Sunday, I made my way back up to Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita. This time, I was taking part in another great Greenskeeper.org Event.
I first played these courses earlier this year and enjoyed both the Mountain and Valley layouts. They are both fun, challenging and beautiful as they wind through the canyons. We were set to play the Mountain course this time.
Since I played there and posted photos recently, I won’t go into as much detail as normal in reviewing the course itself. I will say this is a tough layout that will test you on every level. It’s tight, hilly and mostly unforgiving. I say “mostly” because there is a lot of undulation on and around the fairways. Sometimes they can kick you back toward the middle. Sometimes they can kick you off into the rugged desert wilderness. I would say it’s about 50/50 when it comes to good and bad kicks.
I was not swinging the club well yesterday, which made the many uncomfortable shots on this course even more intimidating. Our whole group struggled and it turned out most people in the tournament had a rough time out there.
The wind was blowing pretty well (not as bad as it can sometimes get out here in the afternoon) and it seemed more holes played into the wind. This is a relatively short course at just over 6,100 yards from the blue tees, but I would argue it plays longer than the scorecard would suggest. Part of the reason is that it’s a par-71 with only three par-5s, which naturally brings the total yardage down a bit. Then, when you factor in some of the tight windows and undulated fairways that don’t always allow you to bomb a driver, several holes play longer than you expect.
The most challenging aspect of the Mountain course this time, though, was the greens. They are tough greens to begin with as they are pretty well protected by bunkers, false edges and natural mounding, but yesterday they were also super duper firm. Nothing would hold on them, so it was very tough to judge chips, pitches and approaches from any distance. In many cases, someone would land on the front of the green and roll all the way off the back. With such firmness, they were extra diabolical, so hopefully they can get them softened back up as the even dryer summer months come around.
Because ball marks were not easily made, the greens were pretty smooth on top for putts. They were running at medium/fast speeds. Putting was probably the only thing I didn’t struggle with in my round, so I have to look for the positives where I can.
Otherwise, the course was in pretty good shape. I definitely wouldn’t say “great.” I’ve been a bit spoiled lately playing in Palm Springs a lot, so my standards are running high right now. The tee boxes were mostly lush and green, but I thought the grass was a little too long and “sticky.” The fairways were pretty nice overall with only a few bad areas throughout the course (several spots were roped off as GUR). The rough was cut down pretty tight, so it wasn’t very penal. It also won’t hold up your rolling ball, leading to those good and bad breaks I mentioned earlier. I did notice some patchy areas in the rough, but the lies were mostly decent.
I was in more greenside bunkers than I cared to be and I found them all to have good sand. Every time, though, I’d end up raking mine and at least one other set of footprints, which was unfortunate. The one fairway bunker (11th hole) I was in was basically hardpan, but I didn’t mind that for a fairway bunker as it was easy to pick the ball clean.
Regardless of how the course played or how much any of us struggled, I will always enjoy myself thoroughly at GK Events. Johnny always puts on fun outings with lots of prizes and Greenskeeper.org swag. I’ve never one one of the “big” raffle prizes before, but finally broke that streak this time.
The one highlight of my round was a great tee shot on the tough uphill par-3 14th that ended up about 7 feet from the hole and earned me a “closest to the pin” mini prize. I also made the birdie putt, which earned me a skin win on that hole, too. That enabled me to get two extra raffle tickets in the drawing. Some great prizes were in the raffle, such as rounds at Paiute and The Revere in Las Vegas, as well as a couple of OC Golf Trail discount cards. Those all went before my name was drawn, but I was happy to walk up there and grab an OB Sports card that will be good for very nice discount rates at several Las Vegas courses and a handful of other courses I might be able to play in CA, OR and AZ.
That means there will be at least one Vegas road trip for me this year. Maybe in the summer if I can stand the heat, but for sure sometime in the fall. Since I’ve only played one course in the Vegas area before (Rio Secco), I look forward to checking out a few more at greatly discounted rates!
I can’t wait until the next couple of Greenskeeper.org Events. Next month we’re playing at one of my favorite SoCal courses, CrossCreek in Temecula. Then, we’re going up to Stevinson Ranch again in Central California after that. Should be a lot of fun!
Some pictures from Robinson Ranch Golf Club (Mountain) (4/28/13):