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Played Harding on March 9. First official tee time out at 5:50, played as a single with a couple other singles who were really nice people. Conditions-wise, I've had some really bad experiences on courses in LA recently due to all the damage and sogginess that the massive rains have caused. Today the conditions were really, really good after a few days of dry weather (finally!). The fairways were in good condition and were finally give some normal rollout and distance. The greens at Harding were near immaculate -- maybe the best I've ever seen and I've played the course a lot over the years. They are running really fast, pretty hard although mostly receptive to approach shots, and on some greens it was hard to even find any ball marks on the greens, so people must be doing a really good job of fixing them or a really bad job of hitting them! Anyhow, who knows how the conditions will be with more rain coming in, but I felt very fortunate to have played in the small window before the next rains arrive.
Played on Sunday March 5. My advice is to stay away if you care about trying to play a regulation 18 hole golf course. Without any prior warning at time of booking, I arrived to find that they are doing major construction on the fairway of the first hole. The mysterious sign posted at check-in was "Holes #1 and #7 teebox is on #7 fairway". Hard to even understand what that means (especially at 5:50 am in the dark), but basically they have ruined the experience on both holes #1 AND #7 by putting a makeshift tee area on the fairway on #7. So the first hole becomes a weird 80-yard par-3 (who knows?) with a large tree directly in the line towards the green, and #7 also becomes shortened to a 160-yard whatever hole. They just don't seem to care about the golf experience for those who want to play course #2 right now. Oh well. The rest of the holes seemed ok. Some greens were oddly unfair with putts that would literally go in full reverse after being putted up the slope and back down to your feet. I wasted a couple hours this morning before I just walked off and decided that it wasn't worth the time, so hope this helps anyone out there. Call the pro shop and find out what the situation is before you play if you must.
Played the North course on Wed 12/28 for the first time ever. I had played South about 12 years ago. Was nervous about the weather until a couple days beforehand things started to turn in our favor. Our tee time was 10:36, and we had overcast conditions prior to the round and for the first few holes (no fog thankfully!), and then after that, it was the must amazing sunshine and blue skies for the rest of the round. The North course is just stunning in terms of ocean views on pretty much every hole, and the back nine really shows off the geography and layout. The course conditions were pretty incredible, as they are preparing for the Farmers tournament in a few weeks. I never knew what PGA Tour rough was like until this day, and now I understand how amazing it is for the pros to be hitting long irons out of rough and into the greens only feet away from the cup. As an amateur playing this course, it's such an advantage to hit the fairways, so that's my advice to anyone who is playing in these conditions. Greens were pretty much perfect and mostly fair. I spent the first few holes putting very timidly and that was a mistake. The green speeds were medium fast, and you need to pay attention to the grain, but if you have a decent look, don't be afraid to just go for it. I avoided all the bunkers surprisingly, so can't comment on the conditions although some of my partners complained that they weren't at even resort-course level. Oh, and because of the course setup with the rough right now, they are playing a local rule where if you hit a ball into the rough and cannot find it within 1 minute of searching, you can have a free drop at the place where you believe the ball to be. That's how long the rough is I guess. I only had to drop once for this reason, and I'm pretty certain that another group that thought they hit into the same area played my ball anyway. But it's nice to feel like you can just drop without penalty and keep the pace moving along. Not sure if that's a year round thing or just when the Tour is coming into town.
Played #2 this morning (12/1), and have to say that the course conditions are pretty decent right now. I was first out at 6:20, and no one else showed up, so I played as a single the whole round. Course was pretty empty as I think people thought it was going to rain. The first hole still has that silly flat sandy waste area from about 220-260 yards out from the blue tee. Basically any drive that lands or rolls in that area is going to keep rolling through to the other side, which leaves a short wedge into the green. I wonder when they are going to put some grass back in there. Fortunately the green on the par-3 12th is back in play and looking pretty good. It's slightly slower and a little shaggy compared to the other greens. A word about the greens in general today -- super duper hard and fast, so be advised on approach shots. I didn't have any approach shots that were actually repelled off the green, but there's definitely a need to play for a bit more of a first bounce and some roll even on short irons. I really like fast greens, so it will be interesting to see how long it stays this way. Overall I'd recommend it right now.
Got out to Olivas yesterday (11/22) for the first time in several months. It was a beautiful November morning with not really any wind to affect things. A buddy and I got paired with another two-some (a couple of really nice guys and good golfers) and teed off at 6:40am. We finished the 18th at 10:35am, so just under 4 hour pace (and my buddy plays SLOW). Anyhow, the conditions are really good right now for late November. The greens were smooth and pretty fast, showing no signs of punching that earlier reviews had mentioned, so all good there. What I love about Olivas aside from the beautiful layout is that the fairways are just the most inviting type of turf that you'll find in Southern California. Sure, there are bare spots here and there, but for the most part the fairway grass is a beautiful layer of cushioned turf that makes the ball sit up like on a mat. It's my favorite course to hit irons and wedges into greens. Definitely recommend playing Olivas right now -- just check the wind reports before you do, because the course is a different animal when the wind is up.
Played Rancho for the first time in about 9 months on Saturday 11/12. We were the 3rd group out on the course and the pace was really nice. Overall the course is in decent shape for late fall, but the big issue is that they are doing a lot of maintenance on the tee boxes. Many of the tees on the front side were pushed up to the white tees and even some were set up at the gold tees (black, blue, white, gold were all in a bunch together at the same yardage). So it shortened the course up quite a bit. Frankly it made the course more enjoyable in some ways, but I couldn't help but feel like I was cheating. On the back nine, most of the tees were set up in their normal position, which made it even more confusing as I was going through the round trying to figure out how I should post my score. One of the guys in the group (someone who we got paired with) decided he had had enough and was just teeing up where the black markers normally would be, but clearly they are trying to do some maintenance (punching, etc.) so me and my buddy just played wherever the tees were set up. Anyhow I've spent a whole paragraph talking about the tee boxes. The rest of the course was in decent shape, and I forgot how fun and frustrating the course can be. Great layout which never lets you feel really comfortable coming into greens. Finishing with 2 par-fives that are birdie holes also leaves you feeling pretty good no matter what happens during the middle of the round. If you're a stickler for playing the back tees, you might want to call ahead and see what the situation is. Otherwise, I'd recommend Rancho with the usual caveats.
Played Encino on Sat Aug 26. Teed off just as the sun was giving some decent light to the course at 6:05 am. For how hot it's been, I found the course to be in pretty good shape. It happened to be quite wet throughout the round so they must be watering it quite a bit. The fairways were mostly green and even the brown spots were totally fine to hit off. The greens were slightly shaggy and slow due to the moisture, but were very consistent and in a good shape overall. I didn't find too many bunkers but they seemed fine too. Overall we had a good round and I'd definitely recommend it.
Played Tustin Ranch for the first time on Wed 8/25, and honestly was very disappointed with a couple aspects. Issue #1: for $100+ round I am expecting the greens to be in much better shape than what we experienced. Ball marks were everywhere, the green speeds were incredibly slow, and there was a layer of sand covering all of the collars of the greens which meant lots of actual sand was getting tracked onto the putting surface itself. It just had a very messy look to things and the old, browned out ball marks were definitely affecting line. I guess I can chalk this up to a seasonal situation and perhaps it will get better, but not a great first impression nor value for money. Issue #2: I thought the layout was fine, and it was interesting to have to deal with water on many holes which is a bit unique in So Cal, but I found the many greens with different levels and tiers to be really annoying. Pretty much every green had some type of set of tiers, and it just seemed like a silly gimmick after a while. Not my favorite way to add challenge to a golf course. It's a long drive for me, so probably won't be coming back too often. FWIW, I went through the rating survey and somehow it came up as 6.4, probably because I rated the fairways and customer service as top which they were. My personal rating of the course is closer to 4.5 or 5.
First time playing Sierra Lakes on Sat Aug 13. Had the 7:08 tee time as a single and joined two other singles who were a pleasure to spend the time with. At the first tee, there is a starter getting everyone lined up in the proper order which is great. We were stuck behind a very slow 4-some all day long, but in their defense the group ahead was also very slow. Just a little painful to watch the group ahead tee off on 16 of 18 holes, especially when one of the players was really struggling to get off the tee. Anyhow, on to the course conditions. I was super impressed with the conditions at Sierra Lakes. Very level tee boxes, fairways were mostly green and nearly immaculate especially for summer conditions in 100-degree weather. The greens were really amazing and rolled very true. I didn't hit into any bunkers but they seemed like they were fine. The only downside was the pace of 5 hours -- we walked off the course at 12:15 pm. But all in all, it was a very good experience, and I definitely want to play again because the conditions are great. It's a pretty fair course with a good mix of holes. It helps to have a local with you because there are some hidden trouble spots to stay away from too.
Played #2 this morning. The course is a mess right now, and I'd recommend staying away. Having played a few weeks ago, I was expecting average conditions, but now things are even worse. They were punching the fairways on several holes as we were playing (unfortunately about a hole in front of us for a stretch) which made play really muddy and impossible to find a halfway decent lie even playing lift-clean-cheat in the fairway. #12 is still temporary green. The other greens were decent but lots of ball marks. Even prior hole locations had been repaired very sloppily on some holes, creating unnecessary challenges on the greens. Sounds like there is another festival coming through the Rose Bowl grounds in a few weeks, so lots of course closures scheduled per an email they sent out yesterday. Anyhow, find somewhere else to play for a while. It's a shame because both courses were in phenomenal shape just a couple months ago.
Played on 7/5, day after the fireworks at the rose bowl and the course was kinda messy. It was largely playable in the fairways and the greens were great. The par-3 12th hole was a temporary green again. Not sure why since it was open for at least a few weeks but it looked like it was sanded quite heavily. Mostly wanted to post this review to let people know about #12 if that matters to you. Might want to call ahead and see what the story is.
Just wanting to provide a quick update since no one has submitted a review since my last one. I just played this morning on Sat June 25. The course is back in great shape now (for an LA City course). Fairways are giving very good lies to hit from, and the greens are back fully healed and rolling great. Tee boxes are a little chewed up where they placed them today, but really not much of a problem finding a good spot to hit from. The rough is inconsistent which is fine to me. I stayed out of all bunkers so can't comment on them. We were out at 6:00 am, so the pace was very good in just under 4 hours. The gentleman at the pro shop was great as always, and he was on top of calling out groups to the tee which I always appreciate to keep things moving along.
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