When you think of Irvine California usually what comes to mind is miles of undifferentiated urban sprawl and proximity to Disneyland. Imagine my surprise turning onto Strawberry Farms Road and all of a sudden I am in the middle of a working farm. Eventually the golf course makes itself apparent but you know you are in for a round away from the hub and the bub of everyday OC life.
The day started out rather foggy and it was tough to see where to aim either first or second shots. The course was designed by someone who liked gutter guards in bowling as there were slopes on each side of many of the fairways so when it doubt, just try to hit it in the middle of the slopes and hope any mishits bounce down to the fairway.
A few observations about Strawberry Farms, if I may.
1) The bunkering is outrageous. The bunkers are huge with big lips and are often staggered so if you avoid one by hitting over it, you may fine yourself in another one.
The course is short but treacherous. With the blue tees at 6,200 yards, if you have a halfway decent drive you will be in good scoring position. However, the shorter holes all have uphill green complexes which adds to the challenge.
The course is also narrow. If you don't hit one of those bulldozered slopes (the land is rolling but not THAT naturally rolling) then you could be in the weeds or worse.
The par 3's are the real star of the course With only one involving water, most rely on narrow greens, crazy bunkers and just plain visual fun to make the 1 shotters one of the best parts of the 18.
The greens are really the stars of the course. Plenty of undulations to make you think, plenty of speed to make you cautious, hard enough to make short hits carry onto the green, these greens have it all and add an extra level of thought to the whole endeavor.
The course is a little TOO narrow and the pace of play made me want write a sad face emoticon on my scorecard as my tee time was delayed 45 minutes due to course traffic but the friendly staff got me paired up with some great guys and I got out right around my tee time.
Overall I liked Strawberry Farms but it reminded me of a student who misses the honor roll by 0.5%. Close but not just quite as fantastic as it should be. That being said, it was a really enjoyable day and I loved so much about this course and can't wait for my next trip to the farm country of Irvine.
For more info about Strawberry Farms, check it out here: http://www.sf-golf.com/