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Went out with one of my monthly groups on Saturday and this time they made the call to play Balboa. This decision did not upset me in the least as my game has been so bad the last few months that I thought a confidence course like Balboa would be great. Wrong! But that's a story for another time.

Balboa was in better than average shape overall but no one is going to leave this place and swoon for weeks thinking back on it. I will say though that while the layout is pedestrian at best, the greens are in the best shape I've ever seen them and actually rolled lightning quick. It was pretty shocking to really have to rein in the speed on the downhill putts or find your ball ten feet past the pin. They also looked great with just a few ball marks or imperfections.

Rains have done the fairways good around this place, but they're still not as good as you would hope after all that water. But better than you'll often find this place. A lot of good lies will greet you after your tee shots, but you'll also be left disappointed a few times where it's thin and dry. That's life. The rough is a good option to hit from to be perfectly honest.

Bunkers were in pretty good shape and the tee boxes were not all quite level and not all very lush, but it's working, playable golf and that's what you get when you come here. POP was surprisingly slow at exactly five hours. Didn't feel that way though which was odd.

Pleasantly surprised overall at current course conditions at Balboa. Enjoy.
In the middle of a crazy busy work week down here in San Diego, managed to find some very early morning hours to play at Carlton Oaks this morning ahead of more work tomorrow. Original plan was to play Coronado for the first time, but since it was completely booked up until noon, found an online GolfNow deal for Carlton Oaks at $44 with an early am tee time.

First off, let me be the first to let you know, in case you haven't noticed, that the SoCal winter of our discontent is not yet over. When I arrived to the course, the temperature was still around 47 degrees and there was mist and moisture all over the place. Decided to walk instead of ride to try and get warm, but it was miserable the first hour or so, especially when the shoes got soaking wet walking through the deep rough in areas. Brutal. Later in the round though it turned glorious, or maybe mid-60s just feels that way after a morning like that.

As for the course itself, I was struck by how Pete Dye-like it felt throughout. The rail ties in the bunkers, the pinpoint angles required to see greens at their best approach opportunity, and the mounding and trees to thwart anything remotely easy. It wasn't of course until the par 3 17th that my two playing partners (thanks Gus and Fred for the fun round!) actually let me know this was indeed a Pete Dye classic. Who knew?

The layout is super, even though I was terrible thanks to the cold start and general poor play of late. Seriously though, this track just begs to be played again under better conditions. The reason the course is in rough shape right now is because so much of it was recently under water. The fairways are thin and there are sloppy, mulchy and muddy areas kind of all over the place. Bunkers are far too firm thanks to the saturation, and the rough is brutal long and damp - not a great combo. However, the greens were actually in great shape, but not as crazy tiered or tricky as I would have expected from a Dye. The breaks are subtle for sure, and there are many different sized greens to work with, but outside of a few, they're not too crazy at all in my opinion.

So, in truth, it's tough to judge this course by the ratings it'll probably have when I'm done because I can't lie about the conditions, even if they're out of the club's control in many ways. I do think when the weather finally becomes bearable again and the grass gets back into good shape, this is a must-play for me if and when I'm back in the area. 18 is a great closing hole and the rest are all simply super fun and challenging. Can't wait for May.
Played a quick round (literally 3 hours!) with Kassper7 at our local Executive course this past week and have good news to report. The greens are about as fine as I think I've ever seen them at Westchester. They are really clean, visually appealing and roll nice and true at medium-fast speed. This is pretty remarkable with the traffic this place gets.

Fairways and rough have also benefitted from the recent rain, but there were some areas of large standing water and a lot of maintenance work being done to pump all the extra water out of the lake on the 2nd hole that's probably tripled in size. There's also a 'new' lake next to the tee box on the 4th hole and just right of the 2nd tee box if you shank it. But the rest of the fairways are in pretty nice shape. Sand is almost always good here but of course keeping the tee boxes in prime shape is difficult.

I'm sure it will still be in great shape here for what you're paying if you go soon. And did I mention you can play night golf here? I never do, but you can! I also just realized that there aren't very many pictures of this course on GK so I'll take care of that next time I head over there. Almost always a fun, relaxed round at Westchester.
Is there ever a more consistently positive reviewed course than Goose Creek? If there is, I'm not aware of it, and mostly because it's so great for the price you have to pay to experience it. How they get away with it I will never know, but please don't tell anyone.

Played with a work colleague in the afternoon today, riding the blue tees for $59 or so. Again, a ridiculous value for the outstanding course you get to play. Was paired with two young cats who were good fun and off we went. We had a very slow foursome in front of us, but they let us pass on the par 3 5th hole and it was smooth sailing from there.

Conditions are pretty great all around. Green fairways with consistently good lies and a very nice amount of roll actually, while the rough is thick but not too penal except off the fairways perhaps. Tee boxes are in good shape and the bunkers are also very nicely stocked - fluffy near the greens, thin in the fairways - just like they should be. And the greens? Really great. Rolling probably around an 11 I would guess and just glassy goodness. Very tough though to stop anything other than perfect chips though.

There was a marshal that was definitely keeping an eye on things and cart service came by numerous times throughout the round. Great practice areas as well and a super fun but not terribly over-complicated course layout. You know the story. It's Goose Creek. It's always good. And you should always go if the opportunity presents itself.
Played my second round of the Flex Tour at Wilson today and it was disappointing to say the least. One would expect after all this rain that there would be some sign of improvement around this classic LA course, but nope. None at all.

The fairways are thin, chock full of gopher holes and dirt spots, while the chipping areas are bare and make getting up and down a true nightmare. The rough is not much better. Bunkers are just okay and the tee boxes are beat up but serviceable.

The only saving grace were the very nice greens that were far quicker than expected, but the pin positions were all in the worst possible spots considering how thin and difficult it was out there. If there was a slope to any of the greens, that's where the pin was, and some were a bit ridiculous to be honest.

Got a push cart and walked the blue tees, while also picking up a sleeve of Q-Star tours and a small bucket for around $63. Service was fine, POP was not bad, but again - conditions made it tough to justify that kind of price. I've played here before in good conditions and the experience is night and day. I hope they know what they're doing there and will be able to take advantage of the recent rains and get that place in good shape again.

Because right now, it's not. At all.
Day two of our Phoenix swing landed us at the Coore-Crenshaw designed We-Ko-Pa Saguaro course. There was another crazy frost delay that pushed back our start time, but once we got rolling, it turned into a gorgeous, somewhat brisk winter day in the northeast of Phoenix.

All the tough hallmarks of the CC-design team are on full display here. Almost every single hole has hidden dangers and requires precision off the tee. There are plenty of blind tee shots over large desert waste areas, and fairways can be very tight with plenty of tall cacti near the tee boxes showing ball damage from those that failed to find the target. If you're not confident off the tee, you're going to struggle here.

But of course they also throw in a fair number of shorter par 4s to give you hope, while most of the par 3s are very manageable with the exception of the very tough long and downhill 15th. And if you want to see one of the toughest closers around, 18 on Saguaro will most certainly do the trick.

Great conditions from tee to green as well. Greens were super fast, glassy and rolled very true. Certainly plenty of tough angles to manage, but nothing too gimmicky or crazy in terms of slopes. Greenside bunkers are brutal though so avoid at all costs. But the sand is good, as are the very green and inviting fairways. Rough is a pleasure to hit from, but there's just not a lot of it to go around. Rough tends to be somewhat dormant where it exists, but if you're off the fairway here, you're basically in the desert. Tee boxes are great.

Cart service was phenomenal and frequent throughout the day as well, and POP was pretty well managed despite the frost delay chaos earlier in the day. We waited on a few of the holes on the back nine, but generally moved pretty well all day, even passing the group in front of us on the back nine when they stopped to eat. We were all business.

Great practice facility as well to help you warm up. Top-notch course in every facet. Make it happen if you get the chance.
Day one of a two-day work trip out to the Phoenix area so we played Whirlwind first just an hour or so after getting off the plane. We were supposed to play the other 18 at this 36 hole facility, but it was even more crowded after a frost delay in the morning so we had the opportunity to get out on the Cattail 18 right away and took it.

It was a very cold and somewhat windy day so I'm not sure how much that factored into the day's performance, but it was certainly something one doesn't expect when playing out in Arizona. But it wasn't raining so that was a nice change from LA of late. As for the course, really nice. I'm not sure if it's quite the rack rate price nice (over $150), but it's very close to that for sure.

It's also a fun design with plenty of water in play, lots of risk-reward holes, some hilly areas but no major elevations, and lots of strategic placement off the tee that will require some assistance of the in-cart GPS. Conditions are pretty great all around, from the dark green fairways with great lies all day, to the super nice and glassy greens that were fast, true and held shots pretty well all day. Rough was a nice length to hit from and the bunkers and tee boxes were in very good shape as well. Really zero to complain about at all.

Practice range is grass with Callaway balls provided, plus there's a large chipping and sand area right behind it to test your skills. No actual 'turn' on the Cattail course, so make sure you either have enough food and drink from the start, or good chance you'll get cart service if it was around numerous times on a cold and windy Tuesday afternoon.

Overall, a really nice facility and a great day of golf, even if I did have to trade the hat for the beanie on the back nine and put on a third layer to fight the cold. I would love to come back here on a perfect AZ spring day.
Rough post-storm conditions at Woodley Lakes this past weekend on Saturday. No carts were allowed on the course due to all the standing water and so all the push carts were already taken. Smart idea but poor execution.

Literally lakes roped off in the middle of at least half of the fairways. Very frustrating to hit nice shots that would just end with a big splash and no roll whatsoever - not the course's fault for the rain per se but this is not a course that drains well at all. Bunkers were also filled with water in many spots. Tee boxes were mostly all set up in one area to minimize damage, so those were pretty beat up by mid-day.

Greens were the best part of the course. Inconsistent speeds throughout the day but generally in very good condition and rolling true if speed was correctly judged. Not a lot of mystery to Woodley Lakes greens - what you see is what you get.

I would definitely wait a bit before getting out there again but hopefully, when the water recedes, this good confidence course will look a little greener and lusher than before.
Got to take out a client in Vegas this week and played with another local who managed to get us a very sweet deal at the usually very high-cost Bali Hai resort course. I believe the normal rack rate here is around $300, so having only paid a third of that was pretty outstanding. I've wanted to play this track so many times and it finally came together, and luckily the weather played along as well. It was cold, but the rain didn't start until just after finishing with a sweet POP of just 3.5 hours.

The course itself is very fun and has a surprising amount of elevations in the fairways, creeks and water. Not too much in the way of long carries, but there are definitely a good variety of hole lengths here and the par 3s gave me a tough time all day. The island green is pretty cool too but not too tricky as it's only around 130 yards or so, but you still have to stick it.

Winter conditions were good overall and of course having to take into account the recent rains that certainly affected the bunkers and many of the lower-lying areas. Dark green fairways that looked more lush than they actually played, but provided good lies all morning. The rough has been left dormant so it's a striking contrast with its beige hues against either water, sand or the aforementioned green fairways. Bunkers had mostly very good, playable sand in them but they were probably a bit heavier than normal with the recent precipitation. Tee boxes (we played the gold tees) were fine - no troubles there.

Cart service was around early and often, even with very few people out on the course most of the morning. We did catch a group on 8 and 9 but they let us pass at the turn and it was smooth sailing from there. We also got a lunch voucher for after the round so that worked out great.

Again, the only unfortunate thing was that the weather was quite cold, but not the Arctic temps we were expecting the night before. Still, my idea of playing this course is most definitely in shorts and sweating a lot, so I still will need to come back and do it right later in the year. Hope I can find that great deal again, but I'm guessing during high season that might be a bit more difficult.
Played Skylinks today after rearranging an 8:20 tee time for 11:56 to try and bypass the rain showers. Safe to say we weren't the only ones who had that idea. The parking lot was full upon arrival and there was serious lineup at the first tee, but it was actually fairly smooth until the three-deep log-jam on 9. The back was generally slow but we still managed to get in before dark, but it definitely got really cold near the end of the round.

Weekends at Skylinks can seem pretty pricey but it's a very fun layout overall while not overwhelming in any one particular manner. If I'm not mistaken, is the GPS on the carts new? I can't remember but have this weird feeling they are. Greens are in good shape and pleasant to challenge. But best of all is that the course drained and dried up very nicely with just a few hours of sun. Not having a water-logged course made the expense worth it.

Already mentioned the greens, but the fairways aren't anything pretty to look at. They are utilitarian in nature - nothing more. And that's fine. In winter time, I can live with beige-toned fairways that offer a lot of good lies, but of course where you will also find the places where nature won the battle. Rough was mainly rough because of thin and a bit muddy where the shade halted the drying out process. Sand was actually remarkably good, and I found a lot of it (including a wild bunker, bunker, green, birdie on 11). Tee boxes were unmemorable at best.

And while much of all that sounds 'bad,' it was actually really good fun to play Skylinks today. And, if you can get past some of the current optics, you won't likely regret a visit there soon. Good facilities as well very conveniently located. It does the trick.
Played a fun midweek round today at Rolling Hills CC and was a little surprised to see that the recent rains have done far more damage than good. I'm not sure if it's because the course is still very young and maybe something to do with the seeding and/or drainage, but many of the fairways had some very dry and thin areas, while the collection areas on certain holes are also packed with dried out divots. There were also some areas where water was still collecting and created some bog areas. Far from its best shape.

Still a great track to play without a doubt based on the variety of holes and super-challenging green complexes, but the conditions definitely left a lot to be desired at the moment. The greens are actually in great shape, running slower than normal but still quite good overall, but besides the fairways, the tee boxes are very hard still just under tee level, while the bunkers were mostly good but some still had not drained. Rough was fine but you can find yourself in a lot of waste areas that you can still play out of right now.

And if you've never played here before, it's a links style course with massive green complexes that are hard to differentiate the actual green from the surrounding short grass. You'll be putting a lot from well off the greens and need to learn very quickly that it's very often far better to use the slopes than to go directly at pins. Those balls are often quickly gone.

It'll be great again soon - that I'm not worried about. But right now RHCC could use some time to heal up and get some needed TLC. But I wouldn't think twice if you get the chance to play here once as it's still a very unique course for the LA area.
Bucket list course checked off on Saturday thanks to Alex coming through with an awesome deal and inviting me down to play. It's one of his all-time favorite courses and it's easy to understand why by the time you walk off the 18th green with a huge smile on your face. Quite simply, this is one of the most picturesque courses you'll likely ever play, with maybe the most gorgeous collection of par 3s anywhere, but it's also a very true challenge of high-quality golf. It's easy to get distracted by the great looks and forget you also need to bring your A game to have any chance of a decent score.

Want elevations? No problem. Want water features and long carries at varying angles? Done. Want risk-reward holes? You've come to the right place. Want some of the most challenging green complexes around with no flat spots anywhere? Wait, who wants that? Well that's what you get! What you won't get is a wasted moment at this great venue.

Conditions as you can expect are pretty great all around so there's no point going into too much detail about that. You may find a few GUR spots at the moment and the very infrequent thinner lie, but mostly you will find very lush fairways and incredibly penal rough that doesn't look to bad from a distance but will make it very hard to find any balls that venture into it, despite seeing it all the way. Tee boxes, sand traps and everything else is just about perfect. They take their time here to make everything amazing.

We played from the blue tees and I don't believe you're allowed to walk here because of some of the distances involved and keeping the POP moving, but the carts are nice and modern and have a good GPS system for any first-timers here. They also have course ambassadors that hand out lollipops and cart service throughout the round. There's really nothing here left to chance and they do seem to put their best foot forward in every regard.

Highlight holes? Well, of course the par 3 3rd hole is visually stunning and also quite challenging. The uphill par 5 5th is also very fun to play. Also fun to rip a long drive on the downhill par 5 8th and then decide whether to risk the approach over the small lake in front of the green. On the back nine, hole 16 is a treat and the finishing two holes are absolutely no joke. But every hole on this course is worth playing. Triumphantly. Get there if you can.
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