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:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

TPC Stadium Golf Course Review

TPC Stadium is a course with a TON of golf history and holds a must-play spot in golfers' hearts due to its reputation as one of the toughest courses in the world and its responsibility for making and crushing many golfer's dreams in Q School.

The emphasis on this course is penal with thick rough, sloping fairways and bunkers that would take a slingshot to get out of rather than a sand wedge. I was super excited to play the course after all of this buildup and despite the well known nature of the course, I was surprised in many ways.

Surprise 1: The amount of water on the course,

Call me crazy but I am always surprised when encountering many water holes on a desert course. Of course with Dye, the water signifies the real trouble and when it comes into play in holes 5-7 which is arguably the toughest stretch on the course. I was lucky to walk away with one par out of the 3 holes which I consider one of my great golf accomplishments so far.

Surprise 2: The bunkering here is outrageous.

Bunkers can run for the entire length of the hole. Bunkers can be 30 feet below the hole. Sometimes the safest play is to hit from one bunker to the next. It is like Dye took the concept of the bunker and decided to feed it HGH to become an all-pro wrestler or something. When hitting approach shots you have 3 options, hit the green, bail out of the small safe zone or encounter ball death in the bunkers or rough.

Surprise 3: Trees

I was struck by the prevalence and variety of trees on the course. Considering that most Palm Springs courses have palm trees or bust when it comes to this department, Stadium felt practically park-like while playing it. Playing around or through some trees reminded me of playing golf back East although the 100+ temperatures snapped me back to reality that I was in the desert.

Surprise 4: My favorite hole was one of the toughest.

The fifth hole is a lot of fun in trying to completely screw up your game. Most golfers have a fade/slice although many also have a draw/hook. This hole requires you to use both, a fade off the tee and a draw for the second/third shots. It is an absolutely fascinating hole to play and even though I mucked it up with my terrible game it beauty and routing was undeniable.

Surprise 5: The par 3's while classic SoCal water holes, had so much teeth in them, my game still has bite marks from them:

(when one of your par 3's is named "Amen" you know you have issues).

Also the 17th, modeled after TPC Sawgrass is just as tough as it looks on TV. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it is a long shot of over 160 yards, no bailouts at all and if the wind is up, it is super tough.

It was a fun hole and no, I didn't make the green on my tee shot :(.

Surprise 6: The greens were a mess.

I had been looking forward to playing this course for several years and I couldn't believe the conditions of the greens. Whether they were being allowed to die in order to be re-seeded or a negligent lack of maintenance or for some other reason, their condition marred what was otherwise a historic round for me. The putts didn't roll true, the tuffs of grass that did remain deflected the ball off line, and it felt like I was putting on the worst muni course ever rather than a top flight course. Certainly when the winter comes and then the PGA comes to town, these will be nice and green but it was sad after finally hacking your way to the green not to putt on the same surface that the pros do.

Overall, Stadium lived up to its fearsome billing. Despite the chunk it took out of my golf ball supply, it was great to walk the same fairways of the pros and the hopeful pros of Q School. Like Jem and the Holograms, the course design was truly, truly outrageous  and once the greens come back into shape, a must play for any fan of golf history.

For more info on TPC Stadium, check it out here:

For a great book about Q School and TPC Stadium check it out here: