I have to admit it’s a little awkward getting back into a “normal” weekend golf routine. I decided to take all of last weekend off because of the rain and I only played once this weekend. The hardest part was picking which course to play. With that in mind, I was looking for a decent price, an early Sunday morning time, a course that I haven’t reviewed on this site and one within an hour from home.
Shandin Hills, here I come!
Shandin Hills Golf Club • San Bernardino, CA • 3/9/14
It’s been a number of years since I last played here, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the course. You can always find good deals here, conditions are usually decent enough and the layout is enjoyable.
I booked a 6:52 tee time through GolfNow, which was $45 with a cart. With the daylight savings time shift, that turned out to be the first group off this morning. It was good to get out ahead of the Mens Club, so I was paired with a threesome and we enjoyed a nice pace of just over three hours. Being the type of course it is, you usually won’t get so lucky with the pace.
The front nine is what puts the “Hills” in Shandin Hills, but the elevation changes are pretty minor through holes 5-8, which is always my favorite stretch here. The holes I tend to remember most are numbers 7 and 15, which are the signature par-3s on each side.
The 7th features a slightly elevated tee. The view of the mountains in the distance is nice, but marred slightly by the 215 Freeway that neighbors the course along with some industrial areas. The 15th is flat (like all of the back nine), but plays over a pond and the green is well protected by that water and the bunkers. Both are always fun holes compared to the other two par-3s, which I find kind of bland.
Otherwise, the course has plenty of trees running along the fairways and dictating the shots you need to hit from tee to green in order to post a decent score. I find Shandin Hills to be a fair design because some holes really favor draw hitters and others favor a fade. No angles are overly tight or severe, but certainly those who can shape their shots both ways will have an advantage here. There are some straight ones, too, where you can get away with either shot shape.
Overall, I find the setting of Shandin to be nice, but it can get a little noisy next to the freeway and a busy stretch of train tracks. A couple of tee boxes on the back nine are right next to the tracks, and when a freight train is going by it can be quite loud and uncomfortable. As long as they don’t honk in my swing, though, it’s not that much of a bother!
I thought the course was in better condition than I had expected after reading the last few reviews on Greenskeeper.org. The tee boxes were excellent. The fairways and rough looked decent from a distance (as in mostly green), but the grass was pretty patchy. I had too many fairway lies where the ball would nestle between two little clumps of grass or find a thin spot. Despite the aeration last week, the greens were already recovering nicely. They were not sanded, but were rolling slow and still somewhat bumpy. Give them another week or two, though, and they will be beautiful. I was in more sand traps than I’d care to admit and they were all very good.
Overall, it was another enjoyable visit to Shandin Hills. It will never be the best course around, but it’s solid on all levels and will find its way back into my normal rotation as I get back to a more regular local golf routine. Because of the blog, though, I will still try and play courses I haven’t reviewed here so my Course Reviews page will be as complete as possible.
You may also notice I’ve been working on my Regional Rankings pages, so check HERE to see where Shandin ranks on my personal San Bernardino County list.
Some pictures from Shandin Hills Golf Club (3/9/14):