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Played here today with the GK Review Gurus. I was in the second group with sixpez and nutnbutcup. POP great at about 3:50. Cool, sometimes cold, windy and overcast day robbed the course of some of its visual punch, but that’s about the only negative I can think of.

Conditions are excellent! Greens are smooth, medium-fast, and mostly firm. Full shots did stop decently quick for me, but not necessarily for everyone. Play a spinning ball and/or hit high approach shots to ensure they stop quickly. Fairways are beautiful, lush overseeded rye, providing perfect lies and cushion all day. Rough was lush overseeded rye just a little deeper, not very penal. Most of the bunkers I was in were good, although one was a little thin. Tee boxes were lush, flat and well maintained with some noticeable divot damage.

Layout-wise, the course offers lots of beautiful views especially from the tee. You can tell a lot of attention was paid to placing trees, bunkers, and mounding in eye-pleasing spots. Maybe the only minor knock on it is I’m not sure this course has a definitive “signature” hole. (I'm not saying every course has to have a signature hole, more of a comment in relation to FireCliff.) Still a really fun play especially when conditions are like they are currently. Highly recommended.
12 Likes.
Played here today with a 1:10 TeeOff.com “Deal” time purchased just a couple hours earlier. I was checking the app a few times an hour to see if any new offerings popped up, and when this one did, I jumped on it. (It must’ve been a cancellation because the starter’s printouts showed a foursome in that 1:10 slot.) Got a great deal plus 15% off promo code to pay around $28. Sounded like another player was arguing with the starter a bit about whether or not he and his buddy would have to ride together. Apparently if you book as a single, they’ll give you a single-rider cart. If you book as a twosome, you have to share with who you booked with. At any rate, I got my own cart and luckily the starter sent me and another guy off as a twosome around 20 minutes early when the group that was supposed to be teeing off was nowhere to be found. Front nine POP was awful, with four groups stacked up on the par-3 4th tee, and multiple groups waiting on several other holes. When the backups continued on the back nine, it seemed highly unlikely we would finish, but eventually the group in front of us left after 17 and me and my playing partner decided to give it a go. Luckily we both hit good shots all the way, and were able to find them and finish just as it was pretty much too dark to possibly play anymore. Total POP just under 5 hours. Seems like the course could’ve managed this better, because when we were on the 12th tee, there was no one at all playing the adjacent 14th hole. Someone should’ve told that group to speed up.

Conditions are mediocre, but playable. Greens are in decent condition. Seemed a little bumpy, far too many unfixed ball marks, medium speed and more firm than soft. The weird part is they look great, by far the most visually attractive part of the course right now. Another oddity: At least two greens had piles of sand on them in spots that looked like bare spots from afar. Not sure what that was about. Probably 6/10 overall. Fairways are a mix of thin dormant bermuda and bare spots of hardpan dirt. Very tight lies and very little to slow balls down when they get near the edges/ESA. Where it exists, rough was pretty good. Some lush rye and some dormant bermuda. I wasn’t in any bunkers but my playing partner was, and said it had very little sand in it. Blue tee boxes were fair.

Every time I play here I ask myself why I don’t play here more often. It’s a really good layout and pretty fun right now with the extremely firm and fast conditions. (My playing partner hit a great drive that went almost 400 yards on the par-5 12th.) You really have to think about what the ball is going to do after it hits the ground, which can get in your head and also adds an element of extra fun. Recommended at “deal” prices, but not sure I’d be happy paying more considering current conditions and pace of play.
10 Likes.
Waited until the last second to decide if and where to play today, and ultimately couldn’t resist a last-minute (after-midnight booking) tee time at 8:40 this morning for about $38 ($45 minus 15% off promo code) on TeeOff.com. Arrived around 8:10 and the course was far less busy than I expected. Only the North & West nines are open. Looks like they didn’t overseed the South this year, or maybe just recently did so. A twosome headed off before me, and I played by myself. I have often jokingly said I think you should get one free stroke on every hole that you “play through” another group, and today I would’ve received three free strokes from that twosome ahead. They waved me up on my approach to 2, but then after I hit they putted out and went and hit their drives on 3. Then I rushed over and hit my tee shot on 3 before driving ahead and finishing the hole. But then one of them sprayed their approach over on the 4th tee and so I felt hurried again, and dunked my tee shot on a watery par 3. Anyway, was happy to play through and finished the front nine in a little over an hour. Back nine was slower but overall POP was outstanding at 2:47.

Conditions are really great! The greens are just about perfect: Smooth, medium-fast, accepting of full shots and very few blemishes. Fairways are lush with great coverage and attractive mowing lines. The rough varies from lush rye on some holes to a mix of rye and dormant bermuda on others. The bermuda is a little thin but the rye rough is great. Black tee boxes were mostly good; some of them are a little small (Black tees almost seem like an afterthought or were maybe added later here) so some of them had lots of divot damage because there’s not much room to move the markers around. Still good, though. Bunkers were not all that well maintained (no rakes) but played really good anyway, filled with sufficient sand.

When this course is in really nice shape like this, I enjoy it quite a bit. It has some nice elevation changes that you don’t often find on some of comparable “resort courses” around the Valley. It’s not very long at all (except the 645-yard par 5 on the West nine), but it requires you to think your way around and rewards players who can move the ball both ways. On that note, the GPS seemed a little weird. Either it was wrong or the yardages on the scorecard are wrong on some holes. Some of the par 4s listed as in the 330-340 range on the card said only like 310 on the GPS, and it wasn’t like the tees were moved up. GPS said the 645-yard par 5 was only about 610. Pro shop staff and starter were very friendly. Overall a lot of fun and a ridiculous value for this time of year at the rate I got.
8 Likes.
Played here today with an 11:33 TeeOff.com “Deal” time for a great price of around $77 after 20% promo code. Hard to beat for a course that’s hosting the PGA Tour in two and a half weeks. (More on that in a minute.) Started right on time, got paired with an old guy who has been a PGA West member for 23 years, and then a guy from L.A. playing with his young son (and had an even younger son riding along with them). So we teed off and as we were waiting to hit our approaches to No. 1, the starter drove out and yelled to us that holes one and nine were cart path only. No problem, although we weren’t notified beforehand. Here’s the weird part: I never saw the guy who was a member again. One of the young kids said they saw him driving back toward the tee, but he didn’t say goodbye or anything, just bailed on us halfway through the first hole. I’m not sure if he was mad at the starter for sort of “yelling” at him, or didn’t want to play with young kids in the group, or didn’t feel well all of a sudden, or what? Anyway, the other guy and I didn’t let it faze us, and we soldiered on. Overall pace was good, finishing in just a little over four hours. Sometimes we were a little slow (understandable with a young kid playing one of the hardest courses in the world) and other times we were waiting on the group ahead of us. Group behind us seemed to always be just far enough back that they didn’t have to wait. Weather was absolutely perfect, beautiful and comfortable all day, blue skies and little/no wind.

Anyway, onto conditions. First of all, the course looks absolutely gorgeous right now, and I’d seen lots of 5-star reviews on GolfAdvisor leading up to this round. And here’s where things get tricky, ratings-wise. When you get on top of the fairways and greens, there are quite a few thin spots. Don’t get me wrong… there are also super-lush areas that you’d expect with the Tour arriving shortly. And for the most part, the course is in great condition. Just not consistently “Tour quality.” Especially on the front nine, many greens seemed very thin and even had some bare spots around the edges. I also found the greens really difficult to read today. They were mostly smooth, medium/medium-fast speed, and medium firmness. I’m frankly surprised they’re letting the public play on them when the world’s eyes will be on them in a couple weeks. Fairways were deep green lush rye, but did have some thin spots and muddy spots here and there. The rough is mostly dormant bermuda but there is some rye rough around some greens. Blue tee boxes were good; a couple were moved up in to keep the “pro tees” pristine in advance of the tourney, but not to a ridiculous degree. A few tee boxes also had large coverings in spots to keep things pure as well. All the bunkers I was in were good; no rakes.

First time I’ve stayed dry on 17! But… I still missed the green. I was in a little patch of rough on the far left edge of the island. Also first time I was ever down in the greenside bunker on San Andreas… hit a fantastic bunker shot to about 8 feet on my first try, but missed the par putt. Overall I had a great time and I’m sure it will add enjoyment to watching the American Express tourney when it arrives. Highly recommended at the rate I got.
17 Likes.
Played the FRONT NINE ONLY of the Cove course after we finished Classic today. We started around 3:55, so we were flying around trying to play as many holes as possible. We caught a threesome ahead on one hole, but they quickly let us play through. Then on another hole someone was seemingly practicing putting on the green for a few minutes before they noticed we were on the tee. Finished nine holes in probably a little under an hour. We still had enough sunlight to probably play at least 3 or 4 more holes, but didn’t want to press our luck with having the carts out too late as grateful guests invited to play more after our first 18 of the day.

Conditions were very similar, although it seemed some of the rough on Cove wasn’t overseeded quite the same as on Classic. I saw some dappled yellow spots here and there. Otherwise, medium-fast, smooth, firm greens (although accepting of full shots). Fairways great. Tee boxes and bunkers both very good.

While the Classic course has more history, the Cove course (at least the front nine) is arguably more fun, with wider fairways, a more modern look, and beautiful mountain backdrops on many holes. (Classic mostly looks like a 50s/60s Palm Springs course, while Cove looks like an 80s/90s Palm Springs course.) I’m anxious to play the back nine sometime!
12 Likes.
Got an invite from a friend to play out here at 12:00 today, Sunday 12/27. Worked out perfectly as I was sitting on 299 different lifetime courses, so getting to play such a historic private club and former PGA Tour venue for No. 300 was awesome! We started right on time and were sent out just as the two of us, following a walking threesome and with two single riders immediately behind us. The club puts an emphasis on fast play, and even though we were waiting on the group ahead, we definitely felt pressure from the twosome behind us as we both wanted to relish the experience a bit and take lots of photos. Things worked out when the twosome behind us decided to jump over to the Cove course after the par-5 5th. Even with lots of waiting on the group ahead of us, POP was great at about 3:45. (And quick enough that we got offered the opportunity to keep playing on Cove. I’ll write a separate review for that.) Saw the beverage cart twice. Even the attendant stressed fast play, as she encouraged us to continue playing while she made our Bloody Marys and drove to catch up with us when she finished. Marshal came by every few holes as well.

Conditions are fantastic. Everything is deep green with really good coverage. Nothing was quite immaculate, but 8s and 9s across the board. Greens were smooth, medium-fast and pretty firm. A few blemishes here and there, but mostly great. Fairways were lush, cut short with good coverage, and never had to think twice about any lies. Rough was even more lush and not too deep, maybe two inches at the most. Tee boxes were all good. I was in a bunch of bunkers and they were all pretty consistent with a firm base (not hardpan, though) and sufficient sand on top to play shots accurately. No rakes due to covid, but it’s obvious they are grooming the bunkers daily as they all looked really nice.

The layout shares similarities with many Coachella Valley courses such as palm-lined narrow fairways, occasionally playing through the flood channel/wash, and desert homes lining the edges and bringing OB into play. Then there are a few holes – 3, 4, 5, & 18 – that play right against the Santa Rosa mountains and are clearly a step up from the rest. I loved those holes, especially the 5th and 18th, both of which are excellent and beautiful par 5s. The only minor bummer of the day was that the sun never fully emerged from behind pretty thick cloud cover, stifling the course’s beauty just a bit. Overall it was a fantastic experience, and felt great to notch off because I was supposed to play here back in March, but my tee time at that point was the first weekend of the Riverside County covid golf shutdown.

If you ever get a chance to play here, make sure to take advantage of it!
13 Likes.
Played here today with an 11:51 “Deal” time from TeeOff.com for a great deal of about $53 after 20% off promo code. Check in went smooth and the starter informed me I would be playing by myself, wedged between some foursomes. That was fine with me; no need to worry about Covid from a stranger, and I could take all the pictures I wanted. (Although cloudy skies all day didn’t make for the best picture taking. By the time I finished, the cloud cover was very thick, making it almost dark at 3:45. Then it started raining on my drive home.) POP was moving along fine, and then the foursome in front of me asked me to play through on No. 8. By the time I got to the 10th, there was another foursome on the green ahead of me, but I was fine just relishing the back nine on one of my favorite courses, so I just laid back a bit and tried not to pressure them at all. Total round was a little under 4:00.

Conditions are pretty good, and probably a little better than Dunes, which I played a few days ago. Greens are good, mostly smooth (16 had tons of ball marks), medium-fast and accepting of full shots. I don’t remember which holes, but I did notice a few bare spots around the edges of some greens. It seems this course always has certain greens that aren't quite pristine. It’s weird to me that a course of this caliber and reputation can’t get things like that under control when other high-end desert courses can present near-immaculate conditions this time of year. Fairways were mostly lush and had good coverage. If there was a downside, it seemed that quite a few front nine fairways were quite wet and even muddy in areas. The rough on Mountain is lush overseeded rye (as opposed to dormant bermuda on Dunes) and pretty easy to hit out of, maybe two inches deep at most. There are some of the deep, nasty grasses if you get too far offline, which killed my score on No. 17. Avoid those areas at all costs! I think I was only in one bunker and it was good quality sand. Tee boxes were good. Also there’s an abundance of coots around the water features on the front nine.

Highly recommended at the price I got. If paying full rack rate, you might be let down by the conditions, but in my mind the layout here never disappoints. One of my top 10 favorite courses and it was nice to play it in lush winter conditions (Seems like I usually play it in summer.) Merry Christmas all!
10 Likes.
Had an 11:33 TeeOff.com “Deal” time here today for a great price of $45 after 15% off promo code. Bag drop and check-in went smoothly, and then I walked over to the practice putting green for about 10 minutes (at the most), only to return to the staging area to find that my cart was missing (along with my bag including my wallet and keys and my camera bag). I told one of the outside attendants, and I am so impressed with how vigilantly they jumped into action. He first grabbed a new cart and drove me down to the range to see if someone had mistakenly taken the wrong cart, but my bag wasn’t there. He radio’d to the starters on both Mountain and Dunes to have all players check that they had the right carts, and we still couldn’t find it. He said maybe a food & beverage employee accidentally used the cart without noticing there were clubs on it, but a few minutes of investigation found that wasn’t the case, either. By this point I’d missed my tee time and was beginning the process of freezing my credit cards when they finally located my bag and brought it back to me. Crisis averted!

Evidently some idiot who was renting clubs somehow thought my cart and my clubs were his rental set. I was so happy that they weren’t stolen, I didn’t even check to make sure everything was still good, but then when I was on the first fairway, another attendant drove out to me and gave me two additional clubs that had been removed from my bag by this dolt. Oh, another employee gave me a couple free bottles of Gatorade as a “make good” before I teed off, too. (Even though it wasn’t the course’s fault at all.) And one other impressive point, one guy said they have video of that staging area, and he was already contacting the person in charge of it to figure out what happened to my clubs. All in all, excellent service from everyone involved. I ended up teeing off in the 11:51 group with two cool guys visiting from Seattle. POP was good… minimal waiting all day and we finished in just over four hours.

If you're a La Quinta Resort employee reading this: Thank you very much!

If you're the idiot who took my cart reading this: Pull your head out, you dumba$$! (Or at least apologize when you pull such a boneheaded move.)

Conditions are pretty good but not great for this time of year. The course probably looks better than it plays by just a bit. Greens are excellent, smooth, firm yet accepting of full shots, and medium-fast to fast. Fairways look good from afar but when you’re on top of them it seems the overseed didn’t take all that well. There’s good coverage but they’re not “desert high-end resort post-overseed lush,” if that makes sense. The rough comes in two varieties: Dormant bermuda that is thin and easy to play from, and then further off line are nasty, thick, tall grasses about a foot deep that you absolutely do not want to be in. Black tee boxes were good. Bunkers were good, not great. No rakes.

Didn’t remember how difficult Dunes is; it beat me up all day today. Clearly a step down from Mountain, but still a decent course.
11 Likes.
Played in the year-end GK Plays on Sunday. Great times with Circaflex, wsbell57, and colmcd. Huge thanks to Johnny and the sponsors for all the extra effort to make this event happen, despite trying circumstances.

Course conditions are mixed. Greens are fast, mostly smooth and accepting of full shots. Tee boxes and bunkers were great. The fairways and rough aren’t up to the usual Rams Hill standard, but still very playable. It seemed the course conditions had deteriorated a bit in the three weeks since I was here; wonder if the Ramateur took a toll on the course the previous weekend.

Always a great time at Rams Hill. Can’t wait to get back out there again!

Non-golf related note: For those who dread the long drive to get out there and might enjoy nature, I spent the early morning hiking The Slot Canyon in Anza Borrego, which is only about 15 minutes from the course and was a beautiful way to start the day. Thought I’d mention it as it might help some justify the drive knowing you can easily add another really cool experience to a day trip out and back.
11 Likes.
Played here Sunday, 11/29 with an 11:50 “Deal” time from TeeOff.com. It was $50 but I had a 20% off promo code, so I paid $40. Arrived around 11:20 and they drove my cart over to my car as soon as I parked, and then that same attendant checked me in for Covid purposes. This was a first for me – she asked for a credit card in case anything happened to the cart, saying that because I paid through TeeOff/GolfNow, they don’t have any access to my payment info. Not a big deal, but a little out of the ordinary. She offered to get me started right away, but I wanted to putt for a bit and loosen up. I still started about 10 minutes early, paired with two guys from Northern California kicking off a weeklong desert golf trip. (Envious!) We had to wait a little bit on every hole, but pace was excellent at 3:30 overall.

Conditions are decent, relatively speaking for desert courses this time of year. The greens were really nice, although some had some light spots but it didn’t seem to affect putting at all. They ran medium-fast, very smooth and about medium firmness. Fairways were mostly lush rye, but there are some thinner spots where the overseed didn’t take very well. The good grass is a little shaggy for fairway, presumably to let it grow in more successfully. Not bad, just a bit longer than you’d expect fairway grass to be. Rough seemed partially overseeded, a mix of brown and green and different grasses, but overall not bad. Tee boxes were nice. Bunkers I was in were good. 90-degree rule in effect for driving on the fairways.

I had never played here. I first played the South course 30+ years ago and have always wanted to notch this one off the list, but just never got around to it. It’s a very straightforward, generic old-school “Palm Springs” course for the most part. It is quite long, though, and I didn’t even play the blues. (The guys I was paired with were already teed up on the whites and I just decided to join them.) It reminded me a bit of Tahquitz Creek Legends or Mesquite. It’s definitely a step down from its sister course across the street, but a decent course overall with great mountain views. It saves the best hole for last with a beautiful 18th hole par-5 with a big dogleg left and an approach over a lake, complete with a giant fountain.

COVID stuff: Masks required in and around the clubhouse, check in was in the parking lot as I mentioned, no divot sand bottles on the carts (unfortunate when their overseed wasn’t super successful), there was an ice chest and water bottles and tees in the cart. Pins had a little plastic disc that prevented the ball from falling down more about an inch into the cup. Beverage cart came around several times.

Unrelated to this review specifically, but I went across the street to just take a couple pics of South and its overseed was incredibly successful. The course looked amazing and a guy who walked by confirmed that it’s in spectacular condition right now.
10 Likes.
Played here today with a 0857 tee time. (Haha.) Check in was smooth. They’ve moved the pro shop since I was last here, now just right off the first tee. $40 civilian walking holiday/weekend rate + $5 to rent a Riksha push cart. Started right on time, paired with two guys in town from Tucson. Pace was excellent on the front nine, finishing in about 1:45. Not sure what happened at the turn, but we were the third group waiting on the 10th tee to start the back nine. Eventually things got spaced out again and pace was good but not as fast as the front. Total POP was excellent at 3:57. Beautiful morning without much wind, which was surprising because last night was crazy windy up at home in OC.

Conditions are mixed. Greens are absolutely the highlight, rolling smooth at fast/medium-fast speed. They are pretty soft and full shots stop quickly, making rather large ball marks. Blue tee boxes were decent, except for No. 6 that was mostly dirt. Fairways are decent at best, a patchwork of kikuyu, bermuda and thin/bare spots. Despite that, I never really felt I had a bad lie in the fairway. They’re just not very attractive right now (or maybe I got fortunate to miss the thinner areas). Rough was mostly short kikuyu maybe about an inch and a half, not very penal at all. I was in two fairway bunkers and they were both good; greenside bunkers looked good, too.

It was nice to get back out here, which is difficult for me now that you have to get a base access pass from the Visitor’s Center to get on, and the Visitor’s Center is only open weekdays. I stopped in on my way to Rams Hill on Monday and got a little unlucky because their computer systems were down, so they could only issue me a 6-day pass instead of the normal 60-day pass. I’m considering joining the men’s club, in which case the course will sponsor you for a one-year base access pass. (If you stop in to get a pass, bring two forms of ID; I stopped in the week prior on my way to Goat Hill and stood in line for about 30 minutes only to get told they couldn’t do anything for me without my passport.)
9 Likes.
Matt Cardis, the founder of the Instagram account @golfinyourstate, is in the middle of a one-month residency at Rams Hill, where he’s either staying in the House on the Hill or camping in his van at some spots on the abandoned old holes, while documenting the whole thing on social media. I was fortunate to get an invite from him to play yesterday at 12:20. He got us a great rate and I was paired with three cool guys – two from Irvine and another from San Diego. There were four groups in all, and Matt bounced around from group to group, joining us for some golf and taking lots of photos and video.

Course seemed pretty busy for midday Monday (I later overheard the shop attendant saying it’s been very busy), but we still started right on time. (They had no problem providing a single-rider cart when I requested it.) We finished in about 4:20, and the last group of the four didn’t quite finish the 18th hole before total darkness set in. We all sat (socially distanced) around the giant fire pit for an hour or two afterward. What a great spot out there on the patio.

I think the couple reviews previous to mine served me well, because I had a little lowered expectations that were definitely exceeded. I’m not saying the other reviews are inaccurate, but I think it’s testament to how immaculately maintained Rams Hill typically is that people would even notice some of the current imperfections. I saw a large area on the second fairway that looked good but is currently roped off as GUR, and maybe some other “less than perfect” areas throughout, but for the most part, I found conditions to be excellent both visually and playability wise. The sun ducked behind the mountain when we were finishing 15, but the ~20 minutes just prior to that looked as good as it gets.

I played the tips and tee boxes were all good. Fairways looked beautiful and played almost as beautifully. The rough was lush and not too penal, maybe 3 inches deep at most in spots. The dormant bermuda rough that rings some of the bunkers can be tricky, though… a playing partner’s ball sunk down in it so much he wondered if it was embedded. It wasn’t. The greens were smooth, medium fast and semi-firm, with full shots sometimes taking a bounce before stopping. Certain downhill putts barely needed a nudge to get rolling and would just keep going. (Uphill putts into the wind still needed a pretty good whack, though.) Bunker sand was good; no rakes so one time I had to take advantage of the Covid rule to move the ball out of a footprint.

It started out pretty windy and only got windier as our round progressed, which made the course play much tougher than normal. Any shots that got significantly up in the air were whisked sideways quickly. Hopefully we get calmer conditions on December 13. Can’t wait to get back!
14 Likes.
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