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Joined the GK Gurus Monday, 5/3/21 at 8:10am on a warm, blustery day. Thanks to Nick, Gary, and Keith for an enjoyable round, and to Johnny for setting up this outing. OQ is my favorite course in SoCal and the course was in good condition. The earlier reviews hit most of the high points – fairways and greens were good, rough was a variable length around the course, tees were OK. I was impressed with the firm greens.

I’m of a different mind from some other reviewers regarding the quality of sand in the bunkers, which has been an ongoing issue in the past, as evidenced in earlier reviews the past few years. Although many bunkers were a little damp and firm this morning, all that I visited had good sand quantity and played just fine with a lift/smooth/place approach (no rakes yet). We did see some standing water in a couple of bunkers this early in the morning after watering.

Nice interactive GPS on the comfortable carts – with some blind shots on some holes, it would help if the screen would show other carts ahead of your position. There was divot refill mix on the carts which I use liberally – it would be useful to have a refill rack at the snack shack after hole #11. New hole layout makes for a tougher finishing stretch of holes.

Always recommended.
Caught the bogey train at Eagle Glen GC on a warm, breezy afternoon at 1:00pm on Thursday, 4/29/21 booked through GolfNow for $42; also spent some time upstairs in the DB Lounge. It’s easy to do here if you get in the wrong places or hit poor shots, especially on holes 1-5 and 16-18. I had booked as a single at 12:40, but starter Mike was pretty casual in terms of getting people to the tee – many groups went early, including the 3some I was to join. I was finally paired with a 3some of seniors and teed off 20 minutes after I was scheduled. They were OK playing partners, even the guy with the “Trump 2024” cap!

Eagle Glen is currently pretty Jeckel and Hyde in many places in terms of turf quality. I was forewarned on the practice putting green where dry, bare dirt patches were interspersed fairly lush growth that caused putts to wiggle around the hole. I found the same thing out on the course, especially in the fairways – really incongruous to see the large bare patches of rock-hard dried mud alongside areas where you got a nice green cushion under the ball. Other fairway areas were thin and shorter. Many holes had significant damage along the margins where carts enter and exit the fairways. I was disappointed at the several holes roped/marked as “cart path only” - the entire par-5 3rd; .the lower portion of the par-5 5th ; the par-4 11th; and the approach shots on the par-5 12th and the par-5 18th.

Rough had similar inconsistent conditions. I played the Blue Tees 6,279/70.4/131 (Whites are only 5,552/67/121 and many heroic required carries are eliminated; and there is no rated/sloped White/Blue combo on the scorecard) and never had a problem finding a good spot. From the Blue tees as placed today, all of the par-3s were in the 140-150 yard range. No rakes in bunkers but there was sufficient sand for normal play, although some had a lot of footprints. Greens were generally receptive and most had good coverage, although we saw scattered thin/bare spots and speeds were inconsistent. Remember that everything goes down the canyon toward the freeway!

Carts were comfortable with an interactive GPS that gives distances to the COG only, and a cooler with no ice. I don’t recall seeing a marshal, but we kept pace and it was busy behind us, finishing in ~4:20. There was divot mix provided on the carts, but the refill rack next to the 10th green was missing. We saw the cart girl several times. Restrooms were open. Outside patio dining was very busy with a buffet when I arrived – don’t know if it was walk-in business or a private party. Easy check-in with very helpful and informative Devon in the shop.
Joined my high school buddy for a late afternoon round at 2:42pm on a breezy, very cool afternoon Tuesday, 4/13/21. Joined by two amicable locals and we teed off pretty much on time right behind the high school golf team, who were not the quickest players. Conditions were breezy and cool through the front nine, when the golf team finished, in ~2:10. We moved through the back at a similar pace as the weather worsened, getting very cold and raining on us the last 4 holes, finishing in just over 4 hours. That last 45 minutes was pretty miserable!

Course conditions here are pretty consistent over time. They are scheduled to aerify greens here in a couple of weeks so it looks like they are letting them start to dry out. Greens were cut close and were very firm, mostly rolling smooth but extremely quick toward the ocean/southwest. Most of our putts were pretty defensive, unless you happened to be putting back toward the inland side, when it was easy to leave everything short. We saw very few recent ballmarks on the firm greens. Fairways were cut fairly tight but gave good lies. Rough varied from deep and lush under some of the larger trees and in drainage collection areas to thin and bare on some slopes. It’s strange how variable the turf around some of the green mounding can be on the same hole. Tees were set wide and it was easy to find a good spot, although the tee on #12 has leveling issues that require attention. Sand traps had adequate sand, although heavy/damp, but there were no rakes out and at the end of the day there were lots of old footprints to deal with.

Basic carts and inconsistent course yardage markings, so bring your own tools. Shop is open for check-in and shopping, and upstairs restrooms are finally available. Aside from the weather and tough conditions, the most disappointing aspect of the afternoon was the repeated incursions into our playing lines of players from other fairways, whether in front of or behind us. On at least 6(!) occasions, players walked or drove into our fairway, while we were teeing off, to search for/play their ball, without hesitation or wave. Just … heads up, here I come! These included the golf team members as well as adults and older players. I was really surprised and frustrated by this ongoing lack of etiquette.

San Clemente always seems to have solid course condition. The weather and the firm, quick greens combined to make this a tough afternoon.
Played on a warm, breezy afternoon on Tuesday, 4/6/21, teeing off on time at 1:24pm on a GN Hot Deal for $35. I joined an amicable father/son twosome from Anaheim who had never played El Prado(!). The son was a recent golfer (6 months) with a pretty good swing but he was pretty wild, so we spent a lot of time searching, but kept pace with the group ahead and finished in just over 4 hours. Window booth check-in only as the shop is closed. No cart girl and I didn’t look for any food service.

EP is meat and potatoes golf. Tees, fairways, rough, and greens – take it and go. Tees are OK but some are sloped or lumpy (we played the White markers). Fairways are 27 different types of grass and lies can range from tight to lush. Rough ranges from bare/thin/bushy/clumpy. Rough areas are generally very "washboard" and tough on the teeth while riding in the basic cart. Greens were recently aerated and have recovered pretty well – coverage is good, aeration marks are evident but don’t affect roll, greens are fairly soft and hold shots, and speeds are about medium and consistent. Greens easily the best part of the course. Unfortunately, several greens had semi-recovered tire track damage from a local species of moron. Traps had no rakes but had adequate sand.

Cart paths are barely paved and could use attention. Par-3s from the White markers are all the same distance. Parking lot in similar shape to the cart paths(!). OK for a casual round.
Played at 2pm on Tuesday, 3/23/21 with my high school buddy on a cool, breezy and overcast day. This the former Casta del Sol GC and I hadn’t played here in 25+years, even though I live in Mission Viejo. Just a bias for regulation-length courses, I guess. But shorter courses are a good chance to work on your iron game (I left the woods in the bag) and the greens and surrounds are similar to most other courses that I usually play. Joined by a local resident member and someone he knew, so we got some good local knowledge.

New management has been initially putting their resources into the greens, and it shows. All greens had good, consistent turf coverage and rolled well at medium+ speed. Everything wants to go down the canyon to the southwest, and those runouts need to be accounted for. Greens were pretty firm and held good shots with a little rollout. Fairways were very spotty and lies changed dramatically within a few feet. Most of the grassed areas were thin and tight, with only occasional lush areas. There are many scattered areas that are basically dirt. Rough was generally pretty short and playable, although there were occasional deeper/lusher areas. Rough around greens ranged from tight/thin to fluffy, so many types of shots might be required. I was in a few sand traps and found adequate sand, not fluffy but fairly compacted. Many tees were not level.

Check-in at an outside tent; you have to go inside for the restroom. No on-course restrooms. Single carts available. Starter had things organized and we got off on time, playing in about 3.5 hr. Patio open for food service, but not indoors.

The member we played with mentioned some potential upcoming changes, including re-designs on a couple holes, expanding the putting green, and adding some warm-up nets (currently no range or other options). Holes 9 and 18 need some modifications for playability. Hole 9, the longest par-4 at 317 yards, drops steeply to Oso Creek about 150 yards off the tee, and the downslope is hard-packed without grass, so if you get out on it there’s no stopping the water ball. If you can’t blast a driver 240+ on the fly, you are laying back leaving 170-180 yards, so tough options. Hole 18 has a domed fairway on the longest par-3 (225 yds) that funnels your ball left into a pond or to the right down a steep slope into that creek. Both holes need to have the playing areas expanded to be more playable.

Overall a good course for a casual round and working on your game.
Played in the lead group out in front of the GK Cup Team Match Play final with rudyclub and circaflex at 11:15am on a gorgeous Sunday, 3/14/21. Tim and Kevin are easy to play with and great guys. Weather was sunny and warm, and we didn’t have too much wind until it freshened on the back 9 and was definitely a factor over the last 6 holes. Easy check-in at the shop and the cart guys knew about our GK event and were great in getting us set up.

This was my first time playing the Mountain View layout – I had to beg off last Fall’s outing here due to high temperatures. Overall course conditions were very good. Even after playing Firecliff in past rounds I was surprised by the amount of slope within the holes, as many are canted significantly R/L or L/R by elevated edges and deep washes running between holes, which must be considered in selecting lines and placing shots on many holes. Most fairways and greens were bounded by long humps and swales; east of the entry road, these had the effect of isolating each hole from the others. While the remaining holes were a little more open, each hole was well-defined by the terrain and visually pleasing. Water was used more extensively on the back 9 where the inter-hole slopes were not as severe, but the wind effects are greater.

Greens had complete coverage and were uniformly firm and very quick. I have to say that this doesn’t play into my game as I am a streaky, below-average putter and don’t spin the ball much at all. These types of greens make me completely defensive on and around the greens and I rarely had a putt where I felt I could attack the hole. JMHO, but as a “resort” course I would think that most patrons would prefer conditions where they felt they had a reasonable chance to make a putt, even when faced with a downhill slider. I know you have to set your course up to be playable by all levels of golfers; I just don’t see this type of green set-up as being “fun” for the majority of patrons.

Fairways had uniformly good coverage and the ball sat nicely. Rough was 1-2 inches, uniform, and easy to play from. Around the greens the turf was cut lower and in many cases the putter was a good option from 20 feet off the edges. Tees were level and in good condition. I found several greenside bunkers and all had a very thin layer of sand over a wet, packed base. Rakes were provided, so there were very few stray footprints. In keeping with the resort mode, traps are not severely deep or steep-sided.

Course was on-time and play moved smartly along – we waited on the foursome ahead only a couple times for a couple of minutes, so no problems. Carts are very comfortable with a good interactive GPS system and club/ball washer. Ice chest with ice. A yardage book is available, and the holes feature fairway plates and Kirby-type markers for distances. The course deployed entry/exit gate markers on most holes to direct cart traffic and try to minimize/spread out turf damage from cart traffic – I’m a fan. Sand bottles on the carts and many refill racks available – use ‘em, people! Saw a cart girl several times, and the nicely-appointed restrooms also offered ice/water machines, which we aren’t seeing in the OC.

Highly recommended, although winter rates in the desert are a factor in course decisions. Wish the greens were more “resort-y”.
As COVID ramped up at the end of 2020 my wife and I decided to hunker down and minimize outside contacts. Big bummer for both us and the grandkids(!). But now we both have had our 2 vaccination shots, nobody has been sick, and we’re starting to get back out in the world. I signed up for the GK Cup Final at Desert Willow on Sunday, 3/14, so I wanted to get some swings in for my first round since mid-November. Played down the road from my house at AT on Thursday, 3/11/21, booked at 3pm but the starter slotted us in at 2:40pm, giving us more time to finish – thank you, Mark. We caught a break in the rain and had a beautiful, refreshing afternoon. Despite the morning tee sheet being jammed, the course didn’t look that crowded and we moved along with no problems as a twosome with my high school buddy, finishing just as it got too dark in ~3.5hr, even behind the group in front of us taking their d**n time on the 18th fairway.

Overall the course is in pretty good winter condition. Greens had good coverage but were visibly thin and mostly firm (some inconsistencies), and were very quick in all directions. High shots held with some release, and there weren’t too many unfixed ballmarks. Fairways, as usual at AT, have good coverage but are low and tight, making good contact a must and making chipping/pitching around greens very challenging. In general fairways gave good runout, although the course needs to address the tee-shot landing areas on hole #12, where a solid drive on this long par-4 is required, and well-hit balls tend to die a quick death on landing. Otherwise no obvious problem areas from the recent rain. Rough almost everywhere is low and dry, and many times the putter is the best choice to recover from around the greens. Tees were well-groomed and mostly flat, although a few sloped to the back of a right-handed golfer. We played White (6.115/69.3/124), although several white markers were placed well forward of the White plates. Plenty of sand in the couple of bunkers I visited, although without rakes there were unraked footprints in many bunkers.

Easy check-in in the shop and single carts are available at no extra charge, if requested. Starter was on top of the first tee. No cups on the putting green, but green and range open. Entry/exit markers being used throughout the course to minimize fairway turf damage – I’m a fan! No cart girl today. On-course bathrooms open, but bring your own drinking water. Sand bottles on the carts and 1 bottled water in the cooler with ice.

Nick’s detail hit the points I wanted to make, echoing my review of last week. Shop said the final decision on closing has been pushed until after the first of the year. Minor other observations include: the course had a guy out hand grooming the bunker margins, in addition to the machine grooming from a couple days ago; and fairway lies on the back nine were especially poor, with holes 13, 14, 17, and 18 being especially thin/bare in large areas.
After the GK Enagic outing was postponed, looking to get in some swings and finding a good combo of price, quality, and time availability was limited. Booked Oak Quarry at 12:44 pm on Wednesday, 11/11/20, realizing I likely wouldn’t finish. There might have been a chance if the course hadn’t been as busy as I’ve ever seen it (holiday crowd?), they weren’t ½-hour behind when I checked in (funny, they didn’t mention that at the time), and there were no marshals on the course – maybe they were letting the holiday players have fun. I did note that every trash can I saw on the course was overflowing with beer cans and bottles. Starter moved me up to play with a pleasant Korean couple and we had a relaxed round. Pace was consistently slow and we observed many/most players hitting from the wrong tees for their skill (shock!). We struggled through 14 holes before it got too dark to continue.

Coming out of overseeding, the course is in very nice condition. Greens look and roll great with very few ballmarks. I was especially happy with the consistent quality of the green surrounds, as I didn’t hit many greens. These grasses were trimmed fairly low and were consistent to play from (and are NOT that darn kikuyu!!). Fairway lies were good, ranging from very nice to fairly tight. Bordering rough was a little longer (3-4Inches) but attractive and consistent. Some bunkers had weeds and grass growing in the bunkers along the margins, but mostly were adequate to play from, although they were ungroomed today.

The course has started using the old hole #17 as the first hole, and temporary markers are used to keep golfers on the correct sequence. The scorecard reflects the new routing (but the nice interactive GPS still shows the old hole numbers. GPS gives the pin position – nice. With the numerous blind shots here, it would be useful if the GPS also showed the locations of other carts, but it does not. Carts are newer and very powerful and comfortable. Single carts available. Divot mix bottles were on the carts but empty, and par-3 teeboxes didn’t have mix containers. I wanted to play the yardage plates on the par-3s (the course frequently moves the markers on par-3s up here, possibly to speed play), but I never saw a yardage plate on any tee on any hole, although I’ll swear in the past they were used on almost every tee.

With the new routing, the course is now a 35-37-72 with par-5s on #10 (the old #8) and #18 (the old #16). Another course, like Hidden Valley, where the #1 handicap hole is a par-3 (hole #7 [the old #5]). Missed out on playing "The Rock" now #16 - bummer.

Always recommended.
Escaped the election coverage to join my high school buddy at Players at 1:36pm on Wednesday, 11/4/20. Weather was sunny, warm and smoggy with a light breeze. Joined by two new golfers who sprayed the long ball, but they were pleasant to play with and we had a fun round. Heard that the course may (or may not) be closing December or January or not.

Course was in pretty good condition; design is flat and fairly wide open with scattered water hazards. Sand is used mainly for defining hitting lanes along the fairways, but is definitely in play in front of and beside many greens. Greens were firm and rolled well at medium+ speed, and watch the downhill rollouts toward the southwest! Many greens have deceptively steep slopes that can quickly take your putt well offline. Fairways had good coverage, although we saw many scattered thin/bare spots. Rough is fairly short and playable, but can be dry and ropy especially around greens, making pitches/chips uncertain. Sand was thin, damp, and firm. Tees were mostly flat but fluffy/clumpy.

Scattered mushy spots can be avoided but when carts run through the damage is pretty severe. Ranger out on the course. Started on time and finished 18 in the dark around 5:20. Good for a casual round – hope it doesn’t close.
Played Carlton Oaks GC at noon on Sunday, 10/25/20, joined by GK legend lotrgolfer48 using an UnderPar certificate. I had long heard that COGC was a great layout that had suffered recent neglect, and I wanted to get down to Santee and play it before something happened like the course closing, as in the current economic climate we’ve seen a lot of course closings. After a couple months of pretty good heat this year SoCal is transitioning into Fall, and we experienced much cooler temperatures and the first scattered rain showers of the season, along with blustery winds that came and went. Overall it was a pleasant day to play golf, joined by a big hitting but inconsistent local, and we had an enjoyable round in around 5 hours, going off on time but moving slowly behind a junior tournament from earlier in the day. The extensive waiting on each shot made it difficult to get into any kind of rhythm in your game.

I had looked at aerial photos of the course and read reviews on the GK site. This is a Dye design that has apparently been let go to seed over the years. The facility is advertised as a “resort”, and there are quite a few hotel rooms on property, but I have no idea what their utilization percentage is. The overall impression of the buildings is “tired”. The place has a pretty stealth entrance as the entry sign is small and partly hidden, and I drove right by it the first time. Everything immediately looks overgrown, aged, and neglected. There’s no bag drop, no grand resort entrance, no parking lot welcome. Walking in you get a panoramic view of many holes and the Dye touches are evident. You can see the large waste bunkers, mounding, elevated plateau greens, railroad ties and other features familiar to Dye courses. But the features are muted and hazy – you find out after getting out on the course itself that years of benign neglect have resulted in grass growing in the bunkers, bordering shrubbery growing unkempt and wildly, and everything looking pretty tired.

Conditions were OK but not good. Tees (we played the Green tees [6,320/71.1/131]) had not been cut in some time and could have used a wheat thresher. Tees were soft and had numerous divots and uneven ground associated with them. Fairways had overall pretty good coverage but the turf was thin at best, with some scattered bare areas. My ball seemed to always be sitting a little down on the fairways, which in the Dye mode were all rolling with various dips, swales, and mounds. Rough could be thin and dry, thin sandy waste, or 2-3 inch grasses. Bunkers were thin and resembled groomed cement slurry (sign in the cart – “Take a Drop”). Greens were the best part of the course, generally firm but showing a lot of recent and old ballmarks. They rolled well at medium+ speeds.

There aren’t any blind shots and the course is pretty much laid out in front of you, although in a few cases sneaky bunkers are not always completely evident. The front side is more open off the tee and around the greens, while holes on the back are mostly lined with mature trees. In all cases being in the correct position off the tee is key to approaching the greens. Many greens are elevated pedestal greens with steep falloffs on the sides. Greens are not that large, although the size varies and some greens are 40-50 yards deep. Almost all holes have penalty areas bordering them in some fashion, with creeks/drainages, ponds, the river, and other hazards scattered about. There’s no real elevation change on the course as it is routed across the floodplain adjacent to the San Diego River.

This course reminded me of rounds at Carmel Mountain Ranch GC in San Diego that closed a couple years ago – great bones and a good design that could be a sought-after venue but needing a big capital infusion to get the course back to solid conditions. Carmel Mountain never got that savior and closed, and anyone trying to get Carlton Oaks back into prime condition would need to bring a big cash truck and a boatload of dedication to be successful. Maybe we can get the new owner/savior of Enagic GC at Eastlake interested in a sister course! [Matt had a different, much more shocking and misogynistic take on what the course reminded him of, involving poor Goose Creek GC and unnatural relations with another unnamed venue!!]

Driving range was on rough, uneven mats. They’ve moved the “Pro Shop” to the cart barn, I guess while other facilities are being upgraded? We didn’t take advantage of the food services or outdoor patio. Basic carts with no GPS or yardage book. I liked the layout and the variety of holes at Carlton Oaks, and would welcome another opportunity to play it and improve my initial score. I’d be hoping for improved conditions if I did.
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.
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