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Played in the first Mens club event of the year at Bellevue yesterday, and found the course in pretty good shape, especially considering the amount of snow we had last weekend. Greens were a bit bumpy, but rolling at a decent enough pace, and were consistent throughout the course. Fairways and rough could be a bit mushy in the low spots, but reasonable for the most part. Tee boxes not so great, but the one greenside bunker I found was very nice. We teed off right on time at 8:24am, and finished in about 4 hours, with our 3 some occasionally waiting on the 4 in front of us. For February in the northwest, the experience was pretty good.
Walked the Home Course this morning and had a very good time, paired with a pleasant father and son pair. We teed off about an hour late from our 8:30 tee time due to a frost delay, and got around in 4:10 for a decent pace. Had to start on #15 as it is close to the clubhouse and their back 9 thaws a bit faster than the front. The foursome in carts in front of us were a bit slow (cart path only wasn't helping them at all) and they let us through on #1. The pace was excellent after that.

Conditions were a bit mixed, greens were incredibly bumpy and slow. There were plenty of unrepaired pitch marks, but the bumps really weren't due to that. Overall, they really were a bit disappointing. There are times here where they look really bad and roll ok, but today they rolled just like they looked. Tee to green, however, these were the best conditions I've experienced since early fall. Even after getting 2 inches of rain yesterday, balls got plenty of roll in the fairway, never plugging, not picking up too much mud, and giving a pretty good lie to hit from. The rough was just a little bit longer, and not very penalizing. I found a few greenside bunkers, and the sand was incredibly compact and not very good to play out of. I can't really hold that against them as it has rained a lot lately. Tee boxes had a few divots, but they're all very level and good to hit from.

Starting on 15 didn't bother me much, but finishing on 14 is very weird. Its a par 3 over water (not a full on island like the River Ridge's Vineyard) and is really not a great place to finish. In times past they've handled frost delays with a shotgun start, with groups on 15, 16, 17, 18 and 1. Due to Washington's Covid restrictions they're not allowed shotguns so everyone's time was pushed back an hour. I received an email from the shop in the morning as I was just about to start the drive down warning me about the frost, which I really appreciated, as it is a long drive for me and it was good to know that I could take my time a bit. I was also lucky that today's a vacation day for me and starting late didn't wreck any non golf related plans.
Walked Eagle's Talon with a couple of good friends this morning and enjoyed it very much. For late fall/early winter golf in the northwest the conditions were very reasonable. Greens have been punched recently, and they look terrible but roll shockingly well, at a medium pace and holding any shot. As we were putting out on number 2, we could see the crew off to our right with the roller on number 8, I love how much they roll the greens here. For some reason today it seemed that they weren't breaking as much as you'd expect, but after adjusting to that a few putts started to fall for us.

Fairways are very wet, some a little worse than others, but again this is the northwest. With ball in hand you can always get a decent lie, you just have to learn to live with no roll. The rough is very lush and healthy, not at a length where you'll lose a ball, but you'll still be a bit better off in the short grass. I found 1 bunker, and it had lots of nice soft sand. Over the past year the bunkers here have improved immensely, its just a shame they can't put out rakes. Tee boxes seemed decent today although they still remain one of the courses weak spots, numbers 7 and 16 in particular aren't in great shape. I can see why, as those 2 in particular don't see lots of sun because of the trees, but I still wish they were better.

I think we were the 3rd or 4th group out and we waited a tiny bit during the first 3 or 4 holes, after that the pace picked up nicely and we finished in just a tick under 4 hours for a great pace. I have their winter card, so I ended up paying something around $35 or $40 to walk 18 with a medium bucket to warm up with. The range has decent mats, and there's also a good chipping green that I really like using before a round here. The putting green is pretty good too, very large and the pace it has usually matches what you find out on the course. Customer service is always great as well. Definitely an awesome way to spend the morning.
Played this morning in a Men's club event a Bellevue, and had a pretty good time. Conditions are pretty good for this place right now, the greens have recovered from the punch pretty well. They were a little bit slow, and while not completely smooth they did roll ok. They're always pretty soft here, so shots hold well. Fairways were ok, a few of my lies were a little thin but most were good. Rough isn't too long, and not very penalizing. I didn't find any bunkers, but normally they are very good here. Tee boxes can get very sketchy, lots of them are surrounded by trees so they just don't get enough light. Many are quite chewed up, and many aren't very flat. Pace of play was very good, our 4 walked in a tad under four hours as the second group out. The group behind us never caught up, and the two in front of us disappeared rather quickly. I've had my issues with this place in the past, but being in their club this year has been quite nice. The place is super close to home, and always packed so being in the club gets me out here about once a month, and that feels just about right.
Took a day off work and played Eagle's Talon at Willows Run with some friends and had a very fun time. Greens overall are very good here, and have been all season. Number 9 is a bit bumpy, but for the most part they all rolled very well, at a medium to quick pace. They also hold shots very well. The fairways and rough are all very nice, always offering a good lie to hit from, as well as decent roll out. There are a few brown spots here and there, but it has been extremely dry in the northwest for the last month or so. Bunkers have been upgraded, and although I didn't find any today they are all very nice now with super soft sand. Tee boxes remain the one weak spot, all of the par 3's are very beat up. Decent range, nice chipping and putting greens to warm up on, and good customer service in the shop and at the turn. A great way to spend the day.
The final round of my Florida trip happened New Year's Eve, the West Course at Jacaranda. Like my other rounds on this trip, I had played here once before and had some very fond memories. This round didn't quite live up to them, unfortunately. The conditions were very good, with the exception of some of the fairways. It had rained quite a bit, and they were very wet and giving no roll whatsoever. They were good to hit from, but 6 of the wholes were marked cart path only, which is incredibly annoying on a course you're not allowed to walk. Greens were very good however, medium fast like other courses in the area, and rolling pretty well. Bunkers were a little bit thin, but very consistent. The rough was consistent, when the call sat down you had to work real hard to hit a good shot. Tee boxes were solid as well. Overall, the place is very nice, but I don't think I'd return as the drainage doesn't seem quite as good as other courses, but even more I feel like the layout just doesn't fit me. I played poorly, which of course has a big effect on my enjoyment of a round, but I still think Jacaranda is a solid value and I would recommend trying it when in the area.
The second round of this trip to Florida brought me to Winston Trails on Sunday, 12/29/2019, another course that I had played once many years ago. I’m happy to have found that nothing has changed about the place, it’s still a very solid, no frills golf experience. Conditions were very good all the way around, the greens rolled nicely at a medium fast pace. Downhill putts could get away from you, and you needed to be assertive if you were going uphill. Fairways were a bit soft, not offering a ton of roll but still nice to hit from. The bunkers I found were very nice as well. Tee boxes were level, but a little bit shaggy. The group I was in wanted to play the blues, which are 7000 yards according to the card, but really felt a lot closer to 6600. Still, it was too much for them which made us one of the slower groups out there. Fortunately the group behind us didn’t push us at all, and the 4:30 we took for the round was fine. Overall a very nice place, and a very good value.
I’m in Miami with family for the holidays, so I’m enjoying getting away from the cold rain of the Pacific Northwest and playing some south Florida golf. My first round of the trip was on the day after Christmas at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, a place I had played about 10 years ago, and was dying to try again to see if it would live up to my fond memories. While it wasn’t perfect, it did.

I’ll start with the one disappointment, which was the greens. They had been verticut recently, and were being sanded that very morning right in front of us as we played (I was in the 4th group out). I don’t mind that this was being done, I appreciate them taking good care of the course, but no mention was made when I had called a few days before to book the tee time, and confirm that I’d be allowed to walk. The greens still rolled pretty well, but their speed was quite inconsistent. There were showers off and on, so on some greens the sand wasn't as present as others, so it often felt like a total guess at what was going to happen with a putt.

The rest of the course was really quite nice. There were some bare spots in the fairways, but they were always in spots that you shouldn’t be in. If you hit a solid shot off the tee, you got a nice lie in short grass that was very pleasant to hit from. The rough was consistent, and the ball could really sit down and be tough to play from. Tee boxes were level for the most part, with the par 3s being a little bit beat up. I found one green side and one fairway bunker, and both had the right amount of nice, soft sand.

The layout here is what really shines. Unlike a lot of Florida courses, walking is allowed (there are some restrictions on weekends) and I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of this, as it is a great layout to walk. I played the blue tees (6448 yds, 71.2, 126) and found it to be just the right length and challenge. The front 9 has a couple of short 4s that aren’t exactly thrilling, but other than that all of the holes are really fun, nice to look at, and very fair. All of the greens have some obvious and subtle breaks, so 2 putts can be very difficult. The complexes are also a bit raised, so most up and downs aren’t simple either. I paid the rack out of town rate, somewhere around $180, and even with the sanded greens I’m glad I played it. I bet on any other day, when the greens are in their normal condition, the place is awesome. For me, it’s definitely a must play when in Miami.
Played Coyote yesterday (Saturday, 9/21/19) and had a decent time, although I must say I'm a little bit disappointed in the conditions. I've played their other course a lot this year, and have found it to be in great shape so I was surprised to see this course already starting to feel like winter golf. Greens were a little bit bumpy, but not too bad. They were super soft, a good iron shot would leave quite the crater and any shot would hold. Fairways and tee boxes were definitely a bit scruffier than I would have liked to see, and the 1 bunker I found was awful. Rough is long and lush, if you got lucky and the ball sat up it was easy to play from, but if it sat down you would have your work cut out for you. I'm happy I played it, but I'll probably choose their other course until spring comes around.
The final round of the Indian Wells trip happened on Monday, 3/11/19 at The Westin Mission Hills Gary Player course. I had a good time here as well, finding pretty solid conditions all the way around. The day was a bit gray and cool, but the course is very nice. I found the layout to probably be the friendliest of all of my rounds on this trip, as most fairways slope down to the center, so that if you're not that straight off the tee, the course tries to help keep you in line. I walked on as a single and joined a group right away, so for the first time in a long time I found myself taking advantage of the facility's practice area after the round instead of before. There's a very nice grass driving range, plus a good little chipping green that I enjoyed using to get a little work in on the short game. The price did feel a little steep compared to my other rounds on this trip, as it was a bit more than Terra Lago or Escena, and I found the experience to not be all that much different. Just the same, I have no regrets about playing here, and most likely would do it again.
The third round of the Indian Wells trip was at Escena on Saturday morning (3/9/19). Its been awhile since I played this round, so my memory is a little bit vague. The one thing I do remember is that I had a very good time. Conditions were solid all the way around, good firm greens that rolled nicely and really only held well struck shots. Fairway, rough, and tees all good as well. I recall finding a couple of bunkers, and finding them to be in decent shape too. Pace had some periods where it felt a little bit slow, but overall I don't think I waited too much. The round was very fun, I liked the layout and would definitely play here again.
Round two of the Indian Wells trip was the second 18 of the day at Terra Lago, this time on the South Course. After finishing on the North, I had a really good sandwich for lunch in the clubhouse, then went out to the starter and got paired up with a threesome within about 10 or 15 minutes. Conditions were very much the same to me on the South as the North, very good greens, fairways, and tees, with decent rough as well. I don't think I found any bunkers on the North in the morning, but I do remember finding a fairway bunker (I believe it was the 16th hole) on the South that was in very good shape, not thin and not heavy and very pleasant to play out of. I enjoyed my round on the South, but I think I like the North little bit better. I know this is predominately due to pace, which is always going to be slower in the afternoon. It took around 4:40 to play 18, with a fair bit of waiting on many holes. I'll chalk some of that up to the wind as well, which had picked up a bit in the afternoon. Still a very pleasant round, and I bet if I had played this one in the morning, I might feel a bit differently.
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