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Went out Sunday,1/19 around 11:15 as a single joining a threesome. Cool, not cold, increasing overcast through the round, and only light wind, it was a good day to be out. As always, we are talking about winter conditions, but I was pretty pleased with the course overall. Focusing on the greens first, they were pretty clean and running about as fast as I have seen it there — nothing crazy, but definitely a nice quick speed that required some judgement. The rest was good winter conditions: tees generally covered and mostly flat, fairways had mixed coverage with rollout. Occasionally you might get a damp or thin spot, but other than the expected winter tightness, I thought the overall coverage and turf was quite acceptable. Rough was mostly not punitive and I missed the bunkers. One of the group complained about the firmness of the bunkers, but he was also something of a crappy bunker player. They looked firm but playable to me — not an uncommon condition.

The course was busy and the pace was on the sluggish side, with our group worse than the average. I attribute it to the other three playing a money game and taking more time on the greens — too much marking of missed putts and then waiting to putt out in turn. Unless there was an issue of standing on another's line or some such, simply finishing to hole-out once a player commenced putting would have probably made all the difference. We were a full hole+ behind at one point, but delays ahead of us towards the end of the round allowed us to close most of that up by the end. They were nice guys, and the situation was on the cusp, so I elected not to say anything. It was a 5.25 hr round and at the end we weren't far off the general pace.

Bottom line, I enjoyed the course and recommend it.
Member mdames posted for his 1.2.20 morning round and, as it turns out, I was there in the afternoon, getting in 13 of Balboa's holes before dark ended the round. I was in the area, hadn't been out to Balboa in years and was curious to revisit either it or Encino, and ended up on Balboa. Functionally, I actually thought the course was in a bit better shape than Mike did, so I'll put in my subjective two cents and let the reader draw their own conclusions. Playing the blues, my main concern with teeing grounds is how level they are — and they were all pretty level. Since I'm pegging it up, the coverage is less of an issue to me so I don't recall any concerns when I was teeing off. Some tees were more bare than others but, critically, the one par three I played had decent grass coverage and so it never was an issue for me when it counted. The fairways were visually a chaotic, multicolored, patchwork of grasses for sure. It was predominantly covered and, visuals notwithstanding, I generally found the hitting surface decent — definitely wintery with a fair amount of rollout — playing much better than they looked. I didn't feel I had many poor lies, or that they were as hard and thin as previously described in the main. I may have a more shallow strike than Mike and so experienced the fairways a little differently overall. Rough wasn't generally penal and I missed the bunkers. Total agreement on the greens which were quick and in good shape. Fun and consistent to putt on, I uncharacteristically bombed in several putts so there was no complaint about the roll.

Course was busy with the main delays being to tee off on the first hole and a backup on the par 3 fourth hole. Otherwise it actually moved along steadily at a comfortable pace.

So, for me a course that looked very much like Cali winter but not so off-putting that I didn't enjoy myself or the conditions. Not being a regular at Balboa, and a bit of golf slut, take my opinion with a grain of salt.
Got out this Sunday morning, 12/29, around 10:45 joined up with a couple of guys who knew each other since high school and had never played the course. For wintery conditions, I'd say the course is in good shape. Tee boxes were pretty consistently level with adequate or better coverage. Fairways were a touch damp, predominantly green, with mostly good lies – frequently on the tight side but not necessarily thin. Rough was generally not punishing, but there were some sections that could be a little thicker and juicy. Bunkers were more firm than fluffy but reasonably playable. Areas around the greens mostly on the tight side as were the greens themselves, and so faster than usual for here — probably the faster side of medium. There were some that rolled a bit faster and the par 3 fourth comes to mind because the coverage bordered on balding — tough to stop from above the hole. And while I did see some bumps along the way, they mainly rolled pretty true.

Overall, it feels appropriately like a course in California winter, but I didn't find much to complain about in terms of actual performance of the conditions. I hadn't been over to SA in a while, and I wasn't disappointed.
Having played nine at Altadena on Saturday, but realizing the rain wouldn't arrive until later on Sunday, I headed down to Alhambra Sunday morning, 12/22, to squeeze in a (another) last round before the onset. Caught up to another single on the second tee and we finished as a twosome. Alhambra rarely disappoints in that it is pretty consistently maintained, and so it was on the day. No issues with any tee boxes and could always find a level grass patch. With the exception of an overly juicy approach from the fairway on the first hole, the fairways had good winter coverage — fair bit of rollout but not overly thin grass, providing a good hitting surface. Rough varies here but I always seemed to end up in a spot that allowed a good chance at recovery. Bunkers could be thin-ish and firm-ish, but in the end were reasonably playable. Greens were in good shape with a nice quickness to them.

The foursome two groups ahead of us had no one in front of them and were slowing down the string of two and threesomes following, but the perception was probably a bit worse than the reality since we finished in something just over four hours. Not worth stressing over and it was an enjoyable round with good conditions. I'm officially ready to accept whatever rain is coming over the next week or so.
Got out early super twilight Saturday, 12/21, hooking up with another single, trying to ensure getting some golf in before the rainy week. In reverse order, greens were in decent shape, quick side of medium, and no blighted or problem areas. Missed the bunkers but the area around the greens provided a good chipping base. Winter fairways offered good rollout, more than adequate lies, and generally green coverage. Teeing grounds were in good spots, mostly level with good coverage. Same as it ever was, nothing too special but no complaints and an enjoyable nine.
Met a buddy for a 10:45 tee off on Friday, 11/22, and we were paired with a man/woman twosome. The woman was a weak player but tried to keep it moving, picking up frequently. Pace on the course was such that we were usually in position so it didn't hurt anything. They were pleasant and called it after nine holes, so we continued as a pair.

Course conditions were overall very nice for the SoCal public course category. On the front nine they were soaking sections on most of the tee boxes with sprinklers — usually the middle tees so the markers were usually clustered a bit forward, back, or split. Not an issue on the back nine. Except for a soggy one at the sixth, teeing grounds were nice — level and covered with short grass. Fairways were consistent, with the tighter coverage and rollout I've seen at multiple courses lately. There were some discolored patches scattered about but better than what I've seen other places in that there was a minimum of browned out or thin areas. Actually,pretty nice fairways. Rough varied from not punitive to a little problematic, was mostly green but had dry stretches. Bunkers were clean and I judge the sand quality as medium soft and very fair to play out of. Greens were in very nice shape and quick.

Weather was very pleasant, a beverage cart was making the rounds and, while the pace could of been quicker, it was quite bearable at 4.5 hrs. I hadn't been out there in about a year and was glad I opted to return. Definitely recommended.
A few days late, but here's my wrap up of DeBell with Johnny and rgm2525 on Tuesday, 11/12. In general, DeBell is the little guy in the bar you end up in a scrap with, thinking it will be an easy conclusion in your favor until you realize your first swing missed, you've been hit twice, you are now on one knee and the room is spinning. The first few holes in particular are teasingly short, but unforgiving if you get off line. They demand you execute strategically and precisely or you can get behind quickly and early. In the bigger picture, discounting the par threes leaves you 14 holes, on only three of which you can see the green from the tee — very few grip-and-rip opportunities here. As far as actual conditions, in the interests of efficiency I'm going to build off Johnny's report, which you should all read first. His report on the conditions is pretty much spot on. I would subtly differ from him in that I think the greens were just about as quick as one would want (my opinion) relative to the slopes and shapes of the greens there. There are already some greens that are virtually impossible to stop your ball from above the hole. I really enjoyed them on the day, but if improvement means getting quicker, they might end up inappropriately quick for the topography (again, IMHO). I've been at outings with Johnny but had never played with him directly, so I finally got to see his prowess with the putter, with which he is an assassin. He made a bunch and when it didn't go in, it never missed by much, so his threshold for putting challenge would exceed mine. All the rest was as reported. I was in enough bunkers and quickly found they were firm enough to partially deflect my sand wedge. I eventually found my gap wedge had a more appropriate bite. While some bunkers were pretty clean, many had conspicuous pebbles, and one in particular was like a mini-quarry, heavily strewn with pebbles and small stones. That was the exception to the overall very enjoyable conditions.

The additional charms of DeBell are the dramatic, aforementioned topography and the views they provide, the relative isolation of the canyon setting and resident wildlife, and the nice upstairs bar and restaurant that has a large outdoor deck with views in three directions — one of the cooler places to hang out post-round. I was fortunate to have excellent company in Johnny and Ron. Watching Ron is always a clinic. He makes it look easy — for him, at least. DeBell is quirky and challenging enough that I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, but it is a good course with unique charms that draw me back periodically. Every once in a while I have to see if I can still take a punch.
Got out Sunday, 11/10 around 11:30 as a threesome on a really nice, not overly warm day. They seemed to be doing reseeding type work on some of the tee boxes, so most of the markers were moved a few yards ahead of the respective monuments. Usually not a big shift and the hitting areas were pretty level with good coverage, so thumbs up on the tees. Fairways were nice hitting surfaces on the whole, also with coverage tight enough to give some good rollout. There were scattered browned areas and isolated wet spots. At one point, I ended up in a small area of shallow standing water, took my drop and played on — no biggie. The 16th fairway was the exception in that there was an extended stretch in the vicinity of the 150 mark that was soggy — mostly playable but a little squishy. Rough varied a little between somewhat punitive to not punitive at all and was pretty green except for some bare ground in the tree lines. I missed the bunkers but they looked clean and seemed firm based on observing my companions' results. The greens were in very good shape and actually running pretty quick — fair and challenging.

The light breeze early in the round faded to still by the end of the round and the temps fell off a bit, so the nice conditions early became beautiful conditions by the finish, with the sun's angle lowering. Pace was steady and surprisingly good. With minimal waiting I think we finished our loop in something around 4 hrs. A very enjoyable round, I would definitely recommend it for the overall conditions.
Played Alhambra today, 11/3 with a late morning start as a single joined by a twosome. I'll make this quick by saying the conditions here are mostly good. One exception is more extended brown patches in the mix on the fairways. Mostly, those spots were playable with a tightly matted surface and, much more rarely, there was a spot of hardpan. Generally, the fairways were good lies, on the tight side with commensurate rollout — seems the norm I'm seeing for this time of year on public courses, including those patches. Tee boxes were usually level with grass, although few of them were short on coverage with a couple basically dirt. They have been punching some of the tees so they are moved around a bit. The rest is good and the greens were clean and running medium quick. Saw a beverage cart for what might be the first time I can remember in my experience there. Really nice day to be out and, while I didn't notice our tee off time, I'm guessing we got around in something under 4.5 hours.
Played Saturday morning, 10/26, grouped with two other singles, and teeing off a little before 9:30 at $64 to walk. I hadn't been out here in a few years and was looking forward to revisiting. On a calm, sunny day, overall conditions were pretty good. Tees were generally flat and green and no particular issues come to mind. Fairways had good coverage overall that was on the tight side, so good surface with a good amount of roll. There were occasional, scattered, tight, browned-out patches, but I would not characterize them as hardpan and I think in most cases they provided a decent — if perhaps discolored — hitting surface. Again, I don't recall any problems playing in the fairways. The rough mostly had green coverage and usually it was not especially punitive off the fairway unless you got blocked. Bunkers had a thinner, soft, top layer of sand on a firmer base that resisted footprints. I found them generally clean and playable — interestingly, just like Hansen Dam the previous week. The maintenance alert should be removed. The greens were clean and pretty quick. No sign of aeration. I left a lot of first putts too far past the hole, underestimating the speed more often than not, and many of the greens had undulations to make it more interesting. The exception is the 9th green complex which is getting a complete rebuild, so there was a temporary green short of it.

While not an a particularly long course, I think the yardage on this course is misleading and it plays longer and a bit more challenging than the numbers would suggest. Partially because two very short par 3's are offset by a number of good length par 4's, and partially because some of the medium and shorter par 4's are made more interesting and challenging due to hills and altitude changes. A bit pricey as a muni, but about 1/3 the cost of Sandpiper. And while it doesn't have the ocean views, it is in SB and the view of the mountains coming up the 18th makes it a pretty nice finish. I scored like crap, but had a good time and recommend it.
Got a 10/20 Sunday morning tee time a bit after 10:00 AM, grouped with a father/son twosome and a lady single to make up a foursome. First time using the new pro shop to check in and it's certainly nice enough. Driving out from Altadena where it was very calm this morning (and still is this evening), I was quite surprised to see how windy is was out in the north valley, and it made for a pretty tough scoring day.

Wind conditions and my poor play not withstanding, the course conditions overall were pretty nice. With some minor exceptions the teeing grounds were generally flat enough with good coverage. The blues and blacks were put together and the whites were often moved forward. Fairways had good, green coverage on the tight side, so decent rollout but good lies. Rough could be mixed, but was more often grassed and not particularly punishing. I was in way too many bunkers, which were on the firm side with a light sand topcoat, and mostly devoid of significant footprints. I had good results playing out of them. The greens were in good shape, minimum ball marks and, with all the dry wind, running about as quick as I've seen them here, which would be the brisk side of medium fast — increasing as the day progressed. Where there was any crowning or slope, the putting could get tricky. The small punch holes mentioned in the prior review of almost a month ago, are long gone.

The wind probably impacted the pace which was sluggish but steady at around five hours. Front nine was slower overall than the back nine, which seemed to pick up after the 11th. It's a muni in good shape and I'd definitely recommend it.
Went out twilight yesterday, 10/12 as a twosome around 3:30. Turns out the greens had been punched, probably no more than a week previously and, while not a lot of residual sanding, were in waffle-iron mode. Personally, I was in no-warm-up-casual-nine-mode, so it wasn't a huge deal to me. It seems they are combining greens with some other maintenance as the tee boxes were generally shaggy. I noticed seed on some of them as well as some dampness indicating extra watering and assume they're giving them some growing-in time before the next cut,. So, for general purposes, the average golfer would probably stay away for a couple more weeks. Otherwise, the fairways have the occasional substandard patch but are in good, playable shape in the main. Rough varies and includes bare sections, but is otherwise good and more often not overly punitive in the greened up parts. I avoided all bunkers.

We got out a little ahead of the late Friday wave and so had no pace issues. Perhaps because I had no expectations on the waffle greens and didn't overthink the putting, I probably only missed one putt I felt should have been made, and drained a curving 12-footer and a 30-footer from just off the green, both to save pars. Go figure. One of my better rounds here in a while. Not a destination course, but nice to see them putting some work into it. I often don't even bother to write up my rounds here, but I'll report back in a few weeks.
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