GK Saturday in Ventura

Well, I’ve come back down to earth after my trip to the Northeast where I played some truly world-class courses. It was a bit tough getting back to “normal,” but I’m going to keep doing what I do!

Yesterday found me traveling back up to Ventura to join the Greenskeeper.org crew for another fun outing at Olivas Links. Seems I end up playing up there at least once a year and the cool ocean breezes are always a welcome refreshment during the heat of summer. I’ll post a few new pictures and updates at the end of this review, but I won’t go into great detail about Olivas this time because I have reviewed it multiple times before.

Of course, I used the opportunity to stop and play in the morning. Since I’m out of public regulation courses up that way, I went for a couple of smaller options. That’s right, two stops before the main event in the afternoon!

Westlake Golf Course • Westlake Village, CA • 7/12/14

This is one of those courses I’ve driven by so many times since it’s right along the 101 freeway. I have thought about stopping quite a few of those times, but the timing never worked out. It was less of a priority being an “executive” course, yet as a reasonable par-67 layout, I always figured I would end up playing it someday. That day was yesterday.

A friend and I met up for a 6:00 tee time. The rate was $40 to walk, which seems too steep for this course. It is a good walking course, though, as it’s quite flat throughout. We ended up teeing off second behind a foursome of regulars. We had to wait plenty, but they were keeping a very good overall pace and we never felt the need to push. I can’t complain about a three-hour round here, where it does tend to get crowded on weekends.

Layout-wise, there isn’t anything too exciting to discuss. Westlake is a fun little course. Length isn’t required to score well here, but accuracy sure is. There are a number of narrow holes, lots of trees in play and some tight doglegs. Apparently, there used to be even more trees here. The friend I played with has played the course a lot, so he filled me in on some changes and evolutions that have happened over the years.

There are a few water hazards in play, like on the short par-3 9th coming back toward the clubhouse. There are two short par-5s on the course to go with nine par-4s ranging anywhere from 250 yards up to 410 if you play the blue tees. Then, there are seven solid par-3s. In total, the course is 4,961 yards from the blue tees and 4,567 from the whites.

The course was in solid overall shape for a course of this caliber. The tee boxes were mostly good. The fairways were patchy in places, but were mostly green and playing well. Some of the worst spots were marked as GUR, which is always a good sign the management is working to improve things or at least helping avoid situations where players get stuck with bad lies after hitting a good fairway tee shot. The greens were soft and quite slow, but pretty smooth with not too much ball damage that early in the day. Neither of us was in a bunker, so no comments there.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to play Westlake Golf Course again, but if I lived locally, it would be one I’d probably visit from time to time for a relaxed round on a pretty decent short layout.

Some pictures from Westlake Golf Course (7/12/14):

 

After finishing so early, we still had plenty of time to kill before we needed to be up to Ventura, so we crossed over the 101 freeway for another quick and easy round…

Lindero Country Club • Agoura Hills, CA • 7/12/14

I knew this place wasn’t anything too special, but it was a convenient option in every way (time, location and price). Though $16 to walk the nine holes is still probably more than it’s worth, we gladly paid and headed right out to the first tee. I think it would be $20 to play 18 on a weekend, so that would make it more worthwhile. We just had time for nine, though, and it worked out fine.

Lindero starts with a very simple and easy par-3, but then the course gets quite interesting (some might say “funky”) from then on. It’s a short layout with seven par-3s and two short par-4s, but definitely more challenging than your average little “pitch and putt” kind of course.

They have two sets of tees on each hole for front and back play. For the most part, the longer ones are the front nine. There are some very narrow holes that feel quite tight even when you are hitting irons off the tees. There are some little creeks, ditches and other hazards in play, so bad shots are rightfully punished. Houses surround the course to add to the “tight” feel along with some well-positioned trees.

One of the two par-4 holes is the 4th. It is 247 from the back front nine tees and just 211 from the forward back nine tees. However, unless you can play a big draw, the way they have it set up deters you from trying to drive the green. In fact, it’s clear they put in a big bank of palm trees right in front of the forward tees at some point to keep people from trying. It was kind of a bummer for me because I don’t have many opportunities to go for greens, but it’s probably a smart thing for safety and pace of play if people aren’t being so aggressive.

The course was in pretty mediocre condition. Here, the main things that matter are the tee boxes and the greens. The tee boxes were fairly chewed up, but playable enough. The greens were in good overall shape—receptive and rolling pretty smooth at medium speeds. Everything in between the tees and greens is pretty brown and dried out right now. The further you get off any “fairway” areas, the worse things get.

Lindero Country Club is there. It’s probably a bit too funky and challenging for beginner-level players, and probably not really compelling enough as a par-29 course for experienced golfers to really take it seriously. It’s mainly there as an outlet for folks who live in that community and belong to the club.

Some pictures from Lindero Country Club (7/12/14):

 

Ultimately, I made my way up to Ventura for the Greenskeeper.org event…

Olivas Links • Ventura, CA • 7/12/14

It was another great event, even though we had a smaller group than initially hoped. It can be a bit of a trek up to Ventura for anyone living significantly south or east of Los Angeles, yet at the same time the temperatures up there are much more appealing this time of year.

As for the conditions, I thought things were pretty good and playing the way the course is meant to. It was definitely not the nicest I’ve seen this course. There were plenty of thin/light patches here and there, but the course is playing tight and firm as a links course should. The greens were good. They had some really tough pin placements yesterday, so that added a nice level of challenge on an otherwise forgiving course. The tee boxes were great and the bunkers were excellent (I was only in one, though).

The only other thing to note is that they cleared out the reeds and long native grasses in some of the hazard areas, primarily on holes 11, 13 and 16. Personally, I didn’t like that. It kind of neuters those tough hole layouts if you can find and play your ball from the hazard. It doesn’t look as nice either with everything chopped down. Hopefully they’ll let that grow back out so the holes play as they are supposed to.

All in all, it’s always nice going up to Olivas. I don’t love the course as much as some, but it’s always a nice change of pace in terms of the weather and the style of design.

Some new pictures from Olivas Links (7/12/14):

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