I took the day off from work yesterday just to take advantage of the “Mega Monday” deals at Industry Hills. I had first played the Zaharias course back in March and absolutely fell in love with the layout. I couldn’t wait to play the Eisenhower course next. Most everyone I’ve talked to prefers Ike over Babe, so I had to experience it for myself. It would be hard to top my first experience on the Zaharias course!
What continues to baffle me about these courses is the location. The City of Industry is perhaps the ugliest place in all of Southern California. However, right in the middle of it all sits the Pacific Palms Resort and two of the best golf courses you’ll find just about anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times yesterday that I said to myself (and sometimes out loud to my playing partners) “I can’t believe we’re standing in the middle of the City of Industry right now!”
On the course (with the minor exception of a few holes along the edge of the property), you feel completely secluded and away from all the hustle and bustle of this industrial area. There are many scenic views with the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The designs are fun and challenging—these courses never lets you get bored. And the conditions are almost always optimal on resort-quality courses. It’s hard to beat Industry Hills, especially with their Monday deals ($55 on Eisenhower course, $50 on Zaharias).
With the full day off and a rare opportunity to get out on a Monday, I was dead set on playing 36 holes (once on each course). I played the first round on Eisenhower as a single (paired with another threesome), but had arranged with a friend to meet up with me for the second round on Zaharias in the afternoon.
My tee time was at 7:10 am on Ike and we teed off just about on time. We were stuck behind a pretty slow foursome all day, but I was enjoying the course and perfect weather so much I didn’t mind the relaxed pace. All in all, we finished in just under five hours. The Eisenhower course was in excellent shape. I found the fairways and rough to be great. The bunkers were nice and fluffy (and I found a lot of them today). The greens were a bit firm and VERY fast. Don’t be above the hole here!
I was a little surprised by the amount of great elevation changes on Ike. Most people I talked to seemed to say that Ike was an easier course than Babe. They said it’s longer, but a little more “open.” After playing the Eisenhower course, I am not sure I fully agree with that assessment. I found it to be quite challenging, with almost as many “uncomfortable” tee shot angles. The course is loaded with bunkers, there aren’t many flat lies and there always seems to be a tree (or multiple trees) just enough in the way to mess with your shot-making decisions. The Zaharias Course is definitely tighter (especially off the tee), but the greens are a bit more accessible with the shorter distances. There are more funky hole designs on Babe, but there are a few doozies on Ike, as well (the 2nd hole and 4th hole come to mind—not to mention the 627-yard par-5 18th hole as one hell of a finisher). I would say they are equally challenging in slightly different ways.
I finished my round on Ike around noon, so I had a little time to relax in between rounds. Grabbed a turkey sandwich and some iced tea at the snack shop. I saw my friend check in with the starter and I got myself checked in to join him. Our tee time was at 12:40 and we teed off a little after that. There were multiple tournament events going on yesterday, so we were stuck behind a big group all day on the Zaharias course.
For the entire front nine, the group ahead of us were playing as a sixsome (yikes!) and were quite slow. On the back nine, I guess the marshal caught up with them and broke them up into two threesomes, but they were still just as slow. So the round took about 5 hours and 20 minutes. But I really didn’t mind taking my time on such a great course.
When I last played the Zaharias course a month or so ago, the conditions were superb, as they were on the Eisenhower course in my morning round. However, the front nine on Babe this time was a little less than “great.” The fairways were a bit more thin and the greens a bit more bumpy (still lightning fast, but less smooth than expected). However, on the back nine, the conditions were more like that on Ike. Near perfect fairways and smoother greens. And the back nine is so pretty here with some great mountain views and beautiful landscaping on some holes, it’s a great setting for golf. It is really a treat to play here.
If asked right now to pick my favorite between the two, I’d be hard-pressed. In my opinion, they are numbers 1A and 1B as far as public courses go in LA County (and perhaps all of Southern California). It doesn’t get much better than this!
I played pretty well yesterday, which added to the experience. I started off horribly on Ike (49 on the front), but settled down on the back (42). Then I started off really good on the front of Babe (41), but finished with two double bogeys on the back nine for a 44. Either way, I was pleased with a 91 for my first time on the Eisenhower course and a 85 on my second time on the Zaharias course. One thing I was extremely proud of was the fact that I didn’t lose a ball or take a single penalty stroke all day until the 17th hole on Babe. I was so bummed when I chunked my tee shot on that beautiful par-3 down into the water hazard. I really wanted to go home saying I didn’t lose a ball all day on these super-tough courses! Oh well, I’m still happy with how I played.
I do think the enjoyment of the course factors into the way I play sometimes. When I am in love with a course and more preoccupied with taking photos, I tend to think less about my game and just relax. That usually translates into better results. At least, I’ll keep telling myself this as an excuse to keep playing awesome courses nationwide!
Here are some pictures from the Eisenhower Course (4/16/12):
In case you are wondering, that is a funicular in the background of the 9th hole above. It’s a shortcut back to the clubhouse for golfers who are walking the course (which is pretty much only big-time tournament events these days). It’s like something out of Disneyland, as you can see from the cool station that’s at the top of the hill (pictured below).
Seriously, I’m standing in the middle of the City of Industry when I took this picture:
And the “beast” finishing hole—the 627-yard 18th:
I didn’t take many pictures on the Zaharias Course yesterday because the conditions weren’t as nice as last time I played and I already had a ton from that visit. But I did snap a few on the back nine because I was inspired by some of the fantastic views. So here you go:
That’s the view from the first tee on the Zaharias course above!