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The final round of my Florida trip happened New Year's Eve, the West Course at Jacaranda. Like my other rounds on this trip, I had played here once before and had some very fond memories. This round didn't quite live up to them, unfortunately. The conditions were very good, with the exception of some of the fairways. It had rained quite a bit, and they were very wet and giving no roll whatsoever. They were good to hit from, but 6 of the wholes were marked cart path only, which is incredibly annoying on a course you're not allowed to walk. Greens were very good however, medium fast like other courses in the area, and rolling pretty well. Bunkers were a little bit thin, but very consistent. The rough was consistent, when the call sat down you had to work real hard to hit a good shot. Tee boxes were solid as well. Overall, the place is very nice, but I don't think I'd return as the drainage doesn't seem quite as good as other courses, but even more I feel like the layout just doesn't fit me. I played poorly, which of course has a big effect on my enjoyment of a round, but I still think Jacaranda is a solid value and I would recommend trying it when in the area.
The second round of this trip to Florida brought me to Winston Trails on Sunday, 12/29/2019, another course that I had played once many years ago. I’m happy to have found that nothing has changed about the place, it’s still a very solid, no frills golf experience. Conditions were very good all the way around, the greens rolled nicely at a medium fast pace. Downhill putts could get away from you, and you needed to be assertive if you were going uphill. Fairways were a bit soft, not offering a ton of roll but still nice to hit from. The bunkers I found were very nice as well. Tee boxes were level, but a little bit shaggy. The group I was in wanted to play the blues, which are 7000 yards according to the card, but really felt a lot closer to 6600. Still, it was too much for them which made us one of the slower groups out there. Fortunately the group behind us didn’t push us at all, and the 4:30 we took for the round was fine. Overall a very nice place, and a very good value.
I’m in Miami with family for the holidays, so I’m enjoying getting away from the cold rain of the Pacific Northwest and playing some south Florida golf. My first round of the trip was on the day after Christmas at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, a place I had played about 10 years ago, and was dying to try again to see if it would live up to my fond memories. While it wasn’t perfect, it did.

I’ll start with the one disappointment, which was the greens. They had been verticut recently, and were being sanded that very morning right in front of us as we played (I was in the 4th group out). I don’t mind that this was being done, I appreciate them taking good care of the course, but no mention was made when I had called a few days before to book the tee time, and confirm that I’d be allowed to walk. The greens still rolled pretty well, but their speed was quite inconsistent. There were showers off and on, so on some greens the sand wasn't as present as others, so it often felt like a total guess at what was going to happen with a putt.

The rest of the course was really quite nice. There were some bare spots in the fairways, but they were always in spots that you shouldn’t be in. If you hit a solid shot off the tee, you got a nice lie in short grass that was very pleasant to hit from. The rough was consistent, and the ball could really sit down and be tough to play from. Tee boxes were level for the most part, with the par 3s being a little bit beat up. I found one green side and one fairway bunker, and both had the right amount of nice, soft sand.

The layout here is what really shines. Unlike a lot of Florida courses, walking is allowed (there are some restrictions on weekends) and I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of this, as it is a great layout to walk. I played the blue tees (6448 yds, 71.2, 126) and found it to be just the right length and challenge. The front 9 has a couple of short 4s that aren’t exactly thrilling, but other than that all of the holes are really fun, nice to look at, and very fair. All of the greens have some obvious and subtle breaks, so 2 putts can be very difficult. The complexes are also a bit raised, so most up and downs aren’t simple either. I paid the rack out of town rate, somewhere around $180, and even with the sanded greens I’m glad I played it. I bet on any other day, when the greens are in their normal condition, the place is awesome. For me, it’s definitely a must play when in Miami.
Played Coyote yesterday (Saturday, 9/21/19) and had a decent time, although I must say I'm a little bit disappointed in the conditions. I've played their other course a lot this year, and have found it to be in great shape so I was surprised to see this course already starting to feel like winter golf. Greens were a little bit bumpy, but not too bad. They were super soft, a good iron shot would leave quite the crater and any shot would hold. Fairways and tee boxes were definitely a bit scruffier than I would have liked to see, and the 1 bunker I found was awful. Rough is long and lush, if you got lucky and the ball sat up it was easy to play from, but if it sat down you would have your work cut out for you. I'm happy I played it, but I'll probably choose their other course until spring comes around.
The final round of the Indian Wells trip happened on Monday, 3/11/19 at The Westin Mission Hills Gary Player course. I had a good time here as well, finding pretty solid conditions all the way around. The day was a bit gray and cool, but the course is very nice. I found the layout to probably be the friendliest of all of my rounds on this trip, as most fairways slope down to the center, so that if you're not that straight off the tee, the course tries to help keep you in line. I walked on as a single and joined a group right away, so for the first time in a long time I found myself taking advantage of the facility's practice area after the round instead of before. There's a very nice grass driving range, plus a good little chipping green that I enjoyed using to get a little work in on the short game. The price did feel a little steep compared to my other rounds on this trip, as it was a bit more than Terra Lago or Escena, and I found the experience to not be all that much different. Just the same, I have no regrets about playing here, and most likely would do it again.
The third round of the Indian Wells trip was at Escena on Saturday morning (3/9/19). Its been awhile since I played this round, so my memory is a little bit vague. The one thing I do remember is that I had a very good time. Conditions were solid all the way around, good firm greens that rolled nicely and really only held well struck shots. Fairway, rough, and tees all good as well. I recall finding a couple of bunkers, and finding them to be in decent shape too. Pace had some periods where it felt a little bit slow, but overall I don't think I waited too much. The round was very fun, I liked the layout and would definitely play here again.
Round two of the Indian Wells trip was the second 18 of the day at Terra Lago, this time on the South Course. After finishing on the North, I had a really good sandwich for lunch in the clubhouse, then went out to the starter and got paired up with a threesome within about 10 or 15 minutes. Conditions were very much the same to me on the South as the North, very good greens, fairways, and tees, with decent rough as well. I don't think I found any bunkers on the North in the morning, but I do remember finding a fairway bunker (I believe it was the 16th hole) on the South that was in very good shape, not thin and not heavy and very pleasant to play out of. I enjoyed my round on the South, but I think I like the North little bit better. I know this is predominately due to pace, which is always going to be slower in the afternoon. It took around 4:40 to play 18, with a fair bit of waiting on many holes. I'll chalk some of that up to the wind as well, which had picked up a bit in the afternoon. Still a very pleasant round, and I bet if I had played this one in the morning, I might feel a bit differently.
I'm incredibly late posting reviews for my recent trip to Indian Wells, I've finally got the time to get these done. Day 1 of the trip was playing 36 at Terra Lago on 3/7/19, starting with the north course. I teed off about 7:30 as a single behind a two some that played at a very nice pace getting around in about 3 hours. Conditions were very solid all the way around, tee boxes nice, fairways very nice to play from, and very good greens. I had a little trouble getting used to their speed (the pacific northwest has been very much in winter condition) as it felt like they were fast, and then got faster about half way through the front 9 as things were drying out. Greenside rough could be a little bit hit and miss, some spots were very nice, others not so much. I really liked the layout, and it would definitely be in the rotation if I lived in the area.
Played Willows Run Eagle's Talon yesterday (Sunday, 2/3/19) and found it to be in decent winter shape. Greens are very nice, rolling pretty smooth at a medium slow pace. The rest of the course feels much more like winter golf here, the fairways are quite wet in places, the rough is pretty long and lush, and the bunkers are really awful. Tee boxes are a bit beat up, and could probably benefit from the markers being moved around a bit. No drink cart, and the shack at the turn was closed as well, which was a bit disappointing. I can't blame them though, as there was almost nobody there. It was kind of nice having the place to ourselves, and the quality of the greens certainly made up for any of the other shortcomings of the conditions. I'm also really glad I got the round in, as we got about half a foot of snow last night, and today's high temperature was about 30. I'm afraid it'll be a little while before I get back out.
Was in Bullhead City for Thanksgiving, and got out to Mojave Resort on Black Friday with a cousin and had a very nice time. Conditions are good here, with the fairways being the highlight. Decent roll on tee shots, great lies to hit from. The greens didn't look great, but rolled really nicely at a medium speed. Rough was dormant and not too long, but still not that easy to hit from. If there were weak spots here, the weakest would be the bunkers. A few of the greenside ones on the front weren't too bad, but all of the ones on the back had no sand at all, and were nearly impossible to play out of unless you were in a fairway bunker. Tee boxes (we played the gold) were a little long, and many not very flat either. The layout is nice, with fairways that aren't as generous as some other resort courses which was a nice change of pace. Unfortunately I feel they really do need to do something about the greenside bunkers, as most every green is guarded by them, and their lack of sand makes them just about unplayable. Even with those weak spots, I feel that the $49 we paid to ride was definitely worth it.
Took a Thanksgiving trip to Scottsdale with the family, and walked the purple tees at the Saguaro Course at We Ko Pa last Tuesday morning (11/20/18). I really enjoyed it as conditions were very solid all the way around. Greens were fairly quick to me (at least compared to late fall in the Pacific Northwest) but rolling very true, with hardly any un-repaired pitch marks. They held well struck shots nicely, and were very consistent throughout the course. Fairways were very nice as well, giving a decent amount of roll as well as great lies, with the exception of the un-filled divot that I found on #10. Rough was dormant and not very long, but I still found it somewhat difficult to make solid contact when I missed a fairway. Bunkers were pretty good (I found several, both fairway and greenside), and tee boxes very nice as well. Our foursome (me walking, a father and his 2 sons riding) got around in a little over 4 hours, never waiting and letting a twosome through on on #12.

The range here is very nice (balls are included with the green fee), and there looked to be a really nice short game area that I didn't have time to check out. The putting green next to the 1st tee was very good, and very representative of what you were going to find on the course. Customer service was excellent, lots of help checking in and getting the clubs cleaned after the round. Saw the beverage cart 3 times, and also had a pretty good hot dog at the turn.

I really liked the layout here, there seemed to be a pretty good mix of long and short holes. It is quite forgiving off of the tee, as you need to be pretty wild to find the desert. Approach shots need to be good though, as there are lots of greenside bunkers, and fairly large greens making 2 putts difficult at times. They market this course as walkable, and they did have some push carts available for use at the first tee. While it is walkable, it isn't the easiest walk as it isn't a flat course. There are some decent hills to go up and down, as well as a few forced carries where you'll have to walk down into an arroyo and then back up and out of it. For a few of those I was happy to hop on the cart with one of my playing partners to save up some energy. I paid the rack rate to play here, and mainly chose it because they let you walk, plus the family and I were staying at the resort. While I got a slight break on the price, I think it was just a little bit steep. If I lived in the area I would definitely play it, but I would probably save it for special occasions.
Walked The Home Course as a single this morning, teeing off just before 7:00 and finishing about 10:30 for an excellent pace. I was second out behind a 3 some with another 3 some behind me. I took my time getting in a little extra chipping and putting on a few of the greens, so I was never closer than a hole and a half to either group. Conditions were pretty good, fairways and rough were very nice. At times the fairways can be a little thin here, but they are very lush right now, giving great lies with tee shots still rolling out pretty well. The rough isn't too long, and not much of a penalty. There's some natural areas if you're really wild off the tee which are quite the mixed bag. I managed to avoid all of that, but it looked to be thin enough out there that at least you won't lose a ball. Greens looked awful, but actually putted decently. A little bit slower than normal, with a little bit of sand, but still not too bad. I found myself taking some of my extra time to repair some of the pitch marks that other players had left behind. Bunkers are pretty bad right now, extremely compact and wet, but there's not a whole lot they can do about that as it rained quite a bit this past week. Tee boxes were all perfectly level, but perhaps just a bit shaggy.

I love the layout here, I played the Blue/White combo tees which are about 6300 yards. With the length that I've got that makes a couple of the par 5's reachable, plus it lets me hit shorter clubs into some of the par 3's. There was a good bit of wind today, and much of the course is quite exposed to it so you definitely needed to take an extra club or two (or a club or two less) here and there. It is very nice how the course sets up for anyone, the tips are over 7000 yards, and there's options all the way down to 5400 yards.

I grabbed a beverage at the turn, and then saw the beverage cart once during the back nine as well. Now that they have a restaurant, I went ahead and grabbed lunch after. I had finished pretty early, and they weren't planning on opening until 11 but they went ahead and took care of me. The burger and fries were excellent, plus the first beer only costs 1 penny per stroke on your score for the day so the price is right. Service in the pro shop, restaurant, and on course was perfect. It's definitely worth going out of your way to play here, I would absolutely play here all of the time if it were a bit closer to home.
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