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Played a Friday twilight round at Temecula Creek Inn again for the first time in around four years. Grabbed a cart and played the blue tees on the Stonehouse and Creek nines. Hard to imagine two nines as different as these two, and not just in terms of layout.

On the Stonehouse nine, it was pretty standard winter conditions in the fairways and the rough. So many places to get in trouble on this nine and all sorts of elevations and narrow chutes on some holes to some very picky landing areas. Tee boxes and bunkers were in good shape for the most part. Greens were still showing signs of being punched but rolled well and were medium fast.

The Creek nine is flat, parkland style golf with fairly wide open fairways and no water trouble until you get to the final hole. Where the Stonehouse nine had actual grass in the fairways though, the Creek side of the course has very odd fairways that seem to have been mostly painted a sea-green or blue and it's not really grass as much as it is compressed weeds or something. I'm no botanist, but it was weird. Rest of the conditions not much different than the previous.

POP was great as we finished in just under four hours and never really got pushed from the front or behind too much until the end of the front nine. No cart service to be found all day but it was not very busy out there. Pro shop is nice and the driving range is not huge but very functional, especially if you like to hit fades. Overall, I think that there are probably some superior options in the Temecula area right now, but I also think that once TCI gets its mojo back that it will be a very nice option again.
Nothing worse than a confidence round at a place like Alondra that fails to actually end up building any confidence, but wet, muddy and thin conditions on Sunday did not help out in the least. Played the blue tees walking with three friends and a 10:40am tee time. Course was fairly empty and it was more or less smooth sailing and we even let a twosome play through at the 8th hole.

Again, rather poor conditions overall at Alondra, but the greens were actually in pretty good shape. A few had some signs of damage but they rolled pretty nicely and at medium-fast speed, and held shots well even after the moisture had worn off by early afternoon.

Rest of the conditions were not quite as solid. Thin fairways rule the day here but you'll occasionally find a nice patch of grass. More often than not though you'll need to be picking the ball clean. Not really fair to assess the bunkers with all the standing water in them from the rain, but the dried out ones were no great shakes. Tee boxes very poor and need lots of re-seeding or something. Rough was not penal and often a relief from the thin in the fairways.

POP was around five hours but that was because we were playing for a bet and all putts counted, so completely our fault. Weather held up nicely luckily as well. No cart service all day but not something one usually expects at Alondra anyway. Flat course, some long holes to challenge, but mostly straight up and down with few exceptions. I've seen Alondra better. But I've also seen it worse.
First time ever playing Candlewood CC today after a late meeting in Cerritos that was close enough nearby and easy to get a tee time thanks to kassper7's tip for This is a 'private' course but you can book tee times online either there or at GolfNow. Met up with Mattias and we got a cart and played the tips, which here are the blue tees that max out at around 6200 yards. But don't let the short yardage fool you - this is a tough course.

I had heard not such great things about Candlewood, and after seeing the very Muni looking parking area while pulling in for the first time, I thought there might be something to those rumors. But that was quickly dispelled after the first few holes as I found the course to be terrifically engaging and fun. The front nine has a great number of very cool and fun holes with varying direction of elevations, while the back is incredibly tight on almost every hole and requires far more accuracy than distance. In truth, there are very few grip it and rip it holes at Candlewood, but it's still a very enjoyable experience from my POV.

The conditions were not quite Private club quality, but surely nothing too horrible to complain about. The greens here are very difficult. Fast, sloped all over the place and difficult to stop approach shots on. Some greens are massive, others tiny. They had mostly good coverage to them and were quite tough to read as there's not a flat surface on any of them.

The fairways are slightly above good LA Muni level right now, but the rough is in good shape and can be very thick at times and difficult to find your ball. Sure, you may find a thin lie in a few places, but it's mostly in good shape and it will be up to you, not the course, to blame your mistakes on here. Bunkers that I was in were okay, and by okay I mean it was more like thick dirt than sand, but it wasn't too terrible. Tee boxes varied from just fine to a few that were not so nice and uneven. When accuracy is at a premium, would sure be nice to put some extra time into getting those tee boxes flat.

POP was great on the front nine but then slowed down a bit as we caught up to the threesome of older gentlemen ahead of us (how were they so fast on the front?). Overall we finished in around four and a half hours so that was fine coming in as the sun was dipping and the cold in the shadows started creeping in. Before that though it was a gorgeous winter afternoon LA style. Fantastic. Cart service was also around many times so that was a positive.

Really looking forward to coming back out to this course again to shoot a better round. A little course knowledge here will surely go a long way, but it won't do a lick of good if you're flying that ball all over the place. This narrow track will eat your lunch. Plan accordingly.
First time back out at Rec Park in nearly two years on Saturday (along with Kassper7) and it was a much better experience than I was anticipating. My last memory of Big Rec was horribly thin lies, terrible tee boxes and an overall poor experience.

But Saturday proved to be quite the opposite. I jumped in late and the starter worked his magic to not only get me in the group, but also make us just a threesome instead of five. Very easy and convenient to go from the starter to the practice area to the tee box and away we went.

Course conditions are not too bad at all. The fairways are a mixed bag of lush, thin and somewhere in between depending on where your shot lands, but miles ahead of where it was a few years ago when I was last here. Rough was often a good choice (except for a bees nest under a power box that I landed near) as it was not penal. Sand seemed to be in pretty good shape as well in the two bunkers I found. But the greens were really surprisingly fast and in good shape. A few holes with some crazy slopes to them, but no real tricky or gimmicky greens to deal with at all. Kudos to the staff for those.

Rec Park starts out with two short par 4s (one downhill, one uphill), but then you start getting to the meat of the course with many long par 4s. In fact, on the front nine, there is only one par 3 and one par 5 - the rest are all par 4s, so you can let your score get away from you quickly. Back nine is more 'normal' and provides better scoring opportunities in my opinion (or maybe just because I played the back far better than the front).

Cart service came around a few times during the round on a relatively busy Saturday that did see us waiting on many holes for the slower foursome ahead of us, but nothing too sinister. There was also a little grill at the turn to get some eats which was nice.

Overall, not a bad time at all to play Rec Park and I think I'll be back much sooner than last time.
Played a nice Christmas Eve day round with two buddies at El Dorado and enjoyed some good conditions albeit at a slightly high price. Almost $80 for riding the blues is a bit much for what you get here, but if you can get a slightly better online deal, it's more than worth it. But I guess they can do that on a holiday.

Course is in solid if not spectacular shape. Plenty of green on the fairways to work with but some thin areas around the greens and more browned out areas on the back nine it seemed, but mostly good lies throughout the day. The rough is mixed length, bunkers were okay not great and the tee boxes are mostly good with a few of the par 3s that are getting pounded.

Greens were in nice shape overall and running at around a 9 or 10 on the stimp. Held shots well with any decent trajectory and it seemed as if ball marks were at a minimum. A few of the greens here are deceptively sloped and require good reads to keep your putting numbers down on the day. But not too shabby at all.

We had a fairly slow group ahead of our threesome so we definitely waited to tee off on a lot of holes, but it was to be expected on what turned out to be a busy holiday with fairly perfect winter weather ahead of the rains later that night. No cart service came around all day though which was surprising if they were charging holiday rates.

In ranking the Long Beach public courses, El Dorado has slowly risen up the ranks in my book and is in a firm tie with Skylinks as the best in the area. It's often in better shape as well, but it also boasts a fun and challenging layout despite no elevations or anything else too gimmicky or quirky. Just a good place to play some golf. If that's your thing.
Sunday round at Woodley Lakes with Kassper7 and the course was pretty much in the exact shape we expected it to be. But before we got to the course itself, I saw the new driving range here and it actually looks great.

As for the course itself, again, it's Woodley, so you're going to find many patchy and dry areas around the main sections of the fairways, but you can also find some good grass if you're putting the ball in play in the right places. The rough is often preferred to the thin sections off the fairways. Also lots of muddy, thin and grabby areas around the greens.

Speaking of the greens, they were actually faster than expected for much of the day, especially late when the sun came out more on a perfect winter LA day. They held shots well, rolled mostly true and were medium-fast pace. Ball marks here and there, but not too shabby.

Fairways bunkers had better sand than greenside bunkers so that's weird. Tee boxes were serviceable but of course could always use a little extra care at a high traffic course like Woodley. POP was quite good throughout with only minimal waiting as we were paired with an older father-son combo who were good playing partners.

Wide open fairways and getting some confidence back is what Woodley is all about. Not a lot of 'interesting' holes here per se, but enough fun and length to keep you honest and still need to put in the work. Not a bad option right now at all.
Saturday round at Harding this weekend and the course is in fair to good shape. Played the blue tees with a push cart at the regular weekend rate. Course was not as crowded as was expected, but it was still a four and half hour round.

Fairways are mostly in fair condition with some lush areas, but mostly good at best with many splotchy, thin or just dirt areas to find yourself. Greens were in good shape and running slightly faster than expected. Bunkers could use some sand and the tee boxes on many holes are pretty beat up.

Was expecting a little more lush conditions after the recent rain, but was not too disappointed as Harding is still a fun track to play with plenty of opportunities to score low, but also enough challenge to create problems and run up a big hole now and again.

I also used this opportunity to take up-to-date pictures of all 18 holes since there were just a few in the gallery at this high-traffic, very popular local course.

If your expectations are modest and you just want a fun round of good golf, you should have no hesitation going to Harding right now.
Fun work trip down in Miami took myself and three work colleagues to the Miami Beach Golf Club for the first time. Quite a unique experience for this California kid whose only other experience in Florida was the very different (and fantastic) Streamsong Resort. An entirely different kettle of fish without a doubt, but no less enjoyable or challenging.

MBGC has a layout loaded with danger, mostly in the shape of water hazards big and small on almost every hole, along with some very strategically based bunkers and sandy areas, plus a strong contingent of palm and other much thicker trees. Some of the tee shots are truly tight and there are many risk-reward holes, the most fun one being the par 4 16th hole which any decent bomber can reach over the lake if your confidence is high. Long story short? You can rack up some big numbers here pretty quickly if you're off your game.

There is tons of wildlife here including ducks and geese, but you will absolutely be stunned by the sheer number of iguanas that are present on almost every hole. They're not at all upset if you play through.

Conditions at MBGC have apparently gotten much better over the years. My boss played here 20 years ago and considered it a dog track, but now it's been revamped and the cool layout now has sweet conditions to match, and make it worth the $130 or so price tag for a Friday round. We got to see most of it from the blue tees, and it did not disappoint.

Greens were incredibly difficult to manage, not only because of the different type of grass than back in California, but because they were just so fast that even the slightest breaks were magnified quite a bit. Slightest of mis-hits would find your ball six feet past the hole. But they rolled very true and were quite difficult to land without a perfect, high approach.

Fairways were in very good shape with only the rarest sightings of thin lies or burned out sections from the intense South Florida sun. Rough was thick and grabby and required your full attention and commitment to escape from when needed. Bunkers were all in very nice condition with very nice white sand, and the tee boxes were just great. No complaints really at all throughout the day.

Driving range is grass and very functional, but you do have to get a code from the starters (who were super nice) and then get your balls from a machine adjacent to it. Carts had a nice GPS system but it did not kick in until the back nine. They also have an annoying habit of loud beeps when you get too close to the green (which is fine) but it continues far too long after you've gotten back to the cart path. But if that's the biggest gripe for the day, you know you're having a good one.

Nice clubhouse to grab a bite in after the round, and during there was very attentive cart service throughout whom we saw no less than 4-5x during the day. If you needed something, the cart girl was bound to be around soon, so that was very nice.

I also managed to get in pics of almost every hole and they should be uploaded to the site soon to have a look.

Overall, had nothing but fun at Miami Beach Golf Club despite the tough layout that really took everything I had to keep it under 100 and still have enough balls left to finish after donating quite a few to the numerous lakes on the course. The club is very close to South Beach hotels as well so there's no excuse not to have a crack at it if you're vacationing in the area anytime. Make it happen!
Day Four of our annual desert trip kept us close to home base as we played the Mission Hills Dinah Shore Tournament course under gray skies and some fits of rain to end the golf week. My friend's family has owned a house here across the lake from the 18th tee box for the past three decades or so but this was the first time I've had a chance to play the same course that the LPGA uses as a major. Always cool to play the courses you see on TV.

Excellent conditions overall on this course and a lot of fun, challenging holes, but also plenty of chances to score well if you are hitting the ball decently. I never felt that the course was at all overwhelming or intimidating, outside of just a few holes perhaps. I even had a decent round going until a late collapse ultimately sunk my scorecard.

Fairways were mostly in fantastic shape but there were a few sections of GUR. Mostly though it was great lies all day and not a thing to complain about. The rough was really great just off the fairways, but on sections across from the cart paths, the grass was not overseeded so it was just a paler green if not yellow but still just fine to hit from. Tee boxes were a little bit thicker than what I anticipated but still fine, and the bunkers were great but tough to judge with all the precipitation that day that was making them much heavier and tougher to get out of than any normal sunny day.

The greens were pretty fantastic. Running about an 11 on the stimp, they rolled pure and true, and none of the greens on this 18 at Mission Hills are too tricked out or funky. Sure, you've got some tournament quality reads to make here, but if you stay true to your lines and hit with good speed, you will be rewarded with good putts. You certainly won't be frustrated at the greens for any reason.

POP was nice and easy until we caught up to a slower group around the 15th hole, but no worries there. Very nice practice areas as well but not necessarily as fancy as some other big-name country clubs, but who needs all that? Not me, at least not all the time. Course itself has a few elevations but is generally pretty flat, narrow in places and has a lot of large, thick trees to get in trouble behind - not what you would normally expect out here with the palm tree conditions of most clubs. You will also find some water on holes to deal with as well.

Once again, felt very lucky to be able to play this private little gem and excited to see next year's LPGA tournament here and run through the holes in my head while watching the ladies play. I also took some pictures on each hole and will post them later, but unfortunately the bad weather later in the round will take some of the shine off of them. I suspect you'll get over that though.
Day Three of our annual desert trip was a journey to golf heaven. The Palms Golf Club of La Quinta is everything you imagine a PGA tour quality course to be when you're stuck in a divot surrounded by brown and thin at Dad Miller.

It's such a rare treat to experience a place like this, and, being private, taking your time to stop and gawk at the roses is not on the cards. The enforced POP here is 3:50 and deviations are not tolerated. You take it all in while moving as purposefully as possible, and of course in between all this visual distraction, you're supposed to concentrate and play golf (which I sadly did an incredibly poor job of on the worst possible day).

If I'm not mistaken, this is a Freddy Couples design and he actually had a small house right next to the 15th tee box which was cool to see. Apparently he would just jump on whenever he felt the desire after riding his bike over to the clubhouse.

Describing The Palms is fairly straightforward. Fairways are lined almost exclusively (save a few of the first three or four holes) with rows of perfectly coiffed palm trees that create some stunning shadow tricks. Everything at ground level is that dreamy dark green stuff that goes on forever. The course's main defense is length (we played the blue tees), but on the shorter holes there's no shortage of thick foliage mixed strategically amongst the palm trees, and of course glassy, super fast greens and a big selection of bunkers to force uncomfortable angles. Add to that a few well hidden water features to torment you on select holes, and you get the picture.

The routing and finding the next hole here can be a bit of a puzzle as there are no real cart paths and no tee box markers. The members simply know where to go so it's an adventure if you're not one and used to it. There are some 'gates' that help guide the way though or it would be pretty much hit and hope at that point.

But yes, all conditions were perfect and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to experience that level of quality. Fairways and quite penal rough were thick, lush and consistent on every inch of the property. Bunkers had very good sand in them that maybe could be a tad bit fluffier if there's any possible knock at all today (which there really isn't). Tee boxes immaculate. Greens running about a 12 and very tough to hit the brakes on with anything less than a perfect pitch or chip. Very subtle breaks everywhere but magnified by the speed and very easy to misread. False fronts on many holes as well.

This is a golf club and that's pretty much it. You'll need to go elsewhere if you want to join a club that has swimming pools and tennis courts for the kids. The clubhouse is nice but nothing super fancy - very unassuming and unpretentious. It's all about the golf here and there's simply nothing wrong with that in the least. Even the carts are very basic - no GPS here and no frills like USB ports or speakers. No time for distraction here - get moving! I did however still sneak in pics of all 18 holes that I will upload to the site later.

Staff was also incredibly nice and took amazing care of us despite not being members. My only regret is of course a horrible round of golf personally, but that memory will long be overshadowed by having the good fortune of spending a gorgeous early winter day at The Palms.
Day Two of our annual desert trip landed us out at La Quinta Resort's Mountain course - a first for me. I've always heard a lot of fun things about this course, and while I wasn't super impressed on the front nine, the back nine was absolutely stunning.

We were advised before the round that the course had only recently come out of re-seeding and was taking a bit longer to green up, thus leading to the dreaded Cart Path Only situation. And while the front nine looked a little more yellow than green in many parts of the course, the back nine was very lush and just visually spectacular crammed up next to the mountains and their jutting rock walls. Super cool.

Despite the lack of verdant color on the fairways, the lies were still very good throughout the day so there's no reason to complain there. Some of the rough areas had a super thick hay that made ball finding nigh impossible - avoid at all costs! But the gentler rough next to the fairways was not too penal at all. Sand traps were good all around but not super fluffy greenside, while the tee boxes were all in very good shape (we played the black tees).

Greens were very nice. Well conditioned, rolling about the same as Shadow Ridge the day before, meaning not overly fast (maybe 10 to 10.5) but very true roll and some fun green complexes to navigate, but nothing super tricked out or wacky. As for the layout, lots of big carries and precise, narrow tee shots on certain holes - very few wide open 'grip it and rip it' here. The first few holes on the back nine are narrow due to the housing alongside them, but it opens up beautifully later and the course becomes one with the nature surrounding it.

We had frequent cart service which was nice and the POP was excellent up until around the 15th or 16th hole when we caught the group in front of us who had slowed down for some reason, but overall a pretty great and fun round. They say the Dunes course is inferior to the Mountain course here and of course I will like to find out for myself, but so far would seem to be a tough ask for the Dunes course to beat this one. Don't let the more 'pedestrian' front nine lull you into a false sense of normality before you hit the last 4-5 holes that will really blow you away. Fun.
Day one of our four-day Palm Desert excursion landed my two friends and I at Marriott's Shadow Ridge, a super fun Faldo design that leaves you wanting more every time. The course is in superb shape right now after re-seeding, which adds to the fun of the layout while playing.

Rode the green tees today under brilliant blue skies and a very comfortable low 70s temperature. It was pretty ideal. The fairways are all in pretty perfect shape and you can get some nice roll out there with low drives, but every ball sits up just right when you find it. The rough varies from thick to not so thick but found some of the heavy stuff around the bunkers. Speaking of bunkers, they were mostly in good shape with the very rare just okay one. Tee boxes? Immaculate. Flat. Green. Perfect.

The greens looked to be in perfect, glass-like condition, but surprisingly were not super fast at all. Medium to medium fast at around a 9.5 or 10 max, which was surprising, but they held shots well and if you can navigate some of the tricky tiers or breaks on these large Faldo greens, you can get the speed down and make some nice long putts. They were really fun to play in a nutshell.

Great driving range here and very good chipping and putting areas as well. Not the most convenient place for the pro shop, but stop your whining right this instant. Cart girl came around 2-3x and there were plenty of water stations even though it wasn't overly warm at all. It was just perfect.

Great mix of holes here and plenty of trouble to find if you're not hitting fairways or even fairways adjacent. You also get to make some fun decisions off the tee, like the 8th hole which tempts you with a 200 yard shot right for a good angle to the green, a 180 yard layup in front of a central bunker, or bust out the big dog and try to shape it down the left to be close but face a large greenside bunker from that angle. Decisions, decisions … but a decision that should not be hard is to play this course right now. It's fun golf right now.
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