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First-ever non-tournament round at Los Serranos' north course this weekend and it was a fun experience overall because the venue and staff there does such a good job of accommodating people - in this case my monthly golf group who were so thankful to the course for our last outing last month on the south course that we decided to send them our business once again.

The north course is not the lengthy behemoth its sister south course is, but it does have its fair share of challenges, mostly in the form of elevations (requiring precise club selection), large bunkers guarding the green complexes, and some challenging narrow tee shots with very target-specific landing areas. Our group always plays from the white tees but it was still a good test of golf on this track.

Current conditions are interesting. I found a lot of good lies but visually the course does not look like it's in its best shape. There are plenty of burned out or dirt areas but they're mostly off the fairways or adjacent, but it's by no means super lush right now. Rough is a mixed bag like it is at most courses this time of year. Continuing the visual aspect, the bunkers did not appear to be very playable, but every bunker splash came out nicely and did the job. Same holds true for the greens - visually a little underwhelming and you would think they were slow as molasses, but it's just the opposite. They're actually very quick and can get away from you very quickly if you're above the hole (which happened to me quite often). But once you work the speed out, you'll find them rolling quite true and holding shots well.

Carts were in nice shape with a good GPS system attached to them, and not once did it shut down for being in the 'wrong' area - I appreciate that! There was no cart service for the whole day which was disappointing, but the snack shop between the 12th and 13th holes atop the hill was open and has everything you could ever need, including very nice service from the staff - thank you for that!

In summary, Los Serranos' north course is currently playing far better than its outward appearance and is a pretty fun track to enjoy a day out. They go above and beyond for you and your guests and should be rewarded and applauded for the great work they do, especially in difficult times like these when golf is at a premium and they probably don't need to go that extra mile to keep busy.

(Not sure why my rating came out so low (likely due to the 'visuals' but I would definitely say this rating should be more between 5.5 and 6.0)
Everyone in SoCal knows how hard it is getting good tee times right now, so when my Saturday magically opened up on Friday afternoon, I was lucky enough to call Alondra and find out they had a cancellation for a single just 20 mins before, and it was for 11:30am. Dumb luck so I took it and never looked back. Well, at least until after the round.

Got some range balls and a cart and was paired with three nice gents. The carts are as archaic as it gets so bring your own amenities. There was no cart service and only the snack window at the turn - convenient enough. POP actually ended up better than we thought, but we were behind an incredibly slow foursome that was at least one to two holes behind all day. Rhythm was tough to come by. And conditions didn't help.

Right now at Alondra you're going to find some pretty abysmal and dried out, thin fairways, but I always try and look at that as good practice for better-kept tracks. The rough is no better, so finding a good lie will be one of the best parts of your day, but it won't happen all that often. Bunkers were dreadful. Hardpan, recently muddy messes. Tee boxes were just okay. Greens were apparently fixed up a few weeks ago and they are actually not too bad except a few too many had chewed up, sanded over scars across them, but the untainted ones were okay. Tame and uninteresting, but rolled well enough.

I have some very memorable personal achievements at Alondra (my only hole in one for example), but it will always be an 'emergency' round at this point going forward. And there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe one day it will somehow magically evolve into a well-kept, well-conditioned course, but until then, make plans to play elsewhere unless you're in a pinch.

(Update: Just saw my bill for this on my bank statement and it was $57 to ride ... um, where do I update my 'Worth the price' selection?)
Days Two and Four of my extended Palm Springs weekend saw action at the always fun Shadow Ridge course in Palm Desert. This Faldo design is always a winner, especially when the conditions are pretty close to perfect. Exceptional layout and a challenging, yet enjoyable 18 holes make this place always one of the must-play courses in the area.

We played both rounds from the green tees and rode for $125 - very much in line for the experience you will get, with a few tiny exceptions. The course is currently a generous Cart Path Only but there doesn't appear to be any enforcement whatsoever. Cart service was exceptional with beverages showing up almost every 3-4 holes. There are no water stations anywhere so bring what you need for that.

Fairways are in great shape after the re-seeding and should only get better over the new few weeks. The rough is also exceptional and the place simply exudes quality from the visuals right now. Bunker sand was very nice but I only found myself in one the entire weekend, while the tee boxes were all in fine condition. The greens? Well, like many places out here, they're currently on the slow side so you'll really have to get a feel for them early, but they're in perfect condition in terms of true lines and holding shots well. Just need a few weeks.

I will never think twice about playing this course over and over again and this weekend's trip only solidified that view. Can't wait to get back out there again.
Day Three of my Palm Springs long weekend and played at Desert Willow's Mountain View course on Sunday. If you're wondering what happened to Day Two, unfortunately plans for PGA West (Nicklaus Private) were scuppered when our host broke his toe the day before, so we played Shadow Ridge instead on Saturday and will do again later today. But back to Mountain View ...

Course looks and plays really great right now. The recent re-seeding has done wonders for the beautiful fairways and nice, thick rough. Not many bad lies anywhere on the course and you'll be enjoying those swings all afternoon. We had some rough weather at points that made shots difficult, but had nothing to do with the course conditions.

Tee boxes were all in super shape (we played from the purple tees and rode for $159 for the day) and the bunkers had nice sand in them - not quite super white and fluffy, but extremely playable and well maintained. There were actually rakes in them as well.

Greens were looking and rolling very true, while holding shots well also. They were not super fast but that's going to take a few more weeks before they can be pressed so as not to damage them too early ahead of the high season out here. They were still very nice to play from though even though the speeds were not much faster than other Palm Springs area courses at this time.

My playing partners had always played the Firecliff 18 before this round and I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun they had on Mountain View in comparison. Even had one very experienced playing partner claim that he felt Mountain View was superior to Firecliff as it was less gimmicky and a more traditional test of good golf. It is a fun layout with no throwaway holes and a little bit of invention required. Risk is there too, so don't get lazy.

All in all it was a very fun day at DW and it's always fun to finish on a great 18th hole like Mountain View provides. Great range facilities as well, and the clubhouse to boot. I will say though that $159 still is a tad on the high side, but it's pretty darn close to where it should be.
Day one of an extended weekend out here in the Palm Desert area and met up with Nick to play Escena for the first time ever on Friday. I really enjoyed the layout and the modern clubhouse and the friendly staff, but a nice facility like this should definitely have a full range instead of nets. Also interesting choice of tee box colors with the tips being the blues ... threw us and we had to move up to the orange tees which are like the blue tees at 90% of other places.

Recently out of re-seeding so it was 90-degree rule, which was fine - always beats CPO. The fairways still need some time to heal without a doubt, but it's visually very pleasing, and great mountain views when you're teeing off on many holes. Rough was very nice and challenging, while the bunkers had ample, softish sand consistent throughout. Greens were visually very nice and the green complexes were tough but fair, but the speed of the greens is still quite slow and will also be a few weeks before they roll at optimum pace.

Good cart service throughout the day and the POP was very good overall. Some monster par 3s here and tricky and fun par 5s, with a lot of everything else in between. A lot of wind can sneak up on you here as well so be prepared to take that into account.

I found an online deal for two (same cart) at $99 per person, but I thought that was for two players! My mistake, and while Nick is not of the mind that this course currently merits that price, I think if I imagine this place in a few weeks in perfect condition, it would be worth it for sure. I would definitely play here again.
Finally played a non-scramble round at Los Serranos (South) this weekend and enjoyed it a lot.

It's funny how much less memorable a course layout can be when you're not playing a proper round. I could barely remember any of the holes so it was almost like playing it for the first time. Especially weird to get used to the par 74 number.

Played with my monthly group and we had three four-person groups and went out with the last one around 10:45am. Back to back par 5s to start really sets the tone for the day, and even playing from the whites is an exercise in long-ball golf here at 6800 yards.

Course conditions are pretty good with the exception of the tee boxes. A lot of them were moved around and seemed to be in far worse areas. A lot of dirt patches for tee boxes, so for a $75 greens fee, that's a bit weak. But the rest of the course was in pretty good to very good shape.

Greens aren't particularly fast but they're in decent enough shape and hold shots well. No major complaints there and none of the greens are too tricky or gimmicky. Some are pretty big, some are pretty small. Fairways mostly in very good shape with some burnout or thin areas, while the rough was quite playable in most areas. Bunkers I was in were okay and of course still not being raked.

Hard to gauge POP with our own groups in front of us, but we seemed to move along quite nicely. Very organized from the start to begin the round, nice range near the first hole and a large patio area and easy access to food and drinks post-round. Not a bad day at all.
Nice conditions currently at Mountain Meadows as we played our GK Cup team match there on Sunday, going out with two carts and playing from the blue tees. Range was open but not the putting green and they waited until five minutes before tee time to give us cart keys.

Fairways looking pretty sharp at MM right now, with a few thin areas here and there and some waterlogged portions after the tee shot on the par 5 11th hole. Bunkers were a mixed bag with some very thin and difficult to decide whether to play them as a sand shot or a chip, while others had some nice sand in them, like on the 10th hole. Tee boxes were mostly okay and the rough was a mixed bag depending on where you found yourself but nothing too crazy.

The greens were in nice shape with a few still showing the faintest signs of punching. The rolled perhaps a touch faster than they looked and some of the slopes here are very deceptively tricky. They don't look like much when you're lining them up, then the results are wildly different than what you anticipated. Good coverage to them though and not too many ball marks which was nice.

As FirstFlightFX-101 mentioned in his review, this is a very fun but tricky and demanding layout with all manner of doglegs and elevations, but also some very narrow tee shots that will require your best efforts. You're playing every club in your bag here without a doubt.

Cart service was nice to see twice on the back nine, but did not see any water stations anywhere on the course and you can only pick up snacks or drinks near the clubhouse. I would definitely play this course with a lot more frequency if it wasn't so far away from the South Bay. I'd recommend it with no hesitation at this time.
Tierra Rejada with the GK Guru group, playing with Sal, Ron and Mike - good times! It was a hot day so it was vital to have the drinks at the ready, but it was great to see some of the water fountains working and nice touches like rakes in the bunkers.

TR is a very unique course - if you've played it, then you know. Jekyll and Hyde from the front nine to the back, but always fun and a massive test of accuracy and guts. There's no backing down from some of the long carries and tough angles on the front nine, while the back nine is much more traditional but no less penal of mistakes.

The course visually looks great right now. The fairways are nice and green and most of the lies were quite good. A few thin spots here and there which made some shots a little dicey, especially around the greens, but overall no major complaints. The new bunkers were looking and playing very nicely - the white fluffy stuff currently that every golfer wants to see.

Unfortunately the greens still were showing some signs of bumpiness and slow speeds after recent punching. They were much better on the front nine than on the back. A few too many ball marks made putting an adventure and it was difficult to really keep things on line. As others have said, they should be much better in a few weeks. Tee boxes were fine in some places, but a few of them were chewed up pretty badly.

POP rolled along nicely all afternoon and we didn't have any other difficulties getting through the round in prompt fashion. Carts are quite nice but don't have any GPS, which would probably be a nice addition at a place like this.

Still a great day all around and I will always love coming back to Tierra Rejada to see where my game has progressed or regressed. There's simply no hiding from it here.
Spent Saturday with three old friends from past work so the catching up was of course more memorable than the course experience at Balboa, but everything was 'fine.' We used the driving range which seemed to be fully open, but most of the carts were gone for our 11:10am tee time. We did manage to get the last one which was good.

As for the course conditions, again, everything is 'fine.' Not terrible, not great. The greens are in fine shape, running just a tick above medium speed and holding shots pretty well. The fairways are fine, pretty nice in a few spots but mostly thin but playable. Rough was fine in parts with some thick areas, some thin ones - you get what you find. Tee boxes were mostly okay but there were some temporary ones between tee box areas while they're doing some maintenance. Bunkers were fine ... playable but far from fluffy.

On a busy Saturday the POP wasn't too terrible actually, but there was no cart service, no snack area open anywhere, no water available and the turn is pretty far away from the bar/snack shop so it's pretty vital to bring everything you need with you when you show up.

It's not a destination course by any means, but it's worth a round now and again.
Was very thankful with how difficult it is getting any good tee times right now that Matty P secured a 9:30 foursome at Costa Mesa CC this past Saturday and was kind enough to let me and a friend tag along. We played the Los Lagos 18 with carts from the blue tees.

It was just my second-ever time to this course and second time playing this 18 instead of the Mesa Linda course. I was very much looking forward to the challenge of this track which, to me at least, plays much longer than its 6500 yards on the scorecard.

Conditions were pretty good across the board. Greens were deceptively fast and it was very difficult to harness the speeds all day for me. I was either very long or very short most of the day which was frustrating. Found mostly good lies in the fairways all day with some thin areas for sure, and some sticky rough along the fairways and near the greens. Bunkers were avoided all day but looked a little hard from my perspective.

The worst part of the day? The POP was dreadful. The course opens with back-to-back par 5s so that already puts a clamp on things with the waiting for greens to clear for the ambitious sort, but then we got to the par 3 4th hole and were three groups deep waiting around for 10-12 minutes at least. This pretty much carried on throughout the day and no marshall or cart service was around at any point to help improve things. I think we finished up in just under six hours. I love golf. I really do. But that's really pushing my love. You get no rhythm and just lose all sense of wanting to be there. Hopefully that improves.

Snack shop at the turn is open and there is also a bar area where people were eating inside and we could have a beer after the round. Mask restriction signs are all over this area but I would say it was about 50/50 with people paying any attention to it.

Still, it was a fun day with very good company and despite a poor round (with the exception of a great birdie on the 15th hole), I'm glad I had a chance to get back to CMCC. The next time though I'll have to tackle the other course to see what that's all about.
Spending the weekend down in OC so snuck away to the Ranch at Laguna Beach nine-hole course tucked away in a beautiful, looming valley with the Aliso Creek bisecting the layout and adding to the beauty of this wonderful location.

Everything is top notch here - the valet parking, the beautiful deck and patio area, course conditions, and of course the price to match. I had forgotten a hat so I'm not exactly sure what the greens fee was because I added one to my bill, but I think it was around $55 or so. But it was well worth it.

This is no bombs-away course in any way. The first hole requires a 150-yard or so layup and then it's a par 3-par 4 back and forth all the way to the ninth hole. There are some absolutely beautiful holes here and the surroundings are brilliant. Total seclusion out there and a challenging yet fun short course that will keep you smiling the whole time.

Greens were in very nice shape and only one or two with any severe slopes to them. They rolled medium-fast and held lines well, but surprisingly found a few ball marks which was odd at a premium-ish course. Tee boxes were in good shape (played from the blues) except for the last hole which is covered by trees so the tee went into the dirt and nothing else.

Bunkers looked and played amazing ... very nice fluffy sand in most all of them. And the rough was very playable and fun. Nothing but high marks for this place and if I lived closer I would love to play it more than a few times, even though the price is fairly steep for nine holes. But the entire place is a high-end experience across the board, so you're getting your money's worth.

Oh yeah, no carts but those of the push variety. Maybe that keeps help the place in great shape. There are no services out there anywhere so bring your cold water and a snack, but you're going to have a good time either way.
Twilight round back at Wilson for the first time in a good while on Thursday around 3:15. Rate was somewhere around $40 for the late round and the cart - good value and we were hoping the POP would be good so we could finish before dark.

Was very surprised to see the fairways in such nice, green shape. There are a few holes where things thin out a bit, but overall there's very good coverage in the short stuff. The rough has some thin spots as well - far more than deep and lush. Not the best lies for near-green chipping, but nothing too awful.

Greens had recently come out of some punch and there were still signs of this, some holes worse than others, but none that really feel like they affected roll too much as I had a nice day of putting. Medium-fast speeds and some fun, challenging holes here. Tee boxes were in standard late summer muni shape, and the bunkers looked a little on the dry side but I avoided them all day.

POP worked out pretty well until we got backed up at the 11th hole tee box (by the new and improved snack shop). It was pretty smooth until then but the slowdown ruined our chances to finish outright but we did get through 17 holes before the darkness was just too much to overcome.

Really nice time out at Wilson and it's in some of the best shape I've seen here in a long time, and looks like it will be even better when the greens are fully healed.
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