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First time playing Talega this weekend with a monthly group that moves all around SoCal finding new places to play. I was excited to test my game at this challenging course, and I'm actually glad that my group (12 players) all decided we'd play the white tees so the skins would be even. I don't think I would have had as good of a time struggling with some of the carries and narrow approaches from the blues.

There are some interesting quirks to this course, so let's get those out of the way. The driving range is a solid 7-8 minute cart ride from the clubhouse. The 10th tee is so far away from the clubhouse that you start worrying that you've certainly missed it if playing for the first time here. And what can you say about the 15th hole? You reach the tee box, look around in every direction, and have absolutely no idea where to hit. Why? Because there's not even a glimpse of the fairway as it's completely obstructed by tall trees grown up along a ravine. Luckily two our guys played there regularly and were at the tee box to let us know. Trim those trees!

Now for the good stuff ... very fun track to play with a nice variety of holes. There are surprisingly a large amount of wide fairways to attack, which is sometimes rare with these hilly, target-oriented courses. The approaches can narrow for sure, but mostly it's the uneven fairways that will test you the most. There are some forced carries and there are also plenty of water holes that are really fun and challenging, like the par 5 6th and par 4 18th.

Greens were in nice shape with the exception of a patchwork on that famous 15th green. Rolled medium fast, held lines well and the greens are tough, but manageable. A few bigger slopes to contend with, but mostly fair and forgiving. Fairways were a mixed bag of mostly good with some great areas, but you could also find some thin lies, especially around the greens. Bunkers were pretty thin and disappointing, and the tee boxes were just a tick below good for all 18 holes.

We had a good cart service throughout the day and the discounted $89 greens fee was borderline acceptable, but it's the OC and it was a beautiful day and it's more than enough fun to justify it. Just. Carts were just a tick above good with one of those basic GPS systems that only spits out numbers but not the course overview. It is what it is.

Talega is a fun and engaging track that is worth playing right now, but even more so if you can manage to get a little bit of deal. Just don't go there to get in a light, quick practice because you practically need to bring your passport by the time you get to the range.
Twilight action at Montebello and the course did not disappoint for $32 to ride from the blue tees. Met up with two friends there on a beautiful, warm Friday afternoon after braving the infuriating traffic on the 60 for far too long and arriving just before the late tee time.

Greens are definitely the highlight of the course. Holding shots well, really nice coverage, rolling medium fast and true. No major tiers or difficult slopes to navigate here, and even when you see a break, it's probably not as severe as you may think. But they're very fun to play.

Fairways had some nice coverage in a lot of areas (especially on the back nine), but there are still plenty of thin or burned out areas to avoid, especially on the fairways fringes. Rough can be pretty thick in some spots with patches big enough to hide your ball away, but other sections are not as bad. Tee boxes were a mix of good and very shaggy and poor, while the bunkers were all very poor. They just can't seem to get the bunkers in order here. Like ever. And that's a shame. You're basically chipping out of every bunker. There's no sand to take.

No cart service all day which was a bummer, but maybe we started too late and it's only for the weekends. Either way, the course layout is actually quite fun and you'll likely use most of the clubs in your bag. The 18th is a quality closing hole as well, but there are a lot of fun holes here despite the overall conditions not being all that great.

I would definitely go back to Montebello if the opportunity came up again soon. The track just agrees with my game and, with the exception of those pesky bunkers, never leave without having a good feeling.
Just a quick review after last weekend's GK Event at the usually very solid La Costa resort. Like most of the others have stated, it was not in the ideal shape that usually greets you when you get down there. And to make it worse, the three-hour drive in inexplicable Saturday morning traffic already got things off to a bad start.

We got out to the first tee though (in our case the third hole for our shotgun) and were greeted with burned out fairways, poor bunkers and far too many Cart Path Only holes which was all the more frustrating due to the less-than-ideal course conditions.

Greens were in pretty good shape though and very tricky to manage. Plenty of tiers, false fronts and severe slopes to test the best of putters. This was a PGA course for a reason. Routing is very strong though and some of the holes are pretty awesome, just a shame that they were visually so disappointing.

Cart service was good though and the staff did a good job taking care of us. Always a fun time to join up with fellow GK'ers, in this case new GK stud Matt and the terrific father-son duo of Ken and Kendrick. Special thanks as always to Johnny for getting us out there.
Part two of the OC double dip was a trip to Arroyo Trabuco for the first time ever. Walked on and got a holiday price of $115 to ride from the blue tees. Now, before I get into the course review, I'm very curious as to how to grade certain aspects of this course and its management.

Now, any course that you shell out over a hundred dollars for, you're going to have expectations. So when I saw the sprinklers out and running full speed on the first hole green, I thought, 'Okay. No big deal.' I mean, at least don't put the pin on that same side of the green, but whatever. Unfortunately, this same situation would be repeated on 4-5 holes throughout the day, two greens which were so drenched with water that little lakes were formed on the green and we had to alter shots around them. Sorry, but that's just poor. Really poor.

So do I ding the greens rating or just the rating for Customer Service? I kind of went half and half, but I'm curious what the final rating will be. Although to be fair, the greens looked nice but rolled actually pretty slow and were looking like they were in need of a press. Held shots well though and were pretty challenging in terms of tiers and undulations.

Now to the good part ... fairways were in mostly very nice shape, as were the tee boxes and did not have any gripes about the bunkers whatsoever. Rough had its moments that made club selection quite imperative, and there is no shortage of OB areas to torment your scorecard.

This course is tough. Very tough. You have to be very good picking out the right spots and getting the ball there. There are not many 'easy' holes at all. In fact, almost every one of them is downright difficult and nerve-wracking. You can blow up a scorecard here quite quickly. But if you get into a nice little groove, which I did on the back nine for a while, then it's actually a pretty cool track. It's very isolated so you don't worry too much about houses around the property, and the views are quite nice all day. No complaints on the location - it was made to be a golf course.

So what was my overall impression of Arroyo Trabuco? Look, it's a quality track that can easily justify the price if they don't take their customers for granted by rolling their eyes at any complaints about things like sprinklers on the greens. Some really quality holes that will challenge you all day. POP was a bit slow as well, but the cart service came around numerous times on a hot day.

Would I go back? I would, but I would wait to find a good deal online, but of course they don't do that. So we'll see. Mixed feelings for sure but I can easily see another trip and a whole different feeling when I leave. Time will tell.
First of a double dip this 4th of July weekend with Kassper7 as we headed down to the OC early to play a round at San Clemente. Check-in was easy and they even gave us free tokens for some range balls. The range is a bit underwhelming and small, but it's perfect to just loosen up the bones after a decent drive down south before heading to the first tee.

Rode the blue tees for something crazy like $37. What a steal. This course is in very nice shape right now overall, with the highlight being great greens. Do they look fantastic? Not really, but they play unbelievably well. Fast, smooth and receptive to approaches - superb.

Fairways are in very nice shape as well, and the rough is not too penal at all except in a few areas. Bunkers were fine and the tee boxes just a little beat up but nothing to complain about. Overall though, same type of optics around the course as the greens. It doesn't necessarily look like the best manicured course, but it certainly plays like one right now. Look, you're going to find a bare spot here or there just off the fairways, but again, for the price you're paying it's an absolute robbery.

One interesting thing about the layout that I can't recall at too many places is a couple of holes with absolutely no fencing or natural boundaries. The par 5 5th and 12th holes are simply wide open towards the parallel streets bordering them. It's almost off-putting for a minute while you get to the tee box and realize that there is literally NOTHING stopping your errant shot from going through a house. Fun!

Great day out though and really enjoyed San Clemente. Highly recommended at the moment.
Played our GK Cup 13 first-round matches at Lakewood on Sunday and the course is doing just fine as summer finally begins. If your expectations are not out of whack, what you'll get here is a solid round of testing golf with nice conditions that will work for any golfer.

Greens are in very good shape actually. A few too many ball marks for sure, but the speed and consistency of the roll is very good right now. Very receptive to approach shots as well, and even consistent throughout the day.

Fairways are maybe not the most green you'll see around SoCal right now, but the surface is very playable no matter what color it looks like, and you're also going to find a lot of good lies. Sure, there are some thin spots, but overall you should be quite satisfied. Rough is not very penal at all so worries to go just off fairways a bit.

Bunkers were in working shape with no major complaints at all. Tee boxes had some damage from overuse but were mostly level and functional. POP was definitely a surprise because we were actually having a lot of fun with our foursome of Kassper7, Mrkich and USCDodger, but we finished in a little over five hours, so that was not optimal.

Good, challenging yet fair layout at Lakewood that is a good option to play right now if you don't want to play Skylinks prices for quality golf in the LBC.
Played the Babe on Saturday for my monthly Flex Tour round along with Kassper7 and my FT buddies Tommy and Jason. It was an absolutely beautiful summer day with temps getting up to the low 90s. We had an 8:20 tee time and rode in carts because there are some long walks at IH that would make walking a real time consumer. Do they even allow walkers?

Anyway, one thing before getting to course conditions. While Industry Hills is a wonderful 36-hole facility with some of the best public golf in SoCal, the organization pre-tee off is a bit haphazard. You have to take a shuttle down to the range but you can't buy range balls when signing in with the starter. Cash only. What? Okay, but it's probably a good idea in the future to simply go straight to the range, and then take the shuttle back up to the starter. They won't let you get carts first and take them to the range. It's all a bit 'odd.' But anyway …

Course is in very nice shape right now from tee to green. It's not a 10 all around for sure, but you're going to have a hard time finding a lot to gripe about. Tee boxes (we played the blues which is a big difference from the whites!) were in mostly good shape with flat spots and good coverage. The bunkers looked okay but I only found one all day and it was of the fairway variety. Fairways had nice coverage, and the rough was not too penal at all. There were a few thin spots on every hole, but overall good shots would find nice coverage.

Putting was an adventure because the greens at the Babe have so many undulations and tiers. There was some ridiculous pin placement going on though, most notably the top, tiny shelf on the 11th hole that was smaller than a Smart Car and saw every ball just roll right off onto the apron. But the speeds were not overly fast - maybe 10 to 10.5 at best, but still very tough with all the other factors. Coverage was good though and they held shots well.

In terms of layout, the Babe kind of requires the best of your game. It's narrow as can be on many holes, so you can get in trouble quick. From the blues at least though, you're going to need distance as well. There are no easily reachable par 5s here and there's a 260 yard par 3 on the front nine that's a bit nasty. It opens up a bit more with the back nine holes, but by then the damage has likely been done. Just know that this is definitely a course where you don't have to feel bad about playing the whites if you're a double-digit handicap.

Cart service was seen early and often throughout the day, so that was good. Price was $84 which was more or less justified for the quality of the course you're playing, but you can definitely find better midweek deals and I think they're even doing a Sunday special for just $64. That's a great deal. But yeah, overall you're going to have a find day if you spend your four hours at the Babe anytime soon.
Father's Day round out at Whittier Narrows today under the assumption it would be fairly wide open with so many slots available online. It started out that way but we eventually caught up to some slow groups and it was a slog the rest of the day. However, the twosome in front of us agreed to join us at the 4th hole and we had a great time with them.

Rode the blue tees and my back is sore from all the 4x4 action around the course. There are bumps everywhere - rough or fairway, and it takes a toll on your body getting from one shot to the next! There are some sections with decent grass in the fairways, but it's mostly thin, hard and difficult to make clean contact. The rough is not better.

Tee boxes are a bit of a mess from start to finish. They're bare, they're uneven, and they need some immediate attention. The bunkers? Also not great. Very thin and some were more like caked mud with some standing water in a few. Not ideal conditions whatsoever.

The saving grace? Well, the greens are okay. They're a bit bumpy, a bit inconsistent and a bit slow - but they're the best part of the course without a doubt. I'm surprised the course rating is so high for Whittier Narrows, but there is definitely some length to contend with when playing from the blue tees. But it's pretty straight ahead and won't throw you many curve balls.

I won't be rushing back anytime soon, but it's a decent option if you're in the area and want to get in some reps with every club in your bag.
Got the invite to play a new private course for the first time last Friday, so of course there would be no turning the offer to play Woodland Hills CC down. A friend of a friend joined the club recently, and actually got a pretty darn good deal to join - won't go into details but look into it.

Heard some interesting stories about the layout here and did some investigating before the round, and all of it was true. While there are a few really great holes here in the more traditional sense of course design, the layout is chock full of quirky par 3s, crazy narrow driving lanes, and a number of blind shots in both directions of elevation. There are some holes where the tips (6300 yards) play from tee boxes literally right next to opposing greens. On the third hole, you have to wait for the people on the fifth hole to tee off if you want to keep your head attached. This place gets a little wild.

But the conditions are pretty great, so you have to really be forgiving on the weirdness. And speaking of weirdness, did I mention there's no real driving range, but a little triangle tucked between the 10th and 18th holes where you can hit anything up to a pitching wedge? Fabulous. But yes, the conditions. Superb. Some of the fastest greens I've seen in a long time, and they were incredibly difficult to control on any downhill slopes, of which of course there are many. Almost all of them, actually.

Fairways and rough in really great shape. Some super lush, green vistas to see when you're in the heart of the course, but it feels a bit like an obscure Muni when playing the bizarre and isolated holes 6 and 7. But overall it's got country club written all over it. Bunkers were filled with lovely white sand and played perfectly. Tee boxes? A bit weird in terms of design, but conditions were fine enough. Many of the tee boxes are tucked away into tight quarters and require paying attention when turning corners if your friends are hitting away. Stay alert!

The routing can also be a bit confusing I would guess if not playing with a member, but luckily we had that covered. Would I come back? I definitely plan on it. Course knowledge is a must here. You absolutely must be committed to your shot here. There are some crazy tight angles to work here so scores can get away from you very quickly. Then add in those super fast greens and you have your work cut out for you in a big way.

Will definitely head back when I can. Worth a few more visits despite the wackiness. And there were only three pictures of this place so I took some from all 18 to get an idea of its unique nature.
Fun Saturday round at La Mirada today with Kassper7 and another friend. We were paired with a fun twosome and moved pretty well throughout the day despite being a fivesome, and also around a fifteen minute delay before teeing off.

My most recent memories of La Mirada were of dried out fairways on the high ground, and aquatic wastelands in the low-lying areas like holes 6 and 16. This place drains terribly and often the conditions suffer because of it. But today was definitely a much better experience.

If current conditions are not the best I've ever played here, then they're very close to it. Fairways have plenty of lush areas with the occasional thin spot to be found somewhere on just about every hole. Rough is not penal, but the tee boxes are just in okay shape overall. Bunkers fluctuated from hole to hole, but some were quite thin and required a chip out over a sand shot. And yes, the greens were in good shape. Not great, but quite good compared to trips past. Certainly not fast, but pretty well maintained if not just a bit lumpy and requiring a bit of a press.

Always enjoy the up and down layout at La Mirada and find it quite fun and relatively challenging. When the conditions are good and the round doesn't take you six hours (which it did not today), this is a super fun place to play. Glad to have come back.
Played a Saturday round with a large group of guys that play monthly, but once a year put on a big event that Los Verdes got the call for this year. We played the white tees and rode with five groups in total starting at 9am.

Great shape right now on the always-tough Los Verdes greens. Super fast, very true and great coverage. Lines are tough to read and everything breaks towards the ocean, except when it actually looks like it's going to break towards the ocean and it goes the other direction just to mess with you. But seriously, very nice shape on the greens.

Fairways and rough are also in pretty good shape compared to visits over the past years. I was only in a few bunkers but they were good to go. Tee boxes were in okay shape as well. POP was a non-issue thanks to the fact that we had our big, fun group, but when all was said and done, it was your typical weekend six-hour round. Would have driven me crazy on any other day, but on this day it was NBD.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty gray all day so the first-timers really missed out on this course's main selling point - the ocean views of this poorer-man's Sandpiper. However, when the sky cleared up around the 14th hole, we did see some spouting whales in the Pacific from the 16th fairway. Pretty epic.
Flex Tour Friday twilight round at Rancho Park and conditions remain largely unchanged since my last visit there a few weeks ago, with a few possible exceptions. Paid $40 to walk with a push cart. POP was actually pretty good despite feeling much longer.

Fairways, rough, bunkers and tee boxes are all in decent to good shape right now, with the weakest aspect being the tee boxes. So much traffic here must make it impossible to keep them sharp, but it must be said if we're having an honest assessment.

Unfortunately the greens currently are very spongy and bumpy. You really had a to give uphill putts a good whip to get them close. At the very least they hold shots well, but I've seen them in far better shape here. Seems like they could also use a bit of a roll.

I can still confidently recommend Ranch Park, but keep your expectations in check right now.
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