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I went and played Ridge Creek this morning with a buddy teeing off at 7:10am. We were the second group off on a nice warm morning. Ridge Creek is a challenging links style layout with nasty rough (12”+) off of the fairway and deep pot punkers in the middle of the fairway. Accuracy is a premium to say the least. Greens are large with moderate undulations. The greens at Ridge Creek are almost always soft and easily hold well struck approach shots. Today was no exception. The down side of this set up is the greens get riddled with pitch marks. Most are repaired and don’t affect putts too much but to the eye it can cause some strain. Greens rolled at a nice medium-fast+ pace today.

Fairways were nice, but not as emerald green as I’ve seen them in the past. In fact they were more brown that green. Yet, the fairways presented a sufficient platform to hit from. Tee boxes weren’t bad. All were level with decent coverage and only the short Par 3’s were chewed up. I somehow avoided all bunkers today, but my buddy saved par from one of the three he was in and he’s a high handicapper.

Course is easily walkable which is what we did. For COVID compliance they had metal rings in the cups that were almost level with the top of the cup. Balls easily rolled over and out. For some reason this set up didn’t suit my eye and I struggled with putts. I thinkit was more mental than anything.

Customer service was friendly as usual. Overall, Ridge Creek isn’t in the best shape I’ve seen in it but definitely worth the price of admission.
I played Laguna Seca a couple of times over the past weekend. This is always one of my favorite layouts in the peninsula with all of the elevation changes throughout the entire track. Conditions are always average at Laguna Seca and this weekend was no exception.

Greens can always be a mystery here but this weekend, they were consistent. Greens rolled at a medium pace that was consistent throughout the course. Naturally downhill putts were very fast but everything else was manageable. Greens at Laguna Seca are sneaky. They don’t look intimidating (a la Blackhorse & Spanish Bay) but they can reach up and bite you big if you don’t pay close attention.

I will say that on Sunday afternoon there were a TON of unrepaired ball marks on the greens. I was routinely fixing 5+ pitch marks per green and that was only covering a small percentage of them.

Tee boxes had good lush coverage but some could use an overall and releveling. Fairways were in average condition. Decent overall coverage with no real major thin areas. Sand traps weren’t bad. The second day I played, I was in 5 bunkers and saved par twice from the sand which is good for me so the traps can’t be that bad.

Pace of Play… Well it was a three day holiday weekend on the peninsula with perfect weather and only half of the courses open. Enough said. Though, I’ve seen it a whole lot worse here.
I hadn’t played Pacific Grove in probably about a year. I must admit I was extremely disappointed all around. From the half hearted COVID-19 measures, to the poor conditions to the horrible business practices. I’ll start off with the check in process. I booked my round last week through a third party booking party. In Monterey County you have to pre-pay for your round before getting to the course. Pacific Grove lists on their website the couple of ways to go about it. I had a mid-day tee time and called about 1.5 hours ahead of time to give them my credit card. It took them 20 minutes to find my reservation then they charged me $2 more than my reserved price. I’m not going to waste another 15 minutes over a couple dollars (that’s my decision so no ding on them for not fixing).

When I called and paid, they finally took my credit card and said I was good to go… Until I got to the course. I arrived about 30 minutes early and was told the third party booking company had over booked the course and I wouldn’t be going off for another 2 hours. They actually thought they had done me a favor by squeezing me in. After a little “discussion” it was decided that I would tee off right away with the next couple on the tee box.

Here was the issue. If two separate groups book for twosomes for the XX time slot, the course separates those two groups putting them out on XX and XY time slot. So you can see how the course gets backed up. I get the COVID-19 precaution but as a course you have to make a decision. Let strangers pair up (single carts and walking) or don’t allow two groups to book for the same time slot. Dragonfly is doing it that way in Fresno, and it’s frustrating because the tee sheet gets filled very quickly but at least you know ahead of time what the process is. And of course for a business practice, the fact that they waited until I got to the course to tell me I had been backed up 2 hours was just plain…$h!++y.
Now on to the course conditions. I rated the greens at about a 5. The first few were somewhere in the 4-5 range and the back nine greens were in the 7 range. The first few greens were slow, bumpy and had some dead/disease areas throughout. The back nine greens were much better and were decent.

The fairways were OK. Some thin and dead areas throughout but generally decent enough overall to get good contact. The skirt areas around the greens were actually in great shape. Easily a 8-9. I had 13 missed GIR and was able to get up and down for par 6-7 times mainly due to great lies from the surrounding areas off the green.

Tee boxes were partly ok and partly horrible. I can’t imagine that much damage has been done in the two weeks since golf has been allowed again. Sand traps. The worst ever. I get the no rakes in the bunker due to coronavirus. But these traps hadn’t been raked since March. Seriously, whereas other courses are sending someone out once or twice a day to rake bunkers, or at least doing them every night. PG has not maintained their traps once since being back open.

The views at Pacific Grove are always great with ocean views throughout and especially the back nine which sits right on the water (across the street). Always plenty of deer to walking around and the lighthouse between the 16th and 10th tee boxes is special in it’s own right.

But even with the great views I can not recommend Pacific Grove right now.
Played Pebble Beach this morning in absolute glorious weather. The social distancing requirements were taken to a whole new level at Pebble Beach. Every other parking space was blocked off so you couldn’t get close to someone in parking lot. The range was set up so everyone was 15-20 feet apart and the shuttle from the range to the first tee wasn’t running. Also, they didn’t have a supply of tees on the range like usual. No big deal other than I had to walk back to my car. Even their social distancing signs were high class. See the GK app for an picture of one. ‘

Check in was simple. Payment was done in advance through central reservations. A person at the range verified your tee time and then a starter sends you off with your group once you are back down at the first tee. The pro-shop is completely closed so no shopping ?

As expected the course was in fantastic shape. Being this is the fifth day Pebble has been back open the tee boxes were a 10+. Fairways were a 9.5-10 as were the greens. Greens rolled at a medium-fast pace. As always. Uphill putts are manageable and downhill putts are… well, good luck with that!

Pace of play was the usual 5 hours but like I’ve said before. Who care’s?! It’s Pebble and on a beautiful day like today, you certainly don’t want to rush!

My two minor complaints. One, the pool noodles in the cups were a bit too high. All too often balls would skim right across and out. The last few holes seem to be better, but the majority need to be cut down a ¼ to a ½ inch. Also, because they have the retail shops all closed down the walk back to the car from the 18th is atrocious. They route you all the way around the shops and back up the road. Why they can’t open up the path near the practice putting green for a short cut I don’t know. Of course I might have just been mad because I put my approach shot on 18 into the water!

I will say, that Pebble Beach had a different vibe out there today. One that was much more relaxed than normal. They still had marshals every couple of holes to keep things moving but we fell ½ a hole behind for about 5 holes and no one said anything. True the group behind us had fallen behind as well but I was surprised that none of the marshals said anything.

As always, Pebble Beach is a truly fantastic course and experience. I posted a handful of pictures on the GK App
Played Tulare on Monday 5/4 with an early (7am) tee time. I've only played here a couple of times but I'm guessing this is about as good as ever for this course. Conditions were a solid 7 all around. Being that they just opened the tee boxes had little divot damage and the late April rains did the fairways wonders. Greens were smooth and divot free sans one which had a lot of pitch marks probably from the weekend.

Greens rolled at a medium speed. All the COIVD-19 measures were in place. Check in was done outside the pro-shop, no rakes, and flags remained in. We walked as this is an easy course to walk being completely flat. The layout is ok. Nothing spectacular but nothing horrible. There are a few holes with tight fairways that put a demand on accuracy over length

All in all it's not a bad place to golf with better than average conditions right now.
Played Dragonfly on 4/20 with an early AM tee time. Social distancing practices are still in play with single person per cart, clubhouse closed and no rakes in the bunkers. They have the cups turned upside down to create a new “permanent” solution to the no reaching into the hole dilemma. The cup sits about an inch below the green with the ball coming to rest on the inverted cup so it sits up. It’s basically a nicer version of the pool noodle around the flag trick.

As far as course conditions go, the greens are back to their great shape and rolling at the perfect medium-fast speed. Rain a couple of days before the round as well as some rain during the round kept the greens soft so they easily held well struck approach shots.
Greens rolled true and smooth.

Fairways are very nice right now. The combination of warm weather and recent rains has the fairways in beautiful condition. Course was in the process of updating all of their sand traps just before the COVID-19 pandemic. If you land in one of the bunkers that had been updated, you’re in for a treat as they have excellent sand. If you are unfortunate and land in one of the few that haven’t been renovated then you screwed as they are hardpacked dirt often littered with pebbles.

Tee boxes were ok. They are all level but it appeared as if most of the tee boxes hadn’t been mowed since the closing of the course a couple of weeks ago. When using a driver and teeing up the ball, it wasn’t an issue. Use a 3 wood or iron off the deck and the un-mowed grass could present a problem.

We went off at 7:12 as the second group. The first group (twosome) was long gone by the time we got to the second (11th ) hole. Dragonfly is only accepting reservations 2 days in advance. I woke up at 5am on Saturday to book the Monday tee time. At 5am there was only the 7:12 tee time at a 4:30 foursome left. However, when we played. The course was fairly empty. What gives? Only a select handful of tee times? Like maybe 16 throughout the day. Or are people booking and not showing up. If that’s the case then the course should charge double for no shows and suspend the players account.
After watching competitive Ball Room dancing (with commentary in Japanese no less) and trimming the front yard with a 60 degree lob wedge this past weekend all in the name of “excitement” to satisfy my need for sports and activity, I finally got out and played REAL golf!

Played Hunter Ranch mid-morning and the place was packed! Bogeygolf did fantastic job describing course conditions. Greens are excellent right now. Very smooth and rolling at perfect medium-fast pace. Greens were easily rated at a 9 today.

As mentioned there are no flags in the cups which is a bit tricky trying to get yardage. Luckily, I have an app on my phone that gives me decent GPS yardage to the middle of the green and Hunter Ranch has pin placement charts on their scorecard so it’s fairly easy to figure out where the pin is. That and we waited on every shot so you could see where the group in front was on the green as the got close to the hole.

Cups are raised 2” above ground for COVID-19 precautions.

Fairways may have been the best I’ve every seen them him. Perfectly lush and a nice beautiful green color. I rated the fairways at an 8 but they were close to a 9 as well.

Tee boxes were level but they are starting to get chewed up a bit with all the play the course is seeing. But they were still on the acceptable level.

I was in four bunkers today and three of them were great. The one “bad” bunker had a thin layer of sand on top of some hardpack dirt. There are no rakes in the bunkers but I managed to avoid other tracks and everyone did a decent job using their foot to smooth out the sand as best as possible. I think next time I’ll bring my bunker rake from home to use and help smooth out the traps.

POP was a little over 4.5 hours. Being one of the only games in town and the weather being perfect and the course in great shape, it’s understandable everyone is going to Hunter to play.

Customer service was good. They had a full staff of 4-5 people helping organize everyone. There were easily 15-20 people on the practice putting green waiting to tee off and staff kept everyone organized and adjusting groups to better suit everyone’s playing style/ability.

I chose again to walk as it was such a glorious day and I knew we weren’t going to set any speed of play records. The others in my group all rode and they mandated single player per cart.
Played Kern River Golf Course on 4/1/2020 with Kviser for our GK Cup match. Kevin did a great job describing the conditions. Which I would call “average Muni conditions”. Overall everything was ok. Nothing spectacular by any means but nothing horrible either. I thought the greens were slow to medium-slow. It took me a full 9 holes to get the speed of the greens dialed in. Part of that might have been that I had just rolled my putting green so it’s super fast right now and the two were night and day different on speed. Given that the greens at Kern River rolled smooth for the most part. Greens were medium sized with moderate slope and undulations.

Fairways had decent coverage but had some thin spots mixed in. Like Kevin said it was the luck of the draw on having a great lie or a sketchy one.

Rough wasn’t tall but very very sticky. Deceivingly tough. Sand traps were the weak link of the course for sure. Very thin at best.

Setting was fun without a doubt. Track is set up against the Kern River which was full and flowing nicely. It’s a few miles out of town so you get the away from the hustle and bustle relaxed feeling. Being both of our first times here we got fooled by the routing of holes as far as the doglegs but no big deal (especially since I made birdie on one of them).

My one criticism would be that it’s only a par 70 with three par 5’s and five par 3’s. Yet they had a few 430+ length par 4’s and three Par 3’s in the 200-225 yard range (one was 225 uphill from the whites). I would have thought they could shorten one or two of the long par 3’s and add the length to one of the long par 4’s to turn it into another par 5. Or shorten a par 4 and lengthen a par 3 to turn it into a par 4. At nearly 6300 yards from the whites there should be enough room to make this at least a par 71 course. That’s just my thought is all.

Overall it was an enjoyable day with nice weather, good company and a decent enough course. Staff at check in was very friendly. I don’t know that I will play here again in the future, but that’s only because of the location and distance to get there for me. Certainly for the price it’s worth it if in the area.
I played Madera Municipal on Saturday afternoon. Walked the course as it is completely flat and super easy to walk. Only one semi-long transfer (between 10th green and 11th tee). The rest is a walk in the park! Again social distancing orders in place. Single player per cart for those not walking, and raised cups along with no rakes in the bunkers.

Being a weekend with limited courses open it was packed. POP was a bit under 5 hrs. We waited on every shot. Such is life, during weekend golf.

Course was in slightly below average Muni condition. Tee boxes were about average and fairways are starting to recover from winter thin. Recent rains had fairways greening up but still some thin spots throughout.

Greens were very slow. They obviously have not recovered from the mid march aeration. Bunkers were hard pan dirt. No need for a rake as footsteps and club didn’t leave a single impact mark!

Overall, conditions were ok for a valley muni course. The only real drawback were the super slow greens.
Dragonfly is open and running under the new “social distancing” guidelines. Pro shop is completely closed up with just a kiosk at the starting hole which they elected to send everyone off the 10th tee to start. I chose to walk but everyone else was single player per cart.

Flag sticks were mandatory left in and there were Styrofoam rings in in the bottom of the cup that prevented the ball from going all the way in. No rakes in the bunkers but I did see employee’s coming out a couple times throughout the round to rake bunkers keeping them relatively fresh for everyone. They were also actively wiping down the flagsticks in case anyone inadvertently touched them.

As far as the course conditions go, the greens are still recovering from recent aeration. Not too bad but definitely on the slow side with some greens still visibly showing holes from being punched.

Fairways are starting to turn green from the brown dormant winter grass. Still about a 50/50 light green and brown combo. But fairways were still easy to hit off of. Tee boxes were ok. Some better than others with some still being winter thin.

I was only in one greenside bunker and it was probably the worst one on the course. Lol. Others have been revitalized with new sand but the one I was in was fairly hardpacked.

Pace of play wasn’t too bad actually. Given that there are only a few courses open and this is always a popular valley track the 4:10 round was very acceptable. We fell about a ½ hole behind the group in front for about 6-9 holes then caught up and had some minor waiting for the last few holes.
A quick updated on conditions at Ridge Creek from when I was there a couple weeks ago. I played on Friday 3/20/20. First off the fairways and greens all drained well from the recent rains. I elected to walk to help promote “social distancing” and I only found one area of standing water behind one of the raised greens. For the most part it was out of play unless you went long on the par 3 tee shot.

The rest of the course was nice and dry even though it had rained a bit during the night. Temperature during play was a fantastic Sunny mid -high 60’s with No wind.

I will say we did encounter quite a few pitch marks on the greens. It seems to be getting worse here as I noticed I mentioned this during my last review as well. One of my playing partners had at least 4 putts affected badly by pitch marks.

Other than that the course is good to go. I did see they sent an email later that afternoon saying the course was being shut down due to COVID-19. Restaurant was still open for take out food which we all grabbed some food afterwards as we were starving!

If the course is going to be closed down for a couple of weeks, I say it’s a perfect time to aerate the greens.
Trying to book a tee time today proved a bit difficult with the rain, course closures and aerations all going on at once. Managed to get out and walk Hunter Ranch this morning and avoided the rain. Course was very wet. No issues with the greens as they were dry and rolled smooth at a normal pace. However the fairways were soggy. No roll whatsoever and even though the recent rains have “greened” up the fairways they are still considered winter thin. Most of Hunter Ranch is on rolling hills which helps drain the course to make it playable.

It’s been a while since I walked Hunter and it’s very doable but there are some steep little short climbs to tee boxes etc. Other than that it’s not bad at all. Being that it was CPO, I was more than happy to walk.

Overall, conditions given the rain were very decent. I was only in one sand trap and it wasn’t too bad. Rough was definitely taller and thicker than last time I was here a couple of weeks ago. POP was under 3 hours. No one in front of me so I just cruised along.
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