Course Review: Pala Mesa Golf Resort

A friend and I played out here this morning. With the combination of an tee time and a Groupon discount, we were able to get out for less than $30 a piece. It was a really good deal for a 6:45 Saturday tee time. We teed off right about on time and it wasn’t too crowded out there on a foggy morning. There were a few other twosomes out ahead of us, but we never really caught up to anyone and enjoyed our own nice three hour pace.

I played this course once a couple of years ago and found it to be an enjoyable layout. It’s not terribly long, but it’s tight and definitely falls under the category of a “target” style course. There’s OB on most every hole (often on both sides of the fairway) and plenty of trees come into play. With those white stakes looming everywhere and some narrow angles, there are some intimidating shots here. However, if you stay straight and safe, good scores can be had.

The greens here are relatively small, but not too difficult to get at if you are safe off the tee. There are some big bunkers protecting a number of greens, so you definitely want to stay out of those. Visually, the greens don’t appear to have much slope or undulation, but they really break a lot so you want to stay toward the high side on putts to have the best chance of catching the fall lines.

The fog was quite heavy during most of our front nine, which made a narrow course feel even more uncomfortable. It’s difficult to play target golf when you can’t see your target landing areas! However, by the time we made the turn, the skies had cleared and it was beautiful on the back nine. I really do like the back nine here better anyway, so the clear weather helped enhance the experience.

For long hitters, there are a couple drivable par-4s at just under 300 yards (5th hole and 11th), but there’s not too much room for error on either. From the blue tees, all the par-5s are relatively short (each under 500 yards), so those are all good scoring opportunities if you keep the ball in play. One odd thing is that all of the par-3 holes play to very similar yardages (about 150). More variety in distance there would be nice.

Pala Mesa was just in okay shape. The greens on the front nine were a tiny bit bumpy and looked to still be recovering a little from a recent aeration. The back nine greens were much nicer and were great. The fairways and rough were somewhat patchy with some thin areas here and there, and they looked to have a variety of grasses growing in different places. It didn’t look that pretty, but most fairway lies I had were nice, and again it seemed the back looked and played a little better than the front.

There were a few uneven tee boxes and the grass quality varied on some of them, but it was never too hard to find a decent place to tee it up. The two bunkers I found had good soft sand, but we did have two balls plug because it may have been too deep on the faces. One bunker my friend found on the 16th hole had a bunch of standing water in it, which was unfortunate. Overall, I’d still say the course was in decent playable condition, so no major complaints.

Pala Mesa is a fun course. I wouldn’t spend too much to play here ($50 would be about my personal limit). So if you can get a good deal and don’t expect too much from the conditions/service because of the “Resort” in the name, it’s an enjoyable option.

Some pictures from Pala Mesa Golf Resort (8/24/13):

After our round, we stopped at Nessy Burgers right down the street from the course. This little shack is an institution around here, but I’ve never had the gumption to stop there and eat. I’ve always wanted to try it, but every time I’d ever driven by it, the place was packed. The seating situation always looked tight, but from the crowds, it appeared the the food was worth the hassle.

They actually moved the location just up the street and we were there well before the lunch crowd. We were pleasantly surprised they were already serving lunch items at 10:00. The burger was massive, messy and delicious. A bit overpriced, but really tasty, so I am glad I finally got to try a Nessy Burger after all these years!

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