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Had a great time at Saturday's GK Plays. Thanks to Johnny, LinkSoul, GolfMoose and of course the Desert Willow staff for another fun outing. I was in the second-to-last group out with Gregholla, mpisarki01 and Mike, and we enjoyed a nice relaxed 4:15 pace. Not bad on a Saturday with a good-sized GK group.

The course, as always, was in exceptional condition as others have already noted. Some tee boxes getting a little worn heading into summer. Fairways and rough just about perfect. The bunkers had great sand, but I did notice the lining starting to come up in a few on the back nine. The greens were firm-ish and rolling pretty well at medium speeds. Kind of in transition with the winter rye burning off and the bermuda coming through (maybe 50/50 mix right now), but cut nicely and still rolling pretty consistently.

It's always an excellent experience at Desert Willow, so I look forward to every visit. Two great courses, friendly staff and stellar course conditions almost all the time. Highly recommended!
The last stop on my trip was a bonus round I was not expecting to squeeze in. I'm so glad I was able to, though, because I've been dying to play here for a long time. Adding to the appeal was paying the weekday late twilight rate of $43, which was worth every penny. It wasn't super crowded when I teed off around 3:30, but there were just enough players out there to slow me down a little. I ended up joining another single on the 3rd tee and it was an enjoyable round with still a great pace of just under 3 hours.

The course was in exceptional condition. Seriously, I was impressed at just how nice it was out here. Everything was lush, green and beautifully maintained. Maybe a few thin spots in the rough around some bunkers, but not many flaws to be found. Ideal greens that were firm, yet receptive and rolling pure at nice speeds. Nice bunkers, as well. Just awesome.

If you've ever thought about playing here, now is the time because the spring conditions are so wonderful. As for the layout, I loved it. The front nine eases you in with scenic views and somewhat forgiving holes. Then, the back nine really ramps up the drama and challenge as you go up and down the hills, through the canyons and along one signature hole after another. Some players may find the back nine a bit too much, but I really enjoyed it and I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my trip. Highly recommend this course.
Had a 10:45 tee time on 5/7. Teed off right on time with another single and a twosome. They spaced the tee times decently, so it took us a couple holes to catch the group ahead. We had one very deliberate player in our group and I think the group ahead of us left after nine (or stopped for a long break at the turn) because by the back nine it was pretty wide open. Did my best to push my group along. Ultimately, it was just an OK 4:10 pace. $44 rate with cart.

The course was in good overall condition. Every time I've ever driven by here on the freeway, it always looks so lush and pure. It wasn't quite that nice up close and personal, but it was still in well above average "muni" shape. Some weak spots here and there, but mostly quite good from tee to green. Bunkers solid and greens pretty nice. Soft and rolling well at medium speeds.

This is a decent layout. Mostly what you see is what you get on the front nine, though there are quite a few water hazards in play. The back nine gets more interesting with some tighter angles and doglegs. Pretty traditional design to satisfy the masses. Prices can run a little high here because it is in the East Bay and I'm sure they draw a lot of after-work traffic when the 580 is backed up (which is always). A good walking course without many hills to contend with.
Played here last Tuesday 5/7. I had a 10:45 tee time on the main course, but got here pretty early and saw that the Links course was wide open. Was planning to play both anyway, so I went out on it first and got around quickly. $18 to walk on a weekday rather steep for a mostly pitch and putt par-3 course.

I will say the conditions were very good on the links course and perhaps even nicer than the primary course, probably because this one doesn't get as much traffic. The tee boxes, fairway/rough areas and greens were all in nice shape. I wasn't in any bunkers, but they appeared decent.

This is a very fun short course with a links-inspired design. Lots of mounding, some deep outer rough and big, undulated greens make it an interesting enough layout with the small airport next door. Yet, it's still very forgiving and a good course for beginners to learn the short game. Most holes are no more than a wedge, though a few are 150+ (the 9th is 197) from the black tees. Three sets of tees to choose from, as well. Definitely a nice little course.
This was my second stop on Tuesday after Diablo Hills. Not too busy out here, but the pro shop guy said I had to get out to the first tee right away like something was about to happen. I am still not sure what the rush was as I only saw a handful of guys go out 10-15 minutes after I teed off. I played through one fivesome on the course and otherwise breezed through on my own. $11.50 walking rate for 9 holes was a decent price.

The course was in decent overall condition. Pretty lush, green and adequately maintained for a low-end short course. Greens soft and receptive, and rolling decently at medium/slow speeds. I wasn't in any bunkers here, so no comments there.

This is a very basic little practice course next to the airport. A few tight angles with trees lining the fairways and a few more open holes. Solid course for beginners and duffers and a good (and popular) practice facility with a large driving range.
Played here on Tuesday morning. I had booked a 6:45 tee time in advance, which they said was the earliest available. However, I was there earlier and they opened up a little after 6:00. The guys in the pro shop told me they usually don't let anyone out until 6:30, but they made an exception and I was teeing off closer to 6:15 by myself. Pretty much the only one out there until the time I left around 7:00. $35 with a cart to play 9 holes seemed really steep.

The course was in pretty good overall condition. Good tees and pretty decent fairways. Rough a little spotty, especially as you get further off the fairways. Bunkers not bad. Greens soft and rolling slow (most I played hadn't been mowed yet), but in good shape and probably better once they had been cut and dried.

It's not saying too much, but this was the best short course I played on this trip. Kind of a fun, tight and quirky layout that runs through some houses and streets. Pretty hilly. Nothing too amazing, but fun enough as a short 9-holer with some character.
With such a slow round at TPC Stonebrae, I barely had enough time to squeeze in one shorty in the evening afterward. I headed over to Monarch Bay and just played the 9-hole executive Marina Course (Tony Lema will have to wait until a future trip). Twilight rate was $20 for nine holes with a cart. Would be an easy walk, but I wanted to play as fast as possible. There were a few people over here, but I pretty well zipped through in about 30-40 minutes.

The course was in decent shape. I rated 6's across the board, except the bunkers that were a little less than good. The tee boxes, fairway areas, rough and greens were all in decent shape. The greens rolled fairly well and were soft on approaches, so you can be pretty aggressive on this short layout with three short par-4s and a good mix of par-3s.

Overall, I think Marina is a solid short course that does what it should. It's a good layout for beginners to learn the game, but more advanced players can still use it to work on the irons and short game as a warm-up or cool down when paired with the main course here.
The main reason for my trip was for the NCGA outing at TPC Stonebrae, which was held on Monday afternoon. It was a full crowd of 120 players on a very tough course with very tough conditions (blustery, windy and cold), so it was no surprise the pace was brutally slow around 5.5 hours. That was the only major negative about the experience, though.

The course was in fantastic condition, playing fairly firm and fast as intended. Tee boxes, fairways and primary cut of rough were all beautifully maintained and I never had a bad lie. Then there are a lot of deeper native areas and gnarly deep/tangled fescue lining the bunkers that you want to avoid at all costs. If you are heading toward a bunker, pray you end up in the sand because the rough lining will absolutely eat you alive! The greens were firm and moderately fast. The bunkers were full of soft (maybe too soft for me) sand that was nicely maintained.

This is one heck of a course designed by David McLay Kidd (Bandon Dunes) and it is not one everyone will enjoy because it is so over the top and demanding. Reminded me a little of Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan as a links-inspired course on steroids. The front nine here eases you in somewhat before the challenge and quirkiness start to ramp up. By the back nine, it just gets super insane. My group got thrown right into the fire starting on hole 10, so it was an adventure right away.

The layout is hard to describe and may be too unique/difficult for some people to enjoy. I actually think it's not as challenging as it seems, so I am sure members benefit from getting to play here a lot and learning what to do (and more importantly, what not to do) on some of the more intimidating holes. There are numerous blind shots and it will be uncomfortable for any first-time player. The setting is spectacular atop a hillside overlooking the East Bay. Even on a gloomy day we could see the city. There is some construction going on around the early front nine, so it's a bit less scenic. The back nine is totally unencumbered by houses or anything, so it's pretty special.

If you ever get a chance to play here, take advantage because it is a truly unique and entertaining experience (even if the course beats you up a bit the first time through). I wouldn't mind a rematch with it someday!
Played here on Monday morning alongside GK'er, Bgarcelon, who works here and set up a 6:00 tee time for us. We were joined by Craig, who was the head teaching pro here for over 30 years and shared a lot of course history. We were joined by another course regular at the turn. We finished in about 3.5 hours as the second group out.

The course is in nice overall condition, highlighted by excellent greens that were receptive and rolling smooth. They have a lot of undulation and slope, so I got lucky with a softer/wetter morning round compared to how they typically play in the afternoon. Either way, you never want to be above the hole here. The tee boxes, fairways and rough were all in generally good condition with just a few weak spots here and there. Also a lot of goose "stuff" on/around the tee boxes. They seem to like whatever seed is in that turf, so that's where they're doing the most damage. Bunkers were pretty good, as well.

Definitely a very enjoyable layout with a fairly secluded location and some nice views, even on a very dark overcast morning. Very hilly and plenty of big doglegs, and I mentioned the big/undulated greens that really provide the course's biggest defense. Overall a very recommendable local course if you are in the Walnut Creek area.
I was able to squeeze in 9 holes here after the GK event. The driving range and practice areas were super busy (lots of kids - First Tee facility), but the course was pretty wide open and I got around easily with plenty of daylight to spare. I don't even remember what I paid, but I remember it seemed somewhat more reasonable to walk than Pleasanton earlier.

Of all the courses I played this trip, Fremont Park was probably in the weakest condition. It is pretty rough around the edges. Tee boxes adequate enough. Fairways a little spotty. Rough even spottier. Greens had just been aerated, so they were sandy and slow. Looks like they should be fine by the time they heal up. Bunkers not terrible, but not great either.

As for the layout, this is a more interesting short course than I expected. It offers some nice scenery early on and the layout is quirky, but kind of fun. A handful of tricky par-4s to go with a decent mix of par-3s. Plenty of hazards in play, enough to keep you on your toes. Overall a good layout, but conditions left something to be desired when it seems most Bay Area courses (even the cheap shorties like this) are rounding into form heading into summer.
After finishing Skywest so early, I raced out (pun intended) to Pleasanton GC to squeeze 9 in before the GK outing at Corica Park. This was one of many East Bay short courses I wanted to check off my list this trip. Getting here was a little confusing as my GPS first took me to the driving range, which is on the opposite side of the fairgrounds. I ultimately found my way over to the course, which is located inside the horse racing track infield. You do want to drive through the tunnel (that doesn't look like a car will fit) and park inside the track.

It was a bit busier than I expected with several players waiting to tee off. With my time crunch, the pro shop guy was nice enough to let me jump out to hole 3 ahead of the groups. I finished 3-9 quickly and then played 1-2 with a single to wrap up my nine. $18 to walk seems very steep for this course.

Conditions were solid. The tees, fairways and rough were in good shape. Bunkers OK and the greens were actually very nice. Somewhat firm and rolling faster than expected for a course of this caliber. Pretty small and sometimes domey greens, so can be hard to hold.

Like Fairgrounds GC up in Santa Rosa, playing inside the race track is perhaps the only memorable thing here. I doubt they allow play during races and during certain fair events, but not sure. Otherwise, a very basic and simple layout in an open field. They could use some more yardage markings on the few par-4s because I found myself guessing without a GPS or scope. Decent beginner's course and home to local First Tee programs I believe.
Played here Sunday morning. Was able to book a 5:52 tee time the day before. $55 with cart, though this would be a great walking course because it's so flat and not spread out at all. Either way, one of the more "affordable" options in the Bay Area for weekend rack. I was paired with a local couple who play here a lot and claimed to be fast players. They lived up to my own extreme definition of fast and we finished all 18 in about 2.5 hours as a threesome (with some waiting on maintenance, too)! Couldn't have worked out better.

The course was in very good overall shape. It was very lush, green and well-maintained throughout for a low-end muni. Tee boxes and fairways generally great. Rough pretty consistent and not too much challenge. Greens soft and rolling a bit slow with morning moisture, but good surfaces. Bunkers the only real weak spot. The sand was decent, but it was wet and really packed down like wet concrete. Probably just needs a good "fluffing."

The conditions were nice. The layout is pretty basic with a back and forth routing and not too many interesting points. Back nine gets a little tighter with houses/streets in play on a few holes. Pretty traditional muni kind of course, but it's somewhat reasonably priced and for whatever reasons not quite as crowded as others will be on a weekend morning.
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