Golf Course Reviews
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The final round on my whirlwind California trip was at San Juan Oaks. I booked my round here about 9 hours before my tee time hoping for a bit of nostalgia. And, that is what I got! I lived in the Bay Area for years and played SJO numerous times. I wasn't disappointed this time either and it was nice to return.

The front nine is solid, with mostly parallel holes that play in a small canyon. It is a chance to make some pars/birdies and get off to a good start. The back nine is much more dramatic/demanding and works its way into the hills starting on the 11th hole. There is a double dogleg par-4, a par-4 with a split fairway and two long closing par-4's that play downhill. So, the par-4's on the back nine are probably the highlight's of the course.

San Juan Oaks is a Fred Couples design and while a fade is the preferred shot shape here you can play whatever you like. The fog didn't burn off until about 5 holes into my round so the proshop was great and let me go back out to those 5 holes to get some pics in the sunlight after I finished my round.

For $46 the course was in solid shape. The fairways and tees were lush and the greens were quality surfaces. The fairway bunkers have been neglected (think hardpan and weeds) but the greenside bunkers were playable. I'd recommend SJO for those in the South Bay as it isn't a terrible drive.
I got in on the NCGA special of $450 with a $75 gift card to play Pebble Beach recently. It worked out perfectly and the weather couldn't have been better!

Conditions were great as you'd expect with the AT&T coming up. I guess CA has received plenty of rain as things were a bit soft.

It is cart path only or you can walk. I carried my bag (no pull carts allowed and I opted for no caddie) and it was the best golf course walk I've ever taken! I am a sucker for courses with scenery and it doesn't get better than Pebble in that regards. Always fun to play a tour course, be around so much history and walk where the greats of the game walked.

The course was surprisingly more difficult than I imagined thanks to the tiny greens and tons of slope on the ocean holes. Make sure you don't miss on the low side! It was a 137 slope from 6400(ish) yards.

I guess the question most want answered would be "Is Pebble worth the green fee?" To me, no golf course is worth $500 to play however you are basically purchasing a memory. And, I'm okay with the once-in-a-lifetime green fee for the memory of all those views plus the 7th hole, 8th approach and 18th tee shot.
I played here last week with a friend and this was our first experience playing Sandpiper. We both enjoyed it! I lived in Northern California for years and always wanted to play here, however it was a bit south from where I lived.

We caught Sandpiper on a perfect weather day with the fog burning off before our round. And, a blue sky will sure add to the experience here with all the ocean views.

The first four holes are inland without any water views then, then you get a mix of holes along the ocean and others with ocean views. The 6th, 10th, and 11th were my favorites, as I'm sure is the case for most people! The 10th is cool short par-4 with some options as you play towards the ocean. The 11th is a mid-length par-3 that drops at least a club to a green that sits on the beach.

I won't say that Sandpiper is an architectural masterpiece, because it isn't but the setting cannot be beat. The good part is it isn't super tough to play so it lets you enjoy the setting.

Conditions were great for January. Things were a bit soft, but other than no complaints. I don't think Sandpiper is worth the $185 green fee (no GPS and no range balls for example) but for the $125 twilight we paid I think it is worth that. Sandpiper turned out to be one of my California favorites.
I was in California recently visiting family and had time for nine holes. I stopped by Sinaloa and was impressed. Cool par-3 course in some flat land with some canyon views.

The most interesting thing about the course to me is that Dan Proctor and Dave Axland did some work on it - think Delaware Springs in Texas and Wild Horse in Nebraska. Both really good courses!

The greens are small and the course has some elaborate bunkering for a par-3 course, so it presents well visually. The 6th is the most interesting hole here as it is under 100 yards and plays quite a bit downhill.

Sinaloa was in great shape with the greens being the highlight of the maintenance - quick and smooth. If you are in the area with the clubs and a bit of free time Sinaloa is worth a look.
I recently played my third round at Pecan Hollow since moving to Texas last year. Even with the dormant bermuda this place has to be one of the best public courses in the North Dallas area! It seems to be a sleeper in the DFW area for some reason.

The layout is like most North Texas courses, with some trees and a creek cutting through it. Suburbs are close, but you won't be in someone's backyard. The yardages are mixed and the course is always in great shape. Some of the best greens around. Plus, it is cheap (think under $40).

Only drawback is the word is out so the pace can suffer some. It won't be a place to fly around. The 18th is the only "goofy" hole as it is a long par-4 that doglegs hard right around a creek. I think it would have been a better short par-4 given the land it is on.

Bottom line - Pecan Hollow is as good a value as you'll ever find and I look forward to my next round here.
Tanglewood (about an hour north of Dallas) caught my eye because the design has Arnold Palmer ties. According to what I can find Arnold Palmer and Ralph Plummer co-designed Tanglewood in the early 1970’s. Usually, I’m a pretty big fan of Palmer designs but I haven’t heard of Plummer until today. Apparently Plummer is a mostly-Texas designer who grew up before much of the earth moving equipment was available.

The design of Tanglewood is very straightforward and probably just as you’d imagine a resort course built in 1971. Most of the holes have a similar look with slight doglegs or slight elevation change. I played the back tees which are 71.1/125/6536. No matter where you play though, the course won’t beat you up! While the fairways are borderline narrow, you can hit it all over and still advance the ball.

There isn’t much to highlight about Tanglewood’s design as it is about as functional and simple as you’ll find! The most interesting thing about Tanglewood, at least in my opinion, are the green complexes. Having played some of Palmer’s newer courses I could see his influence on the bunkering. The bunkers weren’t deep, but they were laid out in Palmer fashion and added some interest to the design.

The conditions were fine for the price I paid ($27), but generally speaking things were a bit unkempt. The fairways were playable but not much more. There was some great sections to them and then some very spotty patches with crabgrass/worn areas. The rough was mostly a mix of grasses. The greens are zoysia and were great surfaces.

Probably not worth the hour drive north from DFW, but if you are in the Lake Texoma area for other activities and want some golf then this is one of the places to look at.
Delaware Springs is about an hour from Austin and a couple things about the course interested me. First, every review I’ve ever read about this place glowed. Second, and probably more important to me personally, the course was designed by Dan Proctor and Dave Axland. The duo designed Wildhorse Golf Club and Bayside Golf Club (both in Nebraska). I thoroughly enjoyed both of those Nebraska courses!

What you’ll find at Delaware Springs is a well cared for, playable and interesting course that just seems to fall onto the landscape. The course has an address in the city of Burnet, but it is a bit south of town. It is actually located near the airport, in a small community.

I’m not sure if there are plans to build homes around the course in the future, but for now the course has a rustic, country feel to it – a bit like Diablo Grande in California! The front nine has a mix of open and wooded holes while the back nine almost has a bit of a high desert feel to it with cactus beds and brown native grass lining some holes.

The best holes at Delaware Springs are probably the 1st and the 13th. The 1st is a short par-5 where you might have to lay up with an iron from the tee depending on the wind conditions (to avoid a creek). That is never my favorite thing on a par-5, but you still can easily reach the green here in two shots. The tricky part of going for the green is that the angle isn’t great and you’ll need to turn a shot from right to left.

The conditions were fantastic and for $37 it was a steal! I’d highly recommend a round at Delaware Springs as it turned out to be a great find – hidden gem status for sure.
Cleburne Golf Links is a little over an hour from Dallas and about 40 minutes from Fort Worth, so it isn’t the most convenient course. However, I think it is one of those places that is worth the drive!

The course is a John Colligan design and located on the edge of Lake Pat Cleburne. From a design perspective what you’ll find at Cleburne Golf Links is an open layout with somewhat of a “linksy” look to it. There are very few trees in play as most of the holes are separated by native grass. The tree-deprived landscape allows for some great lake views and almost half the holes play close to the water.

I thought the par-3’s at Cleburne were the best holes, especially the 8th and the 17th! Both have nice water views and there are a few other good risk/reward holes near the lake.

The conditions were solid (firm though!) and made the course a good deal for the price (~$35). The greens looked to be aerated a few weeks ago and still need a little time to heal completely. They were slower and bumped some. The tees and fairways were nice – just a bit scruffy. The rough was spotty with plenty of crabgrass. I certainly wouldn’t let the current conditions keep you from playing here!

This is another one of those DFW fringe courses that is worth a look.
I had time for a sunrise round and Hidden Falls was convenient to where I scheduled my other round. I snagged the second tee time of the day (7:37am) and got there early, hoping to be the first out. That worked and I was able to set my own pace! I played the front nine in an hour and then had to get creative on the back and jumped around a couple groups.

Hidden Falls is a municipal course located in an older gated community. Originally I believe the course was called Meadowlakes Country Club and was private at some point in time. I’m not sure when it became city owned but it is nice to see it serving the area’s golfers now.

And, for a muni I was impressed with the conditions, especially in the middle of the Texas summer! Everything was well cared for and the course’s green color was very much intact.

Conditions weren’t pristine, but they didn’t affect my score. Everything was functional and there was very little hardpan. The fairways were full and left a bit long. The tees were cut short and looked solid. The greens had life and rolled fine (medium pace) for $30.

While the layout at Hidden Falls won’t grab your attention it is far from awful. It seemed to have a bit of a Florida vibe to it. The whole course is lined by homes, but I enjoyed the front nine because it plays through a bunch of pecan trees which frame the holes. No doubt the pecan trees add some charm to the place. The back nine is more open with lots of water in play.

Overall Hidden Falls is a solid muni, nothing flashy though.
Wolfdancer gets ranked among the top public courses in Texas and it was easy to see why! The name “Wolfdancer” stems from the Native Americans who occupied the land years ago. And, I thought the land was the course’s defining feature. There is a mix of open and wooded holes, elevation changes and nice views of the area. Plus, there aren’t any homes in sight. Arthur Hills designed the course.

The front nine is highlighted by the 556 yard par-5 3rd (603 yards from the tips). It plays downhill from an elevated tee box and offers an endless view, where the sky just falls into the terrain. The sea of bunkers contrasted nicely against the green grass too! Like many holes at Wolfdancer the 3rd has a great look to it.

The back nine seemed to have a bit of everything, including a split fairway on the 18th. Much of the back nine plays on some flat land near the river – the 13th through the 18th holes. These holes are lined by pecan trees and are a relaxing way to end the round, after some difficult holes early. For reference, the white tees are 71.3/132/6314.

Before you reach that river stretch of holes, you get to play the 12th, which was my favorite hole at Wolfdancer! The 12th is a short par-3, which is 115 yards from the whites. It is a transition hole on the river bluff and it plays about a club downhill. The green is small and trust me you don’t want to miss over the back edge, as things drop off severely.

The conditions were very nice. The course was well watered and it was comforting to see plenty of green turf, compared to the burnt out look of many courses in this region during the summer! I had good lies and putts rolled well.

Wolfdancer can be a bit pricey but there are a few deals out there to be found if you are so inclined.
From what I had read Hawks Creek seems to get listed as one of the more upscale public options in Fort Worth. That turned out to be my experience – although I actually think it is a muni!

I found a discounted time for $43 on a weekend morning and couldn’t resist booking it! Normally, the green fees go for somewhere around $60 so it was a nice savings. If you want to splurge (an extra $20) then you can get one of those electric golf boards instead of a cart.

While Hawks Creek has a modern feel to it, thanks to a renovation by John Colligan in 2002, the course actually has military ties and dates back prior to Colligan’s work. From what I could find Hawks Creek was previously called Carswell Air Force Base Golf Course. That means you might get to see some some fighter planes taking off and flying around!

The main feature at Hawks Creek is the creek that cuts through the property, and at times it creates some spacing issues. I played the blue tees (71.8/133/6515) and the creek holes are going to be what makes the course a bit tougher. The greens are also fairly demanding!

I thought the best part about Hawks Creek was the maintenance, which was top-notch! The fairways had the ball sitting up and the greens were smooth and quick. The bunkers were beautiful and seem to be some of the best that you’ll find at a public course around these parts.

The above average conditioning and chance to see some fighter jets make it worth a play if you haven’t been out here!
Old Brickyard is a little south of town off the I-45 and I scored a morning deal for $20. Even the normal rate here shouldn’t be much ($35 to $45).

I’ve found a few gems in recent weeks and from my research I hoped Old Brickyard might be another! What made the course so interesting to me is that it is built along some old quarries. Ultimately, the course didn’t make it to that “gem” status, but the setting is as unique as you’ll probably find in North Texas.

Old Brickyard occupies land with some elevation change, thanks to an old brick company’s business here years ago! Apparently the ingredients for bricks were excavated here and the course plays around the edges of the old pits. Overall, I found it to be a pretty neat setting and the course has a cool brick theme with quite a few bricks on display throughout the property.

As soon as I parked the car I was drawn to what I’d later find out are the 9th, 10th and 11th holes, which can be seen from the parking lot. A large lake filled what I’m assuming is one of the old quarries and these holes border the lake. The parking lot and clubhouse sit at a high point (on a bit of a bluff) so you have a great look out over everything.

If you throw in the par-3 8th – Old Brickyard’s signature hole – then you have an awesome four hole stretch (the 8th thru the 11th)! The 8th is a 207 yard par-3 that plays across another lake. It has a great look and forces you to hit a solid long iron or hybrid. Even without playing a ton of courses in the area I’d say this stretch is as good as you are likely to find in North Texas for the sub $50 green fee.

The overall conditions were decent with the tees, fairways and greens in very nice shape. Outside of those areas the rough had lots of crabgrasss, bunkers were thin with weeds in them and there was a decent amount of hardpan. Apparently the course had a landslide earlier this year which can be seen on the 6th hole.

There are plenty of other better courses out there but if you like a course with a story (as I do) then I don’t think you’ll regret a round at Old Brickyard.
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