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Having waited until late in the week to sort out a tee time, early spots weren't too readily available so a friend and I decided to do our once a year journey to Whittier Narrows and take advantage of the 11:20 spot they had available still on Thursday evening. All players with carts must still take their own so we all did that along with a nice pair of young gentlemen and we played from the long blue tees.

Whittier Narrows is essentially the Woodley Lakes of the Inland Empire. It's predominant defense is length (along with a few postage stamp greens) and you can spray it pretty wide here and get away with it, although if you get too carried away, yes, you can lose a ball or two. There is a wash that cuts through the middle of the two nines (River and Pine - Mountain 9 is used exclusively as a nine-hole course), but it only really comes into play on the par 3 16th hole when you are required to hit over it towards the green. Not much inspiration to gain from the layout, but if conditions are great, it can still be lots of fun. But conditions are far from great.

They're pretty tragic, actually. Let's start with the tee boxes. Awful. Absolutely no care taken whatsoever. They're not mowed, they're not flattened and they're only level because there's not an elevation on this course. Worst tee boxes I've seen in a long time. But wait, there's more! Fairways are green and lush in around 20% of the fairways, the rest are thin or patchy or dirt. Driving carts through all the dips and gopher holes will do wonders on your back if you're currently seeing a chiropractor. Not much differentiation from the fairways to the rough but it's really choppy out there so do your best to keep it in the few green areas.

Greens had some good spots but also some terrible ones. For example, the par 3 7th hole had about four or five deep horizontal cuts into the green that made it not only visually displeasing, but downright dumb to putt. But many of the others, despite some ball mark neglect, had some nice attributes. Speed was fairly consistent throughout, but some bumpy terrain to deal with at times. Not optimum greens, but probably the best part of the course. Bunkers? Awful. Hardpan. Not fun.

POP was not too bad all things considered ... the foursome in front of us were not barnstorming their way across the course, but we still came in at around four and a half hours, so that was good. No cart service all day but you can get snacks and drinks at the turn as there is a service window where the coffee shop normally is.

Was it worth it? Well, when I booked it online for $44, I thought it would be, but for some reason that was a walking rate only and the solo cart brought the total up to $60. Not a chance the course in its current condition is worth that price. Buyer beware - double check if you're booking online that your price includes the cart. I'll be back again next year though for that visit and I hope the course is seeing better days at that time.
Finally getting around to my review of Marshall Canyon after finally checking it off the list of SoCal courses I've not yet played. Met up with three friends there on Saturday with a 10:30ish tee time and a gorgeous day to greet us playing from the blue tees.

As for the check-in particulars, was disappointed to see the putting green closed, but the range was open and in some pretty shoddy shape. Mats about as beat up as you'll find anywhere and only about eight stalls, but enough to get the job done. Snack shop is open and we were pleased that there was cart service a few times out on the course.

Very interesting and somewhat quirky layout with a good number of doglegs (only left mind you), forced and blind carries, and some tree trouble that really makes you need to shape your shots. It reminds me of some somewhat off-the-wall little private tracks, but the conditions don't allow for that imagination to go too far. If it was in pristine shape, it's funky design would probably be considered quite charming and challenging, but alas ...

Let's knock out the worst of it. The greens, at least this past weekend, were so deeply spongy and squishy that you needed to knock the stuffing out of the ball to get it to the hole. With that in mind, foot marks and ball marks were found in abundance. Balls meandered like a drunk trying to find his way home. They were however receptive to good shots.

Fairways were mostly good with some lush areas, plenty of thin areas and a few lousy spots. Rough was varied in length but mostly playable and often more favorable than the thin parts of the fairways. Only found one bunker and it was somewhat heavy but nothing too terrible. Tee boxes beat up like Tyson's first few title defenses, but also a lot of uneven areas, which was mitigated by tee box markers that were at least twenty feet wide.

Of course people do love talking about the wildlife at Marshall Canyon and the number of deer and other critters did not disappoint. They simply don't care about you and live their best lives and it's kind of hilarious to watch them in between shots. That was nice, as is the surrounding scenery up in the mountains around this place. It's a very nice area to play a round of golf, only disappointing a bit that the conditions don't quite match the environment.

But still, I would like to play here a few more times with some course knowledge and hopefully catch it on its best day like Buster Douglas style.
Spent Saturday afternoon with my monthly golf group at Westridge in La Habra. We had 17 players in our group and everything was very nicely organized for us. I was part of the first group out at 8:50am and we played from the white tees as is customary for this group.

It was my second-ever visit to Westridge and the fun aspects of the course that I remembered from three years ago were still intact - targeted tee shots, sloping fairway sides, fun green complexes, some carries and doglegs, a few water features and a whole lot of fun golf.

The greens are really great right now. Very nice coverage, rolling very smoothly and quickly, tough, not gimmicky slopes and tiers, and very receptive to good approach shots while staying true to their lines when putt solidly. The fairways are in good shape for the most part with thin lies to be found in various areas. Rough is not super penal but areas past the rough you can forget about - there are a lot of places to lose balls on this course. I found the bunkers to be very inconsistent - some with nice sand, while others were very hardpan. Tough to really get a handle on them, and lots come into play. And the tee boxes were okay.

POP was slower than expected because the foursome ahead of us simply took far too long on the greens. We could see them celebrating and high-fiving after finally finishing off four-putts - it was somewhat maddening. There was no cart service around which was a bummer but the small snack shop by the cart area was open and serving.

Overall I enjoy Westridge quite a lot but it is a very short course off the white tees, however you can still find yourself in plenty of trouble if your shots are wayward. But if you like to hit your long irons and hybrids straight and have a strategy with just a little bit of course knowledge (like knowing which holes to lean right or left off the tee to get the bowling alley bunker effect), you're going to have a good time here.
Played with two buddies at Woodley Lakes on Sunday after needing a desperate confidence round that this track fits the bill for everyday. It was a hot afternoon so grabbed a no-frills cart and pushed off from the blue tees with a 12:30 tee time.

Woodley Lakes is in surprisingly good condition with all of the heat and traffic I'm sure it's gotten of late. The fairways are surprisingly more green than brown, but you will find some thin lies out there of course. Rough is nothing to write home about, and the bunkers are a level beneath good but above lousy. Tee boxes are not in great shape but flat and level (like the rest of the course).

Greens were surprisingly good. Not super fast, but medium and holding shots well. There were some pitch marks here and there but nothing too horrible, and the surfaces looked nice and tidy and played as such. Putts rolled pretty darn true as well which was a nice surprise.

POP, usually an issue here, was very good as we came in at just over four hours. No cart service to be found, but the bar/snack area is open around the corner from the usual watering hole out there. Not a bad showing at all from Woodley and even played a decent round again for the first time in a month.
Sunday foursome at Mountain Meadows this past weekend. Got an online rate of $61 + cart through, but when we arrived, there was an issue with them finding the reservation. Got it sorted out eventually but not after hearing many bad stories of them working with - so why do they still do it? Anyway.

Super fun track with lots of terrain variations, narrow holes, doglegs and just some plain fun ones. I always enjoy playing this course thanks to all of the unique holes here and some pretty cool views as well. The course is very green right now and holding up very well.

Greens were in good shape but certainly not lightning fast with the exception of any of the well-sloped tiers - those tended to pick up speed pretty well. Not too many ball marks to contend with and the ball rolled pretty true and straight all day. No complaints there.

Tee boxes were also in good shape and the fairways were very green and a pleasure to hit from for the most part. The occasional thin lie will be found, but for the most part it's in very good shape. There is also a lot of thick rough out there so finding your ball, even if you saw exactly where it ended up, can still be a challenge. I was also in many bunkers and their consistency varied throughout the day. Some were nice and fluffy-ish, while others were very thin and dicey. Adjust acordingly.

If you're familiar with the course, know that the par 3 9th lake is currently drained and the entire pond is surrounded with yellow tape and considered GUR at present. I don't know how long this will be the case. But other than that, it all looks and plays very well. Small but useful and convenient driving range as well.

Mountain Meadows gets a nice thumbs up for its present shape.
Was lured back by some friends into a Sunday round at Chester Washington despite my desire to take a few weeks off after some devastatingly bad play of late. Sometimes you just need to recharge but the course is close by and I decided to see where I was at after some time off for my back and just a general hiatus from the sport.

My concerns about POP on a weekend at CW were fortunately not realized as we moved at a pretty good pace all day with the only real wait coming on 18. This facility in at least one way has benefited from the virus regulations by better staggering tee times - an issue that always manifested itself here in the form of 3-4 groups always waiting at the first tee and an awful POP throughout. At least on this day, that was not the case, so that was nice.

Carts seem to always be at a premium here and Sunday morning was not much different. We had to wait for two carts to be recharged and cleaned but eventually took off around 10 minutes late. Weekend greens fee + carts is fairly steep $59 for this place, which wouldn't be that bad at all if conditions were much better. But they aren't.

Main focus is the greens. Spongy, slow, bumpy and no line of delineation from the rough/apron. Parts of the greens are encroached upon by the grass from the rough and there are no smooth edges. Even found some putter-shaped holes in the greens, apparently from a frustrated set of previous golfers (ironically not me this time!). But overall, just terrible shape.

Fairways are a little less than good with thin lies throughout with the occasional lush area, while the rough is wispy mayhem that isn't much fun to play from at any point. I was in one fairway bunker and it was okay, but the greenside bunkers didn't look like much to write home about, but I can't say for sure without having played them. Tee boxes? Also a mess. Not been cut or sectioned off for quite some time it appears. Very shaggy and sometimes so spongy like the greens that I had trouble getting in the short tees I was using since I've temporarily retired my driver.

So, in a very ironic twist, my best compliment to Chester Washington on a Sunday morning was their POP being quite good - this is great and should be kept up with unwavering vigor. And we can definitely let a lot of the other conditions slide, but not the greens. They are in some dire need of even the most basic attention. And I hope they receive it. Soon.
Two recent days back out at CGC this past week and it's as good as ever. Flawless conditions as per usual, and one of the toughest tracks around thanks to the great design by the famous Coore-Crenshaw duo.

Perfect greens smooth as silk and fast as a cheetah, lush fairways with perfect lies all day long, punishing rough just off the fairways, but past that into the natural areas is wispy enough to find errant balls and give you a glimmer of hope to put them back in play, very nice sand that's just a smidge below perfect, and a wide variety of perfectly manicured tee boxes that cater to each player's skill level.

An outstanding course in an even more phenomenal location. Everything one could ever want in a top-shelf facility. I'm lucky to play here a few times per year.
After a lengthy time between visits, I was excited this morning on my drive out to La Mirada. It's always been a fun layout that seems to suit my game in many ways, but of course it always has its fair share of issues. If it's not condition, it's the POP. You know the story.

But, like a bad flight on a great vacation, ultimately you only look back fondly on the good parts and tend to lose sight of the bad. That's my relationship with La Mirada.

So after a fairly efficient check-in procedure, three friends and myself - all walking - dived into the round with a 10:16 tee time, playing from the blue tees at a reasonable $46 greens fee for hoofin' it.

Course conditions were better than what the last reviewer here saw, but with one massive caveat - the bunkers. Most hardpan, tall weeds growing out of them, gopher holes near the edges, occasional sand, no rakes - disaster. I'm not sure I've ever given a '1' in the ratings ... I'm sure now. Avoid at all costs!

Rest of the course? Not bad at all really, but there were some very unkempt tee boxes that hadn't been cut in a while. That was poor. But the fairways had pretty good coverage with the two exceptions of holes 6 and 16 - both at the course's lowest points and poor drainers. It happens. Greens had some bumps but still rolled nicely and I had a very good putting day so I'm biased. Sue me.

Unfortunately no cart service at all on the course, and water fountains still sealed off. POP was actually very good ... we barely waited all day and found a nice sweet spot between foursomes and never pushed, or got pushed, which is great at La Mirada. Not sure if it's group spacing or something else, but keep that part up please. Just pay at least some attention to the bunkers.

Always enjoy this place at the end of the day though no matter what ...
Played San Juan Hills for the first time ever on Memorial Day and it was a pleasant little unique course. I was surprised when I got there to see the course only reaches 6300 yards from the tips, but the elevations and angles do still make it a challenging track.

There are quite a few different courses all rolled into one here. The front nine is very hilly and almost every hole plays shots from uneven lies. A lot of short par 4s but you have to be very safe with club selection. The first two holes on the back nine are a bit of a mess right now as they're doing some kind of work on the old lake there but they're very flat and dull, and then you move to the back nine where the course serpentines through homes and gets quite narrow but still fun until the last two holes where it opens up again, including the rare par 3 closing hole for any course. Very wild ride.

Course conditions are quite nice right now with super greens that vary in size greatly but are in very good shape, roll true and run maybe around 10 on the stimp. No crazy tiers but some smooth slopes that will require your best efforts. Fairways are nice and green and the rough is very playable, while the bunkers have a nice layer of sand but are far from fluffy. Tee boxes were good enough (we played the blues).

Food was available from the bar in the morning and the range was open but we were not allowed to drive our carts over there. We had the option of riding two per cart but everyone rode in their own and that made the POP very good at just four hours. So while all of this review is quite positive and I would not hesitate to play SJH again, the $94 fee + cart I found to be a little steep for the experience, but not by too much. It's definitely worth playing and quite fun but I would like to find a better deal next time ... maybe it was just holiday pricing?
Played Harding on Saturday with two friends and rode from the blue tees with a 10:36 tee time. Groups were spread out nicely and we finished in just over four hours so that was ideal.

No range time as they said it was closed but I saw people out there later so no idea what happened there. No point in getting to the course early as the putting area is also closed and they will call your name ten minutes before you tee off and that's when you pay inside.

Course is in very nice shape right now and was really fun to play on a gorgeous day. Really nice and green fairways with occasional thin areas but few and far between. Rough is very playable and provides a good cushion. Tee boxes are just okay but the greens are in very nice shape, rolling medium fast and holding shots well. Not a ton of ball marks out there either and good coverage - nice work by the grounds crew.

Was only in one bunker on hole 16 and the sand was a bit thin but playable. Overall though, the course is in very solid shape and will probably get a lot of action in the coming weeks.

Snack shop at the turn was closed but there was a mobile stand there for drinks and snacks -that was a nice touch. I always enjoy the layout at Harding and think 18 is a fantastic closing hole to finish off a really nice day.
Two straight days at Marriott's Shadow Ridge resort in Palm Desert and the course, while not in its typical pristine state, did not disappoint. We rode two per cart and played from the gold tees for $63 - a great price for this fun and fairly open Nick Faldo design.

A few stalls on the range are open and there is a putting green to practice on, but there are no small flags or anything else out there you can touch, like sand bottles or ice coolers to deal with the heat. Unfortunately you have to bring everything with you right now - no drinks or food of any kind served on the course or in any snack shop. You're on your own!

Course conditions are pretty good as stated above, but far from lush. A lot of the fairways are on the dry side and look a bit burned out, but you'll still find mostly good lies, if not a little bit thin, especially near the greens. Rough is fine, and the tee boxes are mostly in good shape but odd there's only one tee marker for each set of tees. Bunkers don't have rakes but are in good shape and the greens themselves are not super fast but hold shots well and run pretty true. Nothing spectacular right now, but all very playable and of course the scenery in the Coachella Valley on gorgeous blue sky days is second to none.

Fun track that is still in very playable shape right now but not quite near its best. Still, it's a great option right now if you're in the area and want to play a fun round with 20-minute intervals between tee times so you'll have the place mostly to yourself.
With the back nine at Mission Hills' Dinah Shore Tournament course closed for maintenance, we did two late loops around the front nine and finished 18 just ahead of the sun dipping down below San Jacinto's peak on a beautiful spring day.

There really is only one 'tour scary' hole on this front nine - the tricky par 4 6th with a dodgy landing area between two fingers of lake and a scary approach from there - but the rest are pretty straightforward but long and sometimes narrow off the tee.

Conditions are good right now but of course not quite tournament ready. The greens were recently punched and are still showing some signs of that, but roll pretty fast still and hold their lines regardless. Fairways are in very nice shape, as is the rough - very playable. Bunkers are a bit on the thin, crusty side right now and of course no rakes. Tee boxes were perfect.

This review feels a bit lacking since only nine of the eighteen holes were played, but I'm fairly certain conditions would be consistent with those on the front right now once the back 9 is re-opened. If you get the chance to play there, go do it.
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