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Played Champions on 12/19/18 as I found a nice deal on GolfNow. Booked as a single joining two others at 12:16, but I went to the starter at 11:45 and he said go ahead, so I went off as a single.

Beautiful day in Carlsbad. Teed off at 11:50. 10 minutes later as I addressed my birdie putt, somebody in the clubhouse must have been watching me as they started ringing the bells in the bell tower as my putt found the bottom of the cup. The celebratory 12 bells were appreciated! I guess they must do that for everyone that birdies #1, as I usually bogey that hole. For that alone, the staff gets a perfect rating!

The course is in great winter shape. Greens are almost perfect. Good coverage in the fairways and rough. Minor negatives - I did find thin spots in a couple of bunkers, and there are quite a few areas marked off as under repair. Quite a few cart path only spots as well. Still, very very little to complain about here, the course is in great shape.

Raced around 12 holes as a single, finally catching and joining a twosome on #13. Still finished the round in just over 3 hours.

Highly recommended.

Perhaps the most rare, amazing and incredible thing happened though. Even rarer than a Hole-In-One. I successfully used a GolfNow $10 Rewards coupon! Shocking! If you haven't tried to use one of these, there are a few caveats:
1. Must be booked at least 24 hours in advance
2. Can only be used on Hot Deal tee times after 12:00pm
3. Cannot be used on most Hot Deal tee times that anyone would want
4. Can only be used on the 3rd Wednesday of the month
5. Cannot be used by people named Johnny, Gary, Matt, or Bud. Or anyone from Kansas.
6. "Purchase Tee Time" button must be clicked while lifting your left foot off the ground.
7. Hot Deal times are subject to random "deal no longer available" message
Amazingly enough, everything worked for me this time. Who needs a stupid hole-in-one anyway?
Played CrossCreek on 12/3/18, my first time out here in 11 years. Still a great course layout in an awesome location. Coyotes everywhere, and the howling show they put on in an amphitheater setting on the back 9 was something I will remember.

As for the course, age is taking it's toll on the edges of the course. The greens are excellent, the fairways are decent, but the rough is very inconsistent. It looks like a course that it past it's prime, and the dry natural areas are starting to encroach and impact the rough.

10 years ago this was one of my favorites. If I was local, I'd still play here as the layout and the location is special. But I don't think I'll make the >1 hour drive to play here again for a while.
Played Maderas a couple of times over the last few weeks. This is about as good as public golf gets. Great facilities and staff.

Course is a blast. Great condition all around, except for a few tee boxes. Many of the holes have multiple small tee boxes built into hillsides and other locales that must be challenging to maintain, and some of them are running a bit rough right now. But it is still better than most other places.

Greens are beautiful, smooth and quick. Fairways have nice coverage. Rough is generally very good.

Highly recommended.
Played DCGC on 10/29/18. One of my playing partners described it as 18 holes like the back 9 at Tijeras Creek - which is a good description. It has all the wow factor of the Tijeras back 9, but with a little less danger. Really fun and challenging layout. Several greens have little fingers of the green with severe elevation changes, and if the pins are there it is a nightmare.

Conditions are really nice. Greens are great shape and really fast. Fairways and rough are 95% great, with some rare rough patches. Tee boxes are mostly great, but a few have some uneven footing.

Excellent practice facilities. One of the few 18 hole country clubs that I would consider joining if I lived closer - nice course, but not insanely difficult.

Highly recommended!
Played CDS on 10/24. High marks for the greens - beautiful, smooth, soft, near perfect. The rest of the course is acceptable for a Par 3/4 course. Great place to go out and practice your irons and short game.

However, I cannot for the life of me figure out why it takes 4 hours for a 3600 yard course when it is all twosomes and threesomes. A 3 group wait on #10 tee? Why? Pick up the pace people!
Played Eagle Falls on 9/19/18. They will be shutting down in October for the usual fall maintenance. Too bad, because this course is in amazing condition. What a hidden gem. Other than the distant I-10 noise (which I rarely noticed), there is nothing else here.

Great course. Amazing conditions. Nice staff. Amazing bargain.

Highest recommendation.
IW is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Even with the suprise Verticut happening today, but fortunately I only had to play on 3 holes that way.

Staff is awesome - got me out 2 hours early as I was ahead of schedule. Went out as single, starter told me there were 3 foursomes ahead and that I should go to #4 or #5 to start. I went to #5 just ahead of the first foursome, and didn't see another golfer.

Verticut is probably done now, so my conditions report is meaningless. Count on immaculate conditions after October maintenance.
I drove up to the Porcupine Creek gate. Nobody was there to let me in. So I went to Escena.

I hate to rate PS courses just before the October maintenance schedule, but here goes. Escena's greens roll really well. Slow as you would expect for late summer, but really easy to putt. Fairways are OK, some spots good, many spots ready for aeration and overseed already. Rough is good, not much to complain about there.

Sand traps - too many rocks!

Still a very solid layout. In pretty good late summer shape, and I am sure they will come back from maintenance in very good shape.

Played ER on 09/13. As with my previous review of Carlton Oaks, it seems the players of Encinitas Ranch are aware of the upcoming aeration, and are doing their part by not repairing any ball marks. However unlike Carlton Oaks, there were so many ballmarks at Encinitas Ranch that putting was definitely affected. Putts were hopping all over the place.

Everything else on the course was fine. Good coverage on fairways, tees level, rough is hit and miss, normally OK. But greens should be the #1 focus, and I do not see that emphasis here.

I have always enjoyed this course. However, even at the JC Golf guest rate of $62, there are way too many other options with better conditions and lower price. Let's hope the coming course maintenance improves things for the coming winter, because as it is, I cannot recommend Encinitas Ranch.
Played Carlton Oaks on 9/9. I see from the GK page that aeration is scheduled for the next two days. I would say the prior weeks players got an early aeration start by not fixing a single ball mark on any green. I have never seen so many unfixed ball marks. That being said, the grass still had good coverage, and I was shocked that most of my putts rolled well with no bouncing.

Fairways are in good shape. Tee boxes are generally fine, some uneven ground here and there, but playable. Rough is very much so. Lots of bare ground off the fairways.

So, while I have berated the course on the conditions here, I will say this is a great course and quite a bargain these days. If you keep it on the grass, you are rewarded with a very fun and challenging course. I would have loved to have played here in the early days, as I suspect this place was amazing at the start.

Recommended - just know that you will get some bad lies off the fairways and greens.
Played in the Guru outing with Johnny, Larry and Kevin, and what a fun day testing out the Phat Scooters and Golfboards. More on those later.

I've probably been to La Costa a dozen times over my 20 years here, and this was definitely the best experience I have had there. Course was in great condition, not suffering from the summer heat as many courses are right now. Staff was super, and really helpful getting us going on the newfangled golf transports, and were really interesting in hearing our feedback. Play was shockingly fast. We went out early, 7:30-7:40, and it was smooth sailing all the way around.

Specific condition notes: Greens are really fast, but really smooth except for old ball marks which can be found in abundance. Still, it was just a matter of a quick repair, and putts rolled smooth. Fairway and rough were in nice playable condition. Some repair areas here and there, but generally really nice. Sand traps were good, no issues there.

I started out on a Phat Scooter. Absolutely loved it. So much more mobility and freedom in a single scooter versus a golf cart. Very easy to use, although you do have to exercise caution with the speed at times. Big tires caused no issues on the grass, and I have to think two scooters would cause less grass damage than a single cart. The Phat Scooter had all the accessories you need - storage bin, scorecard holder, drink holder. And a headlight for illegal night golf is a nice add in.

JohnnyGK and I swapped Scooter/GolfBoard for several holes, so I got to try out the GolfBoard as well. While I had seen these before, I really had no desire to try one. I'm not a surfer or skateboarder at age 54, so these didn't really appeal to me. But, this was my chance, why not. It took a hole to get a feel for it, but once I did I really enjoyed it. It was harder to maneuver than the scooter, but I was getting much more comfortable within 15 minutes. However, I do have some aching muscles today that haven't been used i a while. The golfboard does use some different body motions and I am feeling the after-effects.

Many thanks to La Quinta for letting us out to test the Phat Scooters and GolfBoards. I must say, I hope both of these transports gain some market share - they are a fun alternative to the tired old golf carts.

Great course, great day.
Played Tustin Ranch on 8/16/18. My first time out here since 2004. My prior visits here were underwhelming considering the price to play. And I've never been a big fan of Ted Robinson designed courses. Had an affordable chance to come back, so I decided to erase my brain and have an open mind.

First off, the staff and facility are top notch. Well run. Carts were nice, comfy, and had a nice GPS system that actually had correct pin placements. Water stations were well stocked. Beverage cart came by several times. The course itself is a much better layout than I remember - a really good mix of holes, not tricked up, and not too punishing.

Conditions - they are definitely putting water on the course. For August, it was surprisingly green and soft. The greens are a strange mess. Really really soft, to the point of being spongy. Really bumpy as a result, and it is hard to putt a straight line. Ball marks are huge and deep, so there are several left over marks everywhere. Several greens are having fringe replacement, so large patches of fringe are bare, marked off, waiting for sod replacement.

Fairways and rough are ok. Most of the lies are good, but lots of places where grass is having problems. Sand is pretty good, bordering on a bit thin in spots.

I am really torn on this course. On one hand, it is a top rate facility, and the course itself is really a nice layout. But the conditions are quite strange for August, and I can't tell if it is fall maintenance beginning or just general poor conditions in many spots.

I have hopes that TR will shape up nicely and be more worthy of the mid-upper class of public golf courses. But right now, there are many options within 30 miles that are just as good and half the price of TR (or even less). But this last visit at least gives me incentive to come back much sooner than the last 14 year gap.
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