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From one remote Norcal "must-play" to another, I finally made my way out to Northwood after we finished up at Bodega. As a self-proclaimed "golf nomad," raised in the much-farther-north Northern California redwoods, short course supporter, and so on, I almost felt embarrassed that I hadn't played here yet. The monkey is finally off my back and, for the most part, the course lived up to the hype.

I got out on the first tee immediately after arriving, paired with another twosome. It was very busy and slow ahead of us, so really long waits on every tee shot and approach. Good thing there's plenty of shade here. The twosome I played with started on hole 7 (some folks will do this here because of convenient routing). They stopped after 6, but then the starter put a replacement twosome with me to start their round. I played my last 3 holes with them before they continued on. My round was quite slow at 2.5 hours for the 9 holes.

The conditions were good. Nice and green here, which looked great under blue skies with the tall redwoods framing every hole. Tee boxes fine. Fairways had some weak spots here and there (lots of soft areas and some bare spots), but were mostly pretty good. Rough more of a mixed bag, but decent enough around greens and in areas that mattered. I wasn't in any bunkers, but they appeared pretty nice (there aren't really too many here). Greens were in good shape, firmer than you might expect and rolling well at medium/fast speeds.

Now, if I didn't know this was an Alister Mackenzie course coming in, I wouldn't have guessed it had any super special architecture pedigree. That is not knocking the layout at all. It's a solid layout in a spectacular setting. It's one where he purposely kept the design simple and let the natural terrain/surroundings do the heavy lifting. The few bunkers on the course definitely have some character to them and the small greens are tricky. A few are really unique-looking. Otherwise, what you see is what you get. Avoid the big trees (good luck) and you can post a really good score. Otherwise, a great place to enjoy a relaxed round of golf. Friendly atmosphere and rustic setting. Definitely worth going out of the way for, even if you don't want to take a 9-hole course too seriously. Get over yourself and play here if you are in the area!
4 Likes.
Enjoyed a great round this morning with JohnnyGk and Iscraaatch. We were the first group off at 7:00 on an incredibly clear, but chilly and rather windy, morning. We enjoyed a relaxed sub-4-hour pace with nobody pushing from behind. Johnny and I might have spent more time taking pictures than playing! Thanks so much to the Bodega Harbour staff for having us out today and treating us so well.

The conditions were very good tee to green. The tee boxes were nice. The fairways were excellent. Really like the turf here that provides some rollout, but fluffy lies to hit from. The rough was mostly good other than some bare or gopher mound areas scattered throughout. The primary rough wasn't too much trouble, but there was plenty of the deep, deep stuff around the outer edges. Some areas were recently trimmed, so you might be able to find your ball and play it. In other areas, good luck! The greens were pretty good, maybe some inconsistencies and bumps here and there, rolling at medium/quick speeds (downhill/uphill such a huge factor here). I wasn't in any bunkers, but most looked nicely maintained.

This was my second time here, with the first being probably 10+ years ago. That day, it was socked in by fog. I wasn't able to enjoy the views, but I absolutely fell in love with the course and the seaside vibe (couldn't see the ocean much then, but could smell the salty air and hear the foghorn, sea lions and waves crashing on the beach). As much as I enjoyed that first experience, today was 100 times even better! The wind presented a definite challenge, but I was able to soak in the incredible views on every single hole and really see the dramatic contours of the layout. Stunning, unique, challenging, etc. etc. etc. Just a wonderful experience I'll never forget. One of California's best hidden gems and a must-play if you ask me!
4 Likes.
Was able to get out pretty much immediately on South after finishing on North. Very inexpensive replay rate, so it was a great deal for all 36. Teed off by myself a little before 4:00 and then joined another single on the 2nd tee. The threesome ahead of us and that guy I was playing with left after nine, so I got to run free for the first half of the back nine until I caught a log jam of groups and the final 4 holes took awhile. Still finished in about 2.5 hours, so no complaints.

I'd say course conditions were pretty comparable, but probably just a notch down from the North. There were more soft spots throughout South as they have been watering generously. Overall, though, the tee boxes, fairways and rough were pretty good. The greens were much softer on this side and rolling slower, but I would dare to say a little smoother surfaces on South than North. I wasn't in any bunkers, but they appeared as inconsistent as North with a handful featuring new sand and others looking terrible.

This is one of those cases where the South is clearly viewed as the red-headed stepchild of the facility. Everyone I talked to praised the North and gave South a "meh" at best. Therefore, I came in with low expectations that were easily exceeded. I enjoyed South. It's pretty straightforward, but feels a little narrower off the tee. The greens are smaller and there were some really tricky pin placements today. I would still rank North over South in terms of overall layout and conditions, but I wouldn't say it's that huge a gap based on my experience today. I do like that both courses offer something a little different and cheaper rates can always be found on South.
6 Likes.
First round of the long weekend was here. Ended up playing all 36 at Foxtail, starting on the North with a 12:27 GN hot deal ($26). Guy in the pro shop got me going at noon and then I went and checked in with the starter. It's a bit of a drive across the street to get over to the North Course. The starter was remarking how unusually busy it was as he let out a 7-some?!? He said a couple guys were leaving after a few holes and they "promised" to play quickly. He then put out another twosome, and then myself and other single as a separate twosome behind them. Kinda strange he didn't want to put us together. Ultimately, the other twosome and my twosome played through that large group (they were just a fivesome by the time we played through, but still brutally slow) and it was smooth sailing after that. 3:45 pace was just fine, but it sure was a bizarre start.

The course was in solid condition. Pretty green and lush throughout, maybe a tad on the shaggy side. A few tee boxes could use some leveling out, but they were mostly in good shape. The fairways didn't provide much roll, but I always had good lies to hit from. The rough had good coverage. Not too deep, but just enough to make you work on some shots as the ball tended to sit down in it. The greens were firm. Well most were, and occasionally you'd find a surprise soft spot when you were expecting a release. They rolled pretty well at medium-fast speeds. The bunkers were kind of a mess. A few had nice new sand, but were not well kept. Most had this dark gray hardpan sand that you wanted to avoid. Hopefully they'll eventually get the new sand in all the traps and players/staff take tend to them as needed.

Solid course. Some big doglegs here, but still reasonably forgiving off most tees. Plenty of tall trees lining each holes. Houses along almost every hole. However, they only felt really in play a few times. The greens here are very large and hard to read, at least as a first-timer. Struggled to make any putts. Nothing worth going too far out of your way for, but a nice local course when you get a good price like I did.
6 Likes.
HmtGolfGuy and I played our GK Cup 10 match here this morning with a 7:29 hot deal for $23 each. Always a good value at General Old. It wasn't too busy out there, but we teed off on time and were paired with another twosome. One of them was kind of a new player and they urged us to go ahead after the first hole. We then played as a twosome behind a foursome, who eventually let us play through on 11. In the end, it worked out well as we finished in under 3.5 hours.

Conditions were solid overall. Tee boxes fine. Fairways had mostly good coverage and I almost always had decent lies. Rough very spotty with some really thick stuff and some bare dirt. Things get better around the greens. That is where they obviously put the most attention. The greens had really nice turf. It was just really, really wet this morning. All ball marks were huge craters and the surfaces were spongy. They were drying out at different rates, so every green reacted a little differently than the rest. If we were there mid-day when they were dried out, I probably would rate the greens higher than the squishy inconsistency we got in the early morning. I was in a couple bunkers and they were just a sloppy wet mud/sand slurry.

I always have a soft spot for General Old. Funny I just spent the weekend up in Fresno/Bakersfield because GO is kind of a Central Valley course at heart. Nothing overly exciting, but always solid and enjoyable enough at the right price.
12 Likes.
This was the last stop on our trip. Though it is just a 9-hole course in the middle of nowhere, it was by far the biggest "get" of my attempt to reach out to private clubs in the area. This is one I thought I might never get to access because it is so obscure and connections aren't easily made. Most people don't even know it exists. The Head Pro was nice enough to invite us out and set up a pass to get into the Bear Valley Springs community, though, and I am extremely grateful. We teed off a little after 3:00 and the course was wide open, so we finished quickly. Guest rate for 9 holes with cart very reasonable at $26.

The course was in decent shape. It's very rough around the edges, but that kind of fits the character of the course and community. Tee boxes were fine. Fairways had good coverage for the most part. Some bad spots/inconsistencies and the grass was a bit shaggy in places, but the lies were mostly pretty good. The rough was more, well, rough with a mix of everything from squirrel holes to super deep/thick rough that was brutal. The bunkers had great sand. They just need to be raked and evened out. The greens were the highlight of the course and maybe the best of the trip. They were fantastic, rolling smooth at medium/quick speeds (faster than they looked).

Part of the appeal of Oak Tree is how remote it is. If you've ever played Horse Thief, you'll have an idea of what to expect here. Tehachapi is already pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and then add another 15-20 minute drive on back roads deeper into valley to get to the course. The layout is enjoyable and it's hard not to draw comparisons to Horse Thief. The first tee starts with a great elevated shot and then after that there aren't any big changes in elevation as you circle around the lake. Like HT, lots of big boulder outcroppings throughout the course, which is a neat look. It's a more open layout than HT, though, with much less trees in play. We only played the front nine, but noticed how different a few of the back nine tees were, so that makes it interesting if you play 18. Fun, rugged course. Fun experience. Big checkmark on my list!!!
6 Likes.
Played Stockdale yesterday morning. They were another club that was very nice when I reached out to them. They set up a 10:30 tee time for us. The only caveat as guests was that we were required to be accompanied by club pros (and we had to chip in a little extra for their "services"). On the front nine, we played as a fivesome with an assistant pro and two members. On the back, we played as a threesome with a different assistant pro. Everyone there was really friendly and the experience was great. Even with all that, our round took only a little over 3 hours to complete.

The course was in very nice condition. Tee boxes were nice. Fairways were lush and green throughout with just a few brown/thin spots here and there. The fairway grass is kept a tad shaggy on purpose. I guess the super like to keep things soft here, especially to combat the summer heat. Not much roll on drives, but good lies to hit from on fairways. Rough a bit spottier along fairways, but good in the areas where it mattered most (especially around greens). Bunkers were great. Greens were receptive, very well-kept and rolling true at medium speeds.

I had driven out to Stockdale before just to check it out. The course turned out to be more interesting than I thought it would be. Like a lot of the other older Central Valley tracks, the terrain is flat and the layout is back-and-forth with tree-lined fairways. It certainly has a similar look and feel to a lot of courses throughout Bakersfield and Fresno. However, there are some doglegs here and it has just enough character. And the conditioning is a step up from most. The early half of the back nine is the most interesting part of the course by far, so I enjoyed that stretch the most. Nice practice facilities and very friendly, simple club atmosphere (at least around the golf shop). Glad I had the chance to play it.
7 Likes.
I've been on an email barrage lately, trying to reach out to private clubs about my blog, travels and ultimate quest to play every course in CA. I was able to get a few responses for this weekend's Central Valley trip, so it has been a successful venture. Visalia CC is one that was receptive and invited me out. My friend, ppark81, played with me. We teed off about 4:20 and basically had the course to ourselves this late in the day (still super hot with no wind to speak of). We were finished by about 6:30.

The course was in really nice overall condition and a clear step up from Sunnyside earlier, except for maybe the bunkers. The tee boxes were good. The fairways were great for the most part. Very lush with only some minor browning here and there. Rough was mostly good. Not too deep, but again thick and more penal than it looked. The bunkers had really nice sand, but a couple I was in had some unraked footprints. The greens were soft, but kind of springy/spongy, so some balls would really bite and others would shoot forward. The surfaces were smooth overall and rolling at medium speeds.

The bunkering really is the story at Visalia. In general, I'd say it's a pretty typical older style Central Valley course (tree-lined fairways, back and forth routing, fairly flat terrain), but the bunkers and overall presentation of the green complexes really add a ton of character. The bunkers are deep with neat (but diabolical) contouring. They are very much in play on every approach shot. There are a few nice water holes on this course including the signature par-16th and the very unique par-4 7th.

I would say the course favors a draw shot (right-to-left) because every dogleg here goes sharply to the left and there are some "uncomfortable" holes for me along the street. However, it is actually a very fair layout because most holes have ample bail-out room and angles for anyone to play. I didn't always execute, but I never felt like I didn't have an opportunity to score on any hole. Either way, it's a nice course (also a lot of history here, too) and well worth playing if you ever have the chance.
13 Likes.
Had the chance to play here today. A friend set up the round, but it ended up leading to a great line-up of private club golf in the Central Valley for this weekend. We had a 3.5-some (one guy's wife rode along and played a few holes here and there) and teed off around 11:15. The course was quite empty by this time in the day because it was so hot out, but we still ended up stuck behind a sixsome of members. We tried not to push them too hard and ultimately they played at a really good pace. We finished in about 3:45, so no complaints.

The course was in pretty good overall condition, especially considering how darn hot it has been this summer. It was well over 100 today without much breeze. The tee boxes were good. The fairways were mostly nice with just some brown/thin spots scattered here and there. The rough had some areas where work was being done (aeration, resodding, etc.) but was mostly in decent shape. It was cut down low, but the grass was grabby and made you work more than expected. The bunkers were exceptional with soft, sparkling light color sand. The greens were also rather nice. They were very soft (tons of bite) and rolling pretty smooth at medium speeds (a tad slower than they looked). Noticed a number of unrepaired ball marks, though, which is unfortunate.

I appreciated the history and old school vibe of this club more than the course itself. It is one of the oldest active courses in all of California (1911) and, in fact, the oldest course in Central CA. Their website says it it is the first course that was opened anywhere between LA and Monterey. The layout itself is very basic with a lot of back-and-forth holes. Most holes are super straight from tee to green. Nothing resembling a water hazard anywhere on the course (just some OB areas along outer edges that don't really come into play much). Very forgiving. The back nine, however, did offer a few doglegs and I thought it had a bit more character than the front. Still, nothing overly exciting. Grateful to have played it and experienced a bit of Fresno golf history!
11 Likes.
I had the opportunity to play here yesterday morning. I was able to make a connection thanks to my blog and they invited me out to play, despite the fact that the course is technically already closed for the summer. There were a couple other people out there, including the Director of Golf giving a lesson behind me. Otherwise, I basically had the place to myself unless you count the army of maintenance workers throughout! I ended up playing twice just because I could.

I did not post a rating of this course because it would not be fair. I can tell it is normally in stellar shape during the season. I was actually expecting the conditions to be much worse than they were, but it is still kept up pretty nicely. There were no tee markers out, but the tee boxes were great. They were doing a lot of work on fairways, so there were a number of sanded/fertilized spots. Overall, though, the grass was cut nicely and probably 80% great. I just played any maintenance spots as GUR. The rough had even more maintenance going on, so I did my best to avoid that. The bunkers were a bit compacted without much play or maintenance, but the sand base was great. The greens were super firm, which meant no ball marks anywhere. They were rolling very smooth at medium speeds.

It was unique getting to play a high-end course like this, but I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed the layout. Fazio redesigned the course at some point, but it is a very player-friendly design. It is very forgiving off the tee with wide fairways. The greens are big with some undulation, but not as much as most Fazio courses. The greens are very accessible with ample run-up areas. Not the most challenging layout, but still nice with a handful of great holes. Definitely recommended if you have a chance to play it. I can only imagine how nice it is in season.
9 Likes.
This turned out to be my last stop of the trip yesterday afternoon. I booked a 2:00 tee time online, which was the first twilight group/rate available at $29 (cart included). I was paired with 3 other singles and we teed off a little before 2:00. We had a few holes open in front of us and then ultimately caught a slower foursome on the back nine. Still, the pace was very good around 3:20.

The course was in decent shape, with the greens being the highlight. The tee boxes were fine. The fairways were mostly pretty good. There are just a bunch of small scattered spots that are completely dead/bare hardpan. So there's like 95% good coverage of fairway grass and then the 5% dead spots here and there that definitely detract. The rough was pretty good for the most part, especially around the greens. The bunkers were very nice. The greens seem almost all the way healed from whatever spring aeration they did, though there was a light topdressing of sand on all greens. The surfaces are very spongy, but more springy than soft on approaches, so there weren't too many ball marks to be found. The guys I played with said the greens are normally much faster and don't have the sand, so I would expect them to be very good again within the next few weeks.

Everything about this course just felt as average as average can be. It's one of those basic tracks that could be picked up and transported to anywhere in the country and it wouldn't make a difference. I was hoping the close proximity to the bay might provide some views, but no. You have a big ugly power plant bordering that side of the course and then you have SFO airport nearby with planes flying in constantly overhead. The course is very flat and plain. Mostly wide open with only a handful of holes that had much character at all. Just a run-of-the-mill local's course that gets a lot of play. Fine for what it is, but nothing too exciting for an out-of-town visitor.
9 Likes.
This was my second round yesterday. This was purely just a "checklist" course for me to finish off my SF public course list on this trip. I arrived around noon and the place was very empty. I guess the course doesn't get much play. I encountered 2 twosomes and a disc golfer on the course, and that was it. The price was $21 for nine holes, and then I paid $12 extra for a cart. I probably would have walked this one, though it is hilly, but I saw how empty the course was and figured it was worth the extra $ for expediency. It is cart-path-only, though. Why? I am not sure because I could drive a monster truck around these "fairways" and not really make it any worse.

Everything out here is very dry and there are a lot of bare spots, too. Just very brown/firm/dry from tee to green, with a little more care given to the grass surrounding the greens. The bunkers were devoid of sand. The greens, however, were the nice part and they seem to advertise around the quality of the greens. They were firm, mostly in good shape and rolling at medium/fast speeds. I gave the greens a 7 and everything else a 3 or less, so the overall rating may show higher than I want it to.

This is a 9-hole regulation length course with two sets of tees on each hole for front/back play. Some tees have a significant difference. Others not so much. The layout is kind of fun and would be more enjoyable with nicer conditions. They have foot golf and disc golf courses intermingled with the main course, but I don't think any version of the course gets enough play for that to be a major problem. I get the sense they'll gladly take any business they can get. Has a feeling like it's on its last legs because it's so run-down.
9 Likes.
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