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What's in Mark's Golf Bag
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Last Updated: April 12, 2017
100+ golf course photo albums on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/24952137@N00/collections/72157657181789776/
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Mark's Golf Course Reviews
Played here Monday, 7/31 with a 5:50 a.m. tee time. I booked the earliest time they had available in hopes of playing a very quick round, but when I a... » More
Played here Monday, 7/31 with a 5:50 a.m. tee time. I booked the earliest time they had available in hopes of playing a very quick round, but when I arrived, I was given two choices: Play with a threesome of local seniors about to tee off or play by myself behind them. I opted to play with them, but questioned the whole time why I wasn't given the chance to play by myself ahead of them. Anyhow, they were friendly and we had fun, but the round took probably an hour longer than I expected, finishing in about 3:40. There was no one in front of us all day, but groups were waiting on us from behind.
The course is in pretty good condition, especially for mid-summer. In reviewing my photos, I see more bare spots and dry spots than I noticed in person. Greens were a bit shaggy and wet on the front nine, but smoother and faster starting on the 10th. They were pretty great the rest of the way. Medium firmness. Fairways were very nice light color bermuda except where there are bare/dry spots. Rough wasn't quite as lush and also had occasional bare spots, but overall was pretty good. "Double Spades" tee boxes (7,036-yard tips) were fine. Bunkers were good.
I always thought the course looked pretty fun from the 15, and it lived up to my expectations. Playing the tips, there are lots of attractive desert-course tee views on this course. Holes 7-11 all play around lakes and are good holes. These are the holes you can see from the 15, so one minor bummer is the presence of billboards in view along the edges of those holes. Even though houses border some holes, they aren't very intrusive and I barely noticed them. There are a couple good risk/reward holes and many long, tough par 4s. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would definitely play it again.
I created a Flickr photo album of 54 photos than can be viewed here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm5X3Fwp» Close
Played here on the second day of my mini trip up north with a 12:20 "Deal" time from TeeOff.com. Paired with two guys from Las Vegas, seemed like we w... » More
Played here on the second day of my mini trip up north with a 12:20 "Deal" time from TeeOff.com. Paired with two guys from Las Vegas, seemed like we waited on most holes all day but POP wasn't too bad. Total probably around 4:40. I took a cart even though it was cart path only. They are opening the fairways to carts on August 1. The starter told us we were fortunate because the course was super foggy earlier in the day, but had cleared by the time we started. It only remained clear until the 9th hole, though, and then we played the rest of the round under grey skies, which definitely hurts the aesthetics somewhat.
Conditions are good to great. Greens were fast, the kind that feel a little bit thin. They accepted full shots pretty well; medium firmness overall. Fairways were great for the most part. Since the remodel, there's not a ton of rough out here, but what there is was mostly in good condition and cut short. There are some longer areas that are semi-native looking with taller grasses around the extreme edges. I played the "Four Poppy" tees and the boxes were in good condition. Bunkers were excellent.
After playing Pasatiempo the previous day, Poppy Hills paled in comparison but is still a really nice course. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I really enjoyed it and it's very beautiful in places. I especially liked anywhere that the native areas and naturalistic bunkers came into play. I can't think of much more to add so here's a link to my Flickr album of 40 photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm5vvFCZ» Close
I took a quick two-day golf trip to Santa Cruz/Monterey earlier this week. I started here on Wednesday at 1:20. Paired with a couple visiting from out... » More
I took a quick two-day golf trip to Santa Cruz/Monterey earlier this week. I started here on Wednesday at 1:20. Paired with a couple visiting from out of town. I walked the tips. Excellent weather, slightly warmer than I expected and beautiful blue skies.
Conditions are excellent. Greens were smooth and medium-fast to fast. They weren't quite as glassy as their reputation led me to believe – I didn't putt any balls from on the green to off, but downhillers can get away from you pretty easily. They were semi-firm, with approach shots usually taking one bounce before stopping. Fairways were great; very good coverage, excellent cut, great lies all day. Rough was also in nice condition. Not too deep, maybe about 2.5 inches and the ball usually sat up top. Very lush in most places but there was some minor browning and sporadic thin areas. Tee boxes were great. They weren't pristine, but very good and never presented any issues as far as teeing up the ball. Bunkers were fantastic, some of the best maintained I've encountered in recent memory.
I've wanted to play here for a long time and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It felt like the most architecturally significant course I've ever played, if that makes sense. It has distant ocean views, fantastic rolling terrain, and amazing use of barrancas starting at the 10th that come into play on nearly every back nine hole. MacKenzie's bunkering that was restored by Tom Doak in 2005 is also magnificent. The collection of the five par 3s here is nearly unbeatable. The late afternoon sunlight streaming through the trees at the 15th green might be the prettiest spot I've ever been on a golf course. There are also some interesting maintenance practices at play here, such as no rough between the green and bunkers in some spots, which hurt me on the 6th hole.
This was absolutely one of the best golf experiences of my life and the course is definitely within the top 5 courses I've ever played. I took a million photos and created a Flickr photo album of 71 of them here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm5jJshG» Close
Played out here today after finally getting a TeeOff.com reservation to actually work at this course. Several times in the past few years I’ve tried, ... » More
Played out here today after finally getting a TeeOff.com reservation to actually work at this course. Several times in the past few years I’ve tried, only to receive some sort of error message that couldn’t even be fixed by a phone operator. Today I tried one time and got a similar message, but then my reservation was accepted for the 12:20 time. With 25% off promo code, I got the lowest price I think I’ve ever seen for this course. Check-in was smooth but the starter was a little lax and sort of forgot about me, but no big deal. Eventually I ended up playing with a father-son duo visiting from Las Vegas; really nice guys. Weather was warm but bearable due to a slight breeze most of the day. POP was really good at almost exactly 4:00. Marshall came around a couple times and warned us that the back was playing slower than the front; nice touch to adjust our expectations before just hitting a slowdown. Beverage cart made probably four appearances.
Conditions are quite good, although I feel like the course looks better in my photos than it did in person. Greens were good. The unblemished areas were very nice, but little blemishes – nicks and ball marks – seemed prevalent on many greens. That said, I don’t think it ever affected any putts, and balls rolled smoothly and medium-fast speed. Greens were medium-to-soft firmness and full shots stopped quickly. Fairways are light to medium green and thatched or verticut – there’s some sort of ridge pattern on them, but it didn’t affect how they played. Some thin, dried-out spots here and there, but overall quite good fairway conditions. Rough was pretty lush, not too deep, balls typically sat up nice on top with a good cushion underneath. Black tee boxes were good. Bunkers were good, some a little crusty on top and maybe a bit on the firm side.
As I alluded to earlier, this was my first time ever playing here. I’d heard lots of great things and I came away both surprised and a little underwhelmed. I was surprised at how difficult the course is. There is tons of ESA and very tight-looking driving areas, even though when you get out to the fairway, there’s often more room than it appeared from the tee. Also surprised by the 16th hole, a beast of a par 4 at 465 yards with a completely blind tee shot. I was underwhelmed by the collection of par 3s. I guess Ted Robinson Jr. doesn’t share his father’s affinity for water hazards on one shotters, and I found all four pretty boring. Also, the par-5 13th hole is by far the worst hole I’ve encountered in recent memory. There are fairway bunkers left and right, but then if you avoid those, you might find yourself in an ugly, “fake desert” waste bunker right where the fairway should be. Why that exists is beyond me. If you want some sort of hazard there, at least make it a real native area, not some cobbled together collection of cacti and desert plants from Home Depot. Together, it gives the appearance from the tee that there’s no “correct” place to hit your drive, except to keep it short of the waste bunker. Very stupid, terrible hole. Generally, while there are some nice looks and interesting holes, I felt an overall lack of character typical of Ted Robinson designs. I’ll play it again, though. It kicked my butt with an abundance of penalty strokes and I'd like another shot with some local knowledge under my belt.
In case you’re interested, here’s a link to my Flickr photo album of 39 photos from today: https://flic.kr/s/aHskZFfjct» Close
Walked on at twilight (1:30, $26 walking rate) Friday afternoon out here. Pro shop guy had me pay right away and was calling me to the first tee withi... » More
Walked on at twilight (1:30, $26 walking rate) Friday afternoon out here. Pro shop guy had me pay right away and was calling me to the first tee within about three minutes of putting my name on the list. Paired with two really nice guys. We all walked and POP was decent, although it felt like we waited a lot. Two groups in front of us was a slow group, but we still finished in about 4:10. I hoped heading to San Clemente would allow me to escape the scorching temps somewhat, but it was still hot (low 80s) and also surprisingly humid. There was some breeze that helped cool things down, but I was absolutely exhausted when I finished walking that hilly course. (It would have been a perfect litmus test for the Casey Martin controversy many years ago because not only was I physically tired, but also mentally. I’m quite certain I would have shaved several strokes off my score had I splurged for a cart. Anyway…)
Conditions are pretty good overall. Like Jay mentioned in the previous review, the greens are very grainy right now. Anything toward the ocean/setting sun runs out quite a bit, while putts headed the opposite direction are pretty slow. The down-grain putts aren’t necessarily fast, but they just don’t stop…they keep trickling and trickling. Kind of a fun challenge trying to read the grain and adjust your stroke accordingly, although I struggled and had multiple three-putts. The greens were pretty soft, smooth and accepted full shots well. Although again like Jay said, approaches with longer clubs definitely didn’t stick as well as well as short irons. Fairways are about 80-85% really nice and the rest some thin/browning spots. The rough is spottier with some thin/bare areas, but also some really lush kikuyu that can play tough if the ball sits down a bit. Overall rough was much more inconsistent than the fairways. Tee boxes were decent. I wasn’t in a bunker but they looked pretty good.
Always love this layout and it looked really nice in the afternoon sun yesterday. There are few (if any) courses I’ve played more than San Clemente, but I hadn’t played it since I started making photo albums of courses. So I created a Flickr album of 44 images that can be viewed by copying & pasting this URL: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3X6Zih» Close
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