Wednesday, August 24, 2016

99 Holes In The Heartland- Wild Horse Golf Club

I recently went on a trip deep into the ranch-land of America playing courses in Nebraska and Colorado. This is the second in a series of blog posts about the 99 holes I played at these amazing courses. 

Wild Horse is a very young course with a very old soul. The course sits on the leading edge of the famous sand hills region of Nebraska which has recently become a golf mecca between the creation of the lauded Sand Hills Golf Club, Dismal River and The Prairie Club. In fact, Wild Horse is often called the public version of Sand Hills Golf Club and while it sorta is, it also stands on its own as a fine golf course.

The course is set amongst the swales of the prairie land, often with blind shots or obscured second shots (making the first time playing the course somewhat difficult but setting up fun replays in the future). While not super hilly, the course architects did an impressive job separating each hole so you feel removed from the other golfers playing and mostly alone on the prairie (save for the occasional snake!).

The only design flaw in the routing occurs between holes two and three which have a siamese twin joining of fairways linked by a pot bunker and if the groups are going out in 10 minute spacing, you are going to be seeing people play in differing fairways and hitting shots over each other.

Other than this kink, the course mostly comes at you in a high golf gear making for an enjoyable round.

The clubhouse is usually in sight and can offer good aiming targets for the golfer. Also, I thought the positioning of the bunkers were excellent. Just look at that little guy in the picture above, just waiting to gobble up a mishit ball. Also look at this one below:

with an incredibly severe lip.

The backside has a lot more elevation gains and losses

(its uphill, trust me)

and incorporates a design element I noticed over and over again in the sand hills, elevated par 3's. I'm not quite sure who designed these par 3's but it is a common theme running throughout the sand hills.

The course is also charmingly rustic and I loved the tee markers and fairway yardages!

The greens were some of the best I played during my trip to the heartland which is saying something given the other courses in the area I checked out. Hard and fast with true rolls, a golfers delight (or torment!). The conditioning is fantastic and while the swale grass creeps a little too close to the fairway, there is enough margin for error that you can get around the course without losing too many golf balls.

I was expecting to be impressed by Wild Horse and I was! It is well worth the money for greens fees and if you can't get on the private tracks in Nebraska you can play this one along and come away impressed with Nebraska golf.

For more information about Wild Horse, check them out here:

EXTRA Bonus: Wild Horse has recently built cabins that offer stay and play deals. The interior of the cabins were great and I was stoked to be staying in the Hogan cabin. If you make it all the way to Gothenburg, do yourself a favor and stay here!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

99 Holes In The Heartland- Chappell Golf Club

I recently went on a trip deep into the ranch-land of America playing courses in Nebraska and Colorado. This is the first in a series of blog posts about the 99 holes I played at these amazing courses. 

Its tempting when you are driving on Interstate 80 in Nebraska to zone out while looking at the rolling hills and cattle ranches. You pass many small towns along the way and it would be a mistake to pass them all by, especially when they have a charming little 9 hole parkland course like the Chappell GC.

The course starts out with an easy breezy dogleg right and then you are off! The conditioning of this course was surprisingly good. The fairways were lush 

and greens receptive to shots. The course is all laid out in front of you, there aren't a tremendous amount of surprises just a nice solid Nebraska course. There is one unusual thing though, a greenside water bunker.

Yes you are seeing that right, it was a bunker at some point now has morphed into a pond right by the green with red AND yellow stakes. If you hit your ball in there, lord help you is all that I can. 

Chappell also gets multiple bonus points for having a crazy amount of sprinkler heads with yardages on them.

It seems that a lot of courses have gotten away from yardages on sprinkler heads for whatever reason. Maybe its due to the rise of laser scopes. Maybe some courses ascribe to the theory that you have to work out the yardages on your own without sprinklers. Whatever the reason, I have been noticing them less and less but Chappell corrects the trends almost all by itself!

I don't want to oversell the course, it isn't the longest, the toughest or the most picturesque but it offers a mellow round of golf that will put you back in touch with why you love golf in the first place. If you are traveling on Interstate 80, definitely stop in!

(Big Sky Country!)

For more information on CGC, check it out here:

EXTRA Bonus: If you are in the area, check out Lucy's Place. Try the locally sourced Buffalo Burgers at a true local institution and even say hi to Lucy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Maderas Golf Club Review

There are plenty of nationally ranked golf courses in Southern California but the problem is that almost all of them are private. Thankfully publications like Golf Digest have compiled rankings of top courses you CAN play and one course consistently in the US top 100 (which is saying something because there are over 15,000 courses in the US) is Maderas Golf Club located in San Diego.

The terrain surrounding the golf course is hilly and Johnny Miller, who designed the course, utilized every aspect of those hills. Often times balls would bounce off hillsides into the fairways or hills would filter balls onto cart paths or other low lying areas. Basically you have play Maderas like you are playing pool, you have to play the angles.

While Johnny clearly used what Mother Nature was giving him, he also bulldozed the heck out of the fairways, many of which have the ribboning that you see above. While I am not usually a fan of bulldozer courses, the hand of man goes with the hand of nature here and the swales fit pretty well into the course. The downside is that there aren't many level lies to behold

The thing that is different about this course is that while it has typical yardages (the blues play from 6,660, the Maderas tees 6,800 and the course can be stretched out even further), the tee shots are often constricted by trees, the hills or water so often me and my playing companions were using 3 woods and hybrids off the tees rather than drivers. The course isn't tight per se but expect to use driver a lot less here.

Maderas also gets triple bonus points for having no par 3's with water. See that hole above? No Water! This is such a rarity for SoCal golf and I was overjoyed that Johnny didn't follow the crowd. Water only comes into play on 8 and 9 and a few other holes and it was great to play a course that has its own unique character.

There aren't many downsides to Maderas. The fairways are a bit spongy rather than the expected hardpan for this time of year and the greens were unexpectedly slow (cut long probably so they don't die in the heat) but these are minor quibbles. Its an expensive track to pay but there are deals to be had and if you get one, you really should check it out.  Troon, which manages the course, runs a first rate course, the golf shop is stocked with great gear and friendly staff and the pace of play does come to less than 4 hours a round, which is much appreciated.

Overall, I really enjoyed my day at Maderas. The design of the course was interesting and engaging, the conditioning was great and there was a relaxed vibe at the club which should put you in a good mood, a rarity for golf courses.

For more info on Maderas check it out here:

Friday, August 5, 2016

New GolfChat Article

Every once in awhile I post an article as part of #GolfChat and this time around I have some ramblings about the Olympics. Come check out the snark here!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Moorpark Country Club- Reviewed

Simi Valley-Moorpark has a tremendous amount of well conditioned and interesting golf courses and one that I have always wanted to play is Moorpark Country Club. There are 27 holes that run across the tops of ridges in the rolling hills of Moorpark (although 18 are only playable at a given time as they rotate one of the 9's). 

Every course in this area has its own unique flavor and in Moorpark's case, its forced carries right by the greens.

 I can't remember the last time I have been force to hit over gulches as much as I was here at Moorpark CC. It certainly forces a bit of humility on a golfer; do you go for it on your second shot or lay up and then try to short-iron something on a narrow green? I tried both approaches both with limited success (more a reflection of the current state of my game than the course).

Moorpark really is striking on how it is threaded through the terrain. It is little islands of green amongst rolling swales of brown and certainly lives up to the names of the nines that I played- Ridgeline and Canyon Crest:

Even though Moorpark has many unique attributes, it also has the classic SoCal hole. No water on the rest of the course but water comes into play on its par 3's.

I have played a variation of this hole so many times now. On the one hand it is picturesque and challenging. On the other hand, I can't help but ruefully chuckle every time I play this hole on every course. It is a design choice that reinforces the aridness of the rest of the course and if you play too many of these courses, the holes blend together after awhile.

The course was in great shape although surely due to the temps the greens were kept slow (probably because the greenskeeper didn't want them to die). The course is also pretty penal. Being set on ridges if you are errant in your drives your ball will find hills and gullies from which it will not come back.

Overall this course didn't suite my eye tremendously as it falls more into the Terra Rojada/Champions Club Retreat categories than it does Rustic Canyon but it was a super enjoyable round on a beautiful course and if you get views like this, it definitely makes it worth it to check it out:

For more info on MCC, check it out here:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nicklaus Tournament Golf Course Review

PGA WEST is a golfer's dream. So many courses in such a small area, you never know where to turn to hit the next shot. Luckily the Nicklaus Tournament course (one of the courses part of the PGA Tour event in Palm Springs) takes a lot of the decision making process as you definitely need to play this course.

I'm usually not a fan of bulldozer courses and one surrounded by houses but for this one I will make an exception. The shot off the tee gives you a lot of options with many ways to position yourself for the next shot. The bunkers don't just hang out waiting for you but can snake the length of the fairway making them a constant hazard.

There is a little TOO much bulldozering from time to time:

but for the most part the moguls make for a fun time.

The par 3's have the classic SoCal water features but on steroids and you can see why the pros play here, its a tough test (especially on the back 9).

The only disappointment came to the greens. Usually courses have a baseline of playability and I was very disappointed that while the Nicklaus course far exceeded this baseline in every, it sadly failed in the most crucial one, the greens. I'm not sure if they were letting them die off to re-seed them (which is understandable if that was the case so I am giving PGA WEST some slack) but it made putting a nightmare.

One of my playing partners is a resident of Palm Springs and said that this conditioning is VERY atypical of PGA WEST so I imagine if you play there at any time other than late June the greens will be in great shape but its definitely something to be aware of.

Overall, I liked the Nicklaus course much more than I thought I would. Challenging and engaging and while it rose out of the landscape via the heavy hand of the Golden Bear, it is worthy of your time when in Palm Springs (as long as the greens get back into shape).

For more info on PGA WEST, check it out here:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Links at Terranea Golf Review

The Links at Terranea is a enigma for Southern California golfers. They hear about this course nestled right up against the cliffs in Palos Verdes that is one of the top ranked par 3 courses in the world. Yet almost no one I've know has played the course, due in part to it rack rate. Is it worthy of the hype?

In a word, yes.

Terranea with the sea breezes, the fescue, the crazy bunkers makes it truly a relaxing golf experience. The course starts off with a nice and short par 3 that gives you a taste of things to come.

1/2 the holes are uphill, 1/2 the holes are downhill but all have bunkers strategically placed and with the winds severally helping or hurting like a proper links course.

What I liked most about the course was that the greens offer you many options to play your tee shot. There are backboards, there are sidehill undulations, all of which are laid out for you from the tee box. Despite the short nature of the course, you could hit several different shots into the same green making the course playable on repeat for sure.

The true high point of the course comes on the highest parts of the course that afford you unbroken views of the Pacific.

When the holes stretch out to 170+ yards, you get both difficult greens and a testing tee shot making the course even more interesting. The eighth hole is 172, into the wind and a full test of your golfing prowess.

The final highlight of the course is the ninth hole requiring a short iron over a ravine to a fescue-surrounded green framed by the Pacific.

There were only two disappointing things about my time on the Links. The first was that the tees were moved up to let the "tips" rest and I would've liked to have played the course full out. The second was the pace of play. Even though I played on a Sunday morning, the pace was 2 hours which is disappointing for a course under 1,500 yards.

The rack rate is influenced by the resort and the proximity to the Pacific. There are deals out there for golfer willing to find them and if you do, I highly recommend playing the course.

For more info on the Links, check it out here: