After a very busy few weeks leading up to my 300th-course celebration at Torrey Pines on Monday, I chose to take it a little easier this weekend. In fact, I wasn’t planning to play at all, but the golf gods spoke to me and I had to answer.
For the past several months, I’ve been seeing discounted tee times around noon on weekends for Seven Hills Golf Club out in Hemet. They were generally anywhere between $11-17, which is a hell of a deal no matter what the course is. Yet, I was still never in any hurry to play here because the conditions have been notoriously bad the past year or two and Hemet is definitely out of the way. So I was waiting for a positive sign. Well, I got that earlier this week when I saw a review on Greenskeeper.org that offered some uplifting feedback about Seven Hills from a local player. He noted that the course seemed to finally be taking a turn toward the better.
As soon as I saw that review, I looked up the tee times on ezlinks.com and there it was: Sunday at noon for only $11 (cart included). Plus, I had received a promo code from them for an additional 25% off. That basically covered a little more than the $1.99 booking fee, but hey, it was still a steal of a deal at a whopping $10.24. To play a weekend round on any course in Southern California (with a cart) for that price is unheard of. And since the course actually was supposedly in the best shape it’s been in awhile, then it was finally a no-brainer for me.
Still, I kept my expectations pretty low coming into the round. On some levels, I was pleasantly surprised. On others, Seven Hills was about what I would have expected.
The layout isn’t anything terribly interesting and exciting. It’s solid, though, and definitely will satisfy your craving for golf if you just want to get out there and tee it up. The whole course is very flat. What you see is what you get. The fairways are very wide and forgiving, but you can find trouble if you are spraying the ball. There are plenty of trees lining all the holes and some small ponds from time to time. Also, the course winds through a residential community, so there’s plenty of OB areas if you are really off-target.
The greens are mostly tiny and very hard to hold as the surfaces are fairly firm. They don’t have much undulation and generally slope pretty predictably from back to front. But because they are small and firm, though, they offer the most challenging aspect of the course. From the blues, the course plays at over 6,500 yards and the whites are over 6,300. There’s really only a few holes where the difference between the tees is significant.
Otherwise, there isn’t too much to note about Seven Hills in terms of layout. The scenery isn’t anything too special, though there are a few decent holes on the back that allow you to see more unobscured views of the rugged hills and mountains nearby.
The conditions were decent enough. For the price I paid (their normal rates are generally pretty inexpensive) and the style of course this is, I wouldn’t ever expect it to be in “pristine” condition. It’s kind of a basic old school country club kind of course, so it is what it is. That said, the conditions were solid. The fairways were mostly green (more green on the front nine than on the back, for whatever reason). Some areas were a bit too shaggy and others a bit too thin (again that difference most noticeable from front to back), but overall pretty good.
The rough was a bit inconsistent with bare spots in some areas and super thick stuff in others, primarily around the greens. Around many of the greens, the rough was lush and DEEP. In other words, watch your ball or you might lose it in that stuff. I was in one bunker and the sand was a little crusty, but plenty playable. The tee boxes were hit and miss. Some were very nice and others were a mess. The greens were okay and still need some work to get into nicer shape. They were bumpy, slow and had some really bad patches here and there. Still, you could see repair work they were doing on some of the greens and you can tell they are making an effort to bring this course back to a better level of conditioning.
Remember, I only paid a little over 10 dollars, so I won’t complain much. For that price, it was beyond worth it. Other than the greens, Seven Hills was in similar shape to most muni courses throughout Southern California. If this were an LA County course, it would be $50 and there’d be a line out the door of fivesomes ready to play it every weekend. There are much more enjoyable courses nearby I’d rather play, even if it costs a little more. But Seven Hills is better than I would have expected and some of the online deals are hard to beat.
Though my tee time was at noon, I got there early knowing it wouldn’t be too busy on Easter Sunday. I was right. The lady behind the counter was super nice and let me go off right away with another twosome around 10:45. We played through another threesome on the 2nd hole and then never saw anyone in front of us after that for an ideal three-hour round!
The facilities are pretty basic and the feel around there is definitely like that of an old, run-down country club that attracts a lot of regular players who prefer the convenience and price of their local course.
I know I had plenty of fun out at Seven Hills and it was an incredible deal. I think I spent more money on gas than I did for golf. I also think I spent more time driving to and from the course than playing it! I won’t be in any rush to play here again, but it’s not a terrible option for a cheap, no-frills kind of round.
Some pictures from Seven Hills Golf Club (3/31/13):
One last thing to note about Seven Hills is that it represents another small personal accomplishment. Last year, I compiled a full “checklist” of all the public regulation 18-hole courses that I hadn’t played yet in Southern California (everything from San Luis Obispo County and Kern County down). I broke the list down into counties, but purposely split the loaded Riverside County up into two regions—West and East. West encompassed the “Inland Empire” part of the county while East represents the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area).
Well, any way you slice it, Seven Hills was the last course remaining on my list in Western Riverside County! Though several are close to completion, it’s the first region I’ve completely checked off and I feel good about that.