Thursday, July 30, 2015
There are many golf course choices in Los Angeles. Some people gravitate to the coast, the Torrey Pines, the Trump Nationals. Some people play the highly ranked courses, the Maderas, the LACC's the Riverias. Some people play the LA City courses in all of their pockmarked glory.
For me and my money, if I had one area to play and no where else, plant me in Simi Valley. So many great courses, so little time. And reasonably priced as well! When you are paying $40+ for a weekend round on a beat up city course, why not pay a little bit more for a world class track in Simi?
I found myself the other weekend checking out Tierra Rejada in the Moorpark area and its another hidden gem. While the $95 is a bit steeper than most tracks, there are deals to be found for TR and I found myself with a deal and eagerly anticipating the round.
This time of year (the Summer) you want to play early and the courses know that with rounds progressively getting cheaper throughout the day. The downside to Simi Valley is that the mornings are often socked in with fog and the first five holes were all about hitting and praying.
Once the fog lifted though, whooo doggy what a course!
What you don't realize going through all that fog is that you are slowly heading uphill to a plateau and several of the holes are either on top of the plateau or...
Hitting down to another plateau! I mean look at this thing! The tee box is at least 100+ feet above the fairway, which is very narrow but if you don't hit driver on this hole, there is no hope for you as a golfer.
What the front side giveth in terms of elevated tee shots, it makes up on the back side with elevated greens so unless you are long on the back, you are going to have a long day hitting uphill to these greens.
I was blown away by TR, yet ANOTHER reason that golf in Simi is the best in LA. The only downside of TR is that the greens are a little inconsistent, some roll fast some roll slow, all roll flat and true. I think part of this is the weather, the mornings must be so foggy and damp that it effects the greens in different ways. My suggestion, play the course later in the day to get the full effect of its beauty.
Over all, an amazing experience and one every LA golfer has to try out.
For more info on Tierra Rejada, check it out here: http://www.tierrarejadagolf.com/
Thursday, July 23, 2015
LA is a big place. It stretches as far as the eye can see and has more courses that you can shake a stick at. Want seaside links? Go down to Palos Verdes. Want parkland courses, look no further than the tracks in Griffith Park. Hell, a place most people in LA don't go to (Simi Valley) has numerous world-class golf courses there!
South and East of LA is no different and on this day, I went to Corona California to check out the Champions Club which is nestled in a gated community called The Retreat. The course has a HEAVY social media presence, always running contests, engaging golfers etc. I decided to check it out and was pleasantly surprised!
First off, the course is hilly.
Hilly is an understatement, especially on the back 9, which I will get to later. The course really hugs every twist and turn in the canyons it inhabits and really looks like at times that it is carved out of the side of a mountain.
Because of the hilliness, local knowledge becomes key. For example, the first hole is a par five but because there is a huge ravine about 260 out, the best play is a 3 wood off the tee. There are also many greens with two tiers so knowing that and hitting to the right tier is paramount.
Aside from the hilliness of the course and even though both nines inhabit the same general viscinty they are two very different courses.
The front side is hilly but straightforward and rather short. Clocking in with 3 par 5's (all under 500 yards), you can pick up some much needed confidence and scores on the front side.
The backside by contrast has a ton more hills, a ton more elevated greens and a ton more chances to lose balls, especially on numerous par 4's over 400 yards. Some of the holes, in all honesty, are a bit too severe because after a great tee shot, you have a crazy side hill lie and then you watch the ball fall helplessly short of the elevated green.
That is not to say the backside is too crazy because my favorite hole on the entire course was 16.
A par five, slight dogleg right with a beautiful pond guarding the green:
I really enjoyed my time at Champions, the course was in great shape considering the mega-drought California is currently suffering through (they use reclaimed water to irrigate). I was confused why the course made such an effort through signs and GPS commands to repair all ballmarks but when you get to the greens you can see the damage done but improperly or un-repaired marks (seriously golfers get it together!)
By far though, my favorite thing of the day was the GPS device in the cart. For me, I am old school. I will pace off yardage from sprinkler heads and eyeball distances. I don't do the electronic distance doohickeys or really pay attention to cart GPS but today I decided to give it a whirl. While the information was interesting, I found this to be my favorite message of the day:
Never fear Champions Club, I did not go in my pants. ;)
Overall this is really a different, challenging course than most of the tracks you can play in SoCal. It is hilly and at sometimes unforgiving but the vistas are worth it. Plus, there is a real premium on quick rounds and I was able to get around in 4:15 (which could have been even quicker). If you are looking for canyon golf, look no further than the good ol CC!
For more info on the course, check it out here: http://www.championsclubretreat.com/
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
I have started changing my entire golf wardrobe to incorporate purple and Tom Morris has it in spades! So many great purple golf items to choose, here are some of my favorites:
WEST SANDS POLO
I have never been to Scotland but it is HIGH on my list. The same goes for the clothes, I don't have any of them but they are HIGH on my list and I look forward to any sales they might have coming up for us in the US (or heck buying them in person if I am so lucky)!
For more information about Tom Morris check out this link: http://www.tommorris.com/
All Images Pulled From Tom Morris's website for review or commentary purposes. Hopefully TM doesn't mind as I love their clothes!
Thursday, July 9, 2015
I recently put together a bucket list as a goal to visit my favorite course designers Coore and Crenshaw. It got me thinking, what would be my bucket list of Top 10- must play courses? You know, the ones that if you got invited to play you would hop on a plane and fly across the country or the world to play. THOSE ones?
Before we get to the courses, here are some that are in the "close but not quite" category. Places I would love to play but just didn't make it: Torrey Pines (North and South), Royal Melbourne, San Francisco/California Club/Lake Merced, Lahinch, Makai, LACC, the Quarry, Streamstrong (Red), Bethpage (Black), Pacific Grove, Cabot Cliffs, Kapalua, Pasatiempo and Cruden Bay.
In looking through my list below, one thing is clear, I have a thing for the sea.
Most of the courses that DID make it (with two notable exceptions) have links to the sea, whether as a true links course or at least you can enjoy links sausages near the sea. There is something about the sea air and the views which put these courses over the edge for me. With that proviso, awaaaaaay we go!
10. Shinnecock (USA): There is a theory I once heard that the music that you liked at 16 becomes your favorite music throughout your life. All other music is crap in comparison. For me and Shinnecock, it is all about Corey Pavin's miracle 4 wood to win the tournament amongst the swales of grass. Aside from that memory, this course just exudes beauty, just look of these pics! The history of this course, the beauty, how could you not want to play it? http://www.shinnecockhillsgolfclub.org/
9. Bandon Dunes (USA): 4 amazing courses in one resort. How can you choose just one? They have a Coore Crenshaw course and other amazing tracks but for today, I think we should choose Bandon Dunes, the original. The course looks amazing and with the undulations and wind, this course really makes you think and engages every aspect of your attention and your game which makes this a MUST play for me. http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/golf/golf-courses/bandon-dunes
8. New South Wales (Australia): The first non-US course on the list and its a doozy. Near Sydney but miles away from a city feel, this course is perched on a small spit of land right on the ocean. The reviews of this course are all amazing and the holes look out of this world but I think my favorite is number 5. http://www.nswgolfclub.com.au/welcome/index.mhtml
7. Ocean Course Kiawah Island (USA): While I blog extensively about the Masters, while I might pine extensively about the British and Scottish Opens, while there are tourneys I avidly watch, if I could only watch one golf tournament a year, it would be the Ryder Cup. The passion, the teamwork, the this is my favorite tournament bar none. Kiawah is an amazing Southern US island with world class courses particularly the Ocean Course which hosted the aforementioned Ryder Cup. This is a beauty that I need to play ASAP. http://www.kiawahresort.com/golf
6. Royal County Down (UK): I am American, no question but like most of us mutts, I adhere to identities outside of the US particularly my Irish heritage. There are so many great Irish courses but tops on this list has to be RCD. When I heard that RCD was going to be the course for the Irish Open I pressed record faster than you can say "Jack Rabbit Slims" so I could soak in every bit of this course. It looked amazing on TV and I am guessing looks 20 times better in person. I mean, c'mon just LOOK AT THIS! https://www.royalcountydown.org/
5. Pebble Beach (USA): This course is always on top 10 lists. It seems almost cliche that it appears on my list but there is a reason its on here and its for this picture alone. The history of this course, the location, how can you not play this? Well the price is a bit much but for a bucket list save your pennies and play this track! http://www.pebblebeach.com/
4. Augusta National (USA): The only non-links course on this list but on this list for a reason. There are three reasons to play Augusta 1) The history. Freddie's chip staying up on 12, Nicklaus in 86, Jordan destroying the course. 2) This course is the gold standard for green. Of course, this has some lousy consequences as other courses spend way too much water and fertilizer but to play the original immaculately maintained course must be a thing to behold. 3) The exclusivity. To make this list a course gets on here party if you get a call to play you go, no questions asked. I doubt anyone in the golf community would ever hang up on a call from Augusta.
3. North Berwick Golf Club (UK): This is the top public course on my list and if the top 2 courses weren't private, this might in fact be number one on my list. It has beautiful views of the sea, deep in the golf coast of Scotland. But that isn't what makes this course tops on my list. Instead, every single review lists this course as one of the best in the world but quirky. This is probably exhibit A for quirkiness. For me, its not just enough to play a nicely manicured course, it has to be engaging and make you think. It has to show you something unusual and memorable. This course as this in spades and I want to go. http://www.northberwickgolfclub.com/
2. Sand Hills (USA): One of the ultimate links courses and yet it is not anywhere near the ocean. In fact this course is in the middle of Nebraska. An ultra exclusive club that is super tough to get on but super worthwhile. Just check out this glowing review! Triple bonus points goes to the fact that Coore and Crenshaw designed this beauty which puts it close but not number one on my list.
1. Cypress Point (USA): This course has it all. An iconic hole? Check. An amazing stretch of holes by the sea that are immaculately cared for and almost every hole memorable? Check. What puts this course over the top of all others is the exclusivity. Almost no one can play this course unless you know a member and get a coveted invite. I have no idea who is a member of this course or how I could get on but my golfing life would be complete if I could play this track. This course is the very definition of fly-and-play as soon as the phone rings.
So, that's it, that is the list. Overall I think a pretty good collection eh? What's on your list, what's numero uno? Tell me in the comments!
Thursday, July 2, 2015
On my recent trip to Seattle, I knew I had to take in some Pacific Northwest golf so I called up my buddy Bryan and we settled on hitting the links at Kayak Point golf course about an hour North of Seattle.
When people think of PNW golf nowadays their minds immediately run to places like Bandon or Chambers Bay, seaside links courses but what I wanted was a true pine tree experience and Kayak delivers this and then-some!
Trees are everywhere on this course, lining every fairway, shaping every shot and yes throwing shade everywhere. Trees are also very mean and will eat your balls or are very forgiving and will rebound your errant shot back into the fairway. You never know what you are are going to get at Kayak but you know you will get elevation changes:
and crazy holes like this one that has split fairways so you could basically play two different holes if you wanted.
One thing that was definitely different about playing in the PNW was the sand. I found myself in many a bunker this day (when not in the trees) and the sane was a heavy type I have never played before so it was a challenge to learn how to hit a sand shot but I got lots of practice!
The greens were in amazing shape even though the PNW is currently suffering the same lack of rain that we are here in Cali and the fairways were running firm, which is an understatement. I only wish that I had brought my own clubs as the rental clubs were regular/uniflex shafts so I was spraying the ball all over the place. Nothing could diminish the fun of playing with Bryan or the peacefulness amongst the pines that this place inspires. Tree golf is just as fun as links golf in the PNW and I highly recommend this course!
For more info on Kayak Point, check out here: http://www.golfkayak.com/
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
While I may live in LA, I will travel far and wide for a good golfing experience, due in no small part to how crowded LA City courses are. In poking around the world wide web I came across great reviews of Sierra Lakes in Fontana California so I hit the 210 in search of golfing adventure.
The first thing you notice about Sierra Lakes is that it is in the Sierra Lakes housing development. So much so that not only do you get the quintessential ring of houses around the course like you see in similar developments of Florida or Texas but you have to drive through several intersections and subdivisions to get to different parts of the course.
Whether this is good or bad is dependent on your point of view but at least the houses were recessed enough to not make you feel claustrophobic. I also had a small child ask me if I wanted to buy four golf balls for a dollar which made my day.
In what I can only describe as an odd trend, the course doesn't have much water except on par 3's (much like TPC Valencia).
It certainly makes for a hair-razing shot over the water but I ended up making par on both holes so my ball remained dry.
I was really fortunate that Sierra Lakes has a pretty liberal playing policy as I was a single and was allowed to go out early and golfing by myself was a great treat. I ended up joining a twosome toward the end of the round as the course ends with a par 3 and then par 5 and was getting a bit backed up and they were enjoyable chaps. Everyone at the course was very nice and friendly.
The holes were pretty straightforward, from the blues, most of the par 4's were 350ish with elevated greens and most of the par 5's were around 500 or less. The greens were very subtle making up most of the challenge of the track with terraces and slopes that require a delicate touch. Like most courses, but especially Sierra Lakes, knowing where to place your approach shot is crucial, just because its short doesn't mean you can overwhelm the course.
What the course could really use more of is the above, fescue grasses, thus creating more variety of challenges. Maybe its just the links hound in me but I am becoming less and less enamored by development courses.
That being said, as far as those courses go, this one was great. Fairways in great shape, greens rolling fast, friendly staff and what has to be said a killer driving range. Sierra Lakes is a nice track off the 210 and a great example of California golf.
For more info on Sierra Lakes, check it out here: http://sierralakes.com/
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
When most people think of country clubs, they think of private clubs with gates and strict membership requirements. When most people think of golf in general, they think of a golf course maybe with some homes around it but a self contained entity.
What if I were to tell you that Lindero is a country club but anyone can play it? What if I tell you that the course basically goes through people's backyards instead of being a self-contained entity? Well that is Lindero, a weirdo, funky course here in SoCal.
Don't believe me about the houses, here is the first hole:
Houses abound but its not "too" claustrophobic. Most holes, houses might be only one one side and there are only a few (like 2 and 9) that they surround you and really test your focus of aiming for the green.
This doesn't just involve the houses closing you in but the tee boxes also have significant foliage
(you better be straight)
Don't believe me about routing through the neighborhood, here is your path to the second hole:
What is also weird and funky about Lindero is that while it is a par 3 course with a few par 4's, it is really all about long irons. Not many chances to break out the wedges, but my 3 iron Ping hybrid? Plenty of options there! So many holes 190+ like this puppy below:
This is the par 3 sixth hole clocking in at 192 yards. Not only that but there is a bunker guarding the front right and not one but TWO ponds guarding the left side of the green. My 3 iron was on this day my friends so I took all that danger out of play and put it right on the green 20 feet from the pin.
This course is weird and funky but it made me love my three iron hybrid so for that I am forever grateful. It is a wholly unique course and if you are looking for something along those lines, hit up Lindero.
For more info about Lindero, check it out here: http://www.linderocc.com/