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Got a twilight round in at Hansen Dam tonight, playing the blue tees and with a cart for a nice rate of $29. Arrived around 3:30, started off solo but joined a single after the 3rd hole, then we played in just around 4 hours with plenty of daylight to spare.

I was a little bummed out to see the greens still showing signs of the latest punch/aeration, and even still a bit sandy in places, but overall they were okay. Only took a few holes to work out the speeds and for the most part, despite some bumps, they rolled okay. Too many ball marks though everywhere as I assume when people see punched greens they just don't feel the need to fix them. Sad.

Fairways were in pretty good condition and the rough even better, cut maybe two inches taller than the fairways but both surfaces providing mostly good areas to hit from. A few thin areas near the greens but mostly off to the sides near the scrub. The sand was not great from what I saw - nothing fluffy about it, but instead a thin layer that looked none too inviting. And the tee boxes were generally in good shape with an uneven exception here or there, but nothing to write home about.

I did not enjoy the fact that they had the sprinklers turned on around some of the greens on the last 3-4 holes. It's annoying, distracting and took away from a really solid back nine for me. Why not wait to water those areas an hour longer when it's dusk and no one is out there and the water won't evaporate as quickly? Just bad form.

Other than that though had a really nice round and enjoyed myself pretty thoroughly. The nines in this order are far superior to the old layout, with the exception of hole 11 being just kind of weird still. It doesn't know what it wants to be. Aside from that, good times ... go enjoy a round there sometime.
Played Mountain Meadows for the first time this Saturday with three friends and had an absolute blast. I was warned about some quirkiness to the course, and it's totally true on the back nine, but it's still a really fun course to play. The only really odd hole I found was the par 5 11th as it requires a draw off the tee but still slopes away in the landing zone anyway, then blocks out the green with trees even if you do land it close.

And yes, there are a few other little quirks to the course, like a tree right in line with the green on 10, and the bizarre 14th hole that's super elevated and then takes a short but sharp left turn up to the green after you drop anything from 6i to a driver down there. But the rest of the course? Really fun in my view.

Conditions right now are also very good. I thought the greens were in great shape, rolling true and holding shots very well. Nothing too crazy or tricked out on the greens here, but there are some slopes that will give you something to think about on just about every one.

The fairways had very good coverage and the rough is definitely thick in some places but just off the fairways it's very playable. There are lots of elevations here to contend with (hence the name) and that means quite a few areas to lose your wayward balls as well. Tree trouble is also prominent.

Bunkers were mostly good and totally playable, as were the tee boxes. POP was a little on the slow side at a little over 5 hours, but it was a busy Saturday morning and that was also partly due to the fact that our fivesome only had one person who had played the course before, so we spent a good deal of time figuring it out along the way.

Service was great and we even saw the cart 2-3 times throughout the round. $55 with a cart is not unfair for this experience. I wish this place was a wee bit closer to the South Bay but I can definitely see myself returning here again to enjoy the scenery (although I will make sure there are no drag races going on at the adjacent speedway because that would be totally annoying).
'Know before you go' should have been adhered to before I headed over to Harding for a twilight round today. I was a little bummed out when I got to the first green to see the effects of the recent punch and then realized I had only myself to blame for not checking with GK first. Just assumed it was already May and over with by now!

Rest of the course though was in pretty nice shape. I walked the blue tees and played a really good round despite the greens being sub-par. The fairways had some very decent coverage and there were only a few thin lies to be found on the periphery. Rough cut to a nice length. Was only in one bunker but saw the others and they looked thin but playable. Tee boxes on many holes were rock solid and difficult to place tee in at times.

POP was a very nice 3.5 hours and moved well until the last few holes. The group behind us tried to hijack our spot on the 9th tee box (at the snack bar) but me and my playing partners I was paired with were having none of that! Walking rate was $32 which is fine, but more fine when the greens are in the right shape.

I always enjoy this course and was really happy to be out there and play my best round to date on it. I would give the greens another 2-3 weeks and then everything should be great.
Played a midweek twilight round at Rio Hondo this week and was left a little underwhelmed at what I normally expect to be a pretty nice experience. Don't get me wrong - it's far from terrible, but Rio Hondo has a reputation of being one of the best kept Munis in LA county, and it simply fell short of its normal lofty standards.

I was surprised to see the fairways so dried out and thin in many spots. They were also recently punched in many areas and have not come near recuperating fully yet. The greens were also still on their way back from aeration it appeared, but even more annoying were the high number of ball marks on the greens from lazy golfers.

The rough was actually very playable and often better than the fairways. The tee boxes were okay - nothing too serious to criticize there. Maybe could be a little more lush, but they were fine. Bunkers were a mixed bag depending on which hole you were on throughout.

POP was a very fine 3.5 hours or so after bypassing a lesson group on the first hole and joining another solo player without anyone in front of us from the third hole until 14 when I caught up with a group in front of me and play came to a screeching halt. I played pretty poorly around the greens so that probably didn't help my assessment of the course, but I do know that Rio Hondo in poor shape is definitely an anomaly and I won't be surprised for them to be back in top shape in a few weeks or less.
Found myself out in La Mirada during twilight hour and thought it might be a good idea to stop by one of my favorite local courses. It looked like it was going to be a POP disaster from the looks of the parking lot as twilight began, but actually went out almost immediately with an older couple who were great, passed a fivesome of rambunctious 20-somethings on the second hole (thanks for that, guys!), and actually finished all 18 before the sun even went down. Amazing!

I always enjoy myself at this course and this day was no different. Unfortunately the rains from the other day wreaked a little havoc in the form of crusty bunkers (not all, but a good amount), standing water in places, and a lot of debris in places. I feel for the staff at La Mirada as the low-lying areas of holes 6 and 16 simply get thrashed when the rains come. They were soggy, debris-filled and a bit unruly on top, but I'm sure that will be far better within a couple of dry days.

The greens were mostly in fine shape with a few ball marks here and there, but nice, comfortable speeds and nothing too tricky in the form of undulations or breaks. You get what you see here. The tee boxes were a little rough in places and could use some TLC. The fairways have some dried out areas as well but are mostly playable, while the rough is very playable and often a better surface to hit from if we're being honest.

Played the blue tees and got on twilight with a cart for $31, so that's pretty great for this super fun 18. You'll get plenty of elevations, some fun 'bombs away' holes, a couple of tricky ones, and lots of smiles. It's especially fun when it's a four-hour (or less) round.

I will always recommend this course despite the fact it's looked a bit better than in its current state, but I trust the staff here to make every effort to bring out its best side very soon. Always worth a visit in my opinion.
Man, this is a tough course. Luckily I had Vic, Mattias and Roman with me to have a great time and laugh our way (mostly) through the pain. There's no shortage of trouble at just about any turn on this course. It's tricky off the fairway with tons of bunkers, crazy mounds, water and those pesky [bad word] canals of sand and mayhem bisecting many of the fairways.

Think your second shot will be easier? No d%mn chance. More bunkers! More waste areas! More water! And once you get to the greens, they're tricky as all get out (although on this particular day not as scary fast as I anticipated - likely thanks to the rains).

Conditions, as only around 100 others have already mentioned, were pretty top notch. Great coverage on the fairways, same with the rough, and greens in excellent shape. Tee boxes were pretty much immaculate and the only possible knock was a tiny bit of the bunkers, but that can also be attributed to the wet stuff coming from the sky - made some a little difficult to work out of when jammed.

Layout was very challenging - goes without saying. Usually people get excited about par 5s as they're a great chance to score - unless you're playing PGA West's 15th hole - talk about a beast! But there are plenty of others (like #9) that will require your absolute best to score well. There are no gimmees here. Anywhere.

Great day out with the GK group and happy to finally start recognizing and greeting so many more fellow golfers after now having been with the group for a while. Hope the new folks that came by for this event had a great time and will continue signing up for more.

Thank you Johnny (and Vic) for all the efforts in putting on this great event.
I left Avila Beach Resort GC with so many bizarre notions on Friday afternoon. It was fantastic. It was bizarre. It was in great shape. It needed work. The views are great. The layout is nuts. The quirks are the ultimate in quirkiness. No two holes are alike. See what I mean?

AVRGC is a garage band with a symphony conductor trying to pull it all together. The front nine is set in a stunning little valley, first going up into the heart of it, then coming back down to level ground. The collection of holes is truly unique - some fascinating and cool, others, while still cool, bizarre and confounding. For example, the par 4 2nd hole (used to be a par 3) is the most 'screw you' tee box ever, with two tall trees like goal posts the exact width of the tee box and only 20 yards in front of you. The par 4 4th hole from an elevated tee has a clearance about 200 yards away that can't be much bigger than a Cadillac. But there's also a gorgeous par 5 3rd hole, uphill and mesmerizingly fun. And an island(ish) green? Sure, why not? The par 3 6th hole is a 190yd downhill stunner.

Now the back nine is an entirely different experience. It runs along and through an estuary near ocean's edge, and, while not quite as visually stunning as the surroundings on the front nine, it provides its own beauties with aquatic wildlife, birds and some pretty interesting holes as well. The par 3s on the back? Nuts! Both long and difficult to be sure. The par 5 11th features a bombs-away tee shot and then narrows between two prominent hills to around 20 yds and runs for 100 yds before opening up again. Water comes into play on many holes on the back nine, but it's still super fun. 18 features a long carry over water that really completes the round.

I walked from the blue tees and it was quite a workout. The blue tee boxes they really do their best to stretch out as long as possible. And in truth, some parts of the layout are hard to follow, especially walking for the first time. There's also a long walk from front nine to back nine, so don't feel bad taking a cart.

Conditions were mostly good, but two bones to pick on that front. First off, the fairways were in generally good shape with plenty of nice lies, but there were a few dried out spots here and there, but you don't notice much because you're so enthralled with all the weird awesomeness going on around you. The greens (with the exception of some real damage on hole 10) are really nice and accept high shots incredibly well. There are some very tough slopes on the greens to navigate here, like the par 4 7th for sure. The rough is thick and penal for sure but in many places your ball will sit up on the grass just fine.

The two problem areas if we're being very picky were the tee boxes and the bunkers. The tee boxes in a few areas were a bit thick and unruly, and there were large collections of dead grass around them in some places. They weren't always that easy to find, either. The real area that needs work at ABRGC are the bunkers. They were (mostly on the back nine) hardpan, almost caked on mud on the surface and even had some standing water in some of them. No need to 'take' sand if stuck in one - just play it like a thin lie. They just looked like they needed lots of love throughout.

The staff here is really great. They're super personable, enthusiastic and seem to love what they do and where they do it. It's a place that has an old-time feel to it (built in 1969 I believe) but is still doing its best to stay hip in the 21st century. But in the most bizarre kind of way, I loved it. I try and think of all the weirdness that should make me not enjoy this place, but instead I just end up with a silly grin and think about playing it again someday.

By the way, there was only one picture up for Avila Beach, so I took a bunch and will post them later. You'll be able to see some of those memorable quirks I discussed above.
When the opportunity arose to play Ram's Hill for the first time with the Guru set, well, it was a no-brainer. The chatter about this place is incredible and I had to see for myself. Of course, you have to also take into account the 3+ hour drive for the day which will factor into the assessment of whether or not it was 'worth the trip.'

In a word, yes. It was definitely worth the trip. Once. I very much enjoyed the layout and the serenity of the surrounding desert. I loved the variety of holes, the thrills and perils that were present on many of the holes, but also the forgiving nature that Fazio puts into many of his courses that let you make up for a bad hole on a tough one by following it up with an easier one that gives you a little push.

Now, if Ram's Hill was of course within an hour of me, or even an hour and a half, it would become a regular on the rotation. But its remote location will likely mean a one and done for me, unless paired up with another trip to Palm Springs or perhaps even one of the other courses around Borrego Springs that may be worth visiting.

Being my first time, I thought the course was in very good shape, but not nearly as pristine as I had read about over the last year. However, thanks to the ever-informative Sixpez (with whom I had a great time with along with Robule and Abbacat), I found out they close down every summer, perhaps the attention to detail wanes a bit during this period before closing (who can blame them?), but again, it was still in really great shape overall to play in comparison to most other places.

There were some brownish areas on the fairways, but never anywhere close to a poor lie, and many areas of beautiful green carpet to work from. The rough was a very favorable cut and easy to play from. Tee boxes were in nice shape for the most part (we played the blue tees), and the sand traps were all very good (like Abbacat, I happened to find seven of them on the back nine!). Perhaps a tiny little bit of crust here or there, but overall had no troubles with them. The greens were in very nice shape, rolling true and accepting of shots. Definitely some very tricky green complexes and was surprised though that the speeds were not super fast as I had always heard about before (only 31 putts on the day - was fearing much worse).

Not much of a mobile cart service on a hot day, but there was a stationary cart service on the 10th hole tee box that was greatly appreciated. I'm actually surprised there were not more water stations every few holes considering the location in the middle of the desert. The driving range is also very nice - almost as nicely manicured as the course itself.

So overall, super happy that I checked Ram's Hill off the bucket list and would recommend it all day. I do hope to come back again when combined with another golf weekend and return when it's a 10 out of 10 and not its current 8-9 out of 10. But it's certainly a fun day out and a good place to swing the sticks. No doubt about that.
Was down in the OC for work but when done found myself near Mile Square and had the inclination to play the Players course again to right a bad score from my first and only visit there three years ago, but because of a tournament on that 18, I was given the option to play the Classic course for the first time. Sure, why not?

Played the blue tees with three other singles and we had a really nice, fun and cordial group. I enjoyed the very flat course much more than I expected, but it's nothing super exciting at the end of the day. It's a nice, relatively challenging layout (and 6700 yards from the blues) with some water in play on the back nine, but mostly a good amount of into-the-wind long par 4s to give you trouble.

Conditions are pretty good across the board. Everything is nice, not super great. Totally playable, though. Fairways have some nice sections of greenery, some a bit dried out. The greens are mostly in good condition with some dried out areas and a few ball marks here and there, but hold shots well and roll quite true. Rough is cut nicely to not be too penal, and the greenside sand traps have a fair amount of fluffy sand in them, while the fairway traps are maybe a bit too fluffy for what they should be.

All in all was a very good, fast choice to play this course for the first time and I would recommend it right now for a just-above average So Cal muni experience.
Had a late afternoon meeting in down San Diego so instead of spending the next four hours in rush hour traffic to get home, decided to try and squeeze in as many holes as possible at a local course. Wanted to try out Coronado for the first time but they had just punched the greens so I returned to Balboa Park for the first time in about two years. It was an inspired choice.

I was actually hoping to get in a little over nine holes by the time I started, but after some jumping around the course solo and passing a few twosomes and joining another one for the last two holes, actually finished all 18 after going back to the earlier ones I skipped. All in all finished in around 3 hours with even some daylight to spare, so that was amazing.

I had forgotten how very unique and hilly this course is winding through a verdant valley near the heart of Whale's Vagina. There is a lot more OB trouble to find than I remembered with the canyon that more or less splits the nines. Some of the holes are also very long and narrow so you really do need to be accurate and confident in your stroke here. It's a lot more fun than I remembered, especially taming 17 with a glorious GIR and par.

The conditions are quite good with the exception of rock hard tee boxes. The layout can be a little tricky to follow for a first-timer, but it will show itself soon enough. The fairways have nice coverage right now and the rough is cut to about 3-4 inches so you can definitely have some trouble finding a ball sitting down in it. The sand traps were in pretty good shape as well. I found the greens to be overall in good shape as well - a lot of slope to them and some tricky calls to make in terms of speed, but overall they were consistent and held shots well.

I played the blue tees so it's definitely got some teeth in terms of narrow tee shots with a few decent carries to navigate. The twilight rate and cart fee were very reasonable and the gentleman in the pro shop could not have been nicer or more personable.

It was a good decision to hit up Balboa Park again and I would recommend it right now.
Had a fun, yet challenging Sunday round at Morongo GC Legends course with Kassper7 and another friend. It was my very first time at this course and I must say it was well worth the drive out from the beach. Really beautiful surroundings once you get past the construction areas still going on up until around the fifth hole.

The feel of Morongo Legends reminds me a bit of Tierra Rejada with the first nine being very hilly with some ravines to cross over and some interesting downhill angles to navigate, but then flattens out on the back nine and ends with a strong par 4 closing hole with water protecting the green. And like 17 at TR, there's also a very short (86 yards today) par 3 at Morongo. It's a very fun layout and again, some of the old trees and wildlife are really cool to observe.

Conditions are very good right now with some great fairway coverage, nice tee boxes, a few areas of some very thick and difficult rough, and some nice greens with tricky undulations to them to challenge your putts. There were definitely a few more ball marks than one would expect at this caliber of a golf course, but nothing too awful that it affected my view of the conditions. There is definitely a lot of trouble to get into when wayward so keep that in mind. A few of the long holes still do not require driver and you can find yourself looking into some serious brush to find your ball. My only gripe? I would say the bunkers could certainly be a lot better, with some even having a few too many little stones in them for anyone's liking.

It was a hot day but the cart service came around numerous times, however the snack shop at the 10th hole was closed by 3pm, which was a bummer (keep in mind this layout does not bring you back to the clubhouse after the front nine). Oh yes, the carts - while the GPS on them is good, they're far too slow and really come to a dead stop anywhere near the green. Yes, I get why they're doing that but once you're going away from the restricted area they stay slow for an eternity!

POP was very good coming in at under 4 1/2 hours, and we even let a twosome pass us by near the 5th or 6th hole. Played the blue tees and got the first twilight rate of $37 which is a steal.

So all in all big thumbs up from me for this very cool course that I would enjoy playing again someday soon, or even challenging the adjacent Champions course that promises to be just as much fun.
Saturday round at Los Amigos with three friends this weekend. This is almost always a good course to get back to every few months to see what improvements they have made and shoot a good score. There's not a lot of peril to find at Los Amigos, with the exception of the final three holes.

They have done a lot of work recently at Los Amigos and there are definitely some noticeable improvements. They've redone the tee boxes on holes 11 and 14 which look great, albeit a bit shaggy currently. The reworked green on 11 is finally working and it's a very tricky, multi-tier challenge that came out very nice. So while some of the holes have some nice features like new tee boxes, others are still rock hard and in need of some love.

The fairways have pretty good coverage - not exceptional carpet by any means, but there are some nice sections and mostly good lies to be found. The rough is often not much higher than the fairways and can often provide a better lie than parts of the thin fairways. The sand, as usual at Los Amigos, is really good. And the greens were a mixed bag depending on which hole you were on as they varied quite a bit, but for the most part they were medium fast, held shots well and rolled pretty true. Quite a few ball marks out there though but nothing too heinous.

Hot day but no cart service. POP was actually better than it felt at just around five hours, which is not bad for this crowded course on a Saturday with an 11:48 tee time. Did see a few groups of six out there so not sure what that was all about - can't imagine the starters knew anything about that (at least I hope not).

So yeah, good time today at a currently slightly above average Los Amigos. I do believe I read that they will be aerating in the coming days so I would check ahead before booking a new tee time there in the next few weeks.
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