I had a half-day off from work on Friday, so I made the long drive up to the high desert in Palmdale to play Antelope Valley Country Club with a group of friends. A little while back, we had all bought “member for a day” vouchers through MoreGolfToday.com.
The deal was a reasonable $45 and included cart and range balls. It was only usable on Monday-Friday, so we had to find a weekday that worked for all of us. I’m glad we were able to work it out because it turned out to be a fun day on a decent course.
Even though this is a “private” course, I knew not to expect too much. I wasn’t anticipating pristine high-end club conditions or a super dramatic design given where it’s located. I looked at the satellite map images beforehand and the layout actually looked very basic and boring. However, I was pleasantly surprised as it turned out to be more enjoyable than expected.
Antelope Valley Country Club features much more trees than you might realize. It seemed like there were more trees on this small property than in the entire rest of the Antelope Valley area combined (not counting joshua trees)! The design is mostly pretty straightforward, but the big trees make for some tight angles and uncomfortable shots. Positioning is key here off the tee. Generally, the tee shots feel narrow, but once you are safely in the fairway you can be aggressive toward the pin on your approach. Stray just a little on your drive and you will be rightfully punished.
The front nine and back nine have similar layouts, but very different feels. The front nine incorporates some more rugged desert areas lining most of the holes. These big patches are full of joshua trees and all sorts of prickly bushes that you don’t really want to tangle with. If your ball finds an open sandy spot, you might have a chance to recover. If you end up in a bush, you are just lucky if you find your ball at all. These areas aren’t marked as lateral hazards, so you best hit a provisional in case your ball is lost.
The back nine has more of a traditional parkland look and feel. The trees lining the fairways create some more narrow angles and demand even more precise shots off the tees. The signature hole here is the par-3 11th, which is a nice-looking hole directly over a big pond that you also have to hit over from the tee on the par-5 14th.
Probably the other hole that sticks out somewhat in my mind is the par-3 2nd. It’s a pretty straightforward hole, but the green is protected in the front right by a nasty looking bunker that has a big joshua tree growing right in the middle of it. It’s just a nice visual feature to remind you that you are playing in the high desert.
AVCC was in solid condition all around. I think the back nine looked and played a little nicer than the front in terms of the grass being greener and looking more lush. Most tee boxes were in good shape despite being recently aerated. The fairways had plenty of roll-out. We had a few thin/firm lies, more so on the front nine. The rough was mostly consistent and good throughout. The greens had been aerated a couple of weeks ago, but the are healing well and should be great in another couple weeks. The bunkers had great sand.
Overall, it was a positive experience at Antelope Valley Country Club. If another play opportunity comes up, I’m not sure I’ll really be interested enough to drive all the way up to Palmdale again, but if I lived more locally it be one I’d be happy to play whenever they let me. The staff was super friendly, the clubhouse had a nice relaxed vibe and the practice facilities were very good. Personally, I might lean more toward Rancho Vista in terms of Palmdale courses. I think it’s a more interesting design, but AVCC is solid overall and a good local members’ course.
Some pictures from Antelope Valley Country Club (4/18/14):