I will use a brief food analogy to describe my golf weekend. I think of it like a sandwich. In the middle, you have some delicious smoked turkey (my favorite) and all the toppings you enjoy most. On the outside, you have the bread. In this case, pretty basic white bread. That is not to say the bread was bad. It did what it needed to, but it was the middle part that made this particular sandwich so enjoyable.
The Greenskeeper.org event on Saturday at Malibu Golf Club was the meat in my sandwich, but more on that later. Let’s start with the first piece of bread…
Casta Del Sol Golf Course • Mission Viejo, CA • 7/27/12
I was able to get out of work on Friday a little earlier than usual and I had also just purchased a new set of irons earlier in the week that I was anxious to try out before Saturday’s event. I figured an executive layout would be a good place to get ample use from the new irons, so it was a perfect excuse to finally go and play Casta Del Sol.
Casta Del Sol is a nice little executive layout in Mission Viejo. It features six par-4 holes and 12 par-3s. All of the par-4s are pretty short—the longest (9th) is 317 from the blue tees. However, the par-3s were a wide range of distances—anywhere from 118 all the way up to 225. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of holes and distances out there. The layout features some minor elevation changes, a few small hazards and enough trees to make you keep it straight. Overall, it’s a fun little course. Not the most exciting thing you’ll ever play, but it serves a purpose and it serves it well.
The course was in decent shape. I would assume it was “average” for this course. Fairways a mix of green and brown grass. Dry areas were still fine to hit from, though. Rough wasn’t cut super deep, but being kikuyu based, it definitely still makes you work. The greens were in very nice condition. There were many unrepaired (or poorly repaired ball marks) that I fixed up throughout the round, but that’s to be expected on a course that mostly draws beginners.
The pace was a little slow (about four hours), but it was a nice afternoon on an enjoyable executive course. Definitely a great place to work on your short game or squeeze in a fun after-work round with your buddies.
Some pictures from Casta Del Sol Golf Course (7/27/12):
Casta Del Sol was a nice little tune-up for the weekend, but the GK event in Malibu was the main attraction. I’ve been looking forward to this one all year because I knew I would love this course set in the hills and canyons of Malibu.
Malibu Golf Club • Malibu, CA • 7/28/12
Note: Sadly, this course is now closed.
They were able to get a prime block of morning times and a great rate ($68). The course is normally over $100 on a weekend, so it was just one more reason to sign up. In addition to the course itself, I was looking forward to meeting up again with some of the great Greenskeeper.org people I’ve been able to meet and golf with in the past year, as well as meet some new people out there.
The course lived up to my expectations. I was expecting a tight and hilly layout (just like I like) and that’s what I got. Definitely a mountain style course, which you probably know is my favorite type. There are a ton of elevation changes, trees everywhere and tight fairways with severe slopes. Most holes feature an elevated tee and then an elevated green, so you’d hit down and then back up. You get a unique mix of pine trees and palm trees throughout the course, so one minute you feel like you are in the mountains and the next you are reminded that you are just a few miles away from some of the most famous beachfront property in the world. No houses surround the course directly, but you can see a few very nice homes perched atop some of the surrounding peaks. Overall, it’s a very secluded feel out there.
I took the scenic drive up in the morning, taking PCH up from Santa Monica. There was no marine layer this morning, so it was a beautiful early morning drive along the coast. The weather was just about perfect up in the hills, too. We were expecting major heat, but even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, we had a nice coastal breeze (a little windy at some points during the round) that kept us relatively cool all morning.
The course was in great shape for being the middle of summer. The fairways were lush and mostly green with only a few dry patches. The kikuyu was extra sticky out there and every shot seemed to be against the grain, which is my personal golf kryponite. Luckily, I was putting like a madman and ended up with a pretty nice score. The rough was lush and there were patches of really deep stuff surrounding many of the trees. The greens were in excellent shape. They are very tough to read with a lot of hidden breaks, but they suited my eye and rolled very true, so I was able to do well on them.
It was a fantastic course and another wonderful event. I absolutely loved my experience at Malibu Golf Club and look forward to playing there again someday. Though the course is well worth the normal fees they charge, I would still prefer it even more with a deal like the one we got this weekend.
My only minor gripe with Malibu was the lack of drinking water on the course itself. They gave us one small bottle in our carts (which I was done with after a few holes), but there are no drinking faucets or water stations out on the course. There was no cart girl that morning either. Our group decided not to stop at the turn because it’s kind of out of the way between holes 9 and 10, but I guess they did have some more water bottles for us there. Had we known there wouldn’t be anywhere to get water on the back, we definitely would have stopped. I got so desperate at one point, I went into the bathroom on the back nine, planning to get tap water from the sink. However, when I got in there, there wasn’t even a sink—just hand sanitizer!
Oh well, now I know. And like G.I. Joe says: “Knowing is half the battle!”
Some pictures from Malibu Golf Club (7/28/12):
Since Malibu was a morning time, I had initially considered playing again while I was up in that area. I had thoughts of playing one of the Ventura County courses I haven’t played yet, but the post-round festivities at the event went on a little longer than I planned, so I ended up just calling it a day afterward.
I guess that left me a little unsatisfied. By the time I got up on Sunday morning, I was already getting stir crazy. I had to find somewhere else to play. It had to be somewhere that wasn’t a super long drive, it had to be a cheap rate, and of course, it had to be a course I hadn’t played yet.
San Luis Rey Downs Golf Resort & Country Club • Bonsall, CA • 7/29/12
Note: This course is also now closed.
I’ve never been in a big hurry to play this course, but knew I would eventually. What put me over the top was the deal I found on GolfNow. It was another “hot deal” rate for an 11:52 tee time at San Luis Rey Downs for only $23! That was hard to pass up. Plus, a recent review on Greenskeeper.org was relatively positive, so I figured it was as good a time as any to check it out.
I couldn’t have picked a more drastically different course than what I played the day before in Malibu. Let’s just say that San Luis Rey Downs is not nearly as exciting. It features very flat terrain with tree-lined fairways. The only minor elevation changes are elevated 1st and 10th tees and uphill approach to 18th green. There are a few tight fairways with many trees to avoid and other holes that are more wide open. It’s a pretty forgiving course overall.
I was paired with a threesome and they were playing the white tees, so I joined them. The pace was nice at four hours, as there were not a ton of people out there. This course would be harder from the blues and much harder from the blacks. The whites are kind of a “combo” between the blue and the forward gold tees, so each white tee is paired with either the blue or the gold on each hole. Then there are green tees ahead for the ladies. So there is a very nice variety of tee boxes to fit your skill level. My only complaint with the whites is the par-3s, as they all seemed to be up with the golds and there were huge gaps between blue and gold on all the par-3 holes. Too big a difference if you ask me.
The conditions were decent. The fairways had plenty of brown/dried out spots, but the grass was still fine to hit from. The rough was decent where there was grass, but there were many bare dirt/hardpan areas found amongst the trees. I hit in one sand trap and it was fine. It was not the best sand, but enough to get the job done with the shot I had. The tee boxes mostly lush and level. The greens were the best part for me. They were in good condition. It did seem like they had multiple grasses growing on many greens, but the cuts were consistent and they rolled true. They were soft and receptive on approaches. I did fix plenty of ball marks, but it wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen elsewhere.
One interesting thing out here was the brick cart paths. I can imagine that back in the day when these were new, it would have been a very cool look. It must have taken a lot of time and care, as well. Now they are worn-down and kind of a nuisance because of the vibrations. Seems like a metaphor for this whole course, which I’m sure was much nicer at one point in time.
Overall, it’s still an OK course and it was well worth the $23 I paid Sunday. I wouldn’t pay a ton more for it, but with the right deal it’s a decent option. There are many other courses nearby I would recommend before this one.
Some pictures from San Luis Rey Downs Golf Resort & Country Club (7/29/12):