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/
Thursday, June 11, 2015
2015 is the year that I wanted to step up my golf game in all different ways. Taking lessons, finding great golf balls and playing much better courses.
When Mastercard offered the chance to play TPC Valencia here in SoCal, I jumped at the chance to play a great track right in my back yard. The double bonus is that this is a private course so I got three of my buddies together to check out the course.
The course has a full practice range with a chipping area and even a bunker to practice fairway bunker shots from. Which is good because there are several fairway bunkers at this course!
The course was in great shape, the fairways were in good shape, the greens were lightening quick and the pace of play was great (TPC strongly encourages 4:15 rounds and everyone adheres to that even without marshalls on the course).
TPCV also has a distinct personality unlike any other course I have ever played. There are huge elevation changes
there are numerous tee shots where you are shooting to a shelf and the price of missing the fairway is going far far down a slope or two. Even if you make the fairway, the rollercoaster continues.
Also, there isn't a lot of water on this course but almost every par three has a water feature involved with screwing with your mind as your are lining up your shot.
How did I play this day? Well I played much better than I thought I would, driver was a little wonky but I managed two birdies on the day. Having local knowledge of this course is key and if I get a chance to play it again, I bet I will do much better the second time around.
Thanks to Mastercard and TPV Valencia for giving me such a great golf experience!
For more info about TPC Valencia check out this link: http://www.tpcvalencia.com/
For more info about TPC in general: http://www.tpc.com/
Thursday, June 4, 2015
There are very few links-style courses here in SoCal as most of the land is taken up by houses looking at gorgeous views of the Pacific. To satiate my links fix, I had to travel an hour away from Los Angeles to Ventura California where Olivas Links resides.
The first thing you notice about Olivas are the practice facilities. Grass driving ranges, two (2!) different chipping areas. A huge undulating putting green. This course has it all and then some.
As OL is near the ocean it also has ocean weather and I believe the only cloudy spot the entire weekend in the Southlands was in Ventura with clouds hanging out until early afternoon. Of course, I didn't mind as the grey skies put me in a Irish mood.
The course itself is beautifully maintained with great fairways and the greens are in amazing shape.
The course was also in full bloom so if your drive wasn't the best, at least it landed in some pretty flowers!
The fairways here are pretty generous and while some of the holes run parallel to each other, you never get a sense of crowding or players hitting on top of each other. The starters also do a good job or spreading out the groups and except for a few bottlenecks on par 3 holes, we clipped around the course at a good pace.
Clipped so good that I finished the round in 4 hours! Almost unheard of for SoCal on a weekend but I suspect that is a standard round at OL.
Even though none of the holes are on the Pacific, make no mistake, the wind off the ocean and the swale grass all around the course will remind you that you are playing a true links course.
The logo for Olivas is an Adirondack chair and it did my heart and my butt good to sit in these chairs during lulls in play.
I was up and down all day at Olivas. I got on a par 5 in 2 which made my day (birdied it to boot!) and also killed some worms here and there. Still I ended par/par on the last two holes which kept the warm feeling in my heart.
Overall, I can't say enough good things about OL. Great course, great staff (managed by Kemper Sports so this is no surprise), great location. If you are in Southern California, make a roadtrip up the 101 to play this track!
For more info on the course, check out this link: http://www.olivaslinks.com/