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Back to Goose Creek to meet up with an old Vegas golf buddy who was passing through the area – he was staying in Moreno Valley and the Goose was about equidistant between us. Generally great weather at 1020 am on Monday, 2/6/23, with just a few holes of blustery north winds. Course conditions remain great, similar to my review from last week, and the greens have become a little more receptive. Also, the course has mowed the green surrounds and it’s much easier to putt or slap a 7-iron from off the green and run it to the pin. Parred the difficult 18th in what is likely my last round before knee surgery, so boom! Always recommended.
Got out to Goose Creek for my first regulation round since Goat Hill last year, with GKer lkmckin at 1pm on Wednesday, 2/1/23. I was expecting a cooler, breezy day and was overdressed for a sunny, pleasant day with a light breeze dropping away as we played the round – a perfect weather day for golf. Paired with 2 amiable local friends and we had a relaxed round in just over 4 hours as play moved steadily and we rarely waited for the group in front of us. Only saw a marshal once – in the past, Goose has frequently been pretty aggressive with the marshaling of slower (and sometimes other) groups, but not today.

The course is in wonderful condition. Even after all the rains we had recently there’s no signs of any runoff/drainage damage anywhere. Greens are fully covered with no bare spots – however, a large area in the center of green #11 looks like it has had a turf repair. Greens today were very firm and cut close, so they were very fast. Our entire group had difficulties with green speeds today, me especially. Recovery chips and pitches from close to the greens almost always hit firmly and ran out. Even full wedges from the fairways generally had substantial release. Several pins were in difficult positions and most greens had a lot of break just around the hole.

Fairway coverage was good and lies were usually fine. Rough was not too long and when dried out was easy to play from. Tees (we played III [White]) were level and pretty firm. Sand looked great in all the bunkers, was pretty well compacted, and was OK to hit from.
New-looking interactive GPS on the comfortable carts with Shark Experience available, which also have a ball washer/club cleaner – nice! The GPS does not show the location of other carts, but does have distance to that day’s pin. They’ve put water jugs back out around the course – also nice!

The course wasn’t that crowded on a Wednesday afternoon and we were offered to tee off 15 minutes early. Friendly staff and clean restrooms. Saw the cart girl 3 times on the front 9 until she packed it in at 3pm.

Hope greens get a little more receptive soon. Always recommended.
Got out to Oso Creek at 1240pm on Thursday, 1/19/23, for my first round since Goat Hill (12/4), so was expecting to be rusty, as well as dealing with my knee and back issues. Joined a high school buddy and his wife and her friend. After all the rain we’ve had, it was Cart Path Only everywhere, and I was leery of all the walking that entails. My buddy offered to walk out and toss my ball over near the cart path on the longer holes, and that worked out OK, so the walking was held to a minimum.

Course conditions continue to be very playable, with the greens having good coverage and were pretty soft with the rain, but not too many old ballmarks. Fairways were spotty with many thin/bare areas. Rough could be cut fairly low or be very wet and juicy – with all the rain the mowers had been inactive for several days, and there was a lot of maintenance activity going on as we played. Traps were fairly wet but had been groomed, if folks would just use the rakes! Tees were flat and in good shape. Holes 5 and 14 are similar par 3s that play up into the topmost areas of the course and are beasts with significant length and uphill tee shots to perched, sloping greens.

The course continues to make improvements in the time since the City has taken over ownership. A new event/dining pavilion overlooking the course is being built. An updated registration system makes it easy to make tee times. Shop is still small and in a pavilion but staff are friendly. They have built a new restroom on the back nine, and also extended the cart path to a new parking area near the 16th green, which had been a long walk away.

Now if they could just do something with the design of hole 9. Recommended.
I was excited to be able to join the GK crowd at Goat Hill Park celebrating GK’s 20th birthday. I haven’t been able to play much lately and have watched forlornly as GK Plays and Guru outings, and GM/GK Outings passed me by. It was great to see a lot of old faces again, and to meet some GKers I knew by post and review. And there’s always the need for a hug from Chris (Cpennbo), my literal lifesaver. With limited availability and both of us attending, kviser and I decided to have our GK Cup 19 final match during the outing.

This was my first time at the Goat, having only seen it from the freeway and read some of the reviews. Even after looking it over on Google Earth and seeing many of the comments, I was not prepared for the amount of slope within and between holes – the course is aptly named. Some holes have greens literally hanging on the side of a cliff – see hole 5, and hole 7, and to only a slightly lesser extent holes 6 and 13. The green on hole 17 is not on the edge of a cliff – it’s just a wave-as-you-pass-thru point between the high mound on the left and the cart path at the bottom of the swale.

One of the primary challenges at the Goat is accurately hitting your distances, so that you don’t come up short into one of the sloping swales that take your ball off to another zip code or into a penalty area or brush hazard. This course reminds me of some others in SoCal that are memorable in painful ways. As a mobility-challenged person, courses that have many steep slopes to be negotiated, just to reach some greens, fairways, and tees, are exhausting and treacherous, what I characterize as ‘extreme’ for my game and condition. I harken back to rounds at Champions Club at the Retreat and Hidden Valley GC. Wedged into inhospitable terrain, these courses beat you up while often presenting little or no place to safely play your ball. At some point, quirky becomes just stupid. At the Goat, I got to stupid around hole 6 or 7. Goat Hill Park is the reason I no longer play Hidden Valley.

It’s tough to rate conditions during the winter season, and take into account the ongoing drought in SoCal. Tees were generally fine – level and with adequate cover, except the tee on hole 2 had a lot of past/sanded damage (we played White). I was only in one trap, up against the revetted face on hole 1 greenside, escaping on the third try after try #2 bounced off the face back into the middle of the trap. Other bunkers looked like they had good quantities of sand, and some of the larger/deeper bunkers looked pretty scary. Fairway and rough turf were very spotty and could often be dirt or sand. Some lies in the mown rough between holes were better than that available in the adjacent fairway. Greens were the most consistent aspect of the course and were well-grassed, pretty firm, and mildly receptive. Many greens have significant slope and you need to know how to approach some pin positions. Downhill putts and chips down the slope across the green are treacherous.

Practice facilities at the Goat are fairly extensive, and we saw a lot of people using the practice areas that didn’t appear to have subsequent tee times. The range, while on mats, has spectator seating and some bays are equipped with Trackman-type electronics to view ball trajectories or play golf games. There are 3 putting greens – two are fairly small and flat, but the green on the east end of the practice area is very large and features a good deal of slope, and is much more representative of what you’ll find on the course. The shop is small and focused mainly on Linksoul apparel. An outdoor eating area and firepit seating area promote a relaxed atmosphere before and after the round.

The Goat is not a course that I will hurry back to, especially in current conditions. And it’s not a course I would look forward to playing in a stroke completion, where you MUST go find your ball and play it out. A casual round (or match play) is more amenable to a reload or forget it approach, so company and the course can be better enjoyed.

Recommended as an interesting play, subject to your patience quotient.
Hit Oso Creek to work on my iron play in advance of the GK event at Goat Hill Park this coming Sunday, teeing off about 15 minutes late after scheduling at 1pm on Thursday, 12/1/22. Overcast, cool day with little wind; joined an older couple and a young college student – we fell behind quickly but there was no one behind us for 10 holes.

I was riding but my knee was acting up and I had to drop out after 12 holes. The course continues to be in acceptable winter condition, with scattered bare areas in fairways, very little rough, good sand in bunkers, and spotty conditions on tees. Greens showed visual evidence of recent aeration, which had pretty much healed up. Greens are VERY firm, rolling at a medium+ speed and only showing a shallow depression on full wedge shots, so approaches release substantially.

Recommended for relaxed ambiance and decent winter conditions. Hopefully the greens will settle in and be more receptive.
Got a good prepaid rate of $24 on the SCGC website for 1:47pm on Monday, 11/28/22, on a cool, partly sunny day with not too much wind. They grouped me with a family: mother, 21-year old son (his birthday), and sister. Son had a decent game, sis almost none. Their first swings of the day were either whiffs or tops, so on the first green I excused myself and bolted to the second tee, but wasn’t able to make much headway against the two slow foursomes ahead of me.

Conditions were typical for San Clemente – good lies in the fairways, minimal rough with some bare or scruffy area, good sand in bunkers. Many of the tees are sloping – I played White. Greens were pretty firm, cut tight, and very fast. There’s not that much grass there over the green base – ballmarks were large but the ball released after impact. And, man, these greens have a lot of break toward the sea. My mouth was literally agape on several occasions as putts or chips made big turns or took very long runouts compared to what I expected.

Able to finish 14 holes in a little over 3 hours before realizing the foursomes ahead of me would likely have to set up camp to finish #15, so bailed out back to the house and missed the tough closing stretch. Looking at the scorecard, SCGC is one of the most egregious around in assigning handicap strokes based primarily on hole length – the par-5s, only one of which is >500 yards, are handicap holes 1 thru 4, while the par-3s are 15 thru 18. In reality, three of the par 3s (9, 13, and 15) are beasts that require excellent play to get a good score. Those par-3s should be at least middle-pack in terms of handicap, while the 5s are likely lower third on the list.

Recommended for good conditions and ambiance.
Got out to RSJ on Thursday afternoon, 11/17/22, for my first round in a month on a mostly sunny, pleasant day without too much wind on the front, and dropping away as we played the back nine and darkness approached. Grouped with three very nice visitors from the St. George, UT area – I’m pretty sure they were disappointed in the course conditions and ambiance compared to their home area.

Hadn’t played here in many years, seeing ongoing reports of poor conditions, and that’s what I found – fairways with vast areas of thin turf or bare dirt, inconsistent rough, and many areas closed to carts without any good reason. Tees were level (we played Blue [6,155/69.7/124]); bunkers had adequate sand (though often crusty and unraked); and greens were the best part of the course, with good coverage, rolling smoothly and surprising all of us with runouts beyond the hole, leaving a lot of 4/5/6-footers coming back.

One thing I will say about these greens is that they seem to have a lot of break – more than it looks like initially. Some of this is slope – putts from the side of the green pin-high can finish 5-6 feet below the hole. Putts from above the green can amble well past the pin and skew offline quickly. But overall the greens just break more than it looks. I must admit that I never seem to putt well on Billy Bell greens – I just never have deciphered the lines and speeds required.

There’s a lot of construction going on around the clubhouse and poor signage on the approaches led to a long hump with the bag, and they don’t allow carts in the parking lot so then it was a long hump back out. No advance notice in the clubhouse about carts having to be in by 5pm, just the popup notice on the useful GPS screen, but it was dark by 520 anyway.

Suitable for starting to get back into the swing of things, but not a course I would recommend for the serious golfer.
Played 10/16/22 at 2:15 pm in a GK Cup 19 match. The course had had rain over the previous 2 days, but overall conditions were decent with good coverage on the greens, although the longer rough was wet and juicy. Fairway lies were spotty with many scattered shredded/bare-ish areas. Traps looked like they had adequate sand after a bunker rehab earlier this year. Tees OK. Course crowded, pace poor - we finished 12 holes in just under 4 hours and completed #16 in the dark.

Still a good bargain and acceptable conditions in central OC.
Out to Talega with a high school friend for my first full round in 3 months. We were going to ease in at Oso Creek but I waited too long to book, and the only times available were like 3:30pm. Got a twilight 2:40 time on GolfNow at Talega on 10/13/22– the same time slot listed on the TGC website was $25 more! We joined a couple of easy-going younger guys in the 2:30 slot and the two groups in front of us played blast golf and we didn’t see them after #4, so we set our own pace and finished #17 just after 6pm, when I had to leave.

I’ve always liked the layout at Talega but conditions have generally continued to deteriorate over the past few years. The infrastructure is showing signs of obvious neglect and deferral, like collapsed rotted fencing, broken and overgrown sprinkler control boxes, alternating lushly overgrown and clearcut vegetation surrounds, etc. The bag drop is no longer manned so it’s a hump in and back out; the shop is pretty bare except for taking your money, and amenities like ball washers, hole signage, and cart features are lacking.

Overall the course was very soft, which can’t be attributed to the rain showers over the past couple days but to what looks like directed watering. Many fairway areas show signs of scattered fertilizer/mulch application and were pretty wet. Greens were very soft and held shots while rolling at only medium speed. Fairways were a collage of green/gray/brown lush or dormant all mixed together – lies were generally fairly tight. The course uses the entry/exit gate system but it looks like the ingress/egress points have not changed in several days and those areas are pretty beat up (and wet!). Rough was as variable as the fairways. Tees were mostly pretty bushy and needed to be cut; some tees were pushed well forward of card distances (we played White). A longtime bugaboo here, the sand traps, have become a feature as all that I saw (and my buddy played from) had ample groomed sand.

Fun layout, sad conditions. Still hoping for a turnaround.
Finally back out for some golf after a 2+-month layoff due to wife’s medical condition. She’s improving and we did a 9-hole test run today at Oso Creek to see how she would handle the situation. Will try to get in 18 holes next week – fingers crossed. Joined a group of young guys, all pretty good players, who were playing a putting card game and having a lot of relaxed fun. Great group to play with, and I was moved up a tee and just tried to stay out of the way.

The course is in pretty good shape after the very hot summer, in conditions similar to my reports earlier this year. Greens had good coverage and rolled well at medium speed – should speed up in the afternoon as they dry out. Our group left a lot of putts short, misjudging the rollout. Greens were pretty soft and held shots. Fairway lies were mostly OK but spotty; same for the rough. Rough around the greens could be clumpy or deep and lies were a crapshoot. Nobody was in the sand on the front nine, but traps looked like they had adequate material. Tees are generally mildly bumpy and scattered torn up.

An enjoyable relaxed play.
Met up with GK marathon traveler Nickesquire to play a GK Cup 19 match at Sierra Lakes GC on a warm, sunny afternoon, 7/20/22. Nick had played another match that morning and was ready ahead of our scheduled 145 pm time, so the shop sent us out an hour early, and surprisingly we had the course almost to ourselves. Never saw the singles ahead of us after #1, and only had the trailers behind us on the last few holes. Course conditions are very good – see earlier reviews by Nick and GKer FirstFlightFX-101. Greens, fairways, rough and tees in very good condition. The bunkers I was in had fluffy sand but down in the bottom were thin and packed with only a thin layer. No on-course services today.

I’ve always had good luck at Sierra Lakes with weather and conditions. Highly recommended.
Back to Mile Square for a GK Cup 19 match with FirstFlightFX-101 on a perfect day for golf. Conditions at Mile Square continue to be very good. Greens are consistent, roll medium-fast, and have good coverage. They are pretty firm and even wedge approaches were taking big bounces. Ballmarks as a result are pretty small indentations and sometimes can’t even be found. Fairway lies are good and rollout is good as turf is getting drier. Rough in many places has dried out with the summer and is thinned, but around greens you can still find lush areas. Traps have plenty of fine-grained heavy sand. Tees are level and mostly OK – a couple of the par-3s were more torn up/bare. Course was crowded after a morning group outing and pace was steady but deliberate at just under 5 hours. Still recommended.
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