Wow, where to start this one? If a high-end course that calls itself a "Country Club" reminds you a lot of California Golf & Art CC, that's not a good sign. That's overly harsh, but that thought defin... Continue »
Wow, where to start this one? If a high-end course that calls itself a "Country Club" reminds you a lot of California Golf & Art CC, that's not a good sign. That's overly harsh, but that thought definitely entered my head while evaluating the turf reduction efforts today at Carmel Mountain Ranch. First things first, though.
I booked a Sunday morning 7:30 time for only $42 through GolfNow, which was a very good price for this course. For some reason all of their Sunday times were 50% off. At first I thought it was a mistake because a Hot Deal in the 11:00 am hour was $59, but I kept monitoring it and eventually the Hot Deal price was adjusted as well, so I felt comfortable booking it without issue. I showed up, checked in and paid with no problem. But then the starter informed me that GolfNow actually has no access to their tee sheet, and that he had a group of 12 people scheduled to begin teeing off at 7:30. To his credit, he got me slotted in with a twosome right ahead of the 7:30 bunch, so that worked out well. I had noticed – and the starter reiterated – that the GolfNow reservation receipt came with a stipulation that the tee time was just a suggestion and they had the right to move you 10-20 minutes to accommodate their schedule. I assume this is just a CMR issue and not global to GolfNow starting now, but anyway that was sort of weird.
This was my first time playing here in many years (~15) and I was looking forward to seeing how the turf reduction impacted the course. I was also hoping for nice lush conditions, but that didn't materialize. The first thing I noticed was that they've flipped the nines at some point since I last played here. The second thing I noticed was that the fairways were not very appealing looking and obviously far from lush. Definitely not up to the standard of an $84 rack rate course, considering how cooperative the weather has been of late. I would say the fairways are "Winter thin" and playable, but far from lush. Lies were tight most of the day. Some parts of the course played fast and firm and others were sopping wet, so inconsistency was also an issue. The rough was maybe slightly better condition than the fairways, cut quite short. Tee boxes were thin but acceptable. I wasn't in a bunker but they looked good. Greens were by far the highlight of the course, quite smooth and medium-fast to fast. They were somewhat firm but accepted full shots well, at least early in the morning.
Layout-wise, I feel like I used to really enjoy this course but I didn't care for it much today. I understand the need to cut back on water and maintenance, but it felt to me like they went too far with the turf reduction. If the fairways were really lush, I might change my tune, but when they are thin and fast, it becomes too penal for an already tight course. Furthermore, the gravel areas beside the fairways are basically hardpan, so the ball just rolls and rolls. The overall appearance suffers greatly from the turf reduction as well. The bark-like stuff is more attractive than the gravel areas, but it's already looking somewhat neglected and matted down. The comparison to California Golf & Art came because I always remembered that course for two things: $10 green fees and nothing but bare dirt on the outskirts of each hole. The turf reduction at CMR actually gives it much that same appearance in spots, but unfortunately not with $10 green fees. On another note, I didn't recall the houses, streets and nearby shopping centers encroaching on this course as much as they do, but that might just be a faulty memory on my part. On at least three different holes, residents of adjacent homes were being extremely loud and disruptive.
I uploaded 23 photos to a Flickr photo album that can be viewed by copying and pasting this url: https://goo.gl/6Vgs9l
2. TallTravel Posted: 05/27/15 9:11a Member Since: Aug 29, 2013 From: San Diego
The radical changes they've made here over the past year were a complete surprise to all of us in the group. New tee boxes were perfect in almost every way. All the newly exposed dirt to save on water... Continue »
The radical changes they've made here over the past year were a complete surprise to all of us in the group. New tee boxes were perfect in almost every way. All the newly exposed dirt to save on water costs over the next 10-20 years will take some getting used to, as so many balls hit slightly off the fairway will careen off the hard dirt and never stop rolling until the end of time...
A huge cost savings for them, and good for all the golfers in the few years, because they are not going to waste all that money on watering the course--except for the fairways and the greens, which is how the state of California wants it to be. Playing it, though, really took some getting used to, and I've played many " Target " type courses in the Arizona desert. I think it'll take some time for the vegetation to grow in, and then it'll seem more playable.
Overall, the greens and fairways were in good condition, not great, but worthy of the courses' reputation. The lack of a real driving range is a bit off putting, but that remains unchanged.
We will continue to play it, to see how it evolves and matures into what the owners intended. They spent a fortune on the extensive work, no doubt.