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Back to San Clemente at the invitation of a high school buddy on Wednesday, 10/21/20 at 1:20pm. Temps have dropped seriously since I was here 3 weeks ago and we had a nice breeze on a great day for golf. My review from 3 weeks ago adequately summarizes conditions, except that I seemed to encounter every thin/dry/clumpy lie on the course today. Some tees are still sloping, sand bunkers have good coverage and play consistently, and the final 4 holes are a tough challenge. Recommended.
Saw GKer chevelle’s review from the previous day and was concerned about the conditions we might find playing with my monthly club on Saturday, 10/10/2020, at 10am on a cloudy, muggy Saturday morning. We got some breeze on the back nine to take the edge off the muggy heat. While the course was still well-watered at that time of morning, conditions weren’t sloppy wet or interfered with play or travel between shots. We saw scattered muddy areas but those were easily avoided. Greens were pretty soft and held shots, and not as much runout in fairways as my game needs. Tees playable, rough generally short, but traps were wet and heavy and mostly base, not much of a playing layer.

The course was wide open in front of us, as we didn’t finally catch the group ahead of us until the 14th hole – don’t know why there was such a big gap in the tee times. Last few holes played slower as we were waiting for the first time, and overall finish was about 4.5 hr. With two courses operating, there was confusion regarding getting carts assigned (just ahead of tee times) as players were trying to get clubs on carts ahead of time. $10 for a separate single cart is much more reasonable than the $30(!!) we paid at Glen Ivy earlier in the week.

Good GPS has distances to the pin location. Range and putting greens open. Snack bar on tee #7 closed, but on tee #13 open. Outside patio seating available.
Got punked by GK legend weber on a review for Glen Ivy GC even though I played the afternoon before he did – that guy is much more efficient in getting his reviews posted. He stole all the major points I was planning to make: course is in the best shape I’ve seen it in years; bunker sand is wonderful and easy to play from, and are the best bunkers I’ve seen this year; and greens are fairly firm, hold shots and roll pretty good at medium speed. Since many of the longer holes play downhill the course generally plays shorter than the card distances. We played the white plates (6,000/69.0/124) because most of the white markers were moved up to the gold boxes. Fairway lies were good and tees were level. Saw the cart girl 2-3 times. Quite a bit of new signage leading to and on the course was attractive and beneficial. We were breezing along at 2.5hr thru 12 holes but got backed up behind 2 slow foursomes on hole #13 and spent a lot of time waiting the rest of the round, finishing in just over 4 hours.

THE BAD/THE WRONG – I booked online, on their website (thru GolfNow, apparently) for $52 apiece. That’s for 2 players and a cart. On arrival, I asked for a separate cart – that cost me $15, and my buddy also had to pay an additional $15! That’s $30 for our additional cart. LOOKS LIKE A NEW PROFIT CENTER HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED! This is wrong, wrong, wrong!

In future, I will be checking ahead with courses and will not play at courses that charge fees like this!

Otherwise recommended.
Looking for a cooler place to play landed me at San Clemente GC at 1040 on Thursday, 10/01/20, on a hot, sunny day with much less wind than I’m used to finding here. Joined by two other OC singles that were pleasant to play with, and we had a relaxed round. COVID precautions included single carts, masks in the clubhouse area, foam rings in the holes, and no sand bottles in the basic carts. No GPS or yardage book, and holes had 100/200 plates and 150 posts.

Greens look thin and are firm and hold high shots, but are overall in good shape and roll pretty well at medium+ speed – always know where the ocean is!! Putting green had been recently punched/sanded and was not helpful in getting ready for the on-course greens. Fairways had generally good coverage and could be lush, or a little thinner in the drier areas. Rough was variable throughout the course dependent on watering history. In areas that got good water, the deep rough was lush and the kikuyu pillowy and soft, but in other areas that were drier the kikuyu was ropy and less dense, and the ball could really sit down. Some tees were OK but several were humped or sloping – the worst was the par-5 12th tee sloping toward the ocean, with the added hazard of a bush intruding up the right side. Bushes needed to be trimmed down in front of the Blue tee on the par-4 16th hole. I wasn’t in any of the sand bunkers.

My cart died on hole #3 but the course was able to replace it quickly. Since I play here infrequently, I was surprised by a couple of greens greatly reduced in size since my last visit (esp. #14). Good course for a casual play.
After hearing so many great things and reading reviews on GK, I took advantage of being in the Ojai area for an SCGA event to play Soule Park GC on Thursday, 9/17/20. Booked a 6:54am tee time to get finished and back to the hotel before checkout time, but on arriving I was sent out immediately with a threesome from Valencia who have been coming over to SP after Elkins Ranch closed down. Two of the guys were older than me and one younger, but these three were some of the fastest players I’ve ever been paired with, and at times I was literally out of breath trying to keep up with them, despite having my own cart!

I didn’t know what to expect at SPGC – in contrast to the more traditional layout and conditions at Ojai Valley Inn GC, I found a wonderful links-like course more like Rustic Canyon GC on steroids, with expansive greens and surrounds, incorporating large mounds and steep slopes. Visually the course is straightforward until you get to the green complexes. SPGC doesn’t have the large-scale elevation changes I encountered at OVI; most of the movement here is small-scale in the greens and surrounds. Sand traps are not used extensively and were often more for alignment and visual effect.

At this time of the morning and coming off a hot spell, everything was soaked from watering. Greens are firm but putts from both on and off the greens had very inconsistent runout due to all the moisture, especially on the front nine. In general, greens were medium-slow and even downhill putts were stopping on the downslopes. As a result of my unfamiliarity with the greens, I didn’t make a putt all day; there are lots of subtle slopes and non-intuitive breaks on the greens, running askew from the valley slope toward the ocean. Repeated plays are needed to decipher these subtleties.

Fairway lies were good but the overall conditions very wet; the same was true of the rough areas, which were longer but very playable. I was in one bunker with soft sand. Tees were level and provided good hitting areas.

I like this type of course as it gives you many options approaching and around the greens – you can fly the ball in, run it up, or bounce it on. Around the greens you can putt from the wide fringe, pitch over obstacles or use the slopes to direct your ball. My recollection of playing Rustic 2 years ago is that the SPGC contours and green features are more pronounced, and definitely require multiple plays to get familiar with the features and requirements of the holes.

I would have preferred to play a little slower to better understand and appreciate the features of the course, but I had no knowledge of any of the holes and I was also aware of the need to get back to the hotel and check out, so I stuck with the threesome rather than dropping behind them. We played in about 3 hours and I wound up with plenty of time, and I would look forward to a second opportunity to play SPGC and appreciate its features. However, I seldom get up above LA to play golf, so the likelihood is, unfortunately, slim.

No GPS or yardage book, which would have helped me a lot this first time; some sprinklers are marked and there are 200/150/100 plates in center. Cart paths need some attention (localized flooding after watering); water is provided in jugs, which we aren’t yet seeing in OC and LA.

An enthusiastic recommendation.
Played in the 2-day SCGA Super Senior Championship at Ojai Valley Inn GC on Tues-Wed, 9/15-16/2020, teeing off before 8am both days and playing in warm, clear weather with little wind. This was my first time playing at OVI and I was surprised by the amount of slope on the course, both on many individual holes and across the course, especially the western part of the course, where it looks like they built some the holes on the edge of a cliff! Repeated plays are definitely needed here to know the correct angles onto these fairways and into these smallish greens. Much of the lower course is surrounded by wild areas and we saw numerous deer and hawks during the rounds.

We knew ahead of time that OVI had been having problems with their greens. Many of the greens showed repair efforts with replaced turf patches, and two holes (6 and 8) had small, temporary greens that were used during the competition while the main greens were being completely rebuilt. The temporary green on #6 was actually in better condition than most greens on the course, but was a small circle on a flat area in front of the main green. The temporary green on #8 was a real challenge, as there was almost no room for the course to work with in front of the original green in a narrow slot between the creekbed and a bordering cliff face. The temporary oval green was wedged into the narrowest area between the cart path on the right and the hazard on the left, and the poorer-quality temporary turf sloped quickly toward the hazard. Playing at less than 100 yards, this hole wound up being the 7th most difficult hole to par. Aside from the temporary greens, most of the greens showed visible damaged areas and there were many scattered bare spots. SCGA marked many of these as GUR and line-of-sight relief was allowed on the green. Players also had the option to take LOS relief from unmarked but damaged areas by playing a second ball, with validity to be determined later by SCGA. These greens are fairly small and the majority don’t have significant slopes or tiers – only a few holes have distinct tiering, with the par-5 #9 being the most obvious.

Unaffected areas of the greens generally held shots and rolled pretty well at medium+ speeds, with alignment with the valley a prime determiner on speed and break. Fairway lies were generally good, although the all-kikuyu turf was often very pillowy. Rough along the fairways and in the upper plateau of the course had been allowed to grow and was damp and juicy. In the lower half of the course fairway lies could be thinner, tighter and drier, and so could the rough. Lower areas have tough angles that require multiple plays to fully be comfortable with, and there are many staked penalty areas to avoid and where offline shots can settle.

Tees ranged in size but were mostly level and you had no problem finding a good spot. The tee area used on the par-3 #14 was a little mushy, with the kikuyu needing a tighter cut. Sand traps were uniformly maintained – we played lift and drop within 1 clublength due to the COVID restrictions in place (no rakes). Bunker sand was uniformly slightly damp and fairly thin over a packed, wet base.

COVID restrictions in place with masks, self-serve bag drop, etc. We were each given our own cart with a Shark Experience GPS (essential for us first-timers!) that gives distance to the middle of the green. The facility is challenged with larger groups (we had 78 players going off on two tees with tee times 10 minutes apart) due to the very small area available in front of the shop/club storage (which is also a thru-road for staff and guests!), a small grass range with only 12 hitting areas, and a small combo chipping/putting green with about 8-10 flagsticks. Two other putting greens near the 10th tee had damage like the on-course greens and were closed. The range and putting green were well below the shop and were a long up/down hike for sore knees.

Those darn seniors hit the ball a long way and I was generally the shortest guy in each of my foursomes. The wet kikuyu really restricts rollout here and there are several longer par-4s where you need a solid, longer drive to get in position to go to these smaller, raised greens. This quirky course is challenging and I think I’d score better after initial exposure and if I was hitting the ball better. With the small, fairly flat greens I did manage to make more putts in the 5-15 foot range over the 2 days than I usually expect to make – that saved my scores from being really atrocious!

Recommended, but be aware of green conditions.
Played the LONG #1 course in an SCGA qualifier on Thursday, 9/10/20, teeing off at 820am and playing in just over 4.5 hr. Which was pretty torturous, as all the fires made the air brown and smoky, and we had NO wind and high humidity, making the round very uncomfortable. After the high heat of the past couple weeks, the course (yes, all that lovely kikuyu!) was very wet from early watering, and for some reason SCGA set us up on the Blue tees (6,711/72.5/129), making the long day even longer.

Greens were the best part of the course. They were fairly firm but held good shots, had good coverage and rolled smoothly at medium+ speed. We saw scattered old ballmarks on each hole but it was manageable. Greens on the back nine are a little sloppier than on the front, and a couple of pin placements yesterday were on the edge of the precipice – my downhill putt on #10, struck with appropriate speed for what we saw on the front nine, rolled past the hole and continued off the front of the green 30 feet away! Fortunately this was the exception and not the rule! [Please HOLD the comments on my putting!]

Fairway coverage was variable throughout the course – you could get lush/spongy kikuyu, tight/firm kikuyu, thin/patchy lies, or bare spots. Rough was similar in the variability encountered, but was much more likely to be on the thin/bare side. And farther from the fairway you were in loose dirt. Tees were generally OK but were set up pretty narrow, so cleat damage built up fairly quickly, and frequently were pushed to the side of the tee box, where bordering trees could intrude (go, American Golf!!). Sand was barely adequate – a very thin layer over wet, packed base. It helps that SCGA lets you play lift and place within one club in competitions, but you still have the thin sand problem.

I hadn’t played #1 in 20+ years, so I was happy to see a TFM GPS unit on the good-quality cart. COVID measures in place – don’t touch the flag, no rakes, masks in the clubhouse, and putting green closed. But the range was open. As opposed to the courteous staff at Arrowood a few days ago, staff here just keeps working/driving while you are hitting.

Recommended, but play the correct tees, and wait for the fire residue to clear out.
Wanted to get some swings in with a couple of competitions coming up, but heat restricted what would be possible. GKer Itslikeimsayin scored a great deal at Arrowood, one of my SoCal favorites and a location known for cooling ocean breezes. We teed off on time at 1150 on Labor Day, Monday 9/7/20, joining a couple other singles and playing in just under 4.5 hours with more waiting on the back nine. Started on #10 for “front-side maintenance”. Comfortable carts with ball washer and lots of pep even though they had just been recycled from earlier rounds. Shark Experience GPS (but $10 more for single rider cart). Active starter and saw a marshall on the course a couple times. Quite a bit of maintenance activity early in the round but workers were aware of golfers – very nice.

This is one of my favorite courses and I like the layout. The course is very green overall with a variety of grasses sometimes giving the course a mottled appearance. Greens had good coverage, were soft and very receptive. However, this is probably the worst overall ballmark problem I have ever encountered on any course. Some courses have a few holes where you hit a lot of short iron approaches that show lots of ballmarks – at Arrowood every green had dozens of new and old ballmarks. You literally had to do repair work on every green to give yourself a reasonable route to the hole. There were recent marks fairly easily fixed, but many of the older damage had dried edges and craters that were resistant to repair. This was the most disappointing aspect of the entire experience today.

Fairway lies were generally good and coverage was good, although pretty dry and thin in some areas. Rough was mostly cut short and playable near the fairways, and more variable if you strayed too far away. We saw some very deep footprints in the sand that players had made no attempt to smooth, and I had a bad experience in a footprint when I forgot the “lift, smooth, and place” COVID rule. Tees were set up very wide and no problems finding a spot to tee up, although some tees could use a smoothing out.

COVID stuff in place around the clubhouse – masks needed except at the grill, handle your own bag, carts assigned soon before your tee time. $8 for a small bucket on mats at the driving range, but the mats were in good condition. Pin positions use a 6-location wheel which seemed to result in a lot of “back” pin locations today.

Always recommended – but, please, fix your ballmarks, people!!!
Joined the GK Gurus at the Legends course in the short-hitters group at 12:06 pm on a warm, sunny Thursday, 9/3/20. Really enjoyed the round with GKers gary00, caligolfer1031, and sr129. We all encouraged, dissed, and kidded our way to an easy round in just under 4 hours.

As others before me have noted, course conditions were good. Greens had a light dusting of what looked like fertilizer but held solid shots and rolled well at medium speed – the greens looked a little faster than they played. Fairway lies were very good and the ball sat up nicely. Rough varied from a little drier and easier to play from to damper and pretty juicy – this grass type can really pillow the ball and don’t count on much run when you get into the rough. It looked like a couple of larger trees might no longer be adjacent to some holes, based on my faulty memory. Tees were mostly good and sand was playable, although around the greens I would like to see a little more depth.

Carts are newer and have comfortable seats, GPS, ball washer and cooler with ice. However, my GPS unit never booted up. Starter was friendly but we didn’t see a course employee after that. Many holes were CPO inside the 150 marker, with notification on the GPS. Water and ice available at the clubhouse and at the bathroom that services several holes.

The big difference today for me, compared to several earlier rounds at La Costa, was understandably related to the current COVID measures in place. The resort is spread out and bag drop, parking, and golf shop are well-separated. Today there was no valet parking and no one handled your bag, so you had to drop your bag at the drop and head back to self-parking. It’s a good hump back to the bag drop. Then down 2 flights of stairs to the cart area. After the round, you have to do it all backwards, except it’s all uphill – LOL. For an old guy with a bad knee, this was the most stressful part of the day!

Still recommended for conditioning and GK camaraderie. Once the world gets back to normal, access will be a lot easier.
Back out to Mesa Linda with a high school buddy at 4pm on 8/25/20, trying to escape the inland heat. Temps were mild with not very much wind at the end of the day. Paired with a couple young bombers/sprayers and we had a relaxed round. Too relaxed – the two groups ahead of us were sucky players and SLOW, driving all over creation on every hole (shared carts – now a bad idea!), so we dawdled on every shot and had to abandon the round on the 17th green in darkness. Bummer! And so unnecessary. I complained to the marshal on hole #6 and he harassed me repeatedly over the next few holes. $37 incl. cart not too bad for conditions here, which were similar to my review from 8/1/20. Greens firmer today after all the heat we had the past two weeks.
Played at 3pm 8/18/20 on a humid, warm day with little wind in 4.5 hours. Similar conditions to my review posted 7/15/20. $60 still steep.
Played with my monthly club EARLY, 6:26am on Saturday, 8/8/20, on a clear day that warmed up quickly. The course was pretty wet to start with but dried out on the back nine. COVID protections in place with masks near clubhouse, outside food service only, limited people in the shop at one time, and the starter gives you a cleaned pen to sign in!

Course is in good summer shape right now – greens are pretty lush, held shots and rolled well at medium+ speed. Tees were level and fine. Sand had been machine groomed and it looked like it was adequate to play from, although pretty damp. Fairways/rough were a little less consistent – most fairways were fine and lies were good, but there are many scattered areas of differing grasses or pretty much bare. Some rough areas are mushy wet and/or have some tall grass scattered about.

Didn’t get there in time to hit balls. Putting green open but no pins in the cups. No ranger; snack bar on #7 tee open. No water available on the course. Single carts were available for no additional fee if you wanted one.

Our club plays here every August and conditions now are good compared to many previous years. I see the course is managed by JC Golf now. Almost no wind today, which really makes for a different feel than many years in the past – makes a big difference in club selection and strategy. That darn kikuyu will get you, though. Groomed tight it can be very playable (see Black Gold GC), but in many places here the course lets it grow lush and deep and it just feather-pillows the ball when you hit into it.

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