't get held up until the 5th hole but not too bad.

I've seen Penmar in better shape but it's by no means bad right now. You get to use a lot of clubs in your bag here for a nine hole, and getting on is usually hassle free, so if you only have a bit of time, try it out once.
You can keep reading all the superlatives you like about Rams Hill, but you just won't get it unless you get out there and play it. It's a truly marvelous golf experience from soup to nuts. From the moment you pull into the parking lot and see that wonderful contrast of plush, carpet green with the surrounding desert, it's not hard to understand why this place is truly special.

I enjoyed having two first-timers at Rams Hill in our group as well as they were completely struck all afternoon by the beauty and awesomeness of the course and its location amongst the hills. There is simply not one hole wasted in this layout - every single hole is a unique and challenging spectacle, and the rewards of playing them well are spectacular. The Fazio design used every contour of the land surrounding the property and filled in the gaps with green goodness. It's an amazing place to play the game we love.

Conditions were simply excellent and some of the best I've experienced anywhere in quite some time. Absolutely perfect lies in the fairways all day long. And not just nice, green grass, but thick and healthy. The rough was even more uniform and spectacular - cut just high enough to make you think about putting away that hybrid, but not penal enough to discourage you from going for it when the time was right. Fantastic visually and in terms of playability.

Tee boxes were immaculate and there's no shortage of options. We were awed all day by the positions of the black tee boxes, but that's way too much length for most any amateur, so we 'settled' for the blue tees, which were more than challenging enough. Bunkers were wonderfully stocked with fluffy sand and any mistakes out of them was more user error than anything else. Can't have a single complaint.

Greens were glassy righteousness, coming in around an 11 on the stimp I'm guessing. No shortage of tiers on Fazio's greens, so either be very good or very lucky to keep it close. There are a lot of double breaks and undulations that must be skillfully navigated, but if you hit your ball solid, you'll get a perfect roll every time. Just need to get that speed down! And even low trajectory shots for the most part seemed to find a home on the greens just fine. Epic.

Fantastic service all around from the pro shop, the attendants outside and a cart service that came around so often it was almost comical. Felt bad not ordering more! Great patio with an incredible vista of 18 and the surrounding mountains and desert. What more is there to say? We were the first group out for the GK event so hopefully our pace (right at four hours) set a good tone for the day. Thanks to Johnny for putting this awesome day together yet again.

We're looking forward to coming back again next January to do the same big Borrego weekend all over again. It was that fun and memorable.
For our second round this past Saturday, we hit up the private De Anza Country Club after having called a few weeks ago to learn that they now offer tee times to the public (not sure of the conditions or days offered, but it worked out for this particular day).

Check-in was nice and easy and the staff helpful and fun - no hint of anything but a welcoming attitude, which can sometimes not be the case at private clubs when you're not a member. But the staff was great and we paid around $80 with carts and a 12:15 tee time. POP was not an issue as we finished in just over three hours.

Very similar conditions to the previously reviewed Borrego Springs course, but the wildlife and closer proximity to the mountains make for a very unique experience at De Anza. We had a herd of rams coming off the hill in one of our fairways, loads of roadrunners and ducks and birds aplenty to spice it up.

De Anza is a very fair course but completely flat and parkland style, however there are lots of mature, tree-lined fairways waiting to gobble up shots not going straight down the pipe. Some water in play for sure, but mostly trouble-free golf and you can definitely make good scores here if you're relatively straight. It's fun but not super challenging.

Very green and well manicured fairways currently at De Anza, with a fairly thick rough to accompany them. Great lies for chipping and pitching around the greens. The fairways were cut pretty tight so you could actually get a decent amount of roll out of them, and the lies were always top notch.

De Anza isn't overly-bunkered enough to annoy or intimidate, but they do have many long and narrow bunkers guarding the greens. These were in good shape but seemed a tiny bit hard at the surface - maybe too much watering? I was only in one and it played fine, though. Tee boxes were also in perfect shape with a nice variety of tee options to play from.

Greens were very good actually. Not visually the most stunning I've ever seen, but held shots well despite a very firm surface (ball marks were minimal upon landing) and putted at a nice pace, maybe a 10-10.5 on the stimp. The pro shop had told us upon going out that the greens were very small here, but we did not find that to be the case after the first hole perhaps. But yeah, overall very good and lots of fun. Nothing too outrageous here either in terms of breaks or slope.

Definitely recommend a visit to De Anza if you're in the area. Again, it's not the most challenging course you'll ever play as it's fairly straight up and down, what you see is what you get golf, but you'll enjoy the surroundings, the wildlife, the interesting houses lining the course (all different styles and eras), and the very nice conditions. Make it a part of your next weekend down here and you won't be let down.

And did I mention we finished in just over three hours and never waited? That part is awesome.
In part one of our 36-hole pre-Rams Hill GK Plays, Kassper7, Mattias, ahossom and myself played at Borrego Springs on Saturday morning as first group out for the day at 7:15. The weather was perfect for winter desert golf and the course did not disappoint.

After a few lean months in LA County, it was nice to get back out onto a proper green and healthy looking course. Between the desert waste areas and the beautiful mountain backdrop, Borrego Springs offers up a verdant set of fairways providing great lies and pretty visuals. If you venture out into the rough on occasion, not a problem - it's not cut to a penal length and you're generally fine in most spots hitting out of it.

Sand traps were good but not great - perfectly playable but you could tell there was not a thick layer of sand in them. But again, played just fine. Tee boxes pretty much perfect (we played the black set of tees). And the greens? Very nice. Great condition, but not so fast as to get frustrated. And they're very fun to play as well, with subtle undulations and breaks but nothing too crazy - it is after all a resort course.

That being said, this course is far from easy. There are definitely a good amount of holes with water in play, ample traps, and also plenty of desert carries and not-so-easy-to-see lines off the tee if you're not familiar with the place. Oh, and how about a 250 yard par 3 from the blacks? It's a flat course for sure but there are some mounding areas that can influence your ultimate ball location. Long story short - it's fun.

For a $65 greens fee with cart, and plenty of stay and play options at the accompanying Borrego Springs resort, this is a great deal and an excellent place to play. There is also a nice bar and restaurant attached (Arches) with nice, fun staff and good food. All in all it was a pretty great experience and I could easily see this place being a big part of a yearly visit to the Borrego Springs area.
Played a Saturday round this weekend at Wilson with Kassper7. We played the blue tees and were paired up with two Asian gentlemen who were nice company throughout the day. I was surprised on a busy weekend day that there was little organization or a starter at the first tee, but we just jumped right in when the opportunity presented itself.

As for the course itself, it's definitely been hit by the lack of precipitation the last six months. Fairways are very dried out and thin lies are all over the place. There's very little green in the fairways except maybe late on the back nine, and far too many dirt patches altogether. Around the greens it was often better to be chipping from the rough that was slightly more cushioned. But even that had a lot of burned out areas as well.

The tee boxes were okay, a few rock hard and beat up, but mostly flat and workable. The sand traps I avoided all day so can't speak to their condition. As for the greens, they were definitely the best part of the course this weekend. Ball marks aplenty, sure, but they were running medium speed at best, however held shots well and weren't too bumpy. Not bad.

No cart service all day which was again surprising on such a busy holiday weekend I would have imagined. POP was right around five hours, which really isn't too bad for this place. I think it was actually our group who was slowing down the group behind us a bit thanks to plenty of wayward shots and ball searching forays.

Wilson is long from the blue tees but a very fair and fun course if conditions are even just slightly better than they are now. I would go in a pinch but definitely this place could use some more watering or a few rainy days to smooth out the rough edges.
After a few rough rounds of late, decided to head back to the launch pad of my golf career that is Westchester. You can always rely on Westchester to deliver adequate conditions and a boost to your confidence if you play even decently well. Of course, if you have a stinker here with its short holes and little trouble, it's time to pack it in for a while.

Walked from the back tees and played with three other singles who were good company. Current conditions at Westchester are not too bad at all. The fairways have adequate coverage on the par 4s and while you might find a thin lie here or there, you're generally rewarded with a decent hitting surface. Rough is just slightly taller but is very playable.

The bunkers at Westchester are in outstanding shape. Nice and fluffy, a great many higher end courses could take a lesson from this place on how to stock their traps. Tee boxes are fine with some wear and tear of course but level throughout for the most part.

The greens are amazingly in good shape with all of the traffic here, but as usual, that traffic does not do a great job of fixing their ball marks. The putts are faster than they appear but you won't have too many breaks or slopes to contend with throughout the day. They're fairly simple but easy to underestimate the speed at times.

I also managed to score a personal best 71 after countless rounds here in my brief career, so that's always a nice feeling. POP was not too bad even though we did a fair bit of waiting ... helps that the holes are all generally short or par 3s mostly. Need your fix? Need your confidence back? Come play Westchester and have a little fun.
Spent Christmas Day at Westridge for the first time ever. Played with three good friends after we had gotten a very nice $40 rate with cart booked for a 10:07 tee time. I was highly anticipating playing this cool course and, in many ways, was not let down.

This is a Muni with a very private course layout in terms of its difficulties and setup. They're very professional getting everyone off in time and keeping things moving. We started on the 10th tee for some reason yesterday but that was fine as I knew it was the old way they had the nines routed. As for the layout itself, super hilly and narrow in a lot of places. You need to be accurate off the tee, but in many ways it's the second shot that really requires the skills. If you're on though, will be super fun.

Now conditions are of course another variable altogether. Right now you'll find a lot of browned out and thin fairway lies, but there's also a decent chance to find some nice grass - just really a lot of hit or miss out there. The rough is not much longer so it's often tough to see where the fairways end and the rough begins. Tee boxes were definitely far too un-level in many boxes, but the coverage was mostly good. Bunkers? Not great. Found some that didn't know if they wanted to be sand or hard mud with lots of debris. A few others were okay. But they could definitely be better.

Greens were in good shape and ran medium fast. There are a lot of strong breaks and undulations on the greens so be prepared to hit putts and chips at some awkward angles. Some of the pin positions were simply ludicrous though and it's a trend I've noticed in far too many places of late. Putting the flag in at the 40 degree slope is simply cruel and unusual punishment. And on the 18th green I've never seen so much coot excrement in my life! Pretty gross.

No cart service all day but there is a snack shop at the turn near the cart barn and putting green. I had a great day off the tee personally but it's also very easy to lose balls here or there and suffered four penalties as well, so you have to be accurate. If you can score well here, you're a baller. I do look forward to coming back and trying to do better when the conditions are prime. Think it will be top-notch fun on that day.
Played a Saturday round back out at Santa Anita today with a buddy on a $55 GN deal with cart. We ended up playing the blue tees and paired up with two singles on the second hole.

Greens are the highlight of the course right now, with very nice coverage, rolling true and holding shots well, and minimal ball marks to contend with currently. There were some tough pin positions though and more contours on the greens than I remember from before.

Fairways are in rough shape with a lot of bare or thin areas, which makes good, clean contact difficult to create. There are also plenty of muddy hardpan areas on the bottom or sides of many of the hills in the middle of the fairways here. The rough is not much better.

I was in a lot of bunkers today and the sand was pretty good. Any trouble getting out was more about my poor day than the conditions themselves. However, the tee boxes could use some serious work. Many not level, and almost all of the others very thin or beat up.

POP was very nice at just over four hours. Surprised there wasn't a madhouse today, but it was a nice, smooth pace. Unfortunately never saw cart service all day, and the pro shop is in a bit of disarray at the moment as they appear to be remodeling.

I know that I have seen Santa Anita on better days and I'm pretty sure it'll get there again. And when it does, I'm sure to be back again. It's a fun 18 with plenty of interesting holes and fun layout. It screams 'flat course' but when you're on it, it plays very differently with all of the undulations in the fairways. And a great closing hole.

Is it worth the $55 currently? Probably not, but if you can get it walking for cheaper, or a better online deal, than it's still worth your time.
Don't want to hammer Chester Washington too badly as they were kind enough to comp Kassper7 two rounds after his last debacle there a week ago, but doing right by customers must be treated separately from honest course conditions, right? Regardless the rest of this review, thanks to CW for doing that for us and trying to make it right.

As for the round itself, we had an 11:07 tee time and finally got out around 11:25 or so. We played the blue tees with two funny guys from the area. POP overall though was pretty abysmal for a Friday afternoon as the round finished at just around five and a half hours. That left plenty of time for course critiquing.

First off, the greens have somehow miraculously gotten fast here in total contrast to the slow, spongy greens they used to have. They actually run pretty fast and nice now, however there are a lot of ball marks to contend with and the pin placements today at those speeds were sometimes quite preposterous. Balls would simply keep rolling if they caught the slope with any pace and it was sometimes quite frustrating.

The fairways are typical of winter conditions - thin lies, browned out, hardpan and the occasional luck of getting onto a nice patch of the green stuff. Rough is not much better and a mix of all the same things - not a lot of differentiation from one to the other.

Fairways bunkers are in great shape, but unfortunately they're exactly the same around the greens. CW was always pretty reliable when it came to the traps, but they are currently very thin around the greens - best to chip the ball out of there with some conviction than hit a traditional bunker shot. Tee boxes were also a little beat up all around but level at least.

But hey, the round was on them and so that's always a good day. It's nice to see that CW has gotten their greens going better, but unfortunately it looks like it came at the expense of some other aspects of the course. Still, it's a nice little track to play that is challenging enough to keep you focused while still generous off the tee in most areas. A little rain would go a long way here, but that won't fix the bunkers!
Early Sunday round this past weekend at Roosevelt with later commitments that day in the Hollywood area and only so much time to squeeze in some golf. Roosevelt though is always a fun and challenging 9-hole even if the conditions don't always match up with the layout and surroundings. For $20 or so, it's a steal.

Speaking of conditions, pretty poor all around if you're looking for pristine. The tee boxes on many of the holes are nothing more than mud and dirt with the occasional patch of thin grass. Bunkers are generally a thin layer of sand but pass the test for functionality.

Fairways are thin, dried out and bare in a lot of sections but you will also find some decent grass to hit from on occasion. Visually it looks probably a lot worse than it plays, but I see that being said a lot right now as we have not had a bit of moisture in SoCal for nearly half a year it seems. The rough is a mixed bag from good and plenty to dirt, dried leaves and burnout.

Unfortunately it doesn't get much better with the greens at Roosevelt as they are chock full of ball marks and bumps, have tons of debris all over them that requires plenty of 'creating runways' by moving objects in your putt path, and a lot of damaged or dried out areas. There are a few that are better shape than the others of course, but in general, you won't be confusing these greens with Pebble's anytime soon.

Still though, for all of its flaws, Roosevelt retains a charm, challenge and uniqueness that always keeps me coming back every so often. You have to play smart, strategic golf here to score well, and the combination of the mountains, city views and all the animals running around truly make it a memorable short day out every time.
Played a Saturday round this weekend at Encino with a friend and got paired up with a nice Asian couple who were great fun. We played from the blue tees and I got a push cart for around $50 or so. Was it worth that?

Well, in the past two visits to Encino, I've had nothing really but good things to say about this often dissed course that many simply don't hold in such high regard. Is it pretty straight forward and easy? Sure. Are there exciting green complexes? Not really. Are there lush conditions and beautiful surroundings? Not particularly. But if you're looking to really build some confidence back into your game, especially off the tee, it's a good call.

But right now, it's not in the same good shape as it had been on my two prior visits. The greens continue to be above average for a track that gets this much traffic, but there were definitely a few more ball marks and goose remnants on the greens than I remember from prior visits. But overall they remain quite good and run at nice speeds, hold lines and are very receptive to approach shots. They do a good job here on the greens and that should be recognized.

Unfortunately, the dry start to the fall and winter has been testing on the fairways and rough. So many thin lies, so many burned out areas, so many dirt sections - it's a shame because the overall aesthetic really suffers and it's already not a pristine piece of property to begin with. The rough is okay but also plenty of hodge-podge in overall quality.

Bunkers are okay - nothing too good, but nothing too bad either. And the tee boxes were mostly just okay, but a few really were a bit ragged and beaten up. Some attention should be given to them as soon as possible.

POP was quite slow, clocking in at around 5:15. There were some good-sized pile-ups at the par 3s, and just the overall pace of the place was languid. Luckily though there was a cart around at the 8th hole to get some drinks and snacks and they drove around throughout the round.

I still like Encino and think it's a good place to work on your game, but it's currently not in optimal shape with the exception of the greens as usual.
Played some birthday golf on Tues with Kassper7 but, because of an ill-timed dentist appointment in the morning, could not take advantage of a far off birthday deal at another course, but got a great $36 with cart deal on TeeOff (plus 10% discount code) for Skylinks, which was still close enough to the South Bay to reach for a full 18. We played the blue tees and I'm not sure why the slope and rating seem so low for them!

As for course conditions, it certainly doesn't look pristine at the moment, but in truth it was rare to find anything worse than a firm, thin lie anywhere. The fairways are very dried out in appearance and look as if they would play terribly, but it's actually not the worst surface to hit from. It's just the aesthetics which are a little disheartening. The rough is actually mostly cut low and often more favorable to hit from when just off the fairway.

Greens were very tricky and some very tough pins. Very fast at the moment, or at least it seemed that way early as our group of four had trouble catching up to the speeds until the back nine. But they held shots well enough and rolled true, but the breaks were so very deceptive and puzzling all day. Not too many ball marks though to contend with so that was nice.

Tee boxes were all in good, serviceable shape, and the bunkers that I was in (which were many) had mostly very nice sand greenside, and of course a bit thinner on the fairways bunkers, but will say that they should likely be even thinner when 150 plus yards from the greens. I found myself plugged in one or two fairway bunkers and that's just no fun.

POP was pretty good but always surprising to play on a Tuesday afternoon and find a crowded parking lot. We finished in around 4:30, so it was fine, but expected even faster. Layout at Skylinks I enjoy more and more each time even though there's not a single elevation on the course. A lot of bunkers to contend with, some water here and there, and some mature and daunting tree trouble to keep you honest and (hopefully) straight.

So it's worth a visit right now, especially if you can get away from the usual overpriced weekend rack rate. Just be prepared for the less-than-perfect optics that will greet from the first tee box until the last.
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