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Got out on Tuesday, 9/20. Haven't been playing much, but a friend called. Looked online and lo and behold a 7:09 time at Balboa pops up. Lucky boy. Lucky boy didn't check Greenskeeper for maintenance alerts. Greens were two weeks away from being playable. Many fairways were thatched. Overall the course is under repair. That said, we played with no one in front and no one behind. It was a beautiful day. When they cut down the Eucalyptus trees on 10 and 12, I was REALLY not a fan, but the views they opened up are truly fabulous. At the City rate of $26, even in the poor shape of the course, I felt I got good value. There a three holes that are downright funky, two that are really hard, but it's part of the package. From experience, in a month the greens will roll great and I'll feel like I stole something after playing.
Drove down on Sunday to play de Anza on Sunday in the always-fun Swinging Sammy. Playe.d with my brother and OLD friend Tim and his cousin Isaac. Got the requisite listing of current maladies, past year's surgeries and excuses over with on the first tee that seem to be mandatory for us Medicare folks and then had some fun. Had never played De Anza before and was pleasantly surprised. Bermuda tees and fairways were way above average for desert courses this time of year. Greens rolled slow but true. Rough was mowed down to an inch or so, but you knew you were in it. Traps had good sand and were well maintained. Pro shop was accomodating and happy to have us out there, not always the case at a country club. Course is a tree-lined old-style flat course par 72, well bunkered with good hole variation. Greens don't have the big undulations of newer courses, but grain and subtle breaks kept you honest. Rate was $50 with a cart. This course would be easy to walk, but at 110 degrees may not be everybody's cup of tea. Not really a worth-the-drive course, definitely worth the time if you are in the area and a splendid warm up for Rams Hill.
Played three rounds at Wolf Creek 6-1 to 2, 8:00 start, with the Coffin Group of 20. Was able to add a replay on the 1st at 1:30. Wish I would have booked a later flight on the 2nd to take advantage of another replay, but had to make the plane. Staff was fantastic; there to provide you the best opportunity to have a good time. The course is there to give you MANY opportunities to keep you from a good time - if a low score equals a good time in your book. Tee boxes were being reseeded and many were dirt. Fairways had been punched in some areas and were dirt and seed in a lot of places, but played fine. Traps were raked at the beginning of the day but did not have rakes in them so by the second round you had to smooth out the bunker to have a shot. Greens were punched about a week ago. Still had visible sand in the holes, but they rolled very well. I wish I could blame the aeration for my putting, but putts went where I hit them. Above the hole was more times than not a guaranteed bogey, sometimes a double. Green fees were discounted appropriately for conditions, about $125/round. Enjoyed the challenge and outstanding visual presentations on the tee box. Majority of the tees were elevated. I love the layout of this course. More than 3/4 of these holes would be the signature hole on most other courses. No. 3 is the only hole where I felt there was just no way I could par it. I'd give it two to three weeks for conditions to improve if that's a concern. We had a pleasant 10 mph breeze to keep us slightly less than hot. We stayed at the Eureka: 3 nights lodging, 2 rounds at Wolf, 1 round at Oasis Canyon (meh), for $508. They chipped in $25 resort credit at WC each day for the punched greens. $55 replay at WC was too hard to pass up as was the $49 to also play the Oasis Palmer (fun) on the 1st. Food and beverage prices were very reasonable.
Got off at 7:27, just before the ladies, today. Last time I played here, while not as bad as I've seen it, for the amount of play it's been getting and the money they are making I thought it was a travesty. I am very pleased to say it has really turned around. Tee boxes weren't lush but they were pretty good. Fairways had great coverage. Rough had just been mowed, but from the number of balls I found it was a beast. Greens were NICE. Punched about three weeks ago and they are great right now. Rolled medium fast and true. Sand in the traps was plentiful and well cared for. There were honest-to-god mowed collection areas around some of the green complexes, something you don't usually see here. This course is cursed by three pretty crappy holes, IMO, 4, 16 and 18, but the rest is a very fun golf course with fantastic views. You get a nice bit of work in if you walk, earning yourself a couple beers after the round on the patio with one of the best views of SD from anywhere. It's not Torrey, it will never be a US Open venue or on the coast, but it's not $300 to play and it offers a little piece of SD and a good time for less.
Played 3/5 pm on my way down from the Central Coast. Thought there might be a few cancellations, marvelling at the boiling pot of Pacific Ocean as I headed into Ventura. The gale was pushing me hard to Ojai, but my Catholic upbringing pointed me to Olivas for the full measure I deserved. Hadn't played here before, but Greenskeeper reviews were positive and it was just off the freeway. Got out of the car at 1:30 and at 1:40 the foursome on the 1st tee waved me through. Pro shop was in a trailer, very friendly and low key. Fairways were well-covered and mowed tight. Tees were good. Bunkers were well placed sirens, calling to my ball on every downwind tee shot. Greens were medium speed with lots of character; they were just long enough that the 2.5 club wind didn't blow your ball off them. There was lots of slight mounding around the greens so you had to be preciise with that low runner required to reach the green. Even though it's a flat course, IMO each hole stood out. I never felt like "I just played this hole." The trailer pro shop really belies the quality of thee course and conditions here. Thought this was the closest thing to Scotland at an affordable course I've come across and really enjoyed it. I played 18 with a father and son after playing 14-17 again. They were kind enough to let me join them as it started getting dark, They had just moved from LA County. They were playing the courses in the area and he expressed he was a little disappointed so far. Now, I've only played Rustic, Ojai and here, but I thought, "Geez, I gotta start playing some LA golf."
Played 12/12 with an 8:00 tee time. Have played here often over many years. Tee boxes were as bad as I've seen them, dirt with a few sprouts of grass and a lot of seed spread around. I'll give them that the dirt was level. Fairways had good coverage with tight lies. Rough was hit or miss. Sand looked ok, but wasn't in any bunkers. Greens were bumpy with occasional bare areas. They took out some natural vegetation on 3 which gave the hole some character. It looks like a trap on 15 is being filled in, which is rarely hit, but is something to think about on this short hole. They have mounds of really nice looking sand pile up on the north side of 14 and have for a couple weeks. Must be waiting for a couple more storms to blow it away. Heck, there are a lot courses that could and would use that sand; sell it to them. Usually after playing here, even though I'm shaking my head over 4 and 16, I end up thinking I should book a time more often at Balboa. Not this time. Just seems like they have full tee sheets and will see how long they will stay full without putting in the effort to improve conditions.
It was a little drizzly Thursday, which means So. Cal. golfers stay home mostly, so I pulled out my rain gloves and got a $25 Golf Now Hot Deal at The Vineyard. I hadn't played here in quite a while, but remembered it was a pretty good back 9. It wasn't just the rain that kept folks away. Went off by myself for a very quick 18 or so. Tees were occasionally ok. Par 3s were exceptionally chewed up. Fairways had many bare spots and cut thin. There wasn't much rough. Sand was ok but inconsistent. Greens were bumpy with good coverage and fairly quick. The back was better than the front. The killer for me was there were NO 150 markers, not one distance marker on the course. All right, I can hear you: "Get a rangefinder, you dope." But I just don't like 'em. Maybe it's because I am not sure I've ever hit an iron the same distance three times in a row except on the range, and have a constant low-speed wobble due to essential tremors, but, man I miss those 150 cypress bushes. I'm usually within 5 yards estimating distances with a 150 yd reference, but constantly realized how bad I am without one. Bottom line on the Vineyard, it was worth the $25, but bring your rangefinder.
Ok, not sure Tecolote made too many top 10 or 100, maybe even 500 lists. It's a par 58 in a canyon about a mile from Mission Bay for those unfamiliar. Played early Thanksgiving morning with Greg, Ashwin and Arya. Check-in was about as low-key as it gets. Front desk friendly and accommodating. Tee boxes were pretty chewed up, but easy to find a place to hit from. Fairways had grass, well, grasses, lots of different kinds, but grass. Unusual for Tecolote. Areas around small greens were well covered with decent lies. On most holes you're on or close to the small greens, in the creek, or lost up the side of the canyon, so not much rough. Traps have ok sand, but are rarely raked by the customers. Greens are very good. Lots of undulations and tough breaks on these small three-putt score-wreckers. This course is as good as it has been in 4-5 years and a lot of fun to play. It's not Goat Hill, but there are plenty of ways to blow your score up here Ashwin was a recent graduate that had played on his college team and was surprised how much fun he had, claiming he'd be back.
Played 10/29&30 vineyard/canyon and canyon ranch. Vineyard greens still had a few visible punch marks but the greens rolled well, I'd give them a good. Ranch and Canyon were really nice, a very good and slightly faster, maybe 11. Tees had good coverage and few divots. Didn't have a bad lie in the fairway either day. Rough was mostly very manageable unless you found some bermuda on the edges. Was in one well-raked fairway trap with great sand. The Ranch/Canyon combo with a lot of elevation changes is the favorite, but the Vineyard will give you plenty to think about. Can't remember switching clubs more often on a course. I love the layout here and the conditions are just below a top-notch country club. The rack rate seems a little steep, but at a c-note less than Maderas, it's a good value. Food is excellent at a decent price with a good selection of beer on tap.
Played 9/13, off at 9:00 with a large group of friends. Used to play here every Tuesday, but not playing too much right now. Been nine months. Tees were very playable. Fairways were green, cut thin and ran well. Rough was barely there through the fairways, but decent around the greens. They have elected to stop watering the large mounds that make this course such a bear when you hit a bad shot and your ball can roll quite a ways if you're on the wrong side. 17 of the 18 greens were very nice and would have been great had everybody fixed their ball marks. 16 is a mess. It's like somebody spread a bunch of brillo pads around the green and you get to putt over or around. We hit a couple extra putts and it was kind of fun to try to bank it off one of the pads. I think it's kikuya that has grown out in patches throughout the green. It's a short hole, so get it close. The sand was just not very good. Very inconsistent. I played the white tees for the first time and what a difference, even from the greens. Sometimes it's only ten yards difference from the greens, but seems to result in 30 more yards off the tee. Had a lot of fun and for 30-45 this is a good value in my book.
Played Oceanside muni 12/22 with a 9:00 tee time. Have never played here so was excited to play. Proshop was super; got us out a little early. Wasn't really sure where O'side muni was and was surprised it' so close to Arrowood and JUST south of Pendleton GC. Tees were ok, mostly green, quite a few divots, but finding a nice place to hit from was not a chore. Fairways were mostly dormant and thin with a typical muni mix, some bermuda, a little rye, kikuya on the back, but not weedy at all. Rough was the victim of a water reduction program that has left large dirt areas where there was once rough. Overall this helped me immensely as I rarely hit it squarely or in the fairway, so a lot of roll that would eventually find an open area to hit from. Greens were surprisingly the best part of the course, fast and firm and holding shots. Bunkers were Covid-maintained (probably raked daily) but not high quality sand. Areas around greens were thin and uneven with the same muni mix of grasses as the fairway. I was pleasantly surprised by the layout. A decent mix of interesting holes and a few fillers. Mostly flat, but quite a few doglegs to keep it interesting. This course abutts the south end of Pendleton so there are very few houses in view. I really like Arrowwood, but I'd play here again for the greens-price-walkability-scenery factor maybe one out of three times. Our round seemed slow, but were done in 4.25 hours. Didn't see a snack cart out.
Drove down to Rams Hill with Minneapolis Joel 10/28 for 36. Played with Pat and Mark, friends from SD who drove down also. In talking to the front desk, this is an early opening for them and it did show, slightly. Prepaid for a 727 time and all was smooth and pleasant as usual. Tee boxes were almost too nice, about a half inch of thick carpet. Bring long tees. There were a very few areas where the grass around the fairway hadn't completely grown in. In the middle, it was perfect. A week should take care of that. Rough had the same slight issues. For most courses I wouldn't even mention these areas, but it's a drive out there and usually this place is as close to flawless as I've played. Sand was outstanding. No rakes in the bunkers, but when we came around again in the PM they had raked behind us. Nice. The greens were nicely covered and held well-struck shots, except on 6 with a pin in the front behind the trap. But they were slow and it definitely affected the play here. They weren't get-the-dynamite slow, but slow to the point where being above the hole was not a factor and there are a lot of shots here where normally that's imperative for par. Of the 30 or so uphill putts of 30 feet or more we had as a group, not one was long and most were three putts. Glad we went out, but felt let down by the speed on the greens. It was listed as 9.5, just as a guide. I'm sure it won't be too long before they're back to normal, but if I was going again, I'd ask about 'em.
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