Yesterday marked the beginning of this year’s GK Cup, the 6th in an annual match play tournament of Greenskeeper.org members. It’s always a fun event and it has introduced me to some great people over the past few years.
We’re doing another round robin format for the first round this season, so I had my first match yesterday at Mile Square Golf Course in Fountain Valley. We played the Players course and it was a fun time despite a little added stress because of the competition and a very, very slow pace of play.
Until yesterday, I had only played each of the two courses at Mile Square once. I first played the Players course quite a few years ago and finally got around to playing the Classic course in 2012. Even though it’s pretty close to home, I’ve always felt Mile Square was a bit overpriced compared to other comparable nearby courses in Orange County and Los Angeles County. Neither of the layouts here do much for me and it gets just as crowded here as on those low-end county and muni courses.
We had a 1:00 tee time, so I was expecting pretty slow play on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, my playing partner had found a decent mid-day deal online for $45 a player (cart included), so that’s a reasonable weekend rate at Mile Square—especially since I got to save a little money on gas.
We teed off about 10 minutes late, had to wait plenty on almost every shot and the pace was slow as expected. We finished in about five hours and I was reminded why I typically avoid busy OC/LA courses on weekends. The slow pace of play amplified the fact that neither of us ever really got into a good “rhythm” during the match. It was a bit ugly and was close all the way, but I was able to squeek out a lucky 1-Up victory.
As for the course itself, Players still doesn’t do a whole lot for me. It’s a solid course with a handful of interesting holes, but it’s very flat and I find it to be rather boring overall. Though very similar overall, the main difference between Classic and Players is the amount of trees. Classic definitely brings more into play with a more traditional parkland layout. Players is slightly more of a links style layout with a more “open” look on most holes.
However, Players does bring much more water into play and you do have to be aware of where the water hazards are. Not all can clearly be seen from the tee. Also, there are no hole maps on the tee boxes or on the scorecard, so having your own personal GPS device or buying a yardage book in the pro shop would be recommended if you are really wanting to know the details of each shot.
I’d say the most notable holes are the 11th and the 17th. The 11th hole is a tough par-4 with water right off the tee and also a pond to the left that’s a bit further out. It requires two very good shots to get on the green. The 17th is a nice par-3 over water that definitely has the best “look” of any hole on either course with a rock wall lining the edge of the hazard.
Other than that, many of the holes throughout both Mile Square courses kind of blend together. Neither are bad courses by any measure, but I prefer to play something more interesting.
The greens on Players are relatively large with some subtle undulation. I found yesterday that nothing seems to break as much as it looks. I over-read almost every putt I had and constantly missed above the hole. There are some fairly deep sand traps guarding most of the greens, so those are also hazards worth avoiding.
Despite the amount of play here, the course was mostly in good shape. The tee boxes were quite good. Most of the fairways were fantastic, but a few had some big tore-up areas that looked awful. I’m not sure what happened there, but hopefully they can recover. The rough was mostly good with some scattered thin areas. It was cut down pretty well, so it was not penal at all. I was in a couple of sand traps and they were good.
The greens were currently aerated on the Classic course, and they are set to do the Players course within the next couple of weeks. So they were in pretty good shape for us. They were very soft and rolling well at medium speeds. Because of the softness, the amount of play and the “quality” of players here, there were a lot of ball marks on every green. I fixed many as I was waiting around in between putts. And, of course, they started getting bumpier with spike marks showing more later on in the day.
If you can get a good price, I don’t mind playing at Mile Square because it’s such a convenient option geographically. However, you can generally expect a slow pace of play unless you get out really early, but that is true on many other courses throughout the area. I would say the conditioning here is definitely a notch above those low-end muni and county courses, so that would be one plus working for Mile Square. Overall, though, I’d still much rather drive a little further in search of a course that’s more interesting.
Some pictures from Mile Square Golf Course (4/5/14):