Golf Course Reviews
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Got a last minute tee time with a buddy for Knollwood on Saturday with an 11:40am tee time. Last few visits to KCC had gone pretty smoothly so I assumed the same for this round, but I was well mistaken. I will say the gent at the starter's office was great and handled everything well.

Got there early to hit the range only to find out only one range ball machine worked, there was a line of ten people because it was out of balls and was going to take another 20-25 minutes or so to fill it. So much for warming up. We were then paired with a twosome and took off around ten minutes late. NBD. Unfortunately after that we ended up waiting on every single hole for a long time, and even two deep on some of the par 3s. It never let up even on the turn (where we had a twosome trying to cut in on us starting on the back nine) and we finished the round in just under six hours with the sun going down. Insanity.

At least the course was in pretty darn good shape, which was the only saving grace. Greens were in good shape albeit with a few too many unrepaired ball marks, but they were rolling well and consistent. Fairways had some thin spots in and around the fairways but good grass if you hit it where you're supposed to. Tee boxes (we played the blues) were in mostly good shape but not pristine in any way. Rough was mixed but playable. Only bunker I ended up in was very thin and still on the wet side and I have no idea why.

Old country-club style layout at Knollwood is always fun and a very good challenge with some great looking holes along the way, but of course the luster was taken off a bit when having to wait anywhere from 5-15 minutes on every single hole to play. Frustrating and definitely an isue that needs to be looked at from the KCC brass.
Played Los Serranos North with my monthly golf group and was pleasantly surprised by the course after having only played it once before. I always hear how much better the South course is, but I've played that one numerous times and I must say that I think I actually might prefer the North course now - just a personal preference and of course subject to change.

We caught a pretty nice afternoon with some spotted sunshine in between the clouds but generally pleasant and played with two groups (eight players) from the white tees as is customary. We had a 10:20am tee time with carts and paid around $90.

Greens were definitely a little bumpy but nothing too awful. They're actually more tricky than I remember with a number of them having multiple tiers and just a lot of quirky angles. They're also quite small on a number of holes, so approach accuracy is vital. The fairways are in pretty good shape depending on the hole but there were definitely some soggy/muddy areas still after the recent rains. Bunkers were a little on the thin side (and moist) so that made most bunkers shots difficult until the sun was out and dried them out a bit. Rough had been allowed to grow a bit so it was quite high and penal.

Layout is fun with a lot of elevations but nothing too overwhelming. I quite enjoyed it and there are some really nice holes along the way that I simply forgot about from my previous outing here. Would definitely recommend a day out at the North course as long as you keep your expectations for prime-shape golf in check and just want a fun day out at a nice facility.
Finished off the Arizona portion of my terrific golf week by playing the always terrific We-Ko-Pa Golf Club's Saguaro 18. This is just a gem in Fountain Hills and a must-play if you're in the Phoenix area.

Just a day after playing the far-narrower and more penalizing Troon North, We-Ko-Pa was a bit of fresh air with its wider fairways and more open native areas that actually make it fairly common to find your ball if you're off the mark in terms of the fairways. But don't be fooled - the Saguaro course is no walk in the park. It's a terrific layout with plenty of risk-reward and just some outstanding views and it's always fun.

Conditions are pretty outstanding from tee to green. The fairways are mostly lush and perfect, the rough is minimal on the fairway edges but in great shape if you're out there, the greens are in tremendous shape and hold shots really well and the tee boxes and bunkers are in fine shape. There's really absolutely nothing to gripe about. And at We-Ko-Pa, there rarely ever is.

POP moved along nicely as we mostly had the front nine all to ourselves and only caught the group in front of us late into the back nine. Plenty of cart service throughout the day as well and a very helpful and fun staff. Just a great experience from top to bottom.
My majestic week of golf continued across the state this time when I was fortunate enough to play a round at the iconic Troon North Monument course outside of Scottsdale, AZ. It was a bitter cold morning but thankfully the blue skies came out and warmed up the experience by around midway through the front nine.

What a course! What perfect conditions! What a credit card bill! Yes, everything you may have heard about Troon North is true - fairways are perfectly manicured carpets, greens are flawless and fast, rough is lush and penal, bunkers are the fluffy perfect stuff and the big range of tee boxes allows for a great experience at all levels. You've read all that.

And despite that all being true, I'm just not sure that this course merits its VERY hefty price tag. The conditions are perfect - no doubt about that. The carts are luxurious and well-appointed. The clubhouse is modern and sleek and the staff is inviting and knowledgeable. The layout? It's tough. Really tough. There's a par 5 with a 200 yard carry uphill into a narrowing canyon that maxes out at around 30 yards at the mouth. There's not much here besides fairway and death. Miss it and you're doomed. But hit good shots and be rewarded.

The greens are thrillingly fast and perfectly surfaced. They are very slick and require pretty perfect tee shots to hold the greens, and if you don't, you're rolling off into very difficult collection areas. I saw quite a few off on one side then off on the other shots from my group. It's a challenge.

All that being said, the greens fee was north of the $425 mark and while that is certainly reflective of the quality of the course, it's not a fee that I would be willing to pay all too often. But I'm not going to complain one bit about the experience as it was world class and if you have the means, you will love this course ... if your game happens to be sharp that day.
Played the classic old Del Monte course for the first time with Alex236 and it was quite a treat despite some of the longest rough I've ever had to play and some extremely soggy, over-watered fairways that made getting any distance a real challenge.

This course doesn't feel very much like all the others in the area, but that's not necessarily a knock. I actually enjoyed the more wide-open spaces and less penal nature of the course, but that by no means makes it an easy one. You can spray the ball a bit and get away with it (depending on the hole) but that's where the crazy rough comes into play, and you're aiming at fairly tiny but very well kept greens.

The course conditions will probably look a lot different when the sun dries everything out soon enough, but in the meantime you're getting a fun but tricky course. Greens were great, fairways were soggy, rough was like a foot deep, bunkers were pretty nice and the tee boxes (we played from the whites) were perfectly fine. I really enjoyed this course and would love to come back to not play such a Jeckyll and Hyde round.

Very friendly, welcoming atmosphere and a great low-cost alternative for the area marked by some of the most expensive courses in the country. This track will hold its own for sure, but don't play it expecting to see the same views or get the same feel for a Spyglass or a Pebble. Del Monte has its own history and attitude - respect that and you'll have a great time.

Thanks again to my good buddy Alex for making it all happen and being the best host.
Bit late catching up on reviews but going to try to bang out one hell of a week on the links with a few abbreviated ones, starting with my epic day out with Alex236 at Spanish Bay. We caught a pretty nice little afternoon with cool temps and blue-ish skies for our GK Cup match and the course did not disappoint.

I had a really tough outing my first time here so I was glad this round went a lot better, but it was still very tough and unforgiving, but the beautiful views and tremendous conditions more than make up for that aspect. We were paired with a nice lad from Northern Ireland and off we went.

Most conditions were excellent but the greens were a tad on the slower side after some heavy rains and perhaps some other factors that I don't know about. They still had great coverage though and rolled true - just needed some extra pace, especially on the uphill putts. They held shots well though and aren't too tricked out for the most part.

The rest of the course was in fine condition as you would expect from a premium track. The fairways were green and lush but of course there were some damp areas after the rainfall, but most of the course drains pretty decently well. Rough was manageable in most areas and the bunkers had nice, soft sand in them which made bunker play rather enjoyable.

POP was a bit of a disaster as we had a very slow group in front of us that we had to confront around hole 13 or so as they were not keeping up with the group in front of them. Not ideal but you can't always get everything perfect.

But all in all it was a great time and I'm thankful to Alex as always for setting this kid up so nicely and ever grateful to have the opportunity every once in a while to play classic courses like this and finally get the sub-100 monkey off my back here!
Another amazing value as a buddy slotted us into an early twilight tee time at Rancho Park again recently for a ridiculous walking price of $25. The rains made the entire course walking only so that was actually kind of nice to see everyone getting their steps in out there.

Course is once again in really fine shape right now but of course the bunkers were a bit water logged but overall it drained really nicely. The only exception? There was a small makeshift lake on the approach shot towards the green on the fifth hole.

Greens are in great shape right now, while the fairways are mostly all good with some thin areas off the fairways (and even some within but nothing terrible or unplayable). Tee boxes certainly felt a little beat up after the storm (we played from the blues) but not too bad.

POP was pretty excellent as we finished in four hours and thirty minutes with plenty of light left before closing out on 18. Driving range is of course as popular as it gets so you won't always be able to easily find a spot on the lower level (you can't use driver from the top level). Not sure when the clubhouse will re-open but great to see that kind of investment in a local gem.

Top marks again for Rancho Park right now if you can get a time.
One of those days when the stars aligned perfectly and every little detail just worked out. I'm speaking of a quick online glance only to find a perfect twosome (played with a buddy of mine) at a perfect time on a great course like Rancho Park and get it for $25. Seriously. $25.

We played from the blue tees and both wanted to walk anyway so it worked out great. We had a noon tee time and found the most unbelievable sweet spot where we never really waited on a single hole, nor did we ever have the group behind us push in any fashion. And at the end of the round we had finished in exactly four hours. At Rancho Park. On a busy day. Heck, even the snack shop on the 12th tee box was open.

Greens are just fantastic right now. I'm talking everything from their fast speeds, to their true rolls and their acceptance of well-struck approach shots or chips/pitches. I had a pretty great putting day with only 28 putts for the round and a lot of that was due to feeling very confident whichever line and pace I decided upon, the ball was going to do exactly what I hoped for. Just tremendous.

The rest of the course is also in very good shape with the fairways being mostly good to very good with the occasional thinner lie here or there, while the rough is nice and playable in most spots. If there was any gripe it may be some of the bunkers felt a good bit on the thin side meaning some bunker splashes went a bit longer than hoped for. The tee boxes were mostly in good shape with a few either a bit thin or a bit hardpan, but nothing terrible at all.

There was no cart service around (rarely is at Rancho) but there's a very nice little bar/snack shop by the driving range right now as they continue construction work on the clubhouse. And of course, the POP again was excellent so definitely happy about that.

Just an all-around super day at Rancho and happy to have been gifted such a fine experience. I only wish that I would have played the 18th hole better and beaten my personal best there.
My monthly golf group secured four tee times at Los Verdes this past weekend on a crisp but clear Saturday morning with a 10am first tee time. Our $96 'deal' included carts and range balls for each participant.

Overall the course is in good shape right now and the greens remain as devilish as ever - maybe faster and more intimidating than I ever remember them. Speeds were crazy fast, breaks near impossible to read and chips and approach shots rolled off all day long. Pin positions were also not super friendly so it made for a very exciting day on the greens, but from a quality perspective they are excellent.

Fairways had good coverage with some thin areas here and there, while the rough was a mixed bag of tall, short, thin and dirt/moss mayhem. You're going to get a little bit of everything out there. Tee boxes were in good shape (we play the white tees with this group) and the bunkers had pretty optimal sand levels near the greens but played pretty thin from the fairways - which is I guess is not the worst thing.

We had cart service numerous times throughout the day but the POP was just dreadful. Was it our first group out there? Perhaps, but they also mentioned the groups in front of them were pretty slow, but I always noticed a decent gap so I'm going to blame this week's poor pace on my friends. It took around five and a half hours to get through the round so that's just simply way too much.

On a side note, the new fencing around the green on 15 is a real bummer. It used to be wide open facing out into the blue of the Pacific, but now, because a bunch of dummies enjoyed hitting balls down the hill towards the residences, it now looks like a Top Golf and there's nothing nice about it at all. When you look at old pictures of the 15th green it looks like you're about to dive into the ocean. Now it's just a backstop and it really stinks.

I had an absolutely terrible round but it had nothing to do with course conditions as this local gem finds itself to be in pretty optimal shape all things considered. Go check it out.
Got another treat this past weekend when one of my buddies snagged an 8am foursome at Harding on Sunday. The weather forecast looked fairly bleak in terms of high winds and cold temperatures, but luckily both were quite manageable throughout the day with only bursts of gusts or icy winds that chilled the bones. We all walked to try and keep the circulation going.

In short, the course is in really good shape right now and it's a must-play if the opportunity arises. Greens are actually quite fast which took a while to sort out speeds, but they're rolling very nicely right now and may even require your absolute best chips and pitches to stay close. Fairways are in good shape all across the board - they're not super lush private course of course, but they're great with all the traffic this Muni gets. Rough is very playable and fun. Tee boxes (played the blue tees) were in good shape - flat and level, while the bunkers were maybe the only disappointment feeling pretty thin and making sand shots a little terrifying.

Didn't see any cart service all day but the POP was exceptional as I'm imagining the weather report scared a few groups off or just made everyone want to get through the round faster to get back into their warm and cozy cars. We were walking up the 18th fairway at around 12:20 so to finish Harding in 4:20 on a Sunday was pretty great.

So if you're a fan of this course and have maybe waited to hear some good news about it before returning, now is the time to go. You won't be disappointed.
Jumped on a last minute online time for El Dorado this past week and was accompanied by two friends and joined by a single with an 11:20 tee time. Unfortunately there were some issues ahead of the round that meant we didn't start until closer to 11:45 and were at great risk of not finishing the round due to Cart Path Only rules in place.

Fortunately we did get to the 18th green with the last light of the day and were able to finish, but it was pretty touch and go. All that being said, the course itself did not disappoint in the least. El Dorado has reclaimed its place as the true gem of the Long Beach courses. The routing is fun and interesting, the tall tree corridors and strategic bunkers and water features make it extremely challenging, and it still retains a nice fun factor that makes most rounds played here very enjoyable.

Greens were in good shape for sure, rolling quite nicely and at medium-fast speeds. They're well kept at present time and held shots quite well, too. The tee boxes were mostly in fine shape but there were the odd one or two that were a bit sloped. Bunkers had good sand in them and the fairways and rough were quite lush and playable ... still a few water-soaked areas for sure after the midweek rains, but nothing too awful. Found nice lies all afternoon and really enjoyed the round.

Unfortunately the snack shop between #2 and #3 (or #14 and #15) was closed all day which was a surprise, and there was no cart service all day, but there is a nice and convenient outdoor snack stand by the driving range when making the turn. POP was not great of course but most of that had to do with CPO conditions - never ideal but sometimes understandable.

It seems much tougher to get times at El Dorado over the last few years so I was very happy to snag this one late and you should do the same if it shows up when you're searching for tee times. It's really pretty optimal right now.
Played a New Year's Day round with Mattias at Hansen Dam after getting a late tee time online two days previous. We had an 11:30 tee time and played from the blue tees with two singles who were good fun to accompany us. We rode and honestly the cart was a shambles!

Course conditions are pretty good across the board right now with everything being 'pretty good' to 'good' and nothing being 'terrible' or 'outstanding.' The greens are in good shape and roll nicely and even pretty quick but a few too many ball marks out there for any golfer's liking. Fairways were in good shape but still a lot of water-logged sections that have not dried out yet after the rains (luckily it was not CPO). Rough was totally playable and I was not in any bunkers but did not hear too many complaints. Tee boxes were good enough - flat and decent coverage.

There was no cart service at any point during the entire day and the usually convenient snack shop window at the turn is now closed so you have to go inside ... not necessarily a big deal but won't do much to help the POP. And speaking of POP, we actually moved pretty nicely and finished the round in about four and a half hours. No complaints there, especially on a gorgeous winter SoCal afternoon.

I enjoy this layout still with the exception of the 10th and 11th holes which are some of the worst you'll find in the LA area, but hey - just have to get through it. Both 'closing' holes on the front and back nines are quite good, as are many in-between. It's a good, solid track that isn't going to 'wow' you for weeks afterwards, but you'll probably not mind coming back sometime soon.
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