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Final round of the day was at Coldwater. I saw online their tee sheet was pretty wide open in the afternoon, so I headed over and was teeing off by myself around 2:30. The twilight rate reduction goes down at 3:00, but the kid in the pro shop was super nice and gave me a deal when I mentioned it was my third round of the day. The course was actually busy, though. I ultimately joined up with the twosome in front of me and another single joined us later. They all left after nine and then another single joined me on the back nine. Total pace around 4:10 and just finishing before dark.

The course was in pretty good condition and in some respects, actually the best of the day. The overseeded tee boxes were decent. Par-3s a bit chewed up and not always level, but never had too much trouble finding a flat spot to tee it up. The overseeded fairways were really nice overall with just some inconsistent spots here and there. The rough was interesting. A handful of holes were completely overseeded and had really nice rough. Almost all holes had overseeded rough around the greens that looked and played great. Then, a majority of holes had completely dormant/hardpan rough along the fairways that bled into bare dirt areas on the outer edges of the course. It was interestingly inconsistent because the overseeded areas were so nice and the dormant/dead areas were so less-than-appealing.

I wasn't in any bunkers, but they looked okay. Couldn't tell from afar if they were loaded with AZ pebbles or not. There really aren't many sand traps on this course at all anyway. The greens were firm, yet moderately receptive and rolling pretty well at medium speeds. A tad bumpy/grainy at times, but probably the best surfaces of the day.

Coldwater is mostly a grip-it-and-rip-it paradise with generous fairways and mounding along the edges that can be helpful at times. There are a few places where homes can come into play, but mostly it's pretty open. A few greens are really tricky with lots of undulation while others are more mild. Most have some minor humps and bumps that can be difficult to read. Only a couple water holes and, like I mentioned, very few sand traps that are any threat to your score. Fairly decent mid-to-low-end locals course in above average shape.
This was my main round for the day. I had a 9:50 tee time, prepaid on TeeOff deal time with a promo code. Ended up being about $67 out the door after tax, which is a really good price here this time of year. I was paired with a twosome and we teed off on time. They space the tee times pretty well here and the staff is organized. There was a marshal roaming each nine to keep things moving. We rarely waited on the group ahead and were never pushed by the group behind, so it was a good relaxed 4-hour pace despite it being such a busy day. Can't ask for much better than that.

The golf course is in good overall shape, though maybe not quite as nice as I would have expected for March in Arizona. The tee boxes were great. The overseeded fairways were excellent and easily the highlight of the conditions. I always had very nice lies. The rough is semi-dormant bermuda. It's cut down, but just enough to grab your clubs especially on touch shots around the greens. I was in a few bunkers. The sand was raked and maintained, but most of the bunkers had plenty of pebbles in the mix. I'll just never get Arizona bunkers and why even some of the nicest courses will have this type of sand. I was also a little disappointed in the greens. They were fairly soft and receptive and rolling well at medium speeds. However, many were pretty pock-marked with old ball marks and every previous hole cut from probably the past month or two was overwhelmingly visible. Hard to describe and they didn't really affect anything, but circles everywhere and it was to the point of distraction at times. The old holes were so much more noticeable than any other course I've ever played on, so I can't help but note that here.

The Golf Club of Estrella offers a very good layout that requires accuracy and also length at times. Most tee shots are relatively forgiving, but the greens are tough and the bunkering is downright evil in places. The greens are pretty small and oddly shaped, so you have minimal room to work with around where each pin is placed. The layout is less dramatic than I expected with only a few significant changes in elevation, but then each nine finishes very strongly with some of the best holes on the course (especially holes 9, 16, 17 and 18). Definitely one of the best courses on the west side of the valley, but I'd personally rank it behind Wickenburg Ranch, Quintero and both Verrado courses based on my experiences.
Took a day trip out to AZ yesterday. Tres Rios was my warm-up round in the early morning because they are one of few courses around that have affordable morning rates this time of year ($35 with cart). I booked a 6:30 tee time online. There were a handful of other early birds there, but they all could tell I was ready to be the rabbit and I had no problem getting first off by myself. Teed off in almost-dark around 6:20 and finished right at 8:00!

The course was in decent shape. The overseeded tee boxes were generally fine. The fairways also had a nice overseed. The grass had great coverage, though the ground underneath was not always level so the lies weren't always necessarily consistent under the ball. The rough is dormant and shaved down to almost nothing—basically hardpan. I wasn't in any bunkers, but I took a look in a few and the sand actually looked quite good (as in freshly dragged/raked and not all full of pebbles like so many AZ courses). The greens were firm and slow with a lot of grain with the overseeded turf. A tad bumpy here and there.

I came in with pretty low expectations and this course and this course was just enjoyable enough. The relative affordability and being able to play as quickly as I wanted/needed were certainly part of the enjoyment. The conditions were adequate and the layout is decent. No homes (or many signs of civilization at all) around the course. The course is fairly flat and runs back and forth with a parkland style. Though there is plenty of room for error on most tee shots, the fairway cuts are rather narrow here and that is emphasized with the contrasting overseeded fairways against the dormant/dead rough areas. Not the best course around, but friendly and affordable.
Finally got to play this course today. Whereas all other SoCal military courses are accessible (some simpler than others), this one can be tough if you don't have Navy connections. I signed up for a charity tournament benefitting the Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation. A bit expensive for this course, but at least most of the money went to a good cause and I just wanted to check it off my list. Shotgun scramble at 9:00 and we finished around 2:00, so pretty typically for a tournament format like this.

Course conditions were good overall for winter. The tee boxes were very nice. The fairways were good for the most part. The closer you got to any water hazards, though, the more thin (and poopy) it would be thanks to a lot of coots and ducks hanging around. The rough was decent with kinda clumpy kikuyu and some other grasses in play. The bunkers seemed pretty well maintained, but maybe a tad thin and seemed to have some pebbles and maybe some crushed seashells in the mix (never played any sand shots, but retrieved a few balls). The greens were very nice, soft and rolling at medium speeds. Not everybody in the tourney was fixing their ball marks, so I spent some time making repairs. Otherwise, they were nice surfaces to putt on.

This course is almost exactly what I expected. Pretty straightforward layout. Front nine has quite a few water hazards in play and very reminiscent of the Navy Course in Cypress. Has plenty of similarities to Coronado GC, as well. Then, the best part of the course is holes 13-16 where you play somewhat close to the beach and get some decent views. No real stunning ocean vistas from the course itself because there are no significantly elevated spots, but it still adds some flavor being near the beachfront. Of course, lots of aerial activity overhead with Naval helicopters and planes/jets coming in for a landing and flying right over the course fairly low. We got buzzed by a group of F-18s (several times) and that was pretty cool (and loud). Thanks to the retired Navy pilots in my group for identifying what type of jets those were along with some of the other unique military aircraft that we spotted!
Second round yesterday was at Silverado. I thoroughly enjoyed the North Course last year and made arrangements to come back and play the South Course without having to stay at the resort. Was supposed to play in early November, but the wildfires changed our plans for that trip. Glad to say the area seems to be on the road to recovery. Fire damage is definitely noticeable on the hillsides surrounding the courses, but nothing significant happened to the courses or resort itself.

We had an 11:30 tee time, but they had a major frost delay in the morning, so we relaxed and enjoyed breakfast at the grille. We were still able to get off early around 10:45. I don't know if there were that many groups booked on the South and I'm sure there were some cancellations during the delay, so it wasn't bad in front of us. We played through a few groups and eventually caught the morning foursomes on the back nine. Still, a good overall pace of just over 3 hours.

Conditions were definitely winter thin, but consistent and playable. Well, it would have been more fair playability without the strong winds that made this course extremely difficult to manage. Tee boxes and fairways have primarily a bermuda base that was tight, firm and a little dappled in color. From afar, the fairways on the North Course looked much more lush as they have different grass in play. The rough had really good coverage throughout and wasn't too penal. The bunkers were immaculate with blindingly white sand. The greens were super duper firm thanks to the dry winter and windy conditions. Almost impossible to hold any approach shots without a ton of backspin. Best bet was to try and run it up, though that was easier said than done because of many false fronts and deep protective bunkers. Putting surfaces weren't as crazy fast as when we played the North Course just a few weeks before the tournament, but they were still fast. Anything downwind or downhill was very difficult to stop by the hole. Anything downwind and downhill was likely off the green unless you went in the hole!

Design-wise, the South Course has a lot of the same characteristics as its more famous big brother. It's probably less demanding than North, but still quite challenging. I was speaking to the Golf Director after the round and he was mentioning some long-term renovation plans for the South. They want to try and bring it up to the same level as North, which could mean redoing all the grass to keep the more year-round lush appearance. As it is now, the South is still a really great course that most anyone should enjoy if staying at the resort. I'd easily recommend it, especially if you can play it on a day that isn't so dry and windy.
Friday found us in Napa for two rounds before heading back home. The first was at Napa GC. We had already booked a 6:45 first group tee time ($29, cart included), but temps were expected to be in the high 20s at dawn. We called ahead the day before and they told us they don't do frost delays here. It's just cart path only if the course is frozen over. It was definitely freezing cold and the course had more frosted tips than a late-90s frat house. We were the only idiots there until we saw one other single teeing off as we made our turn around 8:00. Cart path only and numbness in the extremities slowed our pace a little, but we still finished in around 2.5 hours.

The thick, crunchy layer of frost added some challenged throughout the front nine. Everything was frozen, but I could tell the grass underneath was in pretty nice condition. The greens were hard as rocks and skidding putts were hard to judge, but that's all part of the fun. Most bunkers were also frozen over, but the sand was good underneath (just a bit unmaintained and lumpy in the few bunkers I found).

By the time we made the turn, the course began to thaw out and reveal its true conditions, which were actually pretty lush and green. Some thin/brown spots here and there, but mostly really good coverage throughout tee boxes, fairways and rough. The ice on top of the greens went away, but they were still super firm and frozen underneath. Not receptive at all. Once the surfaces thawed, though, the putting speeds really ramped up. These greens were rather fast and really nice to putt on.

Overall, this course was a very pleasant surprise. I almost feel like the people around here look down upon the cheaper local "muni" track compared to the more resort/vineyard style courses. If this course were in a different location, it would probably get more love. It's a fairly flat layout, but the surrounding scenery is nice in most directions. Parts of the course are more of a parkland tree-lined style while other parts are more open and kind of linksy. I use the term "open" meaning there aren't many trees on these holes, but there are water hazards everywhere. There's trouble to get into on almost every hole, but most of the layout is still forgiving enough that you can avoid it with reasonably smart play. If you are looking for a quality value round in the Napa Valley, I'd easily recommend this course.
Round 3 just down the road from The Bridges. We booked ahead online and selected their pre-paid option that saved some $$$. $45 for two players after 2:00 instead of $60. We arrived closer to 1:30 and the course was wide open so we were able to tee off right away. We ultimately caught up to groups on the final 5 holes, but still enjoyed a nice 2.5-hour pace.

Conditions were decent, though inconsistent at times. Tee boxes were fine. Fairways were adequate for the most part with some thin sections, so some spots better than others. Rough was pretty rough. Very patchy with a lot of bare areas. The greens were good. Firm-ish and rolling well at medium-fast speeds. Bunkers not that great. Overall, okay for winter season, but definitely rough around the edges.

The pro shop guy remarked before our round that Canyon Lakes was much more forgiving and fair than The Bridges. I guess it depends on your preferences and skills, because I was way more uncomfortable on a lot more tee shots here than I was at the other course. Lots of side-hill slopes and big trees in play to force some tough angles. It is not a long course, though, so it's all about hitting your targets and it's definitely more forgiving around the greens (as long as you stay below the hole). Otherwise, it's a fun layout with hilly terrain and some fun to be had riding the slopes. Not a must-play, but an interesting East Bay option to consider for sure.
This was our second round today, teeing off a little before 10:00. Not too crowded out there on a weekday, so we finished in a little over 3 hours. Price was $49 and worth it. Definitely a step or two above most courses in the East Bay in my experience.

The conditions (especially for winter) were very good. It was lush and green throughout. Some thin spots here and there, but fairways mostly in nice shape. Rough good where it mattered, with some patchiness as you near the canyon hazards. Greens moderately receptive and rolling well at medium speeds. Really good sand in the bunkers, as well.

This is a course I've been wanting to play for the longest time and was glad to finally make it happen. I know this course has kind of a mixed reputation. Some love it and some hate it because of its target design. It is a very modern style canyon course that reminded me of courses like Maderas, Moorpark, Eagle Glen, etc. in Southern California. Definitely demanding and tricky with sloped fairways, big undulated greens and lots of native hazard areas in play, but I never felt like it was overly tricked out in any places. If you've played other Johnny Miller courses, this is in the same vein. He likes to make things dramatic and I typically enjoy his designs a lot. Maybe not for everyone, but I loved it.
First of 3 more rounds in the East Bay today. Chilly and very windy morning. Bone-chilling gusts through the canyons and along the top of the bluffs throughout this hilly course. We went off first around 6:45 and were finished around 9:00. $30 with cart, so a reasonably priced weekday morning round.

Conditions were okay for winter, though inconsistent. From tee to green, the first few holes and last few holes were pretty ugly, but then most of the middle stretch was pretty decent with better fairway coverage. some bare spots scattered throughout. Rough is a bit of everything and mostly not ideal. Some thick/deep patches and a lot of bare dirt. Tee boxes adequate. Greens were the highlight. Firm and rolling well at medium speeds, though one green on the back nine was overwatered and completely flooded. Bunkers no bueno.

I had pretty low expectations coming in, but was very pleasantly surprised by this layout. It is very fun and never boring, especially in the hilly sections. I wasn't sure if the original Alister Mackenzie nine (which is now the back nine) still had any Mackenzie character left, but it sure does. The green complexes on this side are definitely unique and challenging, so you can definitely still feel some of his presence. The newer nine was designed by Robert Muir Graves and is a good complement. Easily the most dramatic stretch of holes is up along the bluffs with some great vistas. This is what you would call a "diamond in the rough" because it is very rough around the edges and could use a whole lot of TLC. A proper restoration would make this a real hidden gem, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
Third and final round today. We called ahead before we left Lone Tree. They told us it was pretty wide open and to just come on over. We paid the twilight rate of $30 with cart and we were able to tee off a little before 2:00. There were some scattered groups on the course. We skipped around a little on the front nine and then another player let us through on the back nine, so we had very little waiting and were finished a little after 4:00.

Diablo Creek was by far the best-conditioned course of the day. It was pretty lush and green throughout. Tee boxes were nice and fairways were great with really good coverage and consistent fluffy lies. Rough was also pretty nice all around, getting a little sketchier the further you strayed from fairways. Bunkers were decent (I was only in one and it was good enough). Greens were also nice. A lot of unrepaired ball marks, but the surfaces were soft/receptive and rolling well at medium speeds.

Though it was in much better shape than either Deer Ridge or Lone Tree, it was the least interesting layout of the three. Very flat and a pretty mundane back and forth routing. A few water hazards in play on the front nine and then a creek (Diablo Creek, I presume) that comes into play on some of the back nine holes. The greens have some undulation and character, but not much else stands out. Surprisingly good winter conditions still make this a solid choice at the right price.
Second round of three today was at Lone Tree. Another one to check off the list! We used a Groupon deal that worked out to around $41 a player, but included range balls (which we didn't use) and lunch. We ate lunch afterward in the bar and the food was actually very good (I recommend the chicken tacos). Very friendly staff overall. They warned us of a big weekly senior shotgun group that was out on the course, so they had us start on the back nine around 9:40. We quickly caught up to some groups on the front nine and hung back, then we skipped around a bit on the front nine to avoid logjams and that saved us a good half hour of waiting around. Total pace right around 3.5 hours, so not bad with a little creative routing.

Course was in pretty mediocre condition. Tee boxes adequate enough to tee it up and find a flat spot. Some fairways were much better than others, but all had some spotty coverage. Rough also patchy with a lot of bare spots. Like Deer Ridge, a lot of bumpy ground here, so it was tough when the ball sat down in a low spot. I wasn't in any bunkers, but my friend was in a couple and said they were rock hard. The greens were a mixed bag. Some were actually pretty nice with firm, medium-fast surfaces. Others had repair patches they were trying to fix. Looked ugly, but mostly played fine. Then, a few greens were completely scalped and dormant. These were faster and firmer, and obviously looked awful, but I guess it shows they may be putting in some effort to basically start over and restore some of the more damaged greens.

Just an okay course in mediocre condition. Nothing too exciting on the back nine, kind of a back and forth muni feel. Front nine has some more minor changes in elevation and more character overall, but still not anything to write home about. Seems to get plenty of play, especially with Roddy Ranch having been closed a couple years now. Too bad because that was a much better course than this one.
Played here this morning with ppark81. We were the only ones there and ready to go when they opened up the pro shop around 6:30. Very chilly morning and they had a shotgun going out at 9:00, so not too many dawn patrollers out. We teed off around 6:45 and finished just before 9:00, so it went quick. We used a GolfMoose voucher (plus GK certificate) to make it just $12 a player. Hard to beat that deal.

I wasn't expecting much in terms of conditions in the winter season, especially considering it hasn't rained too much yet this year. Conditions were actually pretty decent and the course was looking reasonably green. Tee boxes fine. Fairways had pretty good grass coverage in most places (plenty of bare spots, too). Main issue was ground/turf was a bit lumpy, so the ball would often sit down in a little groove, divot or depression and that made it tougher to make solid contact. Rough was a mixed bag with some deep patches and other areas bare dirt. There were a lot of thick tufts of grass with gaps in between, so sometimes it was a matter of luck. If you sat on top of a good patch of grass, it was nice. If you fell in between the tufts, it really sucked. The maintenance guy was ahead of us all morning dragging the bunkers. They could use a lot more sand, but at least they were maintaining what they had. The greens were a mix of grasses and pretty inconsistent with speeds and receptiveness. Often bumpy on putts and rolling at medium speeds. Anything downhill was pretty fast while uphillers had to be smacked pretty good to get to the hole. Definitely want to stay below the hole when you can.

Fairly enjoyable layout as it winds through the community but houses rarely feel much in play. Moderately hilly with some canyon/links elements. Their sister course Shadow Lakes is now officially closed after years of struggles and Deer Ridge may be on the bubble, too, even though it seems to get ample play. I liked Shadow a little better between the two, but Deer Ridge has a lot of the same qualities.
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