Course Review: Los Serranos Country Club (North)

Though I didn’t get out of town for the three-day Memorial Day weekend, I still got in plenty of golf. Sunday found me playing an afternoon round as part of the GK Cup match play tournament pitting Greenskeeper.org members against one another in matches that we arrange on our own. Sunday was my final match in the initial round robin play.

Though I’ve played decently, I had slim chances of advancing. I would have needed to blow my opponent out to move on in the case of a tiebreaker, and though I played well, it’s tough to win a match by the margin I needed to. This match ended up in a draw, but we had fun and it was a competitive round on both our parts, so neither of us deserved to lose.

Anyway, regarding the course, it’s been quite a few years since I played the North course at Los Serranos. I just played the South again for the first time in awhile and I had played that numerous times before. However, I think this was actually only my second time on the North. I remembered a few bits and pieces of it once I was out there, but mostly it felt like I was playing something new.

Generally, South is the better-regarded course here, but North has plenty of enjoyment to offer, as well. It plays on a similar hilly terrain and is not dramatically different than its bigger brother. I say “bigger” because that’s the primary difference. As a long par-74, the South is definitely a lot longer than the North, which is of average regulation length.

We had booked a 12:08 tee time. One thing I like about Los Serranos is that they have intermediate rates at noon, in between the price of the primetime morning rate and the cheaper twilight rate starting at 3:00 this time of year. It was $46 a player with cart, though one of the reasons I picked this course was because I had a $35 gift card that I won at the recent “Social Golf Course” book launch tournament hosted by my golf comrades and co-authors, John Hakim and Zeb Welborn. So, it ended up being a very nice $28.50 each after the discount!

We were paired with a single and teed off on time. We played behind a foursome and had to wait on most shots, but the pace was still very steady and we finished in about four hours and 10 minutes. I can’t complain about that on a busy holiday weekend.

I think one advantage North does have over the South is that I would argue the set of par-3 holes here is better than on the other course. The South’s best one by far is the 17th, but the North has three pretty good ones and another (the 2nd) that’s good enough.

Otherwise, there isn’t a ton to note about the layout. This is a good course with a very nice mix of holes. There are some uphill shots, downhill shots, big doglegs and a few fun risk/reward designs like the 9th and the 12th holes, which are both reachable for long hitters.

I also like the par-5 16th hole, which features links-style bunkers guarding the front of the green that have the layered turf faces like you’ll find on the old UK courses. I’m not sure why they did that just on this one hole and it would be something cool to have peppered throughout the whole course, but it definitely makes the 16th more memorable.

One other thing worth noting about the Los Serranos North course is that they offer what is called the “Family Fun” set of tees. These orange tees are way up to encourage beginner play. The group that was playing behind us had a couple of its players on that set and I’m certain it helped them keep pace with us all day. I’m in favor of anything that sparks interest from new players and it makes a full-size course much more manageable and less intimidating for someone just learning the game.

The course was in decent overall shape, highlighted by the exceptional greens. The greens were gorgeous and played as nicely as they looked. They were some of the nicest greens I’ve seen in awhile. The tee boxes were mostly good. The fairways were a bit mixed with some being much better than others. Some areas were quite firm and thin and others had fluffier lies. The rough was a mixed bag and the bunkers were just okay. I was in a couple of greenside ones and they had different consistencies. I was also in one fairway bunker that was extra firm, but that’s what I prefer for those.

It was an enjoyable overall round on the North course and I would definitely recommend either Los Serranos course to anyone. For not being too far away from the crowded and overpriced Orange County courses, it’s worth a little extra drive for two good tracks that encourage a nice pace of play and are kept in solid condition.

Some pictures from Los Serranos Country Club (North) (5/25/14):

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