Golf Course Reviews
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Played Casta del Sol Friday 01/12/2018 with a 9:06 tee time. Played in a foursome made up of a pair of friends, and another single, all of us are retired, all were good golfers.
Check in was easy as usual. Cart was clean but lacked a score card which I had to go back in for. Practice green was in excellent shape but was still dew covered at 8:45am.
We tee’d off on time behind a foursome trailing a pair of foursomes and a group of five that were together. We were out ahead of a women’s league. The quality of the company the foursome in front of us, and the three guys I was with made play enjoyable despite waiting on every tee. Well I have played this course as a single in as little as two hours and fifteen minutes todays round took right at five hours.

Cart’s were restricted to cart paths due to water on the course. This seldom presented a problem in terms of footing, there were a couple of soppy areas, the major impact was on the softness of the fairway and the collar of the greens which reduced roll out and made hitting a bump and run a crap shoot. Balls that caught the collar of the greens stopped.

The condition of the tee boxes where good. Most were playing up, and narrow as they appear to have recently punched and leveled the tee boxes and are re-growing the grass. The exception was 18 where the rarely used par 4 blues were in play.
The condition of the fairways was good, mostly green some winter brown with good coverage and mostly dry. There are a lot of geese and ducks with the expected hazards they create. This applies to hazards on some greens as well.
Rough was where most of the moisture seemed to be trapped, making it more penal than usual, and creeks were full and flowing.

Bunkers were in excellent shape with nice coverage. The groups ahead of us were doing a good job of raking the bunkers when they were in them.

Greens were excellent, great coverage, playing a bit slow, greens are absolutely beautiful. The groups in front of us were doing and excellent job of repairing ball marks.
The course was fun to play, marshals were out assuring best possible pace of play. The tee side grill at the 10th was serving up good hot dogs, there was closest to the pin competition on the par 3 12th hole to benefit a juvenile brain cancer center. Weather was perfect.

Casta del Sol is in excellent condition a fun play, just a little on the slow side.
11 Likes.
Played David L. Baker Friday as a foursome, teeing off at 8:07 am. Rate $30 per player with cart. The staff in the pro shop was wonderful as usual, and carts were ready to go. I love David L. Baker but unfortunately the first two sentences of this review cover all the good for this visit.


Unless the course was washed over by a fog so thick that it simulated a monsoon rain, someone let the sprinklers run all night. Hitting practice balls on the range, the mats were soaking wet, and the ball trays had to have standing water emptied from them. I actually had a hitting station that was in a small drainage channel, giving me an uneven lie on the practice range.


Playing from the blues the tee boxes were terrible, uneven, rutted, muddy. The areas around the tee boxes, along the cart path had standing water, mud, and because of standing water on the cart path, mud tracks to the side. It looked like Patton's eighth army had traversed the course near the tee boxes. Fairways were damp and to sopping, requiring lift clean and place on most shots. Rough was in good shape, and might have been the highlight of the course. The western section of the course was worse than the eastern section. The greens on the front nine looked like they had been shelled, with numerous un-repaired or wounded from previous poor repairs. The greens on the back nine were better but not great, and covered with a fair amount of gifts from the coots and geese.

We were observing an unique set of injuries to the greens and it took awhile to realize that on the guys in the twosome in front of us, liked to press his foot into his wedge on the green to lift it, not realizing he was cutting an arch into the surface.

Bunkers were raked and in excellent condition, surprisingly not too wet, with generous coverage.


The cafe was polite and efficient, and the restroom clean, very different from the restroom serving the range and the crossover which had trash in the entrance, the bin was overflowing, and the paper towels empty.

Fortunately my playing companions were so good as to make the above a non issue, but this course has played so much better this year, it was a shame to see it suffering.


Perhaps the last in dignity was the American flag our front, it was faded, the stripes were torn length wise and tattered and missing fabric at the ends. She was flying, but a new flag is desperately needed.

I really can't recommend the course at this time. I did not have a clean or level lie off the tee in 18 holes.
7 Likes.
Los Amigos Golf Course

Played Los Amigos with my friend using the GK discount coupon, [12-2pm Monday through Friday] for $27, round, cart and lunch. Check in was easy, but not as expected. I arrived about 45 minutes before our 12:20 tee time so that I could hit the range and warm up. On check in rather than charging us $27 per person, they charged us $22 per person, gave each of us a sleeve of Noodle Long & Soft balls, and the cart key. They told us to ask for the $5 special at the snack bar. Range balls were $5 for a small bucket. I had made my tee time reservation online at the course website, Sunday night at 9pm for a Monday match at 12:20am. Despite the online price showing $30 waking they gave me no hassle when we showed up with our GK coupon. As for lunch we were told just to ask for the $5 hot dog and soda special which we did at the turn, fast service, good dog, and Dr. Pepper.

We were sent out to the tee, and paired with a wonderful retired couple who were walking. As we waited on the tee it looked like it was going to be a very long round. There was a foursome of walkers on the green, a foursome of walkers around 200 yards out waiting for the group on the green, and another foursome that had just tee’d off on the tee #2. There was another foursome forming just behind us as we waited to tee off. Surprisingly by the time we hit the third hole, we were spreading out nicely, and by the time we hit the sixth hole we were moving along like a well-oiled machine. The group in front of us was gone, and the group behind us was a hole behind. We completed the round in exactly four and half hours, on beautiful 73 degree day with a light breeze.

With perhaps one exception the tee boxes were in very good condition despite the volume of players. There was divot damage, but a clean lie, or tee spot was easily found. Driver is used on so many holes that the tee’s don’t see much in the way of damage. Most tee’s were level, and lush, with a touch of brown.

Fairways were uniformly in good condition, good coverage no bare spots, a hit of brown in some spots but with good coverage. Roll out was generous. Most fairways are large, however poor shots placement is penalized by tall mature trees. You have to know which side of the fairway to play on many holes to make par.

Rough on this course is very penal. The rough is spidery, sticky, often among tall trees, with low hanging branches. I had more trouble hitting out of the fairway rough on this course than any I can remember recently. Warning the rough can hide roots that are further away from the tree than one might expect. I am going to be nursing a sore wrist for a couple of days. The rough along the fairways is often four or more inches tall, similarly the second cut around the greens are very deep. On the 18th hole my playing partners saw my ball land in line with the pin at the back of the green and roll through. With all four of us looking we could not find it. My partner had almost the same thing happen on 16 with a shot just 10 yards off the green to the right of the fairway. After taking a drop and walking back to the cart we just saw the ball below the grass in a fried egg lie that we had missed even with all four of us looking. He played his ball, but the deep lie made for a tough shot, and poor result.

Bunkers are in excellent shape, albeit some groups before us did better jobs of raking than others. Greenside bunkers tend to be deep with steep faces. Sand is medium heavy, with good depth. Well in excellent conditions these are not friendly bunkers, and layups are likely better than challenging the bunkers.
Greens were in overall good condition playing fast but fair. Some greens are terraced, and some slope back to front or right to left. The roll on a number of holes was bumpy, but straight. The greens are very (rock) firm, leaving indentations more than pitch marks, and were very difficult to stop or back spin the ball unless it dropped straight down. The coverage on the greens is excellent, with very few damage areas, none affecting play.
The course is largely flat, trees, bunkers, doglegs, are the key defenses, until the back nine where water adds to the pucker factor. Perhaps the hardest is 16 which is a dogleg left, that has a twenty yard lading area just short of the cart bridge. Land it short of this area and trees block the approach, of about 150 yards. Go long and you’re in the water the bridge crosses, a very tough par four. Seventeen plays long over water into the wind and severely sloped green, 182 yards from the whites.
Service in the pro shop and snack bar were fast and friendly. We did not see a refreshment cart on the course at all, did not see an ambassador or marshal. Relief stations were strategically placed. There is construction on a new starter stand and what looks like an outdoor grill going on.

The driving range is very nice, the fencing has been repaired since the last time I was here. The range boarders the 18th hole which made locating my yellow golf ball a pain well playing the 18th as that is the color used for range balls. One of the nice features are a USC, and UCLA shield about 100 yards out that you can hit to.
At the rack rate of $30 walking and $40 with cart I find this course a good value. For $27 dollars with cart on the GK coupon it’s a great deal. Given they threw in a sleeve of balls, all the better. I hope to get back and play the course again before the coupon expires at the end of the month.
8 Likes.
Marine Corp Memorial Golf Course

Played Marine Memorial Thursday 09/28/2017 teeing off at 9:20 am, playing as a twosome.
Started our day off with breakfast at Mulligan’s. Prices are very reasonable, and quality and quantity were very good. Atmosphere is on the patio, the inside is simple. Unfortunately the marine layer had left the patio to damp to use and enjoy the view.
The pro shop staff was very helpful. We were sent to the 10th tee to open on the back nine, giving me a different perspective of the course than starting on the first hole. Since I booked by phone, was not really aware of the price. The round ended up costing us $50 per player with a cart which is extra.
Breakfast took us a little longer than I expected, as such did not get a warm up on the range. Tee’ing off on number 10 a slight dogleg right up hill, I took the drive down the right side into the second cut of rough and trees. These boarders the driving range which also uses yellow balls. I found my ball easily enough, but will need to add a mental note.
We did not see any foursomes on course, most of the other players were twosomes, with a couple of threesomes. Pace of play overall was quick at 3.5 hours.
Tee’s. Last week when I played the GM told us that they will be releveling the tee boxes shortly. I didn’t find the tee’s an issue, however this round playing from the whites which we located very differently than last week, I seemed to find a depression or poor footing on about half the tee boxes. The coverage was still lush, very little divot damage, but the lack of level and the softness of the ground where a problem.

Whereas last week I didn’t find any wet lies, and mud that I saw was limited to the end of the cart path on a few holes, today’s round had more mud, and every fairway was wet. Clearly the course had been heavily watered. This made the thick rough extremely difficult. The fairways consistently showed a much more pronounced brown cart trail down the middle of the fairways than I recall as well. Grass coverage was still excellent, just brown, and damp.
Rough was thick, penal, with no thin spots. The fairways are generous on this course so if you are in the rough it’s on you. The second cut is often surrounded by mature tree’s making the pain all the greater.
Bunkers both fairway and greenside are in excellent shape consistent bright white sand providing fluffy lies. Only a couple of bunkers early in the round show signs of being damp, there rest were very dry in contrast to the fairways.
Greens were in excellent shape, and played extremely fast. Pins were on ridges, false fronts, and edge of terraces making for an extremely challenging day on the greens. Unlike the fairways the greens were green, tightly mown, hard, dry and fast. Even lightly struck 15-20 uphill puts could run six feet by the hole. The comebacker was a white knuckle experience. Very few ball marks, excellent shape.
Teeing off at 9:20 am with a heavy marine layer along the coast, I was not expecting much wind. The Marine layer was not visible on the course, however by 11 am as we finished the back nine the wind was rising. The front nine are a completely different experience playing into a strengthening wind then what I had previously experienced. The downhill par three guarded by bunkers presented a special test. Eighteen required a long drive into the teeth of the wind.

I really like the layout of this course, and look forward to playing it again after the greens are punched and the tee boxes leveled. Until then however I am likely to pick Big Rec over Marine Memorial, based on both drive and cost, as I live in Mission Viejo, and my regular playing partner lives in Long Beach. If I were playing San Diego courses Marine Memorial would be higher on my list of regular plays.
9 Likes.
Recreation Park 18

Recreation Park 18 isn’t a layout that scares the golfer, there are no water or wasteland carries, there is very little out of bounds, unless you hit it over the fence to the highways that boarder the course. Rather the course is comprised of long holes featuring wide fairways bordered by mature trees, moderate rough, fairway and greenside bunkers. Many holes feature elevation changes and doglegs, but nothing hidden. The course is fun, fair, affordable, and friendly.

Played Tuesday with my best friend on a Golf Now Hot Deal. Two players with cart for $66 1:22pm tee time. The course was virtually empty and we were able to get out more than 45 minutes early. The round took just over 3:15 minutes.
The starter was friendly and got us out early. The temperature was a very pleasant 84 degrees at 12:40 when we tee’d off light 5 knot wind providing comfort and some challenges. We were chasing a single that was playing behind a twosome. We wouldn’t have anyone behind us until after the turn.

Carts feature GPS, and provided very good yardages from most locations.

Tee boxes were lush with some divot damage, minor soft and unleveled areas. Overall footing was good, and a number of tee’s had divot mix boxes available. We played the whites. Most tee locations were honest and did not set the golfer up for a bad angle or make use of visual tricks.

The fairways have a mix of grasses, color of turf, but all areas I was in were in very good condition with lush coverage. The recent dry conditions provided for some truly remarkable rollout on downhill drives. I did not have a bad fairway lie the entire round.

Rough – Fairway rough was a mix of length almost as if it had not been mown in the last week. This presented some significant issues, as much of the rough is found under the mature trees, with a mix of pine needles to add to the complexity of the shot and stance. The fairway rough ranged from spidery weed at two inches to tall grass of five to six inches. Rough around the greens were immaculately groomed, with the second cut less than two inches to three inches.

Bunkers are in excellent condition with most being reasonable. Sand is generous and well settled.

Greens were fast to medium fast, with excellent coverage, with an unfortunate number of unrepaired pitch marks, and damage from prior pitch mark repair. On this day there was an overabundance of forward pin placements three to six paces on.
The barbeque was going at the turn for a good hot dog or burger just feet from the tee box. The course features a more than adequate number of relief stations. Each hole had working ball washers, and trash cans. During the round we say an ambassador observing play on almost every hole. We wouldn’t run into traffic until the fourteenth hole where we joined the single that had joined with another single after the twosome between them dropped out. Couldn’t have been much better.

This is my second time playing “Big Rec” and as with the first time I found it completely enjoyable, in better condition than my last round, and well worth the price.
14 Likes.
Usually when I play a course I look forward to sharing the conditions, service, and experience with the GK community. I played the Marine Memorial Golf Course on Thursday afternoon teeing off at 1:30pm with Johnny GK and a fellow Guru Evan, and I really, really do not want to post this review. It may have been the early morning rain that was dissipating as I arrived an hour before my round, or this might be normal for this course, but we virtually had the course to ourselves. This gem is virtually unknown to the public, and the greedy side of me would like it to stay that way.

Marine Memorial is located on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, behind the armed entry. The drive to course is down a nice winding road, which is lightly traveled. It is worth remembering that the base is federal property and any traffic offense will be contended in federal court. (Something I learned when I worked at Edwards Air Force Base). The course is ensconced in the base away from distractions common on other courses open to public play, the exception being the occasional sound of machine gun fire, and Cobra attack helicopters off at the distance.


The club house is very nice, the pro shop is well stocked, and items purchased at the store are tax free. The restaurant and patio area are very nice, simple, pleasant with new awnings being added. The bar is basic, but again this is an active duty military base. They are about halfway through with the new awnings. Everything is very clean, neat and in working order. I found the pro shop staff very helpful, and friendly, I even found a new head cover for my dirver. Check in was simple and straight forward, golf carts are assigned by number. Rack rate for civilians is $40, with a $20 twilight rate starting at 1:30pm.

I will save the suspense, I love this course, and in fact I have a tee time booked for next Thursday with my best friend who has never played the course. By the third hole, my threesome was playing virtually alone. I know there was a twosome, single and the other Guru foursome ahead of us and through eighteen holes no one behind us.

The tee boxes are lush, level, with very little divot damage. The course GM told us the tee boxes will be releveled soon, making very good tees outstanding. Well my playing partners played from the blues, I played from the whites. In a number of cases these tees are on different levels and in some cases not even adjacent providing different looks and requiring different shot shapes. The course opens with a 508 (from the whites) yard downhill slight dogleg right off the first tee. The view of the fairway is really beautiful, green, and lush, with inviting fairways, bounded by strategically places fairway bunkers. On our way to the first hole we were greeted by a very handsome well feed coyote.

I usually cover the fairways after the tee box, however since I found the rough on my first and second shots; I feel it’s appropriate to mention this component of the course first. Rough is deep, don’t go there. If you do, other than a few wet areas, whether from watering or the rain the course had gotten over night and in the morning, it was dry, lush, and made it hard to get the club face on the ball. I was in the rough more than I would like to admit, and in almost every case my ball sank into the rough making contact that much harder. (What rough is supposed to be/do).
I did manage to find the fairway quite a bit, and each time had a perfect lie. There were unbelievably few divots on the fairways. At the divide between the paved cart paths and dirt cart paths there were some mud bogs, but nothing that should come into play. Well there are some patches of different types of grasses, and colors, I would rate the fairways perfect and the best I have played on this year. My typical drive is a 198 yard carry, as such I am sensitive to rollout for the extra distance. I was fortunate to get excellent roll on most fairways. There are four holes on this course that play over 500 yards from the whites, two more over 400 yards, leaving me long irons, hybrids and then a wedge into a number of holes. The shortest hole on the course is 148 yards, and I used an iron off the tee a total of three times. Fairways are for the most part wide, tree lined, with scrub bush out of bounds.

The main defense of the course is its fairway and greenside bunkers, combined with wind, elevation change, subtle ridges in the greens, and a couple of tiered greens. The bunkers have recently been replaced, and feature the same sand used at Augusta National, home of the masters. They can best be described as blindingly white. As part of the bunker and greens team at the Farmers Insurance Open I have had what good bunkers should be like explained, and as such I tend to be hard on bunker condition, and maintenance. The bunkers at MMGC are every bit as good as those on the north course as Torrey. Essentially they are as good as they get, perhaps a little fluffy. Sounds sick I know, but I enjoyed playing out of them, and on a couple of holes where I was concerned with going long, I used the bunker as a target knowing I would have a chance to get up and down.
Greens are the sparkling jewel of this course. They are nothing short of beautiful. Pretty sure that you would need to put down Astroturf to have greener, smoother cover. There were some bumpy spots, that were hard to see, but the ball could find, overall rolls were true, smooth and quick. There was a moderate amount of variation between the greens on roll speed from medium to medium fast. The greens that appear flat tend to have spines, and hidden ridges. There is also a hill effect in play when reading the breaks. There are at least two, maybe three greens that feature distinct tiers, and right to left slope.

It’s worth mentioning here that the course features a large number of eucalyptus trees especially around the greens. It’s notable that despite being the beginning of fall, there was very little detritus on the greens, virtually no leaves. Combined the near perfect cover with the very low number of ball marks, and you have country club greens on what is now a public course playing under $50.
The driving range has better cover than most muni’s in Orange County. The distance marked are pretty close to accurate from a range of stations, and the simulated pins have an elevated green so you can clearly see how close you get. There are two practice bunkers, and they are every bit as good as the ones on the course. The putting green is spacious, and well represents what you will find on course. Range balls are $2 per 20 balls.
There is a restroom about every four holes, all very well maintained. There are frequent water stations along the way, those I tested were full. There are clean, well maintained ball washers at each tee with a clean towel. The carts had full divot mix bottles, and some tee’s had divot mix boxes as well. There are also plaques at each tee commemorating a Marine Corp mission, from the liberation of Soul South Korea, to the liberation of Kuwait. This is a Memorial Golf Course.

From my house in Mission Viejo it took right around an hour to get to the course. You basically are coming in the back entrance of the base, not the entrance visible form the freeway, so it takes a little effort to get there.
As I mentioned at the opening of the review, I really want to keep this course for myself, it’s a wonderful, affordable layout, and has for now replaced the Golf Club of California as my favorite. It avoids the forced carries of California, and the Crossings, doesn’t ask the high fees of Riverwalk, and I could rattle off more than a dozen courses in Orange County that cost more and can’t touch the condition. Isolated in a canyon, it seems a world apart; there are no houses, with music or dog noise, you don’t have to worry about a slice hitting the house. There are no roads, other than the road to course which is very lightly traveled. Being a stone’s throw from the ocean the temperatures are moderated.
The one negative if there is one, would be the old style reservation system. To book a tee time you have to call the pro shop, and that means getting a busy signal, or being put on hold, the way it used to be before the internet. I can live with that, and I look forward to teeing up Thursday at 9;24 am.

Conditions couldn’t be better, yet based on the conversation we had with the general manager the course is going to get better, with planned tee box and green work. I want the course to be successful in reaching enough of the public so that it can continue to offer our military an excellent venue to relax when home, but not so successful that it gets chewed up like the Destroyer and Cruiser course have gotten in Los Alamitos.
15 Likes.
Casta del Sol
Played Casta del Sol Wednesday 09/13/2017, with a 9:24am tee time. Played as a foursome with a group of great guys, Jim, Greg, and Mark. Rate was $18 including cart and drink using the American Golf Players Club.

At check in, I received sad news that long time starter Doug Houston is leaving, his business is keeping him fully occupied. Doug has been the starter I have seen most often over the last couple of years, and always makes you feel welcome, wanted and a friend. I am really going to miss having him there in the morning.

Teeing off at 9:24 the course was full. We were chasing a number of foursomes, well-being politely followed by a twosome. The course was in excellent condition aside from being very damp on the first four holes. The first fairway had been heavily watered, and was walking only in some areas, and the first green was being watered as we tee’d off. Funny the first was my only par of the day.
The tee boxes were mostly level with the exception of #11. The grass was lush, and there were very few divots. The divots that were present, my one playing partner was diligent to fill well we waited on the tee for the group in front of us to move out of range. It is worth mentioning that these three guys were the best I have ever played with about fixing ball marks and fairway divots.
Aside from the first three holes the fairways were dry, lush and easily playable. The tone was green and brown, but the coverage was excellent.
Bunkers were in very good condition and the groups in front of us did a good job of restoring the bunkers after playing out of them. Greenside bunkers were fluffy, fairway bunker was clean and compacted. The two I played from were very good condition, although I did find one rock on entry to the greenside bunker on #3.

Fairway rough was lush, and difficult perhaps because the situations I was in, the rough was damp. I find damp rough harder to play out of than dry rough.

Pin locations were challenging. Greens were in good condition, with fewer unrepaired ball marks than recent rounds, however a number of pins seem to have been placed in recently used locations that showed a lot of wear. I wasn’t putting particularly well, but had four three putts, and missed nine putts inside four feet, a number of which were moved by the lumpy surface of recently repaired ball marks. This was more prevalent on the back nine than the front nine. The par three 12th hole was again playing host to a charity challenge, this time to benefit hurricane relief, all four of us participated.
Casta del Sol is a fun, challenging par 61 layout featuring elevation changes, trees, creeks, ponds and bunkers at a reasonable price. Length is 3670 yards from the blues.
9 Likes.
Lake Forest Golf & Practice Center
Played Lake Forest Golf & Practice Center 09/11/2017 teeing off at sunrise 6:25am, behind a single, followed by a single. Pace of play was one hour fifteen minutes. Played at the American Golf Players Club rate of $5 for nine holes walking with a drink included.
Check in was easy, and pleasant, took about two minutes, and I was headed out to the first tee.
Tee boxes were chewed up, but playable spots were available, boxes were mostly level with good footing. The exception was the ninth tee which was soaking wet. As I teed off on the ninth the sprinklers were still on in the landing zone.
Rough is about 3” high, but largely doesn’t come into play except around the greens. Overall condition of the rough was good.
Bunkers were neat, playable, and a mix of thin, and soft. I did find one large rock in the bunker protecting the third green; otherwise the bunkers on course looked good. Bunkers on course were much better than those in the practice area.
Fairways, are a patchwork of green, brown, various types of grasses. The coverage is good, playable, and a reasonable challenge.
Greens, were in very good condition overall with the exception of the green on the eighth hole which was damaged by water drainage during last winter’s storm. The grass has filled in, but is rough, and there is a channel that runs across the mid to front of the green from left middle to right front. Otherwise they rolled true, looked good. The only real complaint is that some very good (close to the pin) golfers should be ashamed of themselves for not fixing ball marks. I was fixing three to four marks per green just to assure a good putt on some greens.

For the price this is a good short game practice session, but now that I have played Ironwoods in Norwalk, I know how good a par three course can be.
By the time I completed the ninth hole, the course was full, the practice green was full, and more there was a line in the pro shop. This is a very busy course.
9 Likes.
Golf Course Review – Casta del Sol Mission Viejo. Played Casta del Sol 09/06/2017, teeing off at 9:08am as a twosome trailing a foursome, followed by a threesome. The course was full, and there was some wait to tee off on most holes as the weekly men’s league had tee’d off in the morning. Pace of play was just over four hours. Rate was $18 with cart and drink using the American Golf Players Club.
Weather at tee time was mid to upper 70’s, with a wisp of a breeze. As always Doug in the clubhouse was friendly and efficient. By the conclusion of our round it was in the upper 80’s and slightly uncomfortable due to the humidity.
Course plays to a Par of 61, @ 3,670 yards. The course features six par 4, and twelve par 3 holes, with a number of water hazards and elevation changes to keep things interesting.
Casta del Sol is my favorite local course. Largely because of the recent heat wave and the impact it has on my medical conditions I haven’t been playing as much as I would like, so I hadn’t seen the course in about four weeks. Because of the prolonged heat I was expecting to find heavily browned out fairways, dry thin tee boxes, and nonexistent rough. What I found surprised me.

I was paired with a really great guy named Gilbert. He was a lot of fun, and a very good golfer. Because of the league play the course was busy, but the feel was laid back.
Carts are basic, no frills, comfortable but lacking things such as ice chests or GPS, however they were clean and the divot mix bottles were full.
Tee’s were in excellent shape. Grass coverage was lush, green and groomed. Very little divot damage even on par threes. With the exception of the 11th tee, all tee boxes were level. Tee boxes have always been this courses week point, on this day they were a gem, really happy to see the turn around.
The fairways I expected to see browned out were green lush, with virtually no divot damage. Lies were as good as I have ever seen them on this course. We were playing in the late morning but there were no damp spots on the course. All of the ground under repair areas that were present when I last played the course in August were gone.
Rough was green, lush, and deep at approximately 4” aside the fairways. Rough around the greens were around 2”. The grass is healthy and provided good lies for the most part. Creeks were running full.
Bunkers as usual were in very good condition, good base, soft sand, perhaps a bit too much sand in a couple. The three I was in played well. I was in one bunker where someone left huge foot prints and didn’t rake the bunker, but this fortunately did not affect my lie or stance.
Greens were in excellent condition, playing medium fast on the front nine and then downshifting gears to run medium slow on the back nine. Pin placements were challenging, featuring either extreme front placements or tucked behind bunkers. Lots of fun.

I have been playing this course regularly for the last two plus years, and have never seen it in better shape. I have a tee time scheduled for this coming Wednesday.
7 Likes.
Black Gold Yorba Linda

Played Black Gold Tuesday 8/29/2017 – Tee Time 12:32pm with fellow GK Guru larryq2001. This is truly a beautiful club. Access to the club house, pro shop, and driving range from the parking lot is excellent. Carts are staged near the front doors.
Service – is top tier. Shout out to Brian in the pro shop. He and the other two pro shop staff members made checking in fun, he definitely has a future career as a cruise director. The pro shop itself is well stocked, Nike shoes, and gear from all the major brands. Trying not to tell my Mack Daddy wedge that I was looking at the new Cleveland offering in the pro shop.
Carts as mentioned are staged near the front door. They are new, very comfortable seats, excellent color GPS, and ice chest pre filled with ice. They have a very comfortable ride as well.

The driving range offers mats and grass at each hitting station, is very well laid out with targets ranging from 30 yards to more than 250 yards, and offering bunkers to be hit over so you align your mind before going on course.

Playing partner. If any of you have the chance to play with Larry, jump on it, he was great to play with, very encouraging, interesting, and a shot maker.

Conditions, from tee to green were pristine, despite the unseasonably weather. There were no wet spots, damp areas or mud, yet the grass everywhere was perfect, and mostly deep green.

The tee boxes were level and lush, with no divot damage. Some locations were soft putting the tee peg in, but held the tee well. Footing was excellent. There are blind tee shots on this course, with fairway bunkers looming, and it’s worth buying the course guide if you haven’t played here before.

Rough - was thick, approximately four inches at the second cut, neat and clean. The course uses wilderness and bramble more than rough to penalize errant shots, to either side of the fairway, and behind and to the sides of greens.

Bunkers - are in excellent shape, and players who were in the ones I sampled had done a nice job of raking leaving me a good lie. The bunkers were full of good quality sand over a firm base that made achieving a good stance very doable. I was in both fairway bunkers and green side bunkers and can say both types were in excellent shape. The course uses a number of fairway bunkers to challenge the golfer off the tee.

Fairways - The fairways were surprisingly green, and lush. I was expecting a more dried out appearance and fearing an over watered or muddy course after my recent disappointment with Rancho San Juaquin, but I had nothing to fear. The fairways were perfect, with virtually no ground under repair, there was no mud, and all of my shots in the fairway had perfect lies. The evil side of the fairways at Black Gold is virtually none are level. They feature a rolling contour that rolls left and right, up and down. I personally loved the challenge.

Greens – are in excellent condition, few ball marks, very green, well groomed, medium speed. The hole placements were evil, many on ridge lines, false fronts, or in locations where shots in any direction could go downhill. I think this was because we were being followed by what appeared to be a junior’s or high school tournament. The ball rolled true, very satisfying greens to play on.

Due to the extreme heat I only played the front nine with Larry. Despite hydration, sodium, and a cooling towel, the heat was kicking my butt, and my blood pressure was acting up, making it uncomfortable to bend over to tee up a ball, so my review reflects only the warm up, and front nine.

There is a relief station and water station that is enroute to a number of the holes the way the front nine cart path crosses itself. We did not see a beverage cart on the front nine.

Black Gold rates as one of my three favorite courses in Southern California, and depending on weather can be in first place on any given day. It is a very attractive course, surrounded by beautiful homes, nature areas, and city views. It long without requiring PGA tour card, and it’s fun to play. I look forward to playing here again in the fall when the weather is cooler.
13 Likes.
Rancho San Joaquin - Played RSJ on Thursday 08/24/2017 – 7:22 am Tee Time at the American Golf Players Club rate of $29. Went out with my best friend were paired up with a couple of RSJ regulars who were great company. The overall layout of the course is open and inviting, with a passive aggressive tendency exposed by a number of blind tee shots that often play into either a sloping fairway, dogleg or water.

Located in Irvine the facility is attractive, inviting, with a country club feel. It is bordered along some holes by homes. During our round we saw the marshal on several occasions, he stopped to talk with our regulars, however there was no cart service, just adds at 7 and 16 to call ahead to the grill. The staff was friendly, from the pro shop to the starter. The course offers same day $21 replays.

I really wanted to like this course, and I think somewhere in the future I will, but right now it’s is what could best be called a hot mess. They are working hard to make the course better that is clear by the massive number of areas in the fairways that have been re-sodded, the amount of pink foam spots and the tractor going up and down the fairways spraying something. (We discovered him below the line of sight on a blind tee). The fifth hole had a river running across the green, crossing about ten feet behind the hole. The course from tee to green was soaking wet, making even good lies hard to play consistently and impacting footing.

People who are familiar with my reviews know I run to the positive side, and this course is a fun, challenging layout, but not as it played Thursday.

Tee boxes are a mix of sort of level, to nope can find a spot where my feet and ball are on the same level. Mostly lush, with some divot damage but not terrible.

Fairway’s are a hot mess, mud just beyond the tee’s, in landing zones, along the first cut, with tractor tire, and cart tire tracts running through. There are large tracts of good brown and green grass that is lush, but was still damp. Fairways that should have given yardage on the run, really needed lift clean and place rules. We were playing the ball as it lies, and mud cost me more than few strokes. There are few worse feelings than hitting a really good drive, then hitting a ball from the middle of the fairway that goes squirrel because it’s covered in mud.

Rough – The first cut of rough is very playable aside from the wet ground, and spots of mud. The second cut is thick enough to lose a ball in, and juicy enough to make you work to avoid it. The rough around the greens especially on the down slope side of the greens was very wet, and made chipping a crap shoot from as close as foot off the green. Bump and runs were difficult to attempt, challenging me to chip onto the putting surface.

Bunkers are superb, good base, great sand, and the only consistently dry spot on this course. These are among the best quality bunkers I have seen this season.

Greens are the strength of this course, they are rich green carpets that run true, show little damage from unrepaired ball marks and are extremely challenging, featuring false fronts, tiers, ridges, and back to front slope. The greens played medium slow from the side or uphill, but showed serious speed on the downhill slopes that had held less moisture.

Ball Washers – This isn’t something I normally review, I will comment if they are lacking such as at the Golf Club of California, where they are on the members carts, but not really an item I feel the need to review. With the amount of water, and mud in play at RSJ on Thursday I was a frequent visitor to the ball washers. Not one had clean water; all were as muddy as the course. Not good when you ball comes out looking like it’s been rinsed in Ovaltine. We tee’d off at 7:22, I have to believe they had not been serviced in a while.

I will play this course again, but will wait until fall in hopes that it will present a more enjoyable experience. I really like the layout, and can imagine how fun it could be. I am just not sure if it’s so busy that It’s beat up, of if the course is missing a course superintendent. I have never recommended passing on a course, but with as much ground under repair as there is, at a normal rack rate approaching $50, there are better choices at this time, I would recommend waiting a little to play RSJ.
9 Likes.
Played the Golf Club of California Friday 8/12/2017 on GK Guru outing. Arrived at 10:15am for an 11:30am tee time. Applied sun screen on a beautiful sunny 84 degree afternoon. Checked in at the pro shop, very welcoming, picked up my cart key, range ball number, and was given a copy of the guide book. The guide book, essentially a yardage book with playing tips for each hole, it was very helpful.

The Golf Club of California was originally built as a member’s only club and it shows in the elegant design of the club house, pro shop and cozy parking lot. In addition to members guests, the club now allows a limited number of non-member players the opportunity to enjoy this visually appealing layout. The carts for the visiting golfer are very basic; they are equipped with ice chests which were pre-filled with ice. The carts are not equipped with GPS or ball washers. Member carts feature great seating, trash container, ice chests, ball washers. This is apparently why there is no ball washers on the course, and few trash cans.

The driving range is out near the entrance to the club on the way from the second to the third hole. The range features grass hitting areas that were a little drier and sandier than the tee boxes I found on the course. However the grass in the range has dried out much like some areas of the course, and provided a good feel for roll-out.

The practice green is next to the starter for the first tee, and at first I was surprised to see the surface of the practice green with some burned out, and dry areas. The green features a number of contours, levels, and are ringed by deep rough on undulating hills very representative of what you will find around the greens. Despite featuring dry spots and brown patches, the greens roll true and quick.

The starter and I talked for a while well I waited to see if any other Guru’s would join me. Wonderful guy, so much so that I teed off 10 minutes late going off at 11:40, as a single following a threesome that had tee’s off at 11:10. Course was very quiet although I was told there would be a large group arriving at 2pm and the course would be full.

Having been struggling with my game as I learn the distances of my new clubs out of different lies I chose to play the white tee’s. From the whites the course plays 6082 (6256 adjusted) vs. 6502 yards (6668 adjusted) from the blues. Built on a hillside and canyon complex the course features numerous elevation changes, often from a high tee box, to a low sloping fairways back to an elevated green, often with a false front, tiered surface, at times into gusting winds.

Tee boxes were lush, level, but appear to have been recently aerated, which was noticeable only when placing my tee into the ground. There was very little divot damage. Many of the tees feature narrow chutes that have to be negotiated, well carrying waste areas. OB in some directions and protected wild life areas in others. There are numerous fairway bunkers looking to gobble up errant drives. I found my laser range finder invaluable off the tee. The view of the surrounding hillsides, orchards, and vineyards from the 7th tee are beautiful.

Fairways were a mixture of various hues of brown and gold grass, almost as they were reflecting the adjacent hill sides, along with deep green. The greens crew was active around the course spot watering and hand trimming. They were very good at making way for me as I played. Well I was not told of any cart restrictions on the fairways, entry and exit areas were well marked and large sections roped off to minimize impact of carts on the fairways. I had cart access in every area where my ball was so this was not an issue. The fairways were dry leading to better than average rollout on shots, and I took advantage to scare several bunkers I thought were out of range. The golfer has to account for clubbing up or down for slope, as well as run out from the dry fairways. The exception was hole 6 which featured a very swampy section of fairway. As noted earlier many fairways slope from one direction to the other. Trees and terrain make the second shot from a misplaced tee shot even in the fairway difficult. This is where the tips in the guide book are very helpful. [The guide book is free, ask for one].

The fairway on #9 is a perfect example of the complexities of the course. The tee faces an area out of bounds in range to most golfers off the tee, turning right the fairway narrows, and then widens. For a second shot to the hole, the ball needs to be dead center between 100 and 150 out. There is a small narrow corridor between very tall trees right and left that guard the green. The hole is on an elevated green which requires an extra club, shots hit short will roll off the green down to the valley requiring as much as 35 yard pitch up hill. Shots that aren’t in line with the opening will be blind, and need to be highly elevated, low shots will disappear in the trees and bramble.

Fairway bunkers play a big role on this course, and vary in design from flat with low lips that offer a chance to recover, to deep bunkers with steep faces, blocked by trees or hill from advancing the ball, or that require a wedge to get out of. Sand was firm, good quality, well raked, and very playable.

Rough. The first cut was of rough was very uniform, I would estimate 1 inch, and lush, green frequently even where the fairway was not. The second cut was far deeper, and invariably growing against me whenever I was there especially if downhill.

Greenside bunkers were dry, fluffy, frequently steep faces filled with quality sand. Overall prior golfers had left the bunkers well raked. Greenside bunkers are the courses second layer of defense after the unusual angles and narrowness of the greens with some pin placements. The exception is the par 3 seventh hole which after greeting the golfer with a beautiful hill top view give him/her a steep downhill shot into a green protected with a tree and brush lined hill immediately behind, and a large pot bunker dead in the middle of the green. Pucker factor is high on this one if the wind is blowing.

Greens look like they are struggling, however they are playing pure and true. Roll is excellent. The greens feature irregular shapes, narrow constrictions, tiers, false fronts, and edges that will send a ball into the rough. For my round there were a number of forward or tucked flag locations that made going for the flag or slightly past necessary to have a chance to putt out.

The greens on the front nine played fast, the back nine was medium fast. As has been noted by other reviews at different courses there seems to be a dearth of green care by our fellow golfers. The 5th hole and 16th seemed to have suffered a little more than the rest. It’s a shame that anyone would treat a course in this way.

Pace of play was right around 4.5 hours. I caught the threesome I was playing behind by the 8th hole; they were playing behind a foursome. I ended up joining them on the 12th hole, as I was being chased by twosome behind me from the 10th hole on. Well I had waited to tee off on several holes; I never felt the pace was slow. This may have been a factor of the heat, that required pacing myself.

Amenities - The club house features a water and ice dispenser, with large Styrofoam cups for the golfer before heading out. The on course comfort stations were well placed, clean and featured drinking fountains. I saw one drink jug with cups. The beverage cart came by three times during my round, each time personally stopping to see if there was anything I wanted, very pleasant, very course aware.

The snack bar (Grill) is available at the turn as would be expected. I chose to have a hot dog. My server was very nice. Price was $6 for a dog and chips. The Dog was OK; I typically take onions and relish. There was no onion available.

As my round concluded the starter who was now preparing to go out and play inquired about my round, again really enjoyed talking with him.

As is common for a private club, there were attendants at the conclusion of play to clean your clubs and take your bag if you wanted. This is a truly fun course to play, and everyone I encountered was gracious.

Despite the drive from Mission Viejo, I love playing this course. Given a choice between the three San Diego area courses I have played recently this would be my first choice, nestled in a residential area there is very little highway noise, little aircraft noise, though there was the occasional music emanating from the homes surrounding the course. I played 3 and 4 to a praise and worship song, 11 and 12 to soft jazz, 17 and 18 to an instrumental version of Sounds of Silence.

Fortunately there are often coupons in the GK Store for this course. Look forward to bring my best friend out here play. I very much hope you will give it a chance as well.
8 Likes.
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