After a couple fun little warm-up rounds on nearby pitch and putt courses, Saturday’s main event was a rare SCGA casual member outing on a weekend. I would sign up for more of these outings if I could, in order to play some usually private courses at somewhat reasonable prices. However, they are almost all on weekdays, so I can only pick and choose a handful each year.
Glendora Country Club was a no-brainer since it was scheduled for a Saturday and the price was a very reasonable $60, which is about what you’ll pay for any decent course in SoCal on a weekend anyway.
As part of this outing, many of us were given little GPS transponders to keep in our pockets to help track pace of play and what the “average” golfers are doing out on the course that might slow things down. Who knows what they’ll actually do with the data or if it will ever help speed up play, but I happily volunteered for the experiment along with everyone in our foursome.
Whatever data they gathered definitely reflected a slow pace of play as the round took nearly five hours, which is probably not what folks at this club are used to. The slow play was probably the only blemish on the experience, though, as things were enjoyable on all other levels.
Glendora has the feel of an old school Los Angeles area country club. The clubhouse is modest and the facilities are pretty simple. The small driving range feels rather shoehorned in between the 10th and 11th holes and was probably added at a later date than when the course opened in 1954. Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and his design team reworked the course in 1967.
The front nine is pretty flat, playing across the street from the main clubhouse area. All the holes are lined with tall trees, but most of this side doesn’t feel super tight at any point. The most notable holes are the 5th and 7th. The 5th is a good par-5 with water in front of the green for a nice risk/reward scenario to tempt longer hitters. The 7th is kind of the signature par-3 over water. The green has a small little waterfall to its right and boulders along the water’s edge to make it a pretty good-looking hole with just enough intimidation to keep you focused on your tee shot.
The back nine tightens up as it plays along a hillier part of the property. It’s also a bit more scenic, aided by the more interesting contours of the landscape. The doglegs are more severe and things are more sloped throughout the fairways and greens. The trees feel much more “in your way” and are waiting to knock your ball out of the air. The most notable holes on the back are the 12th and the 16th, though the 18th is also a very nice finisher.
The 12th hole is a tough par-5 that features a big dogleg to the left and an uphill approach shot to a well-protected green. About 70 yards short of the green there’s a tree in the middle of the fairway that will get in your head just enough on your approach shot, but really isn’t in the way if you play things properly.
Speaking of trees in your way, the 16th is one I was looking forward to after looking at the course’s satellite images online. I wasn’t sure what it would look like in person and it turned out to be even more uncomfortable than anticipated. The par-4 hole is only 317 yards from the blues or 309 from the whites. It’s a tough dogleg to the left with a big bunker on the right corner of the fairway to force an accurate tee shot to the lay-up area. The further right you can be the better, though. In front of the green, there’s a tree on the left and water on the right. Pick your poison. Two smart and safe shots will take either hazard out of play, but if you are off at any point it’s the type of hole that can eat you alive. This is probably one where the members all have their own strategies they’ve been playing for years with consistent results, but for a first-timer it’s a really awkward and entertaining hole.
The short 16th is a bit of a reflection on the unique combination of par-4s at Glendora. They are all quite short (five of them are under 340 from the blues and under 330 from the whites) or long (the other five are all over 400 yards from either tee, including the really long and tough 6th and 10th holes). It’s kind of an odd set-up when it comes to the par-4s and worth noting.
Glendora was in very good overall condition. The tee boxes, fairways and rough were in nice shape. There were some thin fairway sections I noticed, but mostly they looked and played great. The greens were excellent, rolling smooth and at relatively quick speeds. Downhill putts were especially tough as the ball seemed to pick up speed at the hole and was hard to stop at times. I found a couple bunkers and the sand was good.
For $60 on a weekend, it’s hard to beat a round at Glendora on a picture-perfect May afternoon. It’s definitely worth checking out if you ever get the chance.
Some pictures from Glendora Country Club (5/31/14):