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Played in a tournament with my monthly group on Saturday morning, 1/11/20, teeing off at ~1030. Everyone was teeing off on #10 as they had a wedding scheduled for later in the afternoon, and they use the blue tee area on #10 for wedding seating. Weather was clear, warm and sunny with a little bit of breeze on the back (front) nine. Our group had a brief wait while carts were brought up – I couldn’t tell if that was due to turnover from earlier players or understaffing at the course.

My group has played here every January for the past several years, and conditions are pretty much similar each time. All surfaces on the course are very firm – greens show only small ballmarks, although there are many of them. Fairways are firm and tight, with extensive scattered bare areas. Rough was cut pretty short and was very playable. The clay soil here retains water and bare areas are packed and firm. We played LCP so I didn’t rate the course.
Tees were generally flat and OK to hit from. Par-3 tees were in pretty good shape. Sand was adequate but thin.

The putting green was in terrible condition with widespread bare areas – shop blamed a “fungus”. My question is: if you use the practice green and then go out on the course, isn’t there a good chance that the on-course greens will be infected?! Adequate water available. Some blue flag positions today were stuck back in challenging locations.

My recollection is that late Spring conditions here are much better. OK for a casual round.
Started the new year with a thud at Hidden Valley at 840 am on 1/1/20 with GKer caligolfer1031. Looking at my previous reviews at HV, I didn’t realize until today that I had started the new year there 3 of the past 4 years. There are a lot of fun holes here, but I have to say that declining conditions, and my ongoing knee problems, make it unlikely that I’ll be coming back again soon.

Greg’s review says everything I wanted to say. The sign at the entry touts HV as the NGCOA Course of the Year in 2010-2011 – apparently, after that award the course stopped putting any more money into improving the course. Water in the bunkers, after no rain, only means that overwatering is draining into the bunkers and staying there, and the course is doing nothing about it. Not that bunker conditions would be good anyway – as Greg noted, “dry” bunkers had no sand atop the mud base. Every fairway and rough lie was a crapshoot. The only level tee was #18 (white tees). Greens can’t be kept this fast if any putt from above the hole results in 8-12 feet (or more!) coming back – all that means is slow play and frustrated golfers.

Positives – VISAGE GPS was interactive and helpful. The cart had a ball washer/club cleaner.

I tried to kill myself when I slipped and sprawled on the steep cart path next to the 10th green. There’s lots of up-and-down walking required here on some steep terrain. Cart path damage and neglect is another area where HV has walked away. There was apparently plenty of money for a multi-month renovation of the restaurant that moved the pro shop to the adjacent building, but I don’t see anything going into the course. I can’t recommend HV under these conditions.
Played the South Course on Tuesday 12/17/19 on a replay from a UP certificate we used on the North Course earlier that morning. Neither of the courses were very crowded –we were on the tee of South at 1140 am (with GKer Nickesquire) within 15 minutes of walking off North course. We joined amiable local Dean, who was familiar with but was not a member – what’s up with that??!!!

Course conditions were fairly similar to those encountered on the North – see my review posted earlier today. Greens were very firm and getting the correct landing area and runout on chips and pitches was challenging. Fairway and rough turf conditions were not quite as good as those on North – we saw many more thin/bare areas on the South course. Tee and sand conditions were similar – it seemed like we found more bunkers on our round on the South.

There is much less sloppiness of the terrain overall and less movement to greens on South compared to North, despite the slope/ratings for the Gold tees being very similar. There’s no question in my mind that the South Course plays easier under similar conditions.

See my review of the North Course for comments on infrastructure and facilities. Since I played here in 2002, some holes on the back 9 have been abandoned/redesigned to accommodate housing that was built within the back 9 loop.Hole 12 has been incorporated into the practice area and a new (par-3) hole 12 built.

Played the North Course at Terra Lago with GKer Nickesquire using an Underpar certificate with replay for $45 on a cold morning, 12/17/19 at 7:40 am. Couldn’t get an earlier time from the shop, which was strange since we saw almost no one on the course ahead of us as we played around. The course has come out of recent maintenance in late November and was CPO until last week – three holes on the North were still path-only during our round. We went off on time as the twosome we were slated to join never showed. Weather was sunny and pretty calm, with only occasional light breezes – we were glad we didn’t catch any of the blustery Santa Ana winds that were active in Orange County and western Riverside that day.

Driving up, the clubhouse is not inspiring and I had to search a little bit to pick up the correct signage for the entrance. While quite a bit of housing has been added since my last visit there are still many of the surrounds in the clubhouse area and along some parts of the course that are unmaintained and look rough and unkempt. I assume that as more infill happens the rough edges of the course will be sanded off. I got there early enough to go over to the practice area. They feature a huge grass driving range (limited number of balls with the fee, though), scattered chipping and sand areas, and a large putting green. The range has several well-defined ‘target’ greens, but I didn’t see any kind of yardage indicators for the targets.

I last played the North course back in 2002, when it was still hosting the Skins Game and was a hot ticket. A couple of holes have been redesigned since that time to accommodate the timeshare resort that was built next door. I didn’t remember very much about the course, especially the back nine, but got some help from looking at my old yardage book and reading Nick and others extensive reviews. I was looking forward to getting back.

Greens had good coverage but were EXTREMELY firm – many of our shots left almost no ballmark. However, all greens had a lot of old ballmark scars. Greens rolled well at medium speed. I didn’t remember all the substantial internal movement and tiering on most of the greens – getting in the wrong area could easily leave long putts with elevation changes, noses coming off bunkers, tiering, and significant runoff slopes to contend with. Green surrounds frequently had a LOT of slopiness and severe elevation change in close proximity. This slopiness, the plateau nature of most greens pushed up above the surrounds, soft approach turf in front of the greens, and surrounding deep hazards made precise iron play a must, and made chips and pitches from around the greens challenging.

This course has a lot of fairway and greenside bunkers, as well as extensive waste bunker areas intruding from the surrounding desert. Many/most of the waste bunkers have been let go and are not being closely maintained, with fluffy grasses growing into the waste areas. In the past, these waste bunkers defined the playing areas, and contributed to the beauty of the course with the light-colored waste area sand against the green of the fairways – this element has been lost with the grow-in, which can range from scattered clumps of grass to total coverage of 2-3” deep fluffy plant material, so the types of lies you get and shots you must hit can vary greatly. Fairway and greenside bunkers varied in quality – most looked ‘dirty’ and in need of fresh sand and a facelift. Early on we found greenside bunkers damp, thin, and needing a better playing layer. On many holes being in a greenside bunker means being well below the level of the green, and having a good base to play from is essential.

Fairways and rough were not lush compared to other Palm Springs area courses that recently completed their aeration; lies were often thin or clumpy, although better than many courses I play in Orange County. Tees were mostly level and fine; occasionally a tee would slope slightly behind a right-handed golfer.

Good carts, with an ice chest with ice only, and no water, and Nick looked in vain for a charging port. Just a ‘small touch’ thing – no tees were provided in the cart. The GPS in the cart is not interactive, and distances provided to the green are F/M/B only, not pin location. A provided pin area sheet with zones 1/2/3 was more frequently wrong than right, so we had to use our own tools. Yardage books are available in the shop, and most holes feature 200 and 100 yard poles in the COF. More water stations are needed on the course, especially on the back nine as temperatures rise.

We played Gold (71.4/132/6,511) as those were the tees my partner preferred, but my game and my age tell me that I need to move up to White (68.5/125/5,870) or play a Combo set of tees (if it is rated/sloped). Poor ball striking definitely hurt me here, and I didn’t make a putt the entire round – the experience would be better when greens are more receptive to various approaches. I would like another go at this fun and challenging course. Recommended.
Played in the GK Event teeing off at 1115 on Sunday, 12/8/19 – thanks to GKers Greg, Brian, and Nick for an enjoyable round in challenging windy conditions. I come back to RH (almost) every year despite the LONG drive to and from because I really like the course design, conditions are always stellar compared to most courses in SoCal, and I always enjoy the company of other GKers. Thanks again to Johnny for setting up this outing.

Love the grass range and unlimited balls, smooth and quick small putting green, and separate short game area (which I’ve never used). Staff is great and many food and water options are readily available. Over the years the clubhouse/cart marshalling infrastructure has been improved and many staff are available to get you loaded up and going. Carts are comfortable and offer a nice interactive GPS and a cooler with complimentary water. A club cleaner/ball washer would be a nice addition.

Off on time and with a good separation of tee times you never feel rushed. The scorecard shows pin location by zones on the greens, but today we were told that, as a result of recent rains, pins had been moved on some greens to avoid bad areas, so zone format was not being used. It was obvious going through the course that there were no ‘front’ pins that might normally be in areas that get a lot of water runoff. GPS has pin location, and we were told that the GPS should show the correct relocated pin placements, but in more than half the holes today the GPS showed the wrong pin location, so we needed to use our own tools to get accurate reads.

Greens were in very good condition. Most were pretty firm and dried quickly in the windy weather. We found a few softer spots and some areas were a little bumpy. Greens held high shots and rolled pretty well at medium+ speeds. The greens were showing footprints/spikemarks pretty badly as we finished the second nine, but overall were far superior to greens we normally see in SoCal. Only on hole #17 green did we see an abnormally high number of old ballmarks.

Fairways had fairly good coverage, although we did see/find some scattered bare spots, and some holes showed the aftermath of recent punching and slow recovery of grasses. Lies were rarely lush, and were mostly fairly tight. Rough was more uniform and had been cut short and very playable. Tees were level (we played a Blue/White combo setup) and easy to play from. Sand was in very good condition, groomed after all the rains and great to play from in all areas. I was in the front bunker on hole #10, up against a nose on the side of the bunker, and the sand was pretty deep and soft, making getting a stance difficult – don’t hit it where I did!

Afterwards the course gave us a comfortable private room for our after-round activities. Thanks again to Johnny for making lots of great prizes available. Every year I say this is the last time at RH because of the long drive and long day, but wonderful course/conditions and playing with GKers keeps me coming back. Next year – well, we’ll see!

Always recommended!
Played on Black Friday, 11/29/19 to avoid the shopping crowds, with my brother and his longtime friend. We got a pretty good GN non-refundable $80 deal at 1110am. The course was more crowded than I expected after all the rains we had the previous 2-3 days, but Friday morning the sun was out, although cool, and we had some blustery wind on the first nine, calming down and cooling quickly after clouds moved in, but no rain until we got to the parking lot to unload the carts. After the previous rainy days, it was path-only everywhere, which didn’t bode well for my bum knee, but SF is fairly flat and the walks to-and-from the cart were not arduous. My spraying the ball worked against my plans to hit all shots near the cart paths – LOL. I didn’t rate the course due to the CPO.

The course was in fairly good shape after the heavy rains. Most greens here are pushed up from the surrounding areas and drained very well – they were pretty firm, held shots easily, and rolled with some bumpiness at medium speeds. Fairways were pretty wet, with lies ranging from lush to very thin, with very thin getting picked most of the time. Rough had been cut very short recently and was pretty easy to play from, and in some cases was dormant and didn’t slow errant shots very much at all. Lots of ESA here and we all visited it.

Traps were obviously very wet, but staff was active in the bunkers during our round, and most bunkers had been at least partially groomed, so that was helpful. We played the white tees (and the white plates on par-3s) as the course played long after the rains, and they were generally OK, with some sloping to the back of a right-handed golfer.

Carts are basic but powerful, and they do have a ball washer/club cleaner. Even after the rain, the driving range was on grass today. Since I last played here regularly a few years ago, many large trees and connecting shrubs/brush have been cleared out, opening up sightlines and giving the course a much more open feel. A Men’s Club member joined our threesome, and he had no social input to the group at all until we arrived at the 18th green, and never filled a divot or fixed a ballmark.

I’ve always enjoyed SF but can’t recommend it without a good price deal.
Played with the GK Gurus at noon on 11/24/19 – thanks to Mark and Wendy for an enjoyable round, and to Johnny and Oak Creek for setting up the visit. My first time here in a few years (cost) and first time I have used the practice facility. I’d heard it was top-notch, and there are many very nice touches like an attendant, bathrooms, a large grass hitting area, a clock(!) on the ball shed, and multiple chipping and putting greens, as well as a practice bunker. Very nice facility!

Check-in was quick and friendly, and cart attendants are good at anticipating your needs. Carts are very nice with ball washer/club cleaner, interactive GPS, and cooler with ice and water! A yardage book is also available, and the course website offers hole maps with yardages. [The GPS gives interactive distances to course features, as well as pin location. Our GPS has many/most of the pin locations wrong; we were able to figure out most locations by the flag color.]

We started off rather slowly as the group about 3 slots ahead of us reportedly had cart trouble, but the course cleared that up after our 4th hole and we moved steadily after that, finishing in about 4.5 hr. Weather was sunny and warm with generally very little wind. We found the course in very good condition overall.

Greens were firm, held well-struck shots, and rolled well at medium+ speed. Speeds were consistent, although as the afternoon went on and temperatures dropped they slowed down a little as we noticed what looked like one of the grass types on the green (maybe) blooming(?). Fairway lies were generally good; turf was getting into dormancy and was tight and allowed rollouts. Rough was generally fairly short and playable, but some areas could be more lush and the ball could sit deep – these areas were mainly around the greens. Well off the normal playing lines you could get dry ground and thin/bare areas. Tees were generally good, with only a few uneven or slightly sloping (see below). I played White, and a few times moved back to play from the White plate as the markers had been moved well forward. Sand encountered by my playing partners was in good shape, but when I went into the bunker on the right-front of the downhill par-3 #11 I encountered very thin sand over a firm base and several long metal pins from the underliner sticking up into the bunker.

Over the years the course has opened up more as many of the large trees that framed holes or dictated playing lines are now gone. Also, bushes/brush framing tees and holes have been reduced/removed, opening up sightlines. The trap along the right side of #14 has been removed; that was one of the main defenses for that short hole. The pond on #3 has some ugly fencing around it, I assume as a control over waterbirds getting onto the green. [I didn’t see any fencing on #18 pond.] Tee boxes on the par-3 #7 need serious shaping and leveling.

Overall, I enjoyed the course, the conditions, and the company. Recommended with a good price.
Played with my monthly club at 7:45am on Saturday, 11/16/19, on a chilly morning that warmed up quickly under clear sunny skies with almost no wind. After seeing GKer Andrew1’s review from last weekend I was concerned about what conditions we would find.

The course certainly wasn’t in pristine shape but it was generally playable. Overall, the course is very wet and there are many areas that need to be avoided. Many mushy areas and areas that had been heavily damaged by tires rolling through the muddy soil, whether carts or course equipment.

Greens were in pretty good condition, although bumpy. They were fairly firm and held high shots, rolling at a medium pace. Only the green on hole #17 was problematic – the green was very wet and badly showed shoeprints and spike marks everywhere. Fairway lies were variable between lush and bare dirt. Rough was similar – you could find fluffy 2” grass or dried hardpan. Tees were torn up mainly from being so wet and damaged by shoes and spikes. Many were moved forward from the yardage plates, and often were uneven and bumpy. Greenside bunkers usually had adequate sand, although the right front bunker on hole #18 had almost no playing layer. Fairway bunkers were generally just dirt.

Even at this early hour the pace was 4.5+ hr. Carts have an interactive GPS that shows the hole location, but our cart had the wrong program, apparently.

OK for a casual round.
Driving home to the LA area from my weekend in the Roseville area with an old Vegas work buddy on Monday, 11/11/19, decided to stop at Castle Oaks based on Top 25 rankings and past reviews, walking on at 715 and was paired immediately with a father-son team from Toronto who had played the course several times, so I got the benefit of some ”local” knowledge. Started out brisk and chilly on a clear, sunny day that warmed up nicely, and we had almost no wind. The first tee was fairly busy and we kept pace, finishing in around 4 hours.

Both nines start out here with challenging holes with a combination of length, lakes, trees, narrow openings, and elevation changes. You need to be hitting crisp, straight shots right away to avoid getting into a scoring hole early. The final 4 holes (15-18) are also a challenging mix of shotmaking needs, including a long iron approach over a deep swale to a deep, sloping green (15), a terror-filled short iron over oblivion to a perched shallow green (par-3 16), a tee shot over a group of 3 oaks where you can bite off as much as you dare on the dogleg (17), and a decision to go the long way around or hit to an island fairway between 2 lakes to cut down the distance on the approach shot (18).

While the layout is diverse and challenging, the greens were easily the best part of the course, with wall-to-wall lush coverage, firm but holding well-struck shots, and rolling smoothly at medium+ speeds. Fairway lies were usually good, although the ball could occasionally set low. Rough early on was wet and could be treacherous, although later after drying out was much more playable. Some tees were sloping to the rear of a right-handed golfer, and no divot mix boxes were provided on the par-3 tees. Tees looked like they might not have been moved after Sunday’s play. Sand was in good condition, though a little damp this early.

Carts are basic. Saw the cart girl a few times today, even on a Monday morning. Didn’t use the driving range. No GPS, but a yardage book is available, and colored posts are located on most holes. Bathrooms are just basic but useable. The course nicely uses old railroad ties for an interesting mix of slope control, cart direction, and aesthetics. We quickly used the sand refills in the carts and there was no refill rack, so at the turn we pilfered some full sleeves from the waiting carts. The course uses a red-white-blue pin rotation, and needs to mix it up a little on the pin placements, to avoid giving golfers similar looks as you go through the round (first 3 par 3s were red flags; red flags in similar positions on holes 2, 5, and 14 with similar green shapes; etc.).

The course is pretty far off the beaten path in rolling hills west of the foothills of the Sierras, but definitely worth a play if you are in the area. Definitely recommended.
Scenic and playable course in a retirement community that is in very good condition for the third round of my golf weekend with an old Vegas work buddy on Sunday, 11/10/19, at 1154 am on a warm, sunny day with almost no wind.. Front nine (Lakes) plays in a loop around housing development with scattered water features, and the back nine (Oaks) plays through a very nice oak woodland. Nash/Casper design – they do many of the Sun City courses in the Southwest – has some teeth to it in terms of some narrow hitting lanes, many bunkers, some imaginative green undulations, and use of trees and water (on the front) and large oaks on the back to dictate where the best position for your ball is. [However, the 18th hole is poorly designed and needs some reworking to make it more fair and give players more options.]

Conditions were very good. Greens were lush, fairly firm but mostly receptive, and rolled smoothly at medium+ speed. We saw very few old ballmarks. Fairway lies were mostly lush and good. Rough was 2 3” with mostly good coverage – on the back nine, under the oaks, you could get bare-ish lies and lots of debris. Tees were flat and in good shape (I played Blue). Sand was damp but groomed and in good condition.

No GPS, but a yardage book is available, and the course uses 150-yd poles and some plate markers for distances. The course was fairly busy and we played in ~4.5 hr. for $35. Recommended.
Second round of my golf weekend with an old Vegas work buddy on Saturday, 11/9/19, at 1050 am on a warm, sunny day with almost no wind. We played with a MeetUp group he belongs to and played Whites in just over 4 hours. Rudyclub’s recent review hits the high points. Greens were punched several weeks ago and had healed well – greens had good coverage and rolled well at medium+ speed.

There is a nice 3-tierd grass driving range with assorted targets. Basic carts, and no GPS, but a yardage book is available, and most fairways have 200/150/100 markers. Plenty of divot mix available, refill rack at the turn, and boxes of mix on the par-3 tees. Recommended for a casual round.
This is a gorgeous course routed through an oak woodland laid across a broad west-facing slope just getting into the foothills east of Sacramento. Played the first round of my golf weekend with an old Vegas work buddy on Friday, 11/8/19, at 1115 am on a warm, sunny day with almost no wind. Green fairways were strikingly routed between the oaks and straw-colored rough, lots of elevation change in some holes and across the property, and pretty uncrowded for a Friday early afternoon. Many elevated greens and some narrow hitting lanes make for a challenging yet exhilarating venue.

BUT THEY DIDN”T TELL US THE GREENS HAD BEEN PUNCHED AND SANDED!! We booked online and no info provided there. The course apparently didn’t notify because no mention on the GK site. No word from the counter guy when we checked in. All greens had been punched and sanded around Nov 4-5 after cutting them down to a nub. Many unfilled punch holes and all the greens were stupid fast like putting on a billiard table. Or linoleum. No way to control downhill putts as we often got rollouts of 10-15 feet, and many of the greens are already so steeply sloped that many pin locations were almost impossible to access.

Other than the greens, conditions were good. Fairway coverage was good with lies ranging from lush to tight. Rough along the fairways was playable at about 2 inches – further out it was a crapshoot with bare dirt, bark, trees and wild grass, etc. I was in 3 greenside traps and conditions were good, one a little thin and the other 2 with a nice sand layer. Tees had also been punched and sanded and were a little fuzzy, with several sloping behind a right-handed golfer.

No yardage book available, but the interactive GPS by GPS Industries was very nice. This seems to be really late in the season for green aeration. Maybe because of the altitude here (1,500 ft). Without the aeration I would recommend the course enthusiastically.

Didn't rate the course because of the punched greens.
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