Category Archives: Golf Course Review

You get the pure unadulterated truth on the golf courses I play — Complete with pictures!

Alondra Park Golf Course — Patrons Don’t Care and It Seems Neither Does the Superintendant

 

You get two sets of 9 -- First 9 is OK, next 9 is embarrassingly laughable.  Superintendent sharpen those blades and at least cut the grass level.
You get two sets of 9 — First 9 is OK, next 9 is embarrassingly laughable. Superintendent sharpen those blades and at least cut the grass level.

I am embarrassed to even say I live near this course. I am even more embarrassed I played here last week. For my money I should have played Chester — at least they give a darn about their facility. For the amount of money they spent on fixing/redesigning the front 9 you would have thought someone, hell anyone, would have taken their heads out of you know where and at least maintained the bloody place. 

OK Rant over. This is the skinny. 

Front 9 greens are OK. A little on the slow side and expect some moderate rolls/release for golf shots. Fairways also on this front 9 are respectable. Rough is cut almost the same height as the fairways so non issue. Bunkers are sandy. 

Now the back 9. What the hell is wrong with greens 10,11, and 12? 10 is a disaster with patches on 2 sides of the green,  with loads of dead or dying grass in the middle of the green. I mean put a bloody temporary hole on 10 and let the bloody thing heal itself. Hole 11, Superintendent sharpen your blades. Dull blades make the putting surface on these greens bumpy and that combined with the afternoon light makes for some really crazy bounces. Also quite a few bald patches on this green make for an interesting trip to the hole.  Balls as you can surmise DO NOT ROLL true. And 12 is healing but as I said before sharpen those blades. It seems the disease that hit 12 made its way backwards to 11 then 10.  Like I heard an American Golf District manager say at another golf course, “customers want fast greens. That means verticut and sand every week. And keep doing it until you get the speed right.” At least these guys, even though some folks characterize American Golf as the Evil Empire, put their money where their mouth is. For Alondra my advice City Council seek other management. It’s a dog track in a place where golf is scarce. I can count the number of golf courses in the area on my hands alone. And with the South Bay so built up, this place drips of hungry consumers of golf.  The greens at the Lakes are better than they are here — literally night and day. $22.75 to walk here versus $15.00 to head over the Lakes and play 9 in under an hour — pretty tempting in my book. Even Victoria is looking good now. Hell anything looks better than what I subjected myself to that day.  

Sometimes I just bite and bullet and head to another course with Alondra just around the corner from me. It’s a shame really.  I mean you could seriously make this place one of the showcase courses in the South Bay.   Case in point Skylinks in Long Beach it was an OK course with substandard greens, now after the remodel they market it as a destination golf location and charge accordingly.  

Pace of play (twilight) was a sizzling 3 hours. This is a flat course. It has some character that is lost when you have to putt on some of the worse greens I have seen. The greens remind me of Los Amigos before the management change. The guy just didn’t care. And it shows when you have to fix divot after divot or rake somebody elses mess in a bunker because they just didn’t bother.

Truthfully it’s partly the patron’s fault as well. The folks that play here really don’t take care of the facility themselves.   Golfers are the custodians of the golf course they play — at least that was how I was taught when playing a golf course.  I can’t tell you how many divots I had to fix on these greens and I know for certain they are not all done by my lonely ball.  All that damage that goes unfixed means the Superintendent has to double his efforts to fix your handiwork.  On the other hand, the Superintendent needs to make sure his staff is doing the job right the first time.  I mean at least fix the darn lawn mower, sharpen a few blades and make sure the cut is even.  You do your part and we will instinctively do ours.  

It’s the case of the chicken and the egg.  Each party is equally guilty and neither has the courage to step up and stop the madness.  

You get more challenge playing the par 3 course at Alondra instead and better value. At least there the greens are all spongy so there is some consistency there but they are narrow and small — in other words some challenge. On the big course you’re given some bad greens, an OK fairway and some OK rough — once again nothing special. 

Bottomline, will I play here again? Only if you put a gun to my head. Or in fact I need to punish myself further.

Catalina Island Golf Course — Golf Course Review in Photos

My photographic journey playing these 9 holes at the Catalina Island Golf Course.

Hole 9

Elevated Green for Hole 1  for your approach shot.
Elevated Green for Hole 1 for your approach shot.

Hole 2

Another view of Hole 2
Another view of Hole 2

Tee Marker Hole 3

Uphill dogleg right with OB right.  Aim along the tree line on the left/center and you should be fine.
Uphill dogleg right with OB right. Aim along the tree line on the left/center and you should be fine.

Hole 3 view from 100 yards Hole 4 Tee Marker

Another Uphill hole.  Straight ahead to elevated green.
Another Uphill hole. Straight ahead to elevated green.

Hole 4 view from 150 yards Hole 4

Fun par 3.  Hit to elevated green with a pretty daunting looking set of bunkers up front.
Fun par 3. Hit to elevated green with a pretty daunting looking set of bunkers up front.
Another view of Hole 6 and its bunker complex
Another view of Hole 6 and its bunker complex

In Memory of Frank Saldana Hole 7 greenside view.

Downhill par 3.  Don't be long.
Downhill par 3. Don’t be long.
Nice little par 4 downhill aim at the bunker on the left.  Bag the driver and hit a long iron.
Nice little par 4 downhill aim at the bunker on the left. Bag the driver and hit a long iron.

Hole 8 view from 100 yards Hole 9 Marker

Elevated Tee shot gives you a nice view of the hole which ends with a slightly uphill shot to the green
Elevated Tee shot gives you a nice view of the hole which ends with a slightly uphill shot to the green
Things happen deliberately here.  No need to rush.
Things happen deliberately here. No need to rush.
Hole 2 a slight dogleg right with OB on the right.
Hole 2 a slight dogleg right with OB on the right.

 

 

 

Catalina Island Golf Course — A Golf Course Review

Things happen deliberately here.  No need to rush.
Things happen deliberately here. No need to rush.

Island living… it’s a whole different world.  Just 1 hour from the mainland, Catalina offers a nice escape while still being close enough to the city albeit an ocean going commute.

Island living it’s what I aspire. Played here last Monday; walked up and literally opened the place up. Folks walk their dogs on the grounds early AM so be mindful of them. Teed off at 7-ish. Finished 9 holes in an hour; replayed the 9 again and still had time to make it back to the Bed & Breakfast (Mt. Ada) before 9am. 

Rented clubs. Not my first choice.  It’s a mixed bag of old clubs so if you don’t mind hitting really tired/old clubs then give it a whack. Several of those clubs need to be regripped and the clubs didn’t feel right but with a little adjustment here and there you can satisfy your thirst for golf.  First 9 were spent trying to figure out the club’s tendencies and which clubs I could rely. The next 9 I at least figured out what these clubs would do. 

Greens are SLOW. They have some kikuya infestation and you will need to put the ball firmly. Ball ran pretty true; just a little bouncy on some of the greens. Everything breaks downhill and towards the town so be mindful of pin location. Fairways are a little brown except when you get closer to the hole. Green complexes are pretty green and have full coverage. Bunkers are typical municipal quality — a little loose on top with hard pack underneath. 

Pace of play was a sizzling 2 hours for 18 holes. Not bad considering it is an executive style course with NO par 5 just a mix of par 4 and 3s. It’s not a bad place to play considering it’s the only game in town (literally). It’s kinda casual here so expect to bump up against groups that move at a slower pace. Just be courteous and give way to the faster groups. 

Hole 2 a slight dogleg right with OB on the right.
Hole 2 a slight dogleg right with OB on the right.



Did I have fun? Playing golf as a single is always fun. Bring out a group of non golfers and a few beers perhaps antics will ensue. It’s was a fun round either way.

More photos to follow.  Also be sure to check out my reviews on www.Greenskeeper.Org the ORIGINAL “Know Before You Go” Crew!

It’s coming! The NEW GK App on iTunes!

I am hasty.  I have never been known to sit quietly and wait.  So with that in mind…. allow me to introduce the newest thing since sliced bread and Instagram heck even WordPress — The GK App by Greenskeeper.org.

Coming Soon to iTunes -- The GK App by Greenskeeper.org
Coming Soon to iTunes — The GK App by Greenskeeper.org

I am a golfer and I play a lot of golf and often wonder where I can play — sometimes at a moment’s notice.  Where to play?  That’s always been the million dollar question.  Well this GK App will help you navigate the trenches and decide where to play.  Course conditions, photos, even HONEST golf course reviews of your favorite courses will be available all at the touch of a finger.

Get the lowdown on where to play.  What to expect (i.e. Pace of Play and course conditions.)  How to contact the course.  Find out if they have any specials to save you some of that hard earned cash.  Literally everything you could ever want from an app but never had.

Now other apps tout playing with foursomes and finding groups to play with but personally I find it like blind dates.  I don’t like them.  You get a mixed bag — some good; some bad.  The beauty and the genius here is this app helps you make up your mind WHERE to play.  Your phone won’t die on you halfway through the round like some of these score trackers.  In fact put your phone away while you play so you can concentrate on your round.  Save that phone battery for uploading photos or taking photos during your round and upload them through the GK App.

I personally can’t wait to show you guys…. but for now you will just have to take my word for it.

Olivas Links — Ventura County Golf

Haven’t done this in a while.  In fact I haven’t played anywhere noteworthy in quite a while.

There is something noteworthy about Olivas Links and I thought I would share it.

Shadow -- Insert Golfer Here
Shadow — Insert Golfer Here

Folks from the Valley come here to beat the summer heat.  Ventura County enjoys cooler temperatures, some killer views and of course beaches.  What most folks don’t know about Ventura is the golf as well.  This place has a small town vibe and I suppose these residents prefer to keep it that way.  It’s all part of the charm.

Don’t get me wrong, there are other places like the Inland Empire and Carona that boast some pretty choice tracks but nothing quite compares to the mixture of climate and beaches in my personal opinion.

Just about now the clouds started to burn away and what was left was even more breathtaking.
Just about now the clouds started to burn away and what was left was even more breathtaking.

Played this weekend at Olivas Links with the Greenskeeper.org Casual Golf Outing crowd.  I even drove up a bit early to beat the traffic.  I was not disappointed.  The pictures do not do this place justice.  I swear it almost felt as I was walking onto a golf course in Monterey like the Links at Spanish Bay.  The clouds, the trees, the smell, everything brought back some pretty happy memories.

Overall the greens were hard to figure out.  The undulations if you didn’t know where the pins were placed could turn to be your undoing.  It was mine.  Even with a range finder I found it hard to determine the shape of the green if I wasn’t there standing on it.  Green speed was medium; becoming a little faster as the sun dried out the greens.  Fairways were lush; great coverage.  The rough had your mix of thick, thicker and that heather stuff you see at the British Open.  It was crazy.  Tee boxes were flat and well rotated.

Olivas Links Your Typical Marker for the Hole Practice Area -- Olivas LinksComparing both sets of 9 holes, I would say it’s a contrast.  The back 9 and it’s set up are completely different from the front.  In the front you could say, what you saw is what you got.  On the back, with the elevation changes it was hard to visualize your ball flight.  What looked far was in reality closer than you thought.  My advice, bring a range finder.

You could tell the current Superintendent knows his salt.  The staff here were helpful and attentive.

My humble opinion is I like the course.  It’s well designed, maintained and staffed and I would tell anyone that it’s money well spent to play here.  Add this as one of those courses you have to play and will enjoy.


 

 

Just Bragging…

I was going through my catalog of photos, and it’s extensive, especially since photos have been become digital.  I have become a bit of a guerrilla photographer — point and shoot, everything.

One of my folders affectionately labeled “Golf” brought back a flood of memories.  Here is a little taste of where I have played.

Not to brag –all right, I am bragging; hence the title. — My list of courses may not be extensive as the next guy’s but they were good times.

Victoria Golf Course — A Course Review

Played here Wednesday this week and if you haven’t played here in a while, let me just say I understand.  I know your trepidation about what I am going to tell you folks.  Get ready, here it comes….

The conditions here are perhaps the best I have seen in quite a while.

Three holes are still under construction (7, 11 and 13) and play as short par 3s.  The rest of the course from tee to green I would describe as better than your average Municipal golf course.

Tee Boxes are relatively flat.  Fairways are a little soft from the new sod so expect the course to play longer.  Today with the soot in the air I had to play an extra club just to hit my targets.  Sand in bunkers is relatively new and well maintained.  Green complexes are in good shape even after what looks like an aeration.  The speed of the greens as the day progressed (we started around 10AM) was faster and faster.

The greens have healed well after maintenance.  All that is left is a light top-dressing (of sand), so expect puts to slow down and turn when they hit these little patches.  They are doing light maintenance around the collar of several greens (4, 7 and 8) where they ran their plug machine.

Pace of play was OK.  We were stuck behind an older 3-some that really didn’t have urgency to their game.  They did however start to speed up after 14.

I am impressed.  If you ever played their course before the renovation you would agree.  Hitting off of dirt can be taxing.  This instead was a joy.  The fairways had good coverage.  The waste areas are still waste areas.  Trouble is still trouble, but there is grass on those fairways and it’s actually growing!

I like what they have done to improve the place.  Hats off to the Superintendent and his staff.  You’re doing a heck of a job considering all the problems from last year.  From what I understand this is one of the first golf courses built on reclaimed land.  In a former life this was literally a dump.  A lot has been gleaned from the mistakes so it’s nice to see the improvements.  They have been long time in coming.

So would I recommend playing here?  You betcha.  We walked on at 10AM mid-week and managed to finish a round in 4 hours.   Your mileage may vary but I suspect most golfers can finish in record time — not bad for a city course.   Conditions are the best I have seen here in quite some time.  Wait for them to finish the last 3 holes roped off?  Perhaps but having this course as part of your monthly golf line-up is just another viable alternative I am sure most who play here will enjoy.

 

Harbor Park Golf Course — Course Review

Just off the 110 freeway before San Pedro and beside Harbor City Community College is a sleepy, little 9-hole course that sports a pretty decent set of challenging holes.  Played Thursday this week.

If you blink you will miss it.  So don’t.  This course is perhaps in the best shape I have seen in quite some time.

The greens are in good shape and roll fairly true.  Sand in the bunkers are suspect but it’s compacted so definitely playable.  Tee boxes are relatively flat.

The course sports a two par 5’s, two par 3’s the rest par 4’s of varying lengths with a par of 36 at just over 3100 yards for the blue tees.  It’s a standard golf course; not an executive course by any description.  If you want to play 18, play the course twice.  It offers mature trees that line the fairway, ample landing areas and a definite list of challenges from hole to hole.  Take Hole 2 for example the Handicap 1 a longish par 4 dogleg left at 430 yards it’s definitely a fun hole for the longer hitters or Hole 6 with a blind shot to the green for an uphill par 3.   I like this course.  Pace of play can be slow at times but locals frequent this place and with it a certain degree of speed in their play.

Conditions bottom-line are the best I have seen in over a year.  I would add this place to your list of inexpensive places to play.  Get in, take a long lunch, and back to work.

Harbor Park Golf Course / Scorecard PDF

 

 

Recreation Park Golf Course — Course Review

Played here Wednesday.  I have to say I always play well here for some reason.  I guess I like the green speed and the pace of play here which always tends to bring out my better game.

I was fortunate to play with a local celebrity on the Junior golf circuit — Sebastian, an 11 year-old golf wunder-kid.  Actually according to his father he is the 11 and under Los Angeles County champion for 2013.

If you have ever played with a seriously good junior then you know they characteristically knock that rock down the middle.  They may be short in stature and lacking in distance but they are consistent, down the middle sort of player.  Unfortunately for me he may be short but he can knock his driver 230+ yards down the fairway consistently.

But I am getting ahead of myself,  the golf conditions here at Rec Park are the best I have seen for twilight golf anywhere.  I was expecting bumpier greens as the sun would set but I was rewarded with smooth rolling puts.  Course conditions here are superior.  It’s not your usual municipal golf course.  The superintendent takes care of this course and it shows.

Greens rolled pretty true.  The locals who play here repair their divots for the most part.  Fairways are dormant but playable.  Tee Boxes are flat.  Sand in bunkers was a treat — fluffy sand — completely restocked all bunkers with new sand.  Pace of play was fantastic.  Since I was playing with two juniors (they rode with their parents) and I walked we managed to finish the front 9 in under 2 hours.  We managed to come in as the sun set to complete our 18 holes in under 4 hours.  Not bad considering sunset happens around 4:30 this time of the year.

Some note should be made that they have made several improvements to several golf holes.  Namely Hole 1.  They removed the bunker at the dogleg instead deepening a bunker protecting the green on the right and placing a new bunker protecting the OB fence that runs along the street (Federation Drive).  Some of the fringe around the green on hole 1 has been replaced.  Hole 2 has deeper bunkers along the right side of the green.  Hole 4 the green was enlarged and the fringe around the green replaced.  Hole 6 (Hdcp 1) has the traps on the left side protecting the green made smaller and deeper.  Hole 7 I believe they redid the bunker on the left.  That is about all I can recall but expect areas around the greens to be a bit sketchy in spots but once that grass takes hold it would be very nice indeed.

Overall I do like the changes.  They make sense and they do reward good shot-making.  The greens are still super fast and some of these holes have some wicked break but hey I come here because I like the conditions and the challenge.

Now would I come back here again?  You betcha.  Regards to the staff of Recreation Park for a job well done.

As for one of the juniors I played with today, he shot a 76 from the blues.

Recreation Park Golf Course website