Tuesday, February 27, 2018
El Prado is a fascinating track deep in the heart of Chino offering 36 holes including the Creek course which I checked out the other week.
Sure the fairway and the rough are two sides of the same coin. Sure the sand is hard and offers little relief. However with the mountain views seemingly surrounding the course and the aforementioned creek coming into play on the back 9, El Prado offers a picturesque round which was super enjoyable.
Also tumbleweeds, lots of tumbleweeds.
The front side is pretty straightforward and the backside it really picks up with multiple creek crossings at various points on par 4s and 5s which brings a lot of strategy into the mix.
Where the course may lack in terms of length, it makes up for in challenging greens with subtle breaks. They also have a small footprint so much like a Nicklaus course which necessitates a precise second or third shot.
Perhaps one of the most picturesque holes is a reverse cape hole which from the back tees is quite the challenge.
If the conditioning of the course was a little bit better this would be a pretty sweet track. If you ever are in the Chino area you should definitely check it out!
For more info on El Prado, check out the link: http://www.elpradogolfcourses.com/
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Often called the "poor man's Pebble", PGGL offers a golfer a taste of what ocean/dunes golfing is like by an incredible back 9 set amongst the roaring sea.
The routing starts off with a short par 3 which is unremarkable except that it is right next to the lighthouse which is super cool.
Then you have a short par 4 that ever so slightly doglegs left and you can see the dunes rise up like a great wave behind the green and you know you are in for something special.
The twelfth hole is really a superstar amongst the bunch. A dogleg left with the sea to your left and dunes menacing to your right this hole has it all and you want to play it over and over again.
Let's talk about those dunes, they are everywhere and the fairways are like little green snakes slithering between them. In seeing Pebble, Spyglass, MPCC and a glimpse or two of Cypress, I would say this course is actually much more like MPCC or Cypress with its dunescape than the Pebble courses so if you want a taste of the private life, play here.
The greens were the most surprisingly element of the course. Despite early morning dew, they were hard to hold, putted much faster than you would think and required more layup and hope it runs out type of shots.
Another standout hole is the 16th which angles back toward the sea and features a very trick green which was recently expanded to provide more devilish pin placements. One wishes this was 18 but alas is not the case.
The 17th hole is also framed by the ocean to the left but one has to navigate a shot over a pond to a par 3. The 18th is a short par 5 to an elevated green. Looking at the driving range to the right of the 18th which has dunes in it (what a wild range!), one wonders what could have been if the course routed 18 over the dunes rather than making it a range.
Yes, I did not play the front side of PG, an issue I am going to remedy at some point in the near future. Still the back 9 lived up to the hype and if I was lucky enough to live in Monterey, I would be playing here ALL THE TIME. The course is just that good.
For more info on Pacific Grove, click here: https://www.playpacificgrove.com/
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
I've always wanted to go the ATT Pro-Am (formerly the Clambake) and this year I decided to get myself to Monterey. This is part 2 of my adventure up there, enjoy!
Pebble Beach is often ranked in the top 10 courses in the US and often the top 25 in the world. It has hosted multiple major championships and the ongoing Clambake nee ATT Pro-Am for decades. It is world famous and I have played it countless times on WGT.
Still, this familiarity from a distance does not prepare you for how good the course actually is when you see it in person. Whether it is good enough to costs the $525 green fee is a judgment call only you can make but I will say that after walking all 18 there, I wanna play it!
The first three holes are often maligned because of their parkland nature, wending their way through expensive housing. While there is some merit to that, each hole offers its own tricks on routing, none moreso than the second hole which features a great risk/reward choice on the second shot and a devilish green to navigate once you get there.
The fourth hole might just be my favorite on the course. You are nestled in trees for the tee shot but once you gain the fairy, blammo ocean all to your left!
The hole is a short par 4 with tee placement and second shots key to a narrow throated green. Also from this perch, you can see holes 5-7 looming to your right which is just a fantastic way to open up this stretch of the course.
That leads to the wild and wooly 5th hole, a very long par 3 with yet another narrow green.
The sixth hole is just as outrageous as you would expect. Standing on the tee box you have a tremendous downhill shot and then are faced with a huge blind and uphill second shot.
The scale of this hole and the elevation gains and losses are something to see in person and TV cannot do it justice.
The seventh hole is the seventh hole, what more can be said? There is a movement afoot to remove the turf you see around the green and take it back to its 1919 roots by making this all sand. This would be a dramatic makeover from the image of the 7th that we are all used to but it would make a dramatic hole even more dramatic.
The slopes of Pebble are really something to behold and while you could get lost in the views of Carmel Bay, the golf course is giving you all you want and more on the ground.
The back nine is surprisingly hilly. Sure it is not right on the water but the golf and the choices it forces you to make is just as good.
The course asks a lot of questions of your game on the back, especially your bunker game. If you ever find yourself in one of these, let me know how it works out for ya...
but still the general beauty of the hole was there.
Finally you make your way to the iconic 18th hole and it is everything in person that you think it will be. The tee shot is just as challenging as you think it is and that tree in the middle of the fairway looms large.
Then you hit your second and third shots towards the green but definitely watch out for that massive tree to the right of the green. All of which makes for a fantastic finishing hole.
Before I attended the Pro-Am, I knew that Pebble was a top notch course but now having walked all 18, I can attest to how good it actually is. What also was great is how the folks run the tournament.
The volunteers were friendly, the Pebble Beach Resort staff were top notch and super accommodating and the course had the right mix of amenities and chill out spots. This is a first class operation on a first class piece of property. I can't say enough good things about my time in Monterey and I can't wait to go back and maybe one day play that sucka!
For more info on the tourney, check out this link: http://www.attpbgolf.com/
Monday, February 12, 2018
I've always wanted to go the ATT Pro-Am (formerly the Clambake) and this year I decided to get myself to Monterey. This is part 1 of my adventure up there, enjoy!
Monterey Peninsula Country Club:
One of the great things about the Pro-Am is that it is played on three golf courses instead of just the standard one for most tournaments. Each day players get to play either Pebble, Spyglass or a third private course. This private course over the last few years has been MPCC, a 36 gem right in the heart of Monterey.
MPCC's Shore Course is a fascinating track which is schizophrenic in the best possible way. Several of the holes flow up and down the hills of Monterey and are sculpted within an inch of their lives.
This is the Augusta-like portion of the property. The deer run rampant as this is the most lush parkland setting you can imagine. Once you get off the hill and down by the Shore, the course turns into a gorgeous dunescape of holes running West to East.
While much more rugged than its brothers on the hill, the ocean portion of the holes also has impeccable landscaping which kinda leads to an Augusta on the Shore type of vibe. If I were lucky enough to be a member here, I would just put myself on a continuous loop walking these shore courses, the views were spectacular!
Walking around this place, the vibe was unlike any other I have experienced watching tournament golf. Most private courses that host tournaments recognize that golf fans are there not just to check out the pros but the club itself (Riviera is a great example) but MPCC definitely kept itself at a distance. There were several members only portions of the property that you couldn't access and there was almost no food and beverage options (a couple of food trucks and beer tent by the entrance but otherwise if you were anywhere else on the course, good luck finding any amenities). It was very much a "look but don't touch" vibe which while I understand in the abstract, causes unnecessary hardship on the people watching the tourney.
That being said, MPCC lives up to the hype, the shore holes are fantastic and the Augusta-like holes are pretty and serene. I would love to be a member here!
Spyglass doesn't get the love its sister course Pebble does but woah nelly is it a tough test of golf. The very first hole gives you a taste of what you are in for with a huge downhill par 5 with a crazy elevation loss leading to a sweeping dogleg left then ending with an elevate green.
Just the scale of this first hole would make any fan of golf architecture go insane. The fact that you eventually have to play back up this hill to the clubhouse is even crazier!
The true standout holes at Spyglass are holes 2-5 which are near the ocean but not quite. The second hole is a gorgeous par 4 with a tight drive through the trees leading to a wideish fairway and then an uphill green.
The next hole is a beautiful downhill par 3, very reminiscent of the 7th at Pebble but with much more wild dunescape to get you into trouble.
Next up is the par 4 with one of the most stunning backdrops in golf.
Homina, homina, homina.
You then cross the road for another par 3, this time a beautiful uphill one shotter and despite the houses, has an amazing wild quality about it.
Of course, the one other amazing thing about this stretch of golf is that you get views of Cypress Point Club which is almost worth it just for that. Spyglass is absolutely over the top in terms of topography and design but I loved it. They say that Spyglass should be the course the US Open is played on and I don't think they are wrong, it is a beast (in the best possible way!).
Look out for Part 2 of my Pro-Am adventure this Thursday!
For more info on the tourney, check out this link: http://www.attpbgolf.com/
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Tucked into a nook of Pasadena between the mountains and the city lies a surprisingly good 9 hole course run by LA County. Eaton Canyon isn't going to wow anyone with its sub 3,000 yardage and flatish greens but the routing is fantastic, taking you over hill and dale. Well placed bunkers and beautifully framed greens will have me going back again for sure!
What comes to mind first is how the greens are framed. Often elevated from the fairway and ringed by trees, almost every approach shot is pretty as a peach.
The star of the course is the 4th hole, which is a downhill, kinda blind-ish par 4 that frames the mountains and the city.
The greens roll true albeit a bit slow and while flat, present a decent challenge. If they put a little undulation into the greens this course would be a real beaut.
Every once in awhile you run into a course that surprises you and Eaton Canyon's elevation changes will keep you on your toes in a good way and well worth a visit.
For more information on Eaton Canyon check out the link: http://parks.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dpr/ThingsToDo/Golf/Eaton_Canyon_Golf_Course