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Love the course, but won't be returning.

First off, let me just say that I love this golf course. Easily in my top 10 in Southern California, including the many private courses I've played. I think the design is great and it's challenging enough for good players, but not crazy hard for average players or beginners. And I think the maintenance crew always does a great job considering it gets a good amount of play and is in a really hot area weather wise. I've always lived 60-90 minutes away, but have considered it worth the drive several times a year.

That said, I won't be returning to this course nearly as frequently given the experience I've had in the last month. I played there in foursomes with friends on 8/8 and 8/29. I am thankful that they are making a big effort to keep pace of play fast, but they are not doing it the right way.

On 8/8 we turned in about 1:45, but were harassed by the marshal on #5 tee because the green was clear slightly before we reached that tee. We were never out of position, and the group behind us didn't have to wait on us a single time. When we arrived to #10, the starter said something like "Okay so you guys turned in... (checked his clipboard)... never mind, you guys are fine, have a good time out there." Nevertheless, the marshal was on us nearly every hole. He scolded us for parking a cart a couple of feet off a path to get some shade in the 95 degree weather, and again harassed us about pace just short of the 15th green because we were still chipping and the group ahead was on the 17th tee. The group behind us was in the 14th fairway at the time. On our approaches to 18 we had to wait for the group ahead to clear the green (which we didn't mind given the great pace all day), and we finished in 3:50.

We chalked this experience up to one grumpy marshal and booked again on 8/29. We were told by the starter that the time goal for the day was 2 hours for each 9, and 4 hours total. Perfect. I will admit that we got behind almost immediately in terms of position. By the 4th tee, we were a full hole behind, but doing fine on time, and not holding the group behind us up. The same marshal from 8/8 spoke to us on #6, and we told him we realized there was a gap, but it had been there from the start and we were paying attention to our time and the group behind. He said that was unacceptable and irrelevant and that we must catch the group ahead. We let him know we remembered him from a few weeks prior and told him we didn't care to speak to him anymore and that we'd try to speed up. We teed off on 10 and then the starter pulled up in a cart. He said our turn time was 2:05 and we must pick up the pace. We noted that we'd already teed off on 10, so the turn time was quicker than 2:05, and pointed down #9 showing him that the group behind was not on the hole at all, and not even on the 8th green. He just repeated that we must speed up. Near the 12th green the marshal harassed us yet again, because the group ahead was now almost 2 holes ahead. We reiterated that we were on pace for a 4 hour round and that the group behind us was also almost 2 holes behind us, so we were not causing any delay to anyone. Again he said that was irrelevant, but this time added that we may not want to continue to play at Goose Creek. On the 14th tee another marshal approached us with more of the same harassment. We noted that we were on pace for a 4 hour round and we might be a hole further ahead of our current position but not for the many conversations initiated by course staff. We finished the round in 3:59 and spoke to the pro shop about our treatment over the last two rounds (in which we played in a total of 7:49), but they just parroted the lines from the marshals. We waited to see when the group behind us finished, which was 27 minutes after we left the 18th green. (They played in a respectable 4:15 or so.)

We plan to take the marshal up on his offer to play elsewhere. I'd rather play in 4:15 or 4:30 without the harassment than 3:50 or 3:59 at Goose Creek with their aggressive and irrational staff.
Played Sunday 5/1 in the GK Plays event. Thanks, as always, Johnny! It was a fun day with you, Vince, and Ron.

It was my first time playing the Norman course, and I wasn't disappointed (well, at least by the course - my game was another story). The tee boxes, fairways, and greens were all in great shape. The greens appeared a little dry in places, but they putted smooth, medium-fast, and consistent. As has been the case in all my visits to PGA West courses, the facilities and customer service were great.

This is definitely a place where I will be more conservative off the tee in future rounds - I lost 2 drives to the desert and one par-3 tee ball to a lake. If you can avoid the desert (where the bushes ate easily 75%+ of the balls our group sent in there) and the lakes, it's a place where a decent score can be had, especially on a calm day.
Played 3/31 teeing off just before 4:00p and finishing right as the sun set. This course is right across the street from my office, so I've played it (and the Players side) a lot. I've had some issues with the customer service over the years (they won't let you pay for your round and range balls at the same time - so you end up paying for a bucket then hitting 3 balls only to have them then call your name over the PA and you have to go back in to pay again, they won't let you check in the whole group even if you're paying for everyone, when an odd number of players are all riding they charge the single rider for the whole cart, the cart fee doesn't go down with the green fee for twilight, etc). Basically, they nickel and dime you to death and inconvenience the customer for the convenience of the pro shop staff. I worked in pro shops all through college, so I know it's not that hard.

However, I've come to know what to expect with the check-in process and pricing, and I'm starting to think it's even worth it. They consistently have better conditions than any of the other munis in the area. It's never immaculate, but it's always a 7/10 and the greens are the best in the area. They punched the greens (very small punch holes) two weeks ago, and they were medium speed and smooth already, with a very slight layer of sand. They were rolling more true in this condition than several other public places in the area do when at their best. And the layout of the Classic course is one of my favorites in the North OC/LB area.
Played here 3/5 around noon. This is where I learned to play golf, and I've played this course more than any other. Having said that, conditions were decent (although with the rain yesterday morning, I'd wait a bit to play here - the fairways get very muddy because the soil is clay rather than sand and the course is so flat that the water has nowhere to go). But on Saturday, the tees, fairways, and rough had good coverage, and the greens were pretty smooth, firm, and fast. As always, this course demands accurate driving to put up a good score.

On the negative side, the only things worth mentioning are that the pace was a bit slow (over 5 hours), but that's to be expected here that late on a weekend day, and that the green on #10 is ridiculously hard. Three of the four people in my group (myself included) had wedge shots from 80 to 100 yards out for our 3rd shots on this par five. All three landed within ten feet of the front pin, yet shot off the back of the green. One of my playing partners, having seen my low spinner shot not hold, hit a towering wedge shot in there - and never in my life have I seen a shot land on a green and bounce that high (over 6 feet) in the air on its way off the back of the green.
Played here 3/4 at 11:00a. I've always avoided playing here in favor of course #1, because I considered course #2 akin to an executive course. I was wrong there. It is a par 70 (2 par fives - and one is pretty much a par four), and many of the par fours are short, but the trouble is well-placed and the greens are very small, so there is still plenty of challenge. The conditions were solid considering the price and the play they get.

One thing that must be noted (and I saw it in a previous review, as well) is that the range is terrible. There are the usual amount of hitting stations (mats), but they have some kind of monthly deal where people can hit unlimited balls. So even though it was lunchtime on a workday, and my friend and I got there over an hour early, we could not hit balls to warm up. There were whole families camped at most stalls hitting hundreds of balls with no signs of stopping. We watched two older ladies hit about 100 grounders each while futility trying to work our way in to hit ten or fifteen warm up shots apiece. I'm all for the game staying popular and growing, but man that was frustrating.
This is my second time playing Monarch Beach, but my first review. I played 36 holes there today using a fantastic deal from Underpar ($135 with a free replay). The conditions were good, but not great. The tee boxes, sand traps, rough, and greens were all in very good shape, but the fairways have too many thin and bare patches for a course that's this good and commands a premium price. I'm sure the coming wet winter will help fill them in, and then this place will really be something. The setting is second to none, and the layout is quite the challenge, especially from the black tees. For what it's worth, the front nine gives me much more trouble than the back.

If you can find a deal, it's well worth the green fee in its current condition. If the fairways fill in, it's worth even the rack rate as a special occasion. If you're there for lunch, get the fish tacos and the pretzel bites with beer cheese sauce.
Brought my dad out today for the GK outing. We stayed at La Casa del Zorro last night to break up the drive, and the girls we came with loved the spa there. I'd highly recommend a stay and play over a 12-15 hour day trip. We had an amazing time all around.

Before I say anything about the course, I want to thank Johnny and recommend that everyone sign up for the next GK Plays event. It was my first one, and what a great group of people (especially Ron and Dave who rounded out our group) and well-run event it was. I'll be trying to make as many of these as possible. It's tough to drag my dad off the tennis court for golf, but this event has him wanting to play more.

The course was just as great as it was when I played it last month. If I had to pick out something, the only blemish is the 18th fairway. Coots have thinned this fairway out and it plays very firm, sloping hard from left to right towards some bunkers and a lake. If a long hitter plays the gold tees, his/her drive could land on the left side of the fairway and run 50 yards right into a bunker, if this same long hitter plays the blue tees, that ball could find the lake. Regardless, Rams Hill remains one of the best courses I've ever played.
Played Olivas Links yesterday with the office closed for the holidays. I have to say that the first impressions, from phoning in to book my tee time (they wanted so much information I thought they were going to run a background check) to arriving and seeing that the clubhouse is a trailer, had me worried. However, beginning with the very nice and knowledgeable starter, E.J., I really enjoyed playing here. I should mention that my opinion of the course itself is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that this course suits my game very well (I'm subject to the occasional big miss off the tee, but am otherwise a fairly steady player), and that I shot my first under-par round in 5 or 6 years (good way to end the year!).

I played from the black tees (6800-ish). The tee boxes, fairways, and rough are beginning to go dormant, but everything is in good condition and playing off the brown stuff is no problem at all. I noticed that two holes (1, and I think, 9) had some muddy spots from the little bit of rain we got earlier this week and they were marked off as GUR, just as they should be. The greens were medium speed, and had minimal ball marks. You have to hit em pretty firm up hill, but with the large and tiered greens, there were still down-hillers that were scary and/or near impossible to settle it close.

Lastly, I would avoid Wednesdays around 10:00a. They have a "senior skins game" that plays at that time and these guys appear to be in their 50s and 60s, and are okay players. The downside is that at least one of them thought that his status as a regular and the fact that he can shoot 82 from the blues meant he could cuss out the older gentlemen - in town from Oregon - I was paired with for slow play (which was really just one hole that our group struggled on - we were back in line and waited from the next hole all the way through). I told him where he could take his attitude, but I'd rather not have to deal with self-appointed course rangers.
I purchased the UnderPar deal and took a friend out to Rams Hill for his birthday. This place is as good as everyone has been saying! The customer service, practice areas, views, and golf course itself are all amazing. Think of your favorite desert course - now make the fairways a little wider, triple the size of the greens (I'm thinking 4 clubs from front to back at times), add in some great elevation changes, and perfectly-placed bunkering - then you have Rams Hill.

Keep in mind, though, that this place is WAY out in the desert. It took a tick over 3 hours to get there with zero traffic from Santa Monica. It took almost 5 hours to get back. This place is absolutely worth that long of a day trip - once. When I go back, I'm bringing the better half and some friends for one of the (great) stay and play deals.
Played yesterday in the SCGA outing. What a great golf course. Judging by the photos, the course was actually in better condition than last year's SCGA outing. The course was green and lush and playing slightly soft, even with this year's drought.

This is one of the most difficult courses I've played, but at the same time it is very fair. By that I mean that you are penalized for bad shots, but you still have recovery opportunities in most cases. This isn't desert or canyon golf in the sense that you're either in the fairway or you're teeing up your third shot. The greens are quick and smooth, but not so fast that pretty good putts will get away from you.

The overall design is a pleasure to play. There are long and short par 3s and 4s, and the par 5s are all great risk-reward holes. If you are a long hitter, they are reachable in two after two well-struck shots, but if you don't execute, they can bite you (especially 17 - favor the left edge off that tee).
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