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Played a quick local round this weekend and went back to the old stomping grounds of Westchester. It's always a reliable round of golf and great short game practice, but do want to point out that the greens were just punched and every green is half-sanded, half green. It sure makes approach shots more daunting when you're trying to work with half a green, but that's also pretty fun.

The other fun part is when you do land in the sandy, bumpy part, then have to gauge speed when it gets to the actually quite fast grass portion of the greens. There are bumps just about everywhere but if you do have a clean line, really need to watch that speed.

Other than that, conditions are what you almost always expect from Westchester. Fairways have good coverage for the amount of traffic this place gets, and while you won't ever mistake it for Augusta, you'll rarely find a tragically bad lie. But yes, thin does exist out there. Rough is just a bit longer cut and not tough to hit from.

Tee boxes are beat up pretty good which is what you'd expect from a par 64 course that features a ton of par 3s throughout. Sand is very good quality which is always surprising but also always applauded. Water stations in some key areas, and very easy and simple check-in and out to the first tee. Keep expectations in check and you'll usually have a good time at Westchester unless you're waiting on every hole. Luckily did not have to do that.
Got back out to Redhawk for just the second time ever this past Friday and it was about what I was expecting based on prior reviews and comparable courses in the area for the same price.

It's strange that I can usually replay courses hole by hole in my head with no problem at all, but for some reason the winding nature of Redhawk rendered many holes a blur, as if playing them for the first time ever. And strangely, even after a second visit, I still feel that way all over again, with the exception of the memorable set of par 3s. Those are all unique and very cool.

The rest of the layout is fine, just for some reason for me not memorable. Maybe it's all that driving around between streets and homes that just makes it difficult to retain a sense of direction about the course. I'm not sure, and it's not a knock (or it shouldn't be), because many of the other holes are very fun and challenging. And another few, somewhat quirky and less fun. No shortage of blind, greenside bunkers around this place, either. Thought I hit a perfect approach to the back pin on 9 only to find myself in a greenside bunker that was invisible from 120 yards out.

In terms of conditions, not too bad. The fairways do have some lush areas but there are also some dried out and wafer thin patches, too. Luckily the majority of lies are mostly good, but there are plenty of places to lose balls off the fairways where you'll find plenty of creeks and leaf-ridden areas. But not too bad, and the rough is just fine. Tee boxes were mostly good (we played the blue tees) and the bunkers were not great - pretty thin layer of sand and difficult to play from all day.

The greens were a little better than okay, but there were definitely a few with some sun damage and plenty of bumps from players not fixing their ball marks. Some of the green complexes at Redhawk are insane, with multiple tiers that are a nightmare if you're on the wrong shelf. Some are comical and a bit much in the grand scheme. Hey, it's their course, not mine.

We had cart service numerous times on a hot Temecula day, and there were nice, cold water stations every few holes to quench the thirst. For a $45 twilight fee, it was well worth it though overall. Not sure the full weekend rack rate though would make me happy after finishing up on tricky 18. Your call.
Played with the GK Cup group at Indian Wells and was excited to take on the Players course this time after being wowed by the Celebrity course the time before. Two very different 18s for sure, but both of great quality and fun.

Conditions just before what I imagine will be the winter re-seeding were pretty exceptional across the board. Fairways were in terrific condition in almost every area, while the rough was also quite lush and green but not too difficult to hit shots from. The bunkers were good, not great, but the tee boxes were more or less perfect - and what a variety of tee boxes to choose from. We played the orange tees and there were still two other sets behind those - now that would be an immense challenge.

Greens were really great. The green complexes are very interesting and challenging for sure. Some large, some small, but all very complex and tricky in their own way. They were probably rolling around a 10 or more I would imagine, but held shots well and rolled true. Not too many ball marks to worry about either which is always a nice benefit of a higher end course.

Cart service came around many times on a very hot day, and there was ample ice and water at refreshment stations every few holes. Just a top-notch experience from soup to nuts. As for the layout itself, really fun and challenging par 4s with not too many elevation shifts but plenty of water features and carries to torment. The par 5s were fairly tame but still gave me a hard time, while the par 3s were all very similar at between 170-180 yards with the exception of 17. Some narrow holes for sure that made you really sweat the tee shots.

Outstanding service from the Indian Wells crew and everyone there from the bag drop until the very end. They do amazing work here at this resort and it will always be a pleasure to play here. I can't wait to come back and play a better round!
Played Primm Valley (Lakes) for the second time this past Friday when driving home from a work trip in Las Vegas. Got out a bit early as the guy in the pro shop gave me the twilight rate with cart of $55, which is totally worth it for this fun course, even with re-seeding just a week or so away so they're letting it dry out a bit.

Just an FYI, but the Desert course (which I wanted to play since I hadn't before) is currently closed during re-seeding. Should be open in a few weeks when they close down the Lakes course.

As for the course itself, well you can imagine that just a week or so before major maintenance that they've let it go a good bit, but it's still remarkably playable. There are a lot of dried out areas in the fairways and they're certainly not a dark, lush green, but most lies were more than okay and not a problem to hit from at any time. The rough is a little thicker and greener right now and not penal. Bunkers were okay at this point and the tee boxes are a little bit beat up but nothing too terrible.

Greens were actually still in good shape for the most part, but there were many with large sections cut out of them ahead of the maintenance. They ran a bit slower than usual according to my local playing partner that I paired up with at the first tee, but I still found that they rolled quite true and held shots predominantly well. Good enough for the circumstances for sure.

Layout is a super cool one with many interesting holes, lots of risk-reward opportunities and no two holes exactly alike. I like the variety of the par 3s and the par 5s are quite fun to play as well. You can score well here for sure, but you can also get in a lot of trouble. Oh hey, that sounds like golf.

I would definitely call ahead though to make sure that this or the other course are in play right now as aeration season begins. But if you do make it out, it's still a fun day under the sun. And one last thing if Johnny is reading this review - Primm is in California, not Nevada!
Played a twilight round at Harding with two friends ahead of the Labor Day weekend festivities and found the course to be in good shape overall. I still prefer this 18 to Wilson any day of the week and this round did nothing to sway me from that opinion.

I found fairly/mostly lush fairways throughout the course with occasional areas that were somewhat thin or dried out, but rarely had a bad lie to deal with all day. The rough was nice and thick but far from penal. Tee boxes were in good shape overall with plenty of flat areas but some extra care might be taken here to get them spruced up a bit. Bunkers I avoided all day but heard no major complaints from my playing partners.

The greens were in really nice shape overall, putting at medium-fast speeds but nothing too crazy or undulating to worry about at Harding. They held shots very well and seemed only minimally bumpy. Ball marks? Sure, a fair bit, but that's on the golfers there not taking the time to make the course a better place to play.

No cart service all day but there's a great snack shop at the 8th hole 'turn' and the gal who works in there was an absolute delight. The pro shop is pretty well organized and run as well as they deal with a lot of people between the two courses. What could use a lot of work? The range. It's really simply 'functioning.' The optics there are pretty awful, but again, you're not spending your day playing there. Fun layout as always with a nice combo of long and short holes and some good scoring opportunities on the par fives. Go check it out.

(Also need to remind myself again that it's a shame this course only has five pictures! I always forget to take shots of all 18 holes but I will definitely do that next time!)
Decided to make the trek out to Corona this weekend to give Green River another shot after having played the GK event out there a while back and not being satisfied with a three-digit score. Was joined by fellow GKers Kassper7 and Mattias (plus another friend) and away we went with a 10:46am tee time playing from the blue tees for around $50 riding.

My expectations were pretty high regardless past reviews but unfortunately my experience was even worse than previous entries. First off, the tee boxes were not mowed down in the slightest. They were trimmed the same as the rough and that simply will not cut it (no pun intended). The fairways are dry, thin and only occasionally lush. The rough was fine I guess, but there were plenty of useless areas in that arena as well. Bunkers? What bunkers? Nothing but hardpan, grassless shoveled out ditches. Awful.

And the greens? Well, there were a few that were in decent shape, but for the most part they were blotchy, bumpy, discolored and even had some areas of scorched earth that caked up like Greyscale in Game of Thrones. What a mess. Conditions such as these simply make a difficult game even more difficult. I often wonder how the pros would do in such poor conditions.

The setting and the layout for Green River are just fine though and it's a huge shame that the course conditions don't justify the surrounding area or the drive out to Corona (depending on where you're coming from). There are even a few interesting holes that could really be special if the course was simply in better shape. Truly disappointing.
Played our GK Cup 12 match today at Knollwood and were unbelievably surprised with a sub six-hour round as we found a sweet spot between tee times and really sailed through the first nine before hitting some slower groups on the back but still was great to move through that wonderful layout without having to wait on every hole.

Unfortunately the conditions since my last visit are less spectacular, but by no means a deal breaker to avoid playing here. The fairways are good in many areas, but just as easily thin or poor in others so it really balances out. The tee boxes are pretty roughed up at times but the bunkers remain in good shape throughout the course. A lot of penal areas off the fairways to worry about.

Greens were mostly very good today but there are a few with some noticeable damage or far too many ball marks (like 16). Overall though plenty of very good greens that were rolling medium-fast or more and held shots very well. Rough was thick in places but mostly playable at all times, and sometimes a relief from the thin lies that can be found.

No cart service today but it appeared to be a 'slow' day at KCC. And the rate was very good as they were charging twilight prices just after noon. Better organization it seemed all around from the starter to the guys working in the cart barn. So overall, easy to say that I've seen Knollwood in better shape than right now, but it's still very playable and fun as ever, especially when the POP is in order.
I don't ever usually feel like I didn't get a great deal at Rio Hondo, but today's $64 to ride while waiting sometimes three groups deep at some holes and playing on some spongy greens that had a few too many ball marks and cleat evidence to boot, tested that notion.

In fairness the greens were more than playable if you were lucky enough to not have some of the patchwork bumps directly in your line. And that was more often than not so don't let this review deter you from going, just maybe not at full rack rate if you can get it.

Fairways were in pretty good shape with some areas of lush grass, and some not so much. Thin spots for sure here and there, but mostly all good. Spots of rough were very thick and tough to play long balls out of throughout the day. Bunkers - wow, amazing how many unraked bunkers there are here. Why? Just rake them. Not the greatest sand but not the worst. And tee boxes varied from just fine to get help quick.

It was hot out there and we did see the cart girl a few times so that was good. What was not good of course were the stops in play due to pileups at some key points on the course. It was hard to get a rhythm and that makes a tough, narrow course like Rio Hondo especially difficult to stay accurate at. Unfortunately I think the 'wow' factor I had when I first started playing at Rio Hondo a few years ago has been replaced by a more sublime appreciation for the routing and an acknowledgement that it's a good, not great layout that at times forces bottlenecks that could/should be avoided.

But overall I would never balk at playing here if someone shot the idea across my bow at any point when I had an extra five to six hours to kill. It's still a good, fun course that I've seen in much better condition than today, but we've also all seen a lot worse.
Played a twilight Friday round at Montebello this week for $32 with a cart with three friends for our 30-year high school reunion weekend. POP was actually pretty good as we found a sweet spot between groups and didn't get held up at all until the 12th hole.

Overall conditions at Montebello are quite playable but far from lush. The greens are running at med-fast speed and are in pretty good shape all things considered. Nothing too tricky about these greens but you do have to dial in the varying speeds based on some bumps here or there. Held shots well though.

Fairways were mostly okay in majority of areas but definitely some thin lies to contend with and lots of dirt/GUR areas that you'll want to avoid. Rough is of varied height but nothing too difficult to contend with at all. Tee boxes were in good shape for the most part, but the bunkers remain very thin and grainy like the first and only other time I visited Montebello two years prior. That's fine in the fairways but not so much near the greens.

It's very serviceable golf right now with some pretty cool holes that will challenge your game, some really long par 4s that will require more than one good shot per hole and a few elevations and water features that keep things interesting throughout the round. I'd come back again in a pinch.
Had a really fun little Sunday round at Simi Hills this weekend. Very spontaneous decision after staying the night before up in Thousand Oaks and called them in the morning with no trouble getting out as a single with another local gentleman who was in the same boat. We played the gold tees and got a cart for I believe around $60.

Simi Hills is always a fun track to play for me and this round was no exception. It's a fairly flat front nine with 2-3 exceptions, while the back is a little narrower, little tighter, always seems to be going slightly up or downhill, and has a few holes that can destroy a good round!

Current course conditions under the intense Simi Valley heat seem to be holding up pretty darn well. Fairways have lots of green to them, but you're not going to be shocked to see some dried out areas as well and some GUR from over-watering. The rough is a bit thicker but easy to play out of in most cases, and there are a ton of mulch areas that are not a lot of fun to hit from so avoid those. Bunkers were nice in some places, but grainy in others, but always playable, and the tee boxes are pretty well maintained.

Greens were rolling very nicely and probably played just slightly better than they looked. But overall they're in good shape with not too many ball marks to contend with on the day, and were rolling at a medium-fast speed and holding well struck approach shots very well. There are no super tricked out greens at Simi Hills, but there are some with some pretty severe slopes to them like #5. You'll survive it.

Always nice to get back out to Simi Hills and have a good round so I'm glad I made the trip. I suspect you will too if you go.
Was absolutely excited to finally play Oak Creek this past Friday in Irvine. I took some work clients after a nearby appointment and was surprised right from the start that a Friday pre-twilight round would cost $180 per person, but I figured this was a very high-end club and it would be well worth it in the end.

It was not.

First though, I'll start with the positives. Carts are very nice but some weird little digital GPS thing attached to the steering column that I could never figure out. Practice area is very solid but they don't provide range balls. $180 greens fee but you have to buy range balls? Okay, whatever. The layout is really fun and challenging. You'll have all variety of par 4 variations from short to super long, from hilly to flat and a good mix of well-placed bunkers and water features that will intimidate. Not too many long carries to worry about though which is nice. And speaking of the bunkers - they're absolute quality. Fluffy to the extreme near the greens, easy to hit and more compacted from the fairway bunkers. Ideal.

But alas, something's rotten in Denmark. I can honestly say the current greens at Oak Creek are simply no better than the beat up ones at my local nine-hole in Venice at Penmar. They were spongy to the extreme, so much so that when fixing ball marks, the ground would just disintegrate more or less. Speaking of ball marks - they were EVERYWHERE. Alongside that, you could see all manner of spike marks in the greens from previous players, and there were tons of miscolored and bumpy grass areas throughout the greens. What an utter disappointment for that kind of price. You literally had to pick lines around bumps to try and get putts on target. Awful.

The fairways one would expect for that cost were also nowhere to be seen. Sure, they were playable in most areas in the fairways, but they're very dried out and there's an overall yellow hue to the course which is again, for the price, not what one would expect. The rough however is mostly nice and thick and not too penal when you find yourself in it. Tee boxes were also in good shape.

On top of that, organization seemed to be a bit of a mess. One would expect staggered tee times and a pretty solid flow at a place like this, but we were sent out to the first tee only to find two groups there on the first hole, waited through most of the front nine until the group in front of us disappeared, then got to the 10th after some smooth sailing only to find another disgruntled foursome on the tee awaiting a group of walking girls that were sent out from the 10th tee and then eventually wrangled back by the marshall. What is going on here? Luckily the back nine moved a bit smoother, but still, overall finishing in five hours at a premium course on a weekday is pretty bad.

Would I go back to Oak Creek? Sure, but not at that rate unless I have assurances that the course is in absolutely immaculate condition. And currently, it's far from it. I really enjoyed the variety of holes and I do think that I can add the par 5 18th to the list of best closing holes in SoCal. But again, it would take either a lower rate or some far better reviews than mine before heading back there again. And that's a shame.
Saturday round out a Rancho Park and got paired up with a father & son combo and another single. Walking, push cart, blue tees. Parking lot was crowded but we actually moved pretty well throughout the round - once again, great job to Rancho Park staff for finally eliminating the six-hour rounds that plagued weekends here for years. We finished in just under 5 hours.

Conditions are pretty good at Rancho still so you can definitely go for a visit. Greens are in nice shape and accept shots well, rolling at about medium speed though so get your speed right from the start. A few ball marks here or there but nothing too terrible actually. Some thin areas in the fairways but for the most part you'll find good lies. It's the rough and around the greens that tends to be a little thin and tough to chip from. Occasionally you'll find some thick rough though and it's fairly easy to play out of though.

Bunkers were okay - playable for sure. Tee boxes are probably the biggest area in need of some attention. Lots of slightly uneven tee boxes and many are a mish-mash of dirt and assorted grasses. This could be better without a doubt.

Fun round until near the end in terms of playing but the course did not disappoint too much and that's what I'm here to write about. Need a round? Don't hesitate to stop by Rancho.
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