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This turned out to be my last stop of the trip yesterday afternoon. I booked a 2:00 tee time online, which was the first twilight group/rate available at $29 (cart included). I was paired with 3 other singles and we teed off a little before 2:00. We had a few holes open in front of us and then ultimately caught a slower foursome on the back nine. Still, the pace was very good around 3:20.

The course was in decent shape, with the greens being the highlight. The tee boxes were fine. The fairways were mostly pretty good. There are just a bunch of small scattered spots that are completely dead/bare hardpan. So there's like 95% good coverage of fairway grass and then the 5% dead spots here and there that definitely detract. The rough was pretty good for the most part, especially around the greens. The bunkers were very nice. The greens seem almost all the way healed from whatever spring aeration they did, though there was a light topdressing of sand on all greens. The surfaces are very spongy, but more springy than soft on approaches, so there weren't too many ball marks to be found. The guys I played with said the greens are normally much faster and don't have the sand, so I would expect them to be very good again within the next few weeks.

Everything about this course just felt as average as average can be. It's one of those basic tracks that could be picked up and transported to anywhere in the country and it wouldn't make a difference. I was hoping the close proximity to the bay might provide some views, but no. You have a big ugly power plant bordering that side of the course and then you have SFO airport nearby with planes flying in constantly overhead. The course is very flat and plain. Mostly wide open with only a handful of holes that had much character at all. Just a run-of-the-mill local's course that gets a lot of play. Fine for what it is, but nothing too exciting for an out-of-town visitor.
This was my second round yesterday. This was purely just a "checklist" course for me to finish off my SF public course list on this trip. I arrived around noon and the place was very empty. I guess the course doesn't get much play. I encountered 2 twosomes and a disc golfer on the course, and that was it. The price was $21 for nine holes, and then I paid $12 extra for a cart. I probably would have walked this one, though it is hilly, but I saw how empty the course was and figured it was worth the extra $ for expediency. It is cart-path-only, though. Why? I am not sure because I could drive a monster truck around these "fairways" and not really make it any worse.

Everything out here is very dry and there are a lot of bare spots, too. Just very brown/firm/dry from tee to green, with a little more care given to the grass surrounding the greens. The bunkers were devoid of sand. The greens, however, were the nice part and they seem to advertise around the quality of the greens. They were firm, mostly in good shape and rolling at medium/fast speeds. I gave the greens a 7 and everything else a 3 or less, so the overall rating may show higher than I want it to.

This is a 9-hole regulation length course with two sets of tees on each hole for front/back play. Some tees have a significant difference. Others not so much. The layout is kind of fun and would be more enjoyable with nicer conditions. They have foot golf and disc golf courses intermingled with the main course, but I don't think any version of the course gets enough play for that to be a major problem. I get the sense they'll gladly take any business they can get. Has a feeling like it's on its last legs because it's so run-down.
Finally had a chance to play Sharp Park yesterday morning. I had booked a 7:34 tee time on their website in advance of the trip, but that was pointless. When I checked in the guy just said he'd get me out whenever I was ready. They don't open until about 6:45 and, at least on weekdays, it's just kind of a first come, first serve start. Not really that crowded. I ended up in the third group out, paired with a threesome and we played at our own pace of about 4 hours. The price was a little steep at $53 as a non-resident, however a chunk of that was the cart. Normally, I would prefer to walk a course like this, but I just didn't have it in me after so much golf the previous two days.

Speaking of the cart, what a trip. They are roofless carts (a la Rancho Maria) that are gas-powered and all corroded from the years of sitting in the salty/misty sea air of Pacifica. The steering wheel was very low and not designed for a husky gentleman, so it was awkward getting in and out of the driver's seat. I could see some others had a bit more wiggle room and others have even less than I did, so it's the luck of the draw I guess.

As for conditions, I had low expectations coming in. Things are definitely still pretty rough around here. The tee boxes were fine. The fairways were a mix of green and brown, with some shaggy spots and some thin spots. The rough was very lush in some areas and bare/patchy in others, so it is what it is. I wasn't in a bunker, but they appeared decent. The greens were soft and rolling medium/slow. They were very bumpy and some had a lot of damage.

I didn't really come to Sharp Park for the conditions. This is not a course that is meant to be pretty and pristine, and obviously they've been fighting just to stay alive in recent years with the environmental issues and economic factors. I am glad to say that the environmental stuff has been resolved and they will now be putting money into some renovations to the course and the marsh areas where the endangered frogs live. All 18 holes/greens are open, and things appear to be getting back to normal. Though this place will always be a little rugged in appearance, I get the sense they are now finally able to put some money and effort back into it to bring it back to better quality conditions. Fixing up the greens will make a major difference!

I really enjoyed the setting, history and layout. This place feels old and rustic, which is part of the charm if you ask me. The Mackenzie design is fairly simplistic. It's a no-frills style and that is the point. It's just a simple seaside course build for local play. It's not a destination course, but it was a must-play for me given the history and local character. It was easy to look past some of the conditioning flaws and just enjoy the experience for what it is meant to be. That said, some much-needed TLC should really help bring this place back to life. Playing with a few local guys at a relaxed pace was better in this case than zipping through at my normal breakneck speed, and I would have most definitely broken my neck in that crazy cart on the "cart paths" here!
Now, the main reason for this little trip to SF. I made a connection recently and was invited up to play this very exclusive private club, so I got up here as soon as I could. My friend ppark81 joined me as my guest. We ended up playing as a twosome, teeing off at about 1:30. They do allow some carts for certain members/guests, but mostly they try to enforce a walking-only policy. I wanted to walk it anyway, especially since we had a caddie. Our guy, Steve, handled both bags and was a good fit with us. The course is a workout of a walk with a lot of big hills to climb up and down, so we finished in a little under 4 hours and savored every minute of the experience.

The course was in very nice condition. It's not really a lush/deep green look here. However, when I looked back at my photos it looks a richer green in pix than it did in person. Usually it's the opposite! Either way, the conditions are focused on having a pro style of play. Everything is very firm and tight, with fescue fairways and pure bentgrass greens. Lighter green look to everything, but it sure played nice. The tee boxes and fairways were great, with the firm fairways providing ample roll-out. The lies were tight, but the surfaces were very nice to hit from. The rough was cut down and easy to play from in most places, then there are some "native areas" that were sometimes very deep and other times less filled in. Most bunkers are lined with rough/tall fescue that provide a beautiful aesthetic, but make some escapes a bit intimidating. The greens were super firm and super fast, but pure as pure can be. Just a light topdress of sand that didn't affect putts in any way.

This is just a neat old course with a ton of history and an incredible layout. The extensive bunkering (some of which done by Alister Mackenzie and definitely in his style), especially around the greens is both breathtaking and fear-inducing. It it is hilly and demanding. The winds this afternoon were very strong and that is pretty common here. It is just beautiful, fun and challenging. Everything you can want in a course. The club itself has a pretty laid-back vibe (not too stuffy) and we felt very welcomed as unaccompanied guests. It was a wonderful golf experience on a top-shelf course that I won't ever forget. Cal Club may not have as recognizable a name as Olympic or Cypress, but it is on the same level as any of Norcal's top clubs. If you ever have a chance to play it, take advantage!
Sorry for the tease, but this review is for the Fleming 9 short course at TPC Harding Park.

This was the second round ppark81 and I played today. We walked on and they let us know a First Tee group was about to head out. We ended up behind one walking fivesome of kids, but they eventually let us through after one of the parents urged them to. Total pace was about 1:45 for the nine holes. Price very steep for what you get. Came out to $40 I think for a non-resident with cart. It would be a great and easy course to walk, but we were pushing for expediency and saving our legs for our afternoon round.

The course was in nice overall shape, probably not too far off from the main course (which looked excellent other than they recently punched the greens). The greens on Fleming were probably punched a month or so ago and are pretty much fully healed. They rolled well at medium/quick speeds. The tee boxes were nice and the fairways were very nice. The rough was also well-kept and lush throughout. The bunkers had fantastic sand. Overall, a very nicely conditioned short course despite the amount of play it gets (always packed, from what I understand).

The layout is par-30 with two good-sized par-4s and one short one. Then the par-3s range from 140 up to 235, so it is certainly no pushover. It is just kind of a mini version of the big course with a lot of the same character and design traits in play. Good companion course if playing TPC Harding Park, but not a must-play by any standards. Gets lots of local traffic with resident rates, so you can expect it to busy most days and times.
My friend, ppark81, and I played here this morning. They actually don't open until 6:45, but we arrived earlier to beat the crowd and get off first if possible. Turns out the "crowd" was 5-6 old dudes who were really in no rush to get out ahead of us. So, we played quickly as the lead rabbits in about 2 hours. Really didn't see too many groups out on the course after those other guys went off behind us. Price was steep for this course. Came out to $53 as a non-resident with cart. A lot of regulars walk here, but it would definitely be a workout with the hills and some funky routing spots.

The conditions were decent. It was fairly lush and green here, but also a lot of brown areas too. Tee boxes were fine. Fairways were mostly good, with some inconsistencies (shaggy spots, weed patches, bare spots, etc.). Rough spotty with some very thick areas and some very thin areas, as well. The greens were soft and rolling at medium/slow speeds, with surfaces that were bumpy at times. The bunkers had great soft sand, but were not always that well raked. I had a real bad time in one of them!

It's an expensive track for out-of-towners and it doesn't seem that it even gets a ton of play from locals. We chatted with the old guys while waiting and they said it's rarely too crowded here anymore. The layout is short with only one par-5 and a number of short par-4s, but very tight and technical. Quite hilly with lots of big trees in play. Some sharp doglegs and uncomfortable angles (especially if you play a left-to-right ball like me). Then, there are two super-beefy long par-3s (holes 16 and 17 which are both about 240-ish yards, somewhat downhill). The setting is cool with the city on one side and the bay on the other, including a couple good vista points where you get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Had plenty of time for more golf, so I booked a 2:24 tee time directly on the course's website ($27). I ended up teeing off around 2:00 and was paired with two other singles. It was very busy out here and the pace was dreadfully slow. Can't believe it was this crowded on a Monday afternoon. It's just one of the most popular public courses in the area, so it gets a ton of play. We finished in 5 hours.

The greens were aerated maybe a month ago. They are almost fully healed. Just a light topdressing of sand at the moment. However, they are still not cutting them down as low as normal. Apparently, the greens here are well-regarded as some of the best in the area. The surfaces rolled nice and were clearly well taken care of, just a little slower than normal I guess. Give them another couple weeks and they should be back to normal. Beyond the greens, I was disappointed in the rest of the course conditions. Tee boxes were okay. Fairways were inconsistent and spotty. Rough was very spotty with lots of big dead patches. It wasn't horrible and probably played a little better than it looked, but it just detracted from the nice layout.

It's a links-inspired kind of design by Johnny Miller and Fred Bliss. Really reminded me of Ridge Creek Dinuba, but in the middle of a major metropolitan area. It is pretty noisy with strong prevailing winds, the airport next door and freeway/road traffic all around. It would really be sweet if it was kept up like Ridge Creek Dinuba. As it is, you don't get the sight lines as well and the contours, contrasting tall native grass areas, hazards, rugged bunkers, etc. don't really frame the course as well as they can. Too bad because it is a fantastic layout and would really shine if things looked nicer than they do. As I mentioned, they do get a ton of play every day here, so that kind of traffic probably makes it difficult to maintain at a high level. Still worth recommending, but look for a deal and temper your expectations for conditioning beyond the greens.
Next stop for me today was Redwood Canyon (formerly known as Willow Park). Not sure why the name change. "Canyon" definitely fits well, but I didn't see anything remotely resembling a redwood there! I booked a 10:18 time on their website for $27. I was teeing off by myself just before 10:00. I caught some groups halfway through the front nine and then ultimately joined the twosome that was ahead of me at the turn. They turned out to be great guys. The foursome ahead of us got slower and slower as the round wore on, but I still ended up finishing at a good 3:20 clip.

The course was in mediocre condition, to put it nicely. I would say consistently inconsistent. Many tee boxes were rock hard and it was difficult to get the tee in the ground. Level enough, though. Fairways were kind of hodge podge of grass/weeds/hardpan/dirt/etc. and not always cut to consistent lengths. Some areas pretty good and others not so good. Rough more of the same, but even spottier. I was in one bunker and it had very nice soft sand. The greens were soft-ish and rolling at medium/slow speeds. Bumpy at times and some ugly spots here and there, so nothing to write home about (even though that's what I'm kind of doing right now).

The conditions leave plenty to be desired. The layout is decent. Flat overall as the whole course runs through a very secluded canyon with no significant changes in elevation. Lots of trees in play (many uncomfortably placed for my fade shot!). The highlight here is the scenic setting and seclusion. Otherwise, just an OK East Bay option with the right deal.
First stop on my Bay Area trip was Lake Chabot this morning. I had a 6:34 tee time ($24 booked through GN, which was much cheaper than $42 for the same time on their website). The pro shop didn't open until 6:00 and then I ended up going off soon after that, first by myself. I was finished about 2 hours later.

The course was in decent shape and it seems they are making an effort. They were doing a lot of watering on the fairways that I had to shuck and jive around at times. Some tee boxes were a bit unlevel, but fine enough. Fairways were inconsistent, but mostly lush and nice to hit from. Rough more hit and miss. There are very few bunkers on this course (I think only a couple fairway bunkers I noticed and no greenside bunkers I can remember?), so no comments there. The greens were soft and rolling medium/slow, getting quicker as they started to dry out. Sometimes a bit bumpy and a few bad spots here and there. Not terrible, but not great either.

I ended up really liking this course. It suits my game as it is short. The back nine is pretty target-oriented and so are a couple holes on the front. Then, the early part of the front nine is pretty wide open going down and back up the valley. I should mention the entry road is the worst plan in history as it drives right through the middle of several holes. Very sketchy and dangerous. Otherwise, the setting is pretty and secluded and it gets more interesting as the layout goes on. Not for everyone, but I had a ton of fun here. I will say there are a lot of semi-blind uphill approach shots (including most of the par-3s). However, the one downhill par-3 makes up for it with a vengeance as it is a totally blind shot from the blue tees straight down into a canyon abyss.

The most interesting thing about this course is the 18th hole, which is the only par-6 left in CA and the first I've ever played. However, it plays pretty extremely downhill until the very end and it should probably be a par-5 (especially in summertime) despite measuring 667 yards from the blues. Either way, it is a really fun and crazy hole and a good gimmick for this course to promote.

Afterward, I also played the 9-hole par-3 course (walking only - $11) and it was also very fun. Hilly and narrow at times, playing along a canyon and through some hills. A fun add-on if out there for the regular course or practice.
First off, thank you to JohnnyGK for setting up the GK Cup final match and to the course for having us out there on the heels of the infamous Oxnard City Championship. We enjoyed a slow/relaxed pace with no other groups really pushing the three GK groups from behind much.

Obviously, the story of the day is the greens. The sign on the starter shack said they were running at 13'10", which is insane. I never felt they were quite that fast in the afternoon, though the slopes out here make so much of a difference. Downhill/side-hill putts were tough to stop, but uphill putts still had to be hit firmly to get up to the hole. I know I was leaving most everything way short all day and most of those were long uphill chips/fringe putts/putts. However, the green surfaces were beautiful and rolling very pure. There was one green I noticed that had some big bare spots, but I can't remember which hole off the top of my head.

Otherwise, the tee boxes were good. The fairways were pretty nice. The rough varied from pretty low in some areas to thick in others, not always in a consistent pattern from one hole to the next. Either way, it paid to hit fairways to avoid any tough lies. I was in one bunker and it was decent.

Good times with GK. Well, except for my match result. Man, did my short game suck yesterday!!!
Sandwiched between our rounds on Valley, we played Palm in the middle. After we finished our first round a little after 10:00, we checked to see when they could put us on the tee sheet for Palm. They didn't have anything until noon. It was absolutely crazy busy here today on a picture perfect Sunday! We went and grabbed a bite to eat, hung out around the cart staging area for a little bit (watching the impromptu Marriott Bikini Team show by the lakeside) and then went over to the practice area/starter, who let us know they were running 15-20 minutes late. We didn't tee off until closer to 12:30. However, the on-course pace was reasonable around 4.5 hours.

From tee to green, conditions were similar to Valley (more comparable to the dryer second round over there). Good tee boxes, good fairways and good rough for the most part. Again, bunkers inconsistent. The greens on this side were less enjoyable, as they are doing a lot of work on them right now. Lot of patched-up spots and sanded areas, playing perhaps a tad firmer than Valley but with similarly slow speeds.

I think both courses here are equally enjoyable from a layout standpoint. Plenty of similar elements. Probably more water in play on Palm and a strong finishing stretch of 15-18, including the signature 17th that is extra dressed-up. I think most people probably end up preferring Palm, but they're on the same level to me. If you like one (or don't like one), you'll probably end up with a similar impression of the other. As I mentioned in my other review, I personally think they are somewhat underrated tracks.
Using the killer UnderPar deal (4 players, unlimited play for $99 total!), we gathered some GK'ers together today. Played with Itslikeimsayin, robule and nachosgrande and we had fun on a very long 54-hole day. We started on Valley at 6:22 (teeing off closer to 6:30. It was packed out there on both courses all morning, but we enjoyed a nice 3.5-hour pace. Later in the day (about 5:00), we played our third round on Valley again. Nobody out there, so we played quick and finished in under 3 hours.

From tee to green, the course conditions were nice. It was interesting to see the different look in the early morning light with moisture on the ground compared to late in the day. It definitely appears more lush and green in the morning and then dries out as the day wears on. Still, good conditions overall. Great tee boxes. Fairways had good coverage. The final 3 on Valley had just been resodded, so those were a little weaker than the rest of this course. Rough was thick and lush throughout—sometimes penal, sometimes friendly. Bunkers a bit mixed. The greens were firm. They had been rolled, but were still on the slow side and sometimes a little bumpy (especially in the later round).

I personally think these courses are somewhat underrated as solid mid-level Coachella Valley options. At the right place (say $25 for unlimited golf), they are worth a look. Definitely the epitome of Ted Robinson design style with plenty of water (and fancy water features) in play. Valley greens have some pretty pronounced tiers and it's a fun overall layout that provides challenge while still allowing for plenty of good scoring opportunities.
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