Monterey, Day 4: The Road Home

After playing in Santa Cruz on Saturday, I was done with the Monterey Peninsula portion of my trip. It was time to start heading home, but not without enjoying some more golf along the way…

Paso Robles Golf Club • Paso Robles, CA • 11/24/13

I stayed the night in Paso Robles and was up early to head over to this local course. It’s always been at the bottom of my to do list in this area, but it was finally time to play it. After all, this was my lone remaining public regulation course in San Luis Obispo County, so it was a convenient time to check it off!

I knew they didn’t start play until 7:00, so I got out there a little before then. The temperature gauge in my car was hovering around 40 degrees, so I was worried there might be a frost delay. When I checked in, the nice lady in the pro shop let me know there would be a delay, but then told me if I wanted to walk (no cart), then I could go right at 7:00. Though my feet and back were beat after a golf-filled weekend, I wanted to get out and around as early as possible. I took that offer, paid my $35 green fee and was ready to rock.

I joined up with another single (a nice guy visiting from Connecticut) and we teed off right on time. We enjoyed our own relaxed 3.5-hour pace and walking helped keep me warm and loose.

There’s a reason this was last on my list because I had pretty low expectations. I knew it was just a local muni course and not a destination course like Hunter Ranch, but I have a goal and I’m sticking to it.

The front nine at Paso Robles GC actually exceeded my expectations. Other than damp/icy conditions, the course was actually in pretty decent shape (more on that later) and both the layout and scenery were more interesting than I expected. It does play through a residential neighborhood, but is still a nice peaceful setting, especially so early on a beautiful, cloudless morning.

The highlight stretch is the 4th and 5th holes, which definitely stand out the most here. The 4th is a really nice looking par-3 (though the sun was straight in our faces and I didn’t get a great picture of it) and the 5th is funky, but fun dogleg right par-4 with plenty of trees in play to force precise tee and approach shots.

Overall, the front nine is solid and each hole is interesting enough to keep you engaged. Then, you get to the back nine. The 10th hole is okay and the 18th is a decent finisher, but the rest in between is kind of a snoozefest. It’s all set in a pretty, flat wide open area with all the holes going back and forth. There’s plenty of water in play on this side, but nothing too intimidating. There is a small smattering of oak trees, but they don’t come into play too much.

I had a trend on this trip of enjoying the back nines much more than the front, so Paso Robles broke this streak. This is one course where I would rather see them switch the routing to save the better nine for last.

The course was in okay winter shape. Not great, but not bad and it did seem the front was in nicer condition than the back. The fairways and rough throughout were patchy with a lot of thin/brown spots, but I generally had decent lies. The one bunker I was in was great. In fact, the sand was almost too soft! The greens were also in very nice shape. The only issue is that they were mowing/drying the greens in no particular order ahead of us, so some we were still very wet and slow while others were rolling pretty quickly. It took some adjusting, but we managed.

Paso Robles is a fine locals course and I would probably take it over the Links Course in town, but there are many other nice options within an hour or so (Hunter Ranch, Dairy Creek, Morro Bay, Monarch Dunes, Cypress Ridge, Avila Beach) that you should play first.

Some pictures from Paso Robles Golf Club (11/24/13):

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I got on the road again. I was tired enough that I would have been fine heading straight home from there, but there were too many other reasons to stop and play again…

Village Country Club • Lompoc, CA • 11/24/13

The biggest reason is that I knew the next course I played would be my 400th! Normally, I’d try to pick somewhere very special for such an occasion, but Cypress Point pretty much represented as special as I would ever get, so the fact it was all on the same trip was good enough for me.

Secondly, I already had a Groupon voucher for this course burning a hole in my pocket. Though considered a private course, they do allow some public play through this Groupon offer ($60, which included range balls and a $5 food certificate). It wasn’t technically on my public to do list, but it was one more Santa Barbara County course to check out while driving through the area.

Village Country Club is in Lompoc in the Vandenburg Village community. I’m not too sure about its history, but it was designed by Ted Robinson according to their scorecard.

They really treated me nice here. The clubhouse is pretty small and casual, but they welcomed me like a “member for a day” and made me feel at home. I had booked a 1:00 tee time, but it wasn’t too busy when I showed up and I ended up going off by myself around 12:45. It was a few holes before I caught anyone, but I played through one foursome on the front before hitting more groups.

When I reached the turn, the manager recommended I go back and loop around a few of the front nine holes to buy some time. The back nine was a logjam because of a members’ couples tournament, so he thought I’d like the extra space. It was a great gesture, but the idea backfired as I played the first hole and then ran into another foursome on the second tee! I decided to head back over to 10 and just wait it out, but then I lost my turn and a few groups jumped in front of me (including the foursome I had already passed awkwardly).

I skipped around on the back nine playing open holes where I could find them and ultimately got them all in without too much trouble. It seemed very slow at times, but I ended up finishing in about 3 hours, 15 minutes, so the overall pace was way better than I realized! One of the perks of country club golf, I guess.

There aren’t too many holes that really jump out at you at Village Country Club, but it’s a very enjoyable overall course. The setting is pleasant as it winds through some mildly hilly terrain and some nice little neighborhoods. There are lots of old oak trees on the property and plenty of them come into play.

The holes that do stand out most in my memory are the 2nd and the 10th. The 2nd is a par-3 with an elevated tee shot and a nice view of the clubhouse and other parts of the course in the background. The 10th is a great par-4 with an elevated tee. There’s a big oak tree sitting right in the middle of the fairway, but the shot for most is to hit right over the top of it. From there, you’ll be left with an uphill, semi-blind approach to the elevated green.

Overall, a round at Village Country Club is just a nice experience. The course is interesting, but not overly challenging (average, I’d say). The setting is great. And, the people are very friendly. Though I am not a play-the-same-course-every-day type of guy, it is the kind of club I could imagine joining some day. It’s not pretentious, but the quality is definitely there.

The course was in great shape, as well. The fairways were a bit dried out in places, but I always had excellent lies and consistent hitting surfaces. The rough was pretty lush and level. It was not deep at all, so the ball sat up well. I was in one bunker and it was nice. The greens were also fantastic. They were not as fast as they looked, but were very soft/receptive while rolling smooth at medium speeds.

If you can get up to Lompoc, I would recommend taking advantage of this Groupon offer while you can. It’s worth every penny of $60 and there were no date/time restrictions. I would still take La Purisima over Village CC, but I’d definitely take it over Marshallia Ranch if I’m comparing the three Lompoc area courses.

Some pictures from Village Country Club (11/24/13):

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Appropriate spot for a suggestion box:

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