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Back in South Florida for a company sales meeting so we got to spend two half days golfing. One day was at Normandy Shores, and that review will be coming soon as soon as that course gets uploaded into the GK database, but our second day was back at Miami Beach Golf Club and once again it did not disappoint.

Very tough track here with tons of water in dangerous, unseen places to rack up the penalties if you're wayward. There are also a lot of different slopes to the fairways and rough areas that are unexpected in this flat part of the state, and the bunkers are complex and frequent. On top of that you have some challenging greens ... it all adds up to a formidable day for shooting low scores.

Conditions are very good right now but the greens had recently been sanded, so that was interesting. They still rolled quite fast though and there are a lot of dropoffs and tough angles to navigate to keep the low putt count. But all in all they were in good shape with the exception of the sand which likely brought the rating down.

Fairways were in very good shape on every hole, as was the deep rough, but not deep enough to give too many headaches. Sand was in very good shape and found often throughout the day from our group - more on that later. Tee boxes (we played the blues) are in fine shape across the board.

We had five players so we went off three and two, then, after appraising the situation on a fairly busy Wed afternoon, decided to join up as a fivesome as we were waiting already all day on the threesome in front of us, who also waited on a slower group in front of them. At no point did we ever fall behind and we were absolutely pushing the group in front of us all day. We all play fast, ready golf. So it was funny when a 'marshal' came out on the 8th tee box (we started the day on the back nine) to tell us the group behind us complained that we were a fivesome and had to break back up into two groups. Absolute silliness.

But once again, this is a super fun and challenging course to play with very good conditions to match. So if you're in the area, don't think twice. Just get out there and play it.
Took one of my best friend's visiting from Costa Rica to The Links at Terranea on Sunday as he only could break away from family obligations for a short amount of time and was very excited to see the course and its fantastic ocean views.

We caught this little gem, recently ranked yet again as the nation's top short course, on a perfect morning and in great condition. You check in, grab a nice push cart, walk to the first tee and just enjoy PGA quality scenery and conditions without the burden of fairways or having to carry any club more than a 6 or a 7 iron. And yes, it's walking only.

Amazing greens in perfect shape, green lushness all around, tough and dangerous bunkers surrounding all the greens that are doubly dubious with super thick grass/reeds around them that will make any short bunker shots almost as difficult as the sand itself. Green slopes are fair though and not gimmicky at all - very nice all across the board.

This was my first return visit since October of 2013 so it was quite a treat and I forgot how much fun this little track could provide. Played well too to enjoy the experience even more. And my buddy loved every second of it.
Had a Saturday round at Los Amigos (was not my first choice after recent visit back in November) booked by a friend and found the course to be in pretty much the same condition as last time out. Won't get in to that too much all over again, but in general, the greens are in poor shape with so many ball marks and indistinct lines, while the fairways are mostly thin with a few good areas, non-existent rough, above-average bunkers and abysmal tee boxes.

Sadly this has been standard fare for this course for the last few months, and speaks nothing to their POP issues and sub-par equipment (carts and push-carts). But I mainly wanted to address the poor service at the starter's office.

We had an 8:50 tee time scheduled, arrived early, made our way out to the busy first tee with five minutes to spare, only to be advised by the first group waiting that their tee time was 8:15. We were a good 5-6 groups behind and when I went back to the office to inquire about the delay, the basic reaction was, "I can give you your money back if you don't like it." Quality customer service right there.

Look, if you're going to book a 6:45am tee time in January, then know it's going to be cold, maybe damp, and a little dark. The starter let the first groups wait to tee off and then the ENTIRE field of players after them were forced to suffer. If you are not ready to play at the time you booked, then you go to the back of the line. Simple. Rant over.
Played a late twilight round at Chester Washington this past Friday and was immediately hit with a 20-30 minute delay and no more carts available despite the pre-booking online having a cart as part of the deal. Solid start.

Recent reviews described the course as being in some of its best shape, and that's generally pretty accurate. The Chester will never be mistaken for 'pristine' but there are levels of its mediocrity and it's currently at the higher end of that bar. Fairways have good spots of grass but also plenty of thin and GUR-worthy lies, while the rough is very easy to manage. Tee boxes are definitely beat up and need some work. Bunkers are in good, workable shape.

Greens are quite slow compared to most venues in the area, but the coverage is pretty good right now and they're playing at a medium speed that you can easily handle. They hold shots just fine, but are unfortunately a little bumpy and still too many ball marks. And yet everyone has seen them worse here, so they seem pretty good right now.

POP was pretty abysmal as we were one of the last groups to finish after well over five hours, and yet again no cart service to be found despite a full tee sheet. This would not be a big deal if the snack shop was located in a decent spot, but it's not. It's one of the more inconvenient snack areas in all of SoCal actually, so that's another issue.

So yeah, if you can just tune out from all of the other negatives around the course and just focus on the golf itself, you'll be okay right now. You won't be overwhelmed or go home counting the moments to get back to the first tee, but you'll survive and move on. I guess.
Finished off the weekend with a nice round at Knollwood on Sunday. Our foursome snagged a 9:15am tee time online with a $49 greens fee. Not bad for this very fun layout, albeit not in its best shape and once again plagued by POP issues.

First mention though goes to the antiquated golf carts at KCC that are 'no frills' personified. The steering mechanism barely worked in the cart we were assigned. It would be a real treat for this course to update those mules, but I doubt it will happen. They also continually have POP problems here because tee times are not staggered enough. We essentially waited on every hole on Sunday, however I've actually seen it far worse, being 2-3 groups deep all day.

In the end we finished in just over five hours. Thankfully I was playing with a very fun group and the weather cooperated for most of the day, with a few cold spells when the sun dipped behind the clouds and the wind picked up.

Overall, I've also seen the course in far better shape. When it is in good shape, it's (for me) one of the more fun tracks to play in SoCal, but when it's beat up like yesterday, it makes it a bit more of a slog. Fairways are pretty thin in a lot of areas and there were a few GUR stakes marked where the rain water had collected, but some of the more wide open holes have nice coverage. Tee boxes were okay, except for the 18th hole which was severely sloped and in need of some work. Bunkers seemed okay but I avoided them all day. As far as the rough, plenty of dirt and mulch areas to avoid if you can. The rest of it is sparse and not very difficult.

Greens were rolling at varied speeds all day and tough to work out. Some of the greens here are a bit unfairly sloped (I'm looking at you hole 3) depending on where they set out the pin that day. Some spotty coverage on a lot of the greens but they mostly rolled pretty true and held shots pretty well. Aesthetics not great, but played okay. Fix your ball marks, people.

Still, it was a good day out there despite the less-than-optimal conditions and the poor transportation options. Also never saw cart service once on a busy Sunday afternoon, so that's bewildering. I would love for KCC to pick up its game and be the shining star it could be with just a little more attention to detail. But it's crowded enough as is so not holding my breath.
Saturday foursome at Wilson today, taking out the new carts with their nice new GPS system and playing from the blue tees. This LA classic is in better-than-average shape right now but could be so much better with just a few tweaks.

Solid if not spectacular course of golf to be found here. The layout is mostly flat and most of the holes are pretty straightforward, but it still has a charming character with respect to the history of the grounds and the outstanding views and wildlife that enhance the experience.

Fairways in good shape but you will definitely find yourself with some thin lies to navigate. Rough can be a bit grabby in places, but nothing too terrifying. Some nice patches, too. Once again, tough to judge bunkers after the recent rains but right now they're poor for sure. Tee boxes are also a bit beat up and in need of work. The greens are a bit on the bumpy side and certainly not aesthetically pleasing, but they're okay. They're rolling a little faster than medium actually and do have some decent slopes to sort out.

Good day of golf and a good time to visit Wilson as long as you know what you should expect. Oh, almost forgot that the POP was not too bad for a Saturday. We started about 10 minutes late and finished around five hours and change. Also had some fun with two inquisitive coyotes at the turn after the snack shop. Do not try this at home.
Played a late Friday round this past weekend at Moorpark - my first time returning in almost four years, so I was quite excited when the opportunity presented itself. My foursome played from the blue tees with cart, and we played the Creekside and Ridgeline nines.

First and foremost, this is not a course for the feint of heart. From the tee, you're either going to face narrow fairways with trouble on either side, or formidable carries over all manner of canyon or some other kind of danger. You also need to really know your distances. This is critical here, along with some degree of accuracy, in order to keep the ball in play.

Definitely a cart-only course, and it was especially challenging because the entire course was Cart Path Only after the recent rains. Not ideal in the least. But understandable.

In truth, I was expecting a little more lush from the fairways, but while the course is imminently playable, it's certainly not lush. You'll find some thin lies for sure and all the grass seems to have a dull fade to it in terms of its color, but there were also a lot of soggy patches that made for difficult shot making when not moved under GUR/winter rules.

The greens were great though and lots of tricky breaks on many of the greens. A lot of small greens, too. But very fun to play and a solid challenge. They're quite fast as well. Bunkers were considerably poor but completely the fault of the recent weather. Looked as if they'd been okay were in not for that. Tee boxes were in good shape.

Playing midweek here for the rate of around $70 is a good deal. The course is very challenging but fun and conditions are good enough to merit that rate without a doubt. However, I'm not sure how I'd feel about the much higher weekend rates currently until the course dries out and the CPO decision changes. But definitely bring your A game or you're in for a hurtin' ...
It was a last-minute opportunity thanks to a canceled meeting after working for two days out in Palm Springs that I was able to meet up with Nickesquire and play the never before heard of Mountain Vista Country Club this past Friday. We played the Santa Rosa 18 along with mnielson and his wife Doris after they had all spent the morning playing the San Gorgonio 18.

Again, I had never heard of this course before and was anticipating something more akin to Indian Palms or Tahquitz Creek in terms of quality and conditions, but I could not have been more wrong. Mountain Vista was every bit as pristine and well-manicured as any of the top courses in the Palm Springs area currently following their pre-winter reseeding.

The course winds through a residential community from start to finish, but you rarely ever feel that tightness of the course due to that design. Fairways often feel incredibly generous, but don't be fooled into thinking this course is a pushover, because it's not. There are a lot of very tricky water features to manage and many of the greens have steep dropoffs around them to put a premium on well-struck approach shots. That being said, the tips here are not too long so playing from the black tees is not the challenge you would expect it to be.

Course conditions are really great from tee to green. Tee boxes in exquisite shape, fairways, as previously mentioned, in perfect condition - green, inviting and lush. Rough is very thick and lush but cut down to be extremely playable. Bunkers are not the white fluffy sand, but in good shape compared to other resorts. And the greens are great. Not too gimmicky, but definitely have to do a good job of reading them. Coverage is really nice, they're medium-fast to fast on most holes, and seemed to hold shots very well.

We had cart service come around as well and there are plenty of water and restroom stations along the routing to keep you happy. The course is generally flat but you've got a few treks between holes. It'll keep you engaged, though. Really nice experience and definitely a course I would like to come back to again in the future. You may not have heard of it, but it will hold its own with plenty of the region's best in its current shape.
Played with my monthly group at Enicino this Saturday and found the course to be in good, not great shape overall. We had an 8:24 first tee time and it was very cold at the start, making the decision to walk much easier.

If you've never played Encino (or Balboa) before, it's the true definition of 'confidence course.' A poor round here will haunt your dreams. It's straight ahead golf with only minor inconveniences along the way, with the possible exception of some length depending on if you play from the black tees. If not, take aim and let 'er rip.

Conditions are just about what you would expect for this high-traffic muni, only the greens are in better shape than you think they'll be in, rolling at medium-fast speed and actually pretty smooth in terms of ball marks. Fairways are mostly thin, but playable, and with a few lush patches. Rough is only slightly differentiated from the fairways so it's easy to manage.

Tee boxes definitely in rough shape (played the blue tees), while the bunkers were in better shape than I expected, but nothing super to write home about. Absolutely playable, though. POP was pretty good for a cold, busy Saturday but maybe that's because we were the last group out of our three. Cart service came around too so that was an unexpected surprise.

Overall, a nice time at Encino and definitely a place to go to work on just about any aspect of your game that you're struggling with. Mistakes won't be greatly penalized with all of the side-by-side fairways and ample collection areas. Take it for what it's worth and you won't be disappointed.
In what's become a bit of a yearly birthday tradition, I played Rolling Hills CC again this past week and enjoyed my best-ever round there, so that was pretty fantastic. Walked from the Copper tees with my foursome using their top-shelf push carts, but their real carts are also in great shape.

Fantastic practice area at RHCC to start the day, and the course itself in terms of layout is pretty great, but not without its few faults starting to expose themselves with more time out on the track. The second hole remains a mystery in terms of what the designer was thinking, and after now having been open for over a year, my buddy (the member) has deemed the course as 'great for the middle handicap golfer, but too easy for the low and too hard for the high.' Take that for what it's worth. You'll also slowly find more and more homes being built up in the lots that surround the course, so it's slowly starting to feel less open and free.

The recent rains wreaked some havoc on the fairways (which are never 'pristine' in the first place) which led to a lot of GUR areas, some big patches where it looked like sod was being laid down, and thin collection areas that are feeling the brunt of course design forcing every shot in their direction. The rough is in great shape though, as are the tee boxes. Bunkers were in pretty good shape but not the super fluffy variety.

What is absolutely epic about RHCC are the greens and their massive profiles and tricky breaks. They're huge, but also in pretty immaculate shape. They roll very quick and can be difficult to stop on the surface without well-struck, high-trajectory shots, or smart golf by running balls right up to the front and letting them roll on accordingly. But definitely some of the best greens and green complexes you'll find anywhere in Los Angeles.

Always a great time though with those friends playing this exclusive course that is not currently in its best shape, but more than enough good things out there to enjoy a super day hitting the sticks.
Rams Hill lived up to the hype yet again following this weekend's GK Plays down in Borrego Springs. There's a good reason why this particular event will always pack the house with players because it's simply one of the best golf experiences you'll ever have out there.

This Fazio design layout is simply a joy to play and, despite the tricky windy and sometimes cold conditions, it's an absolutely fair and enjoyable test of golf. This is certainly not the most difficult desert course you'll find out there as many of the fairways are contoured to help keep wayward balls in play, and the desert lies are often quite playable themselves.

But that's not to say this course doesn't have teeth of its own, mostly in the form of many very strategically-placed bunkers and a good amount of water features that come into play as well. We decided to play from the white tees to experience the course in a different way and it was still great fun, albeit with a different approach off the tee in most cases. It's also that variety that makes Rams Hill a terrific destination.

Greens were running very smoothly but not as lightning quick as past visits. Very manageable indeed. But nice coverage and held shots very well. Again, very FAIR greens as well with considerable tiers and slopes, but nothing so over the top as to be considered 'gimmicky.'

Fairways were mostly in great shape but there were some muddy areas or some patches that seemed like they had just been grown in with new sod. I'm no greenskeeper so I can't speak much to that, but I do know that I've seen the fairways out here in slightly better condition overall on previous occasions, but this is just nitpicking since the course is still so great.

Rough was thick and perfect, and definitely still playable as well. Tee boxes were in fine, level shape, and the bunkers (of which I saw many) had nothing but great sand in them. Kudos to the grounds crew at Rams Hill for drying them out so quickly after the previous day's rains.

We had great service as well from the start to the finish - nice touch with the homemade cookies to finish off the round. Also the BEST little chicken tacos at the snack shop just after the turn. Keep making those! And the GPS on the carts is very functional and helpful, while the carts themselves are updated, modern, and well appointed.

All in all, another fabulous weekender down to Borrego Springs with the highlight being one of the best courses you'll ever play if having a good time is what you're all about. The views of the surrounding mountains and desert are awe-inspiring and will make you want to come back again and again.
We played Warner Springs Ranch on the Saturday before the Rams Hill GK outing and it was certainly a memorable experience, but mostly of the non-flattering variety, but with a caveat.

First off, the rainy and windy weather made the experience quite miserable with only a very few breaks throughout the day. But with the Borrego Springs resort having been closed and De Anza having a tournament all morning, we really hoped that WSR would scratch the itch, if of course the weather held. It did not.

The greens were a disaster, and not just from being completely water-logged. The tee boxes were chewed up and rough, the bunkers were absolute gravel and mud and the fairways were thin, chewed up and of course also buried under the deluge of water. It was about as far from ideal conditions as you'll find just about anywhere thanks to the weather, but had the sun been shining, it would have likely been an entirely different experience.

Why? Because this course has immeasurable character. It's charming AF and the layout is really superb. This course really makes you think and bring your best stuff. It's got some incredibly challenging holes, especially on the front nine, and you must be very accurate and precise to have any chance of getting a good score here.

I do imagine this place in good condition to be absolutely fantastic, and based on the last review from July this past summer, it can absolutely get there, but how often is the question. After some discussions at Rams Hill with the San Diego clan of GKers, it looks like the best time to go back would be late spring/early summer.

The pro shop is bare bones and they only open this place a few days of the week, Thur-Sun I believe. There's not much of a range but it gets the job done, and the restaurant was really good I thought. I believe we paid around $50 for the greens fee, which was too much for that particular day, but it's also not going to get any better with less money, so I was okay with it.

While most of my playing partners feel that a one and done at Warner Springs Ranch is just fine, I absolutely feel compelled to return one day when the weather is far better and course conditions match the super cool layout that awaits in this unique spot for golf.
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