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Made it out to El Dorado again this weekend after reading some positive reviews about this Long Beach classic course. The reviews were pretty accurate.

Conditions are good all across the board at El Do right now. Greens were very nice, not particularly fast, but held (other people's) shots well and rolled pretty nicely. Not a lot of damage or bumps to speak of so that was nice.

Fairways are pretty lush in most areas, but of course you're going to find some dried out or thin areas, but nothing too thin to feel you're getting a horrible lie. There were some really wet or thick crabgrass areas around some of the greens and it was really difficult to chip out of that stuff. But overall not too bad.

Tee boxes were a bit shaggy and probably about the worst aspect of the course currently. Sand was nice in the many traps that I was in but of varying quality - seemed to be much nicer sand in the fairways bunkers than greenside, which I found a bit odd. But both totally fine to play out of right now.

POP was a bit poor as they failed to inform us that there was a tournament going out right before us, so imagining that was part of the slowdown. We waited a bit on just about every hole so it ended up taking a little over five hours. Cart service was around though and there were many water stations on a hot day.

Not sure what the aeration schedule looks like but you can have a fun round at El Dorado right now if you're looking for one. Pretty fun layout to boot.
Friday twilight round at Encino this week, and happy to see that the greens at this heavy traffic course are still in great shape like the only other time I played here like six months ago. It's really refreshing to play a Muni like this that has greens as good as many higher end or even private courses right now. Absolute top marks to the staff for that.

Played the black tees (6900 yards) walking with a push cart for $25, so that's a great deal. Apart from the greens, obviously the standard is going to drop a little bit, but I've definitely played worse this year. The fairways certainly have many dried out areas but the lies were still mostly good all afternoon. The rough is actually pretty lush and nice and easy to hit from in most areas. But the fairways themselves are hardly lush, but perfectly playable.

Tee boxes are a little beat up for sure and could be a bit better, but that's always the least of any golfer's worry on a course. The sand that I was in was actually pretty good, much to my surprise. It wasn't exactly of the fluffy variety, but ample and very easy to hit your ball out of if you find yourself there.

A few doglegs here and there, but it's mostly a straight-ahead golf course with very little trouble to get into. But again, from the black tees the defense is its length, including some very long par 3s, including one at 230 yards. POP was really good today as well as we finished in under four hours.

Encino does the job right now so go get your fix.
Finally made it back to Rustic Canyon for just the second time on Sunday and was looking forward to not only a fun, challenging course with nice conditions, but also the chance to knock one of those 'over a hundred' courses off my list. Glad to say all missions accomplished.

Walked the blue tees with a buddy of mine and was paired with two young cats from Santa Monica who played there often and helped us out with useful tips all day long. This course really is unique in the region and it's so fun to try out new approaches to almost every aspect of your game.

Of course the main difference is the large skirts around almost all of the greens here that really invite a lot of bump and run play, but also tempt you to bust out the flat stick from long distances if you're not feeling confident with the chips. But there are also ample natural and waste areas to collect any wayward shots, and numerous strategically placed bunkers to make you think twice before each and every shot. It's a real special place.

The conditions were quite good all around, but the greens are the best part of the place. They weren't lightning fast like I remember them from the first visit here, but they roll true and the contours and angles are quite mesmerizing. Some border on just the outside of absurd, but none that need to be taken to task. They're just difficult and challenging, but fair enough. And they hold shots very well for the most part at medium-fast speeds right now.

Plenty of green in many of the fairways but of course in this part of the Valley you're going to run into a few dry spots here and there, but the lies were mostly always very good. The rough just outside the fairways and around the greens is totally manageable, but get away from that and you're in real trouble with desert disaster. Some really thick stuff too around the greenside bunkers that you do not want to experience.

Speaking of the bunkers, they were good. There was none of that nice, fluffy stuff you'd like to see that makes hitting out of the sand fun even sometimes, but it was sandy enough to not have to pick balls clean even when farther out from the pin than comfortable. Tee boxes were in fine shape all around - no issues there whatsoever.

Cart service was optimal, taking care of us at least 4-5 times throughout the round (and it was a hot day so that was nice). I forgot to bring socks with me for the first time ever, but the pro shop had me covered with five dollar pairs that were just great. And of course the price for this place is actually a steal.

All in all a really great day on the course and even had a very good chance of breaking 80 but then I pulled a me and ruined it with a weak sauce finish, but can't just think of those last three holes when the first fifteen were terrific. Highly recommended right now.
Decided to brave the long rounds at Los Verdes this past Friday with Kassper7, snagging a 1:22 tee time for $37 with cart. You don't even need to talk about the conditions to know that for a course with this type of awesome scenery, the price midweek is always spot on.

And therein lies the rub - there are simply too many people enjoying it that you can barely finish a round midweek that you start that early. And with allowing fivesomes, it gets even worse waiting on every hole and never getting much into rhythm. But hey, people keep showing up in droves so why would they change things like Rancho Park did?

But talking about POP issues at Los Verdes is boring and common, so let's get to the good bits. Conditions currently are mixed. Greens are fast as ever, pretty smooth and nice coverage yet holding shots well. You will absolutely be in trouble every time your ball is above the pin so keep that in mind with every chip or pitch. It can be terrifying!

Outside of the greens though, there is plenty amiss at LV right now, starting with the fairways. Is accessing water an issue here? Are they watering too much? I have no idea, but I do know the fairways have far too many thin and brown sections here which is a bummer. Just not enough areas of nice carpet. The rough is a mixed bag of mulch, thin, tree-rooty, decent and lush - good luck with that.

Tee boxes were mostly in good shape but a few crowned ones and of course they show wear with all of the traffic here. Sand traps were in good shape in the few that I was in and saw elsewhere. Not great, but certainly not bad. But of course, course rating will be higher than expected based on the lean towards the greens, but they do make the difference.

I would still say that LV is a must-play from my location at least once or twice a year, but never more than that until they sort out the POP issues, which of course they won't. They could also use a bulldozer here and there to sort out some dodgy holes like 9, 13 and 14. But you can't beat the price for location pretty much anywhere so it's worth the haul every so often.
Had an impromptu meeting in Lompoc on Monday and decided rather than braving the traffic back to LA that I would see if I could get on over at La Purisima for the first time ever for a quick twilight round. It all worked out, however I almost wish I hadn't blown my first time in a rush to finish before dark.

I got a cart and the helpful guys in the pro shop got me out on the back nine to start as there was a high school girl's team going off on the front nine (more on that later). I zipped through the front nine in no time totally solo, then caught up to the girls at the fifth hole on the front. You would think at a young age these people move quickly, but you would be dead wrong. So I jumped over to the 7th hole to get ahead of them, only to catch another group of them moving terribly slowly at the 8th green. After finally finishing up on #9, went back to complete #5 and #6.

Now a quick aside rant - the coach of these girls (I assume) asked me at some point to 'hang back' and I obliged best I could, but after bypassing the girls when I was done and re-playing the ninth hole par 3 just for fun, he actually watched them as they twice hit into me while I was raking the bunker. Way to go coach - great way to set a good example! Maybe you can also mention the courtesy of playing a bit faster and not stopping to smell the roses along the way, too.

So what should have (and could easily have been) a sub-3 hour round, turned into a bit more, but no big deal in the end. I just wish I would have made my first time here more mellow and not so hurried.

As for course conditions, well, my expectations were high, and many of those were met. The layout is incredibly challenging and the holes are really a joy to play. Sure, there are a few quirky ones, some wicked doglegs, PLENTY of trouble to get into, and many a narrow fairway chute to find a good place for approach. The lies are rarely flat and the scenery is pretty terrific. All that being said, I think a nice place like this could use a better cart path. It would almost be better with an ATV than a golf cart in many places, and on some holes there's simply no path at all and you're guiltily driving the cart right up next to the tee box as you have zero clue where to go (hint: there is no place to go). Fix that.

Fairways were generally lush and pleasant to play from, but there were a few GUR areas and some thinner lies, but mostly it was that nice carpet one would anticipate at a high-reputation course like LP. The rough was quite penal in areas but mostly playable and cut to a reasonable length. Tee boxes were pretty well maintained. The bad? Wow, the bunkers were terrible. Really just clumped up dirt and rocks that was totally unexpected and disappointing. One would expect the nice, fluffy stuff here, but that was not the case.

The greens though were exceptionally good. I love the green complexes here and the subtle, yet adventurous breaks on almost every one. The ball rolls very nicely on these greens and they hold shots better than expected with that nice fast speed they roll at. Really nice coverage and no complaints whatsoever there - the highlight of the conditions without a doubt.

So yeah, all in all it was a pretty nice twilight round with a few rough edges, but it's hard to find any reason to complain when you finally get to play one our more famous/reputable courses for the very first time. Clearly one would benefit from some course knowledge here as there are plenty of 'blind' holes where you're rather clueless off the tee, so I look forward to doing this again when I can actually take my time and not be so worried about getting in before the sun goes down. Looking forward to that day immensely.
After Ringworld's latest review and the itch late on Sunday to at least play nine holes, decided to go back to my old HP stomping ground for just the second time this year. Was pleasantly surprised by the conditions.

Paid $26 for the regulation nine holes with a push cart as well. Finished with a POP of around 2.5 hours. Blue tees with three other nice guys I got paired up with.

Fairways actually looking rather lush and healthy, but of course you can find a few thin spots towards either widths of the fairways. The rough can be a little thick in some areas (with a lot of annoying tree roots just at the surface so be careful) and also thin and annoying in others. Sand did not look too great for others or visually, but I avoided them all day.

Greens were definitely in good shape for all the traffic HP gets, but rolling around medium speed and bumpy in spots, while on the second hole there is a large burned out area to avoid. Tee boxes are nothing to write home about, but mostly get the job done, but could definitely be a bit flatter.

It's a good course to walk, actually has some fun and interesting holes and is a good bargain to scratch that itch if you don't have time or just want to hit the sticks a bit for nine.
Played 18 at Los Amigos on Saturday with two buddies. We played the blue tees and were unfortunately stuck behind a lousy foursome that was never ready to hit when a fairway cleared, would wait until greens emptied on holes they could not ever reach and followed up poor shots with those infuriating multiple practice swings as if they could get the shot back. People are waiting right behind you!

As for course conditions, not too bad at all, although I have seen better at Los Amigios in the past few years. The greens were in nice shape and rolled pretty nice, but not much faster than medium if that. There were quite a few lush fairways as well, but you could certainly find some thin lies out there as well. Rough was mostly dried up and thin, but on some of the interior it was healthy and cut to a nice, manageable height. Sand was pretty good from outward appearance, but I did end up in one that was very thin (par 3 12th). Tee boxes just okay.

Flat, parkland style layout with real teeth only being show on the last three holes, but for some reason have not been having my usual success here the last few rounds, which has made for that final three-hole gauntlet to be excessively tricky and demanding.

There was cart service that came around with drinks only once or twice, so that was nice and unexpected as I don't recall them ever doing that before. POP, as you can guess from the initial rant was just over five hours and could have easily been much shorter had those guys had any consideration whatsoever.
Wanted to play an early morning round in Vegas before work today but didn't want to spend a fortune on out of town rates, so got a good GolfNow deal for The Club at Sunrise at 6:30am for $58. I had read some reviews from before and my feelings are now mixed after having played 18 here.

Someone earlier wrote that this place was a little bit like River View in Santa Ana but without the elevations (and the tent communities). I have zero love for River View at all, but that assessment is not too far off base when it comes to this layout, however it doesn't have all the funky river crossings and bizarre angles that River View does. The Club at Sunrise is the DirecTV Rob Lowe version of River View.

One thing to mention first - the wind absolutely howls through this place. It really was a bit off-putting to hit drives into 40-50 mph winds right in your face. Not too much fun.

I was expecting nice conditions based on the previous reviews, and they weren't too far off, but there were definitely a good number of GUR areas in the fairways and plenty of soggy, poor draining bits. Also fair to say that where the fairways were nice, they were really nice. The greens were also the best part of the course - medium speed at best, but very nice coverage and roll and held shots very well. Not too many crazy breaks either but a few here and there.

Sand was actually pretty nice in the bunkers that I found, and the tee boxes were all level and in good shape (played the black tees at 6500 yards). The rough? Well, it's really crazy when your shot drifts right into the lower lying areas near the wash and gets absolutely consumed by this thick grass. Almost impossible to find your ball again.

This course just doesn't fit my eye very well as I'm more or less a fade hitter and everything to the right here is trouble. If you draw the ball, this is the place for you. And big ups to the maintenance guys on #9 who couldn't be bothered to move their equipment when it was right in line with my chip onto the green so I sailed it.

So yeah, not the worst course I've ever played by any means, but the layout is somewhat repetitive and always having to favor one direction is a pain, and of course there are just so many better options in the Vegas area. However, the price is good and it's just about worth that if you can't get a decent time or rate elsewhere.
Out with a buddy for a Saturday round early at Whittier Narrows and played the River and Pine 9s from the blue tees. Rented a cart after a rough Friday night at the bar and thought the $51 greens fee a bit steep for what I was seeing of the course on the drive in and at the starter.

Unfortunately those concerns were realized when my friend and the three guys we were paired up with (yes, they allow fivesomes) saw the first of many thin, burned out with plenty of dirt fairways throughout much of the course. Very disappointing to hit nice drives only to find your ball in a dirt patch surrounded by dead, dried up grass and weed. Not ideal.

The greens were in pretty okay shape though so that was nice, but plenty of ball marks to contend with, a few greens with an odd fungus growing in them here and there, and of course a few burned out spots near the aprons. But not too terrible. The sand seemed just okay from the bunkers I was in, but others complained they were too thin. Rough wasn't too bad as it differed very little from what is supposed to be a superior fairway. Tee boxes were fine.

Nothing particularly thrilling about the layout at Whittier Narrows as there is rarely much trouble to worry about if deciding to lay up or go for it. There are some OB areas on the boundary and of course the concrete river bisecting the course, but that really only comes into play once on the Pine 9 par 3 7th hole when flying it to get to green. The rest is mostly straight away and length is this course's greatest defense. The River 9 par 4 8th is a beast. I guess this place kind of reminds me of Woodley Lakes when I think about it.

Busy Saturday but since we had five, and the group in front of us had five, we waited here and there but never for what seemed like eternity. No cart service was a bummer as the day started overcast but then warmed up significantly when the sun started coming out more and more. And nice service in the cafe.

So overall, while I personally played a pretty good round again finally, I would definitely hold off on playing here until they get the fairways back into better shape. And I know they can as the only other time I played here I remember, while not on every hole, many of the fairways were in fine, lush shape not long ago. I would not mind coming back again when that's fixed, and would also like to play the Mountain 9 one of these days.
Calling all cars! Calling all cars! Putting an APB out on the thief that stole Chester Washington's normally heavy, fuzzy, slow greens and magically replaced them with slick, tight and fast ones. It was a big surprise and one that I had trouble adjusting to the entire round on a Friday twilight session at CW from the blue tees.

Without a doubt though the best greens I've ever experienced on this course, but unfortunately almost all of the other aspects of the place were average at extreme best, but mostly a bit sub-average all around. Most holes provided thin lies from tee to green, tee boxes not very neatly maintained or trimmed down, the usual good sand at CW replaced with a thin layer of dust, and the rough mostly thick, sticky and grabby.

The $19 walking rate for twilight though is a fair price for what you're getting here currently. It's certainly worth that. There are a few challenging holes here but for the most part it's all pretty much right in front of you with few areas of serious danger to put you at risk.

But those greens! I kept rolling putts past the hole on a regular basis and it was very difficult to get a ball to check, which again, is simply unheard of on CW greens. But the rest is so-so at best. POP is also not a big trademark at this course, and this round was no different with a packed house on the course despite being told midday that it was wide open for twilight.

But it's better than not playing golf ...
Part two of our marathon Sunday in the heat of the desert was our wily foursome of Nick (Nickesquire), Tim (Rudyclub) and Gus (Adigitalg87) going out on the Desert Willow Mountain View 18 thanks to the excellent customer service guys allowing us to play it at no cost since they really do appreciate what GK does I believe.

I have played the Firecliff 18 many times in the past few years, but never this Mountain View side of the property, so needless to say I was very excited by the prospect. If Firecliff is the famous Broadway performer drawing in rave reviews and huge crowds, Mountain View is the ever so capable understudy that has all the chops to step in at a moment's notice and get the job done almost as well. Outside of some of the visuals, there's really not too much between the two.

Sure, there was also a bit of contrast in the conditions, but both courses are really fine tests of golf and they're both set in wonderful locations with just the right amount of added touches from modern technology and landscaping. The lakes and natural features on Mountain View, while not quite as stunning or frequent as Firecliff, are ample and done in very good taste. Bottom line - it's a good course that can stand alone if need be.

The greens as Nick mentioned in his review were not the same quality as the Firecliff greens, but they were certainly not to any standard that complaints would need to be lodged. I'm no expert on grass sorts but it seemed as if they were a different grass than Firecliff and this resulted in slower putts and a bumpier surface that sometimes affected a few rolls throughout the day. But the greens did hold shots just fine and we adjusted accordingly as the round progressed.

The fairways were in good shape as well with only hints of browning and drying out mostly on the outer fairways. Most of the lies were just fine all day unless you were hitting to save yourself from a poor shot. The rough seemed a bit thicker than Firecliff and more penal but nothing too crazy. Sand was consistent and the tee boxes were a bit shaggier but plenty good to work with all day.

The layout definitely throws you a few softballs to start with and get your confidence up, but there are definitely a few more down the road to really test your accuracy and confidence. Later in the round some good sized carries will stare you down, and you have to be selective with your clubs off the tee as it's not just a grip it and rip it track that requires driver on every hole. I found the layout to be quite fun but thank goodness for the GPS on the carts and the good signs between holes because there are some funky bits in between finding holes with this design.

Once again, great customer service throughout the day with the cart personnel coming around until pretty late in the day which happened to be an extremely hot one. And kudos to the staff earlier in the day for coming around with ICE COLD towels to cool ourselves off with - that was a super touch. They also had functioning ice and water stations every three to four holes which is a must out there - well done.

Thanks again to Desert Willow for taking such good care of us GK folk and I would highly recommend a visit to either 18 at the moment, but make sure to check on upcoming closures and reseeding/aeration before you go. Hmm, if only there was a place to find out such information ...
Desert Willow (Firecliff) just seems to keep getting better and better each time I play it. And this past Sunday was no exception. Headed out for a Guru day with Nick (Nickesquire), Tim (Rudyclub) and Gus (Adigitalg87) at 7am from the blue tees with an incredible deal thanks to Johnny yet again. The best part? The awesome staff at DW offered to let us play the Mountain View 18 gratis - they love them some GK!

Excellent conditions at Firecliff without a doubt. The greens were in the best shape that I've ever seen them with only a few dried out areas on some of the later greens, but overall really nice. Rolls were pure and true, speeds were medium-fast and there was no trouble getting balls to hold on to the greens after well-struck shots. Fairways looked pretty close to perfect in almost all areas, and the sand in the bunkers was a nice consistency. Tee boxes? Great. The rough was also not too penal but there are a lot of undulations in the fairways and a lot of bunkers to navigate if wayward so (as per usual) keep it in the short stuff.

Really fun layout at Firecliff and a good opportunity to use those long irons and hybrids - the course definitely plays longer that its yardage from the blues at least. There are some really picturesque areas too with a lot of the water that comes into play and it's all rather idyllic. Some very tough holes too to challenge your game - nothing is given away cheaply here.

Great cart service in and around the course, fantastic range area with free balls and a nice chipping and putting section as well. The staff went above and beyond the call of duty this week and we were most appreciative of their efforts. In between rounds we also had a quality lunch in the restaurant that was very good.

Can't really say enough about this course currently but it was a real treat and the DW staff made a really good day great thanks to their generosity and excellent customer service. It was also a lot of fun to play with the group we had as the guys were all in good spirits despite the heat and everyone clearly loves the game. Golf with good company is even better.
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