New Friends, Old Favorites

Saturday found me heading up the coast. Normally, the Central Coast is the perfect place to escape the warmer weather down south. With a heat wave rolling through Southern California, I was glad to be meeting up with a new friend for a couple rounds at two of my favorite Central Coast courses, Rancho Maria and La Purisima. However, the high temperatures were unavoidable on this day.

I did play a very quick morning warm-up at Sunset Ridge Golf Center in Santa Maria, but I’ll save that review for later in the week. I have my reasons.

Anyway, the idea for this day started when someone contacted me via email after visiting this site (bogeysacrossamerica@gmail.com). He invited me up to play a round with him at his home course, La Purisima in Lompoc, where he lives. It took awhile to find a date that worked for us, but we made it happen and also decided to play a morning round. For me driving a few hours up that way, you can bet I’m going to play at least twice and it was cool he was able to join me for both rounds.

By the way, I always enjoy making new golf friends and getting to play someone’s home course with them for added perspective on what makes it special. Especially those of you who might belong to a private club in SoCal and want to invite me out, feel free to write me. (Hint, hint!!!)

Rancho Maria Golf Club • Orcutt, CA • 10/4/14

It was almost exactly a year ago that I played Rancho for the first time. It was one I had saved for last in Santa Barbara County because I had never heard much about it prior. It turned out to be a real hidden gem, so it was cool to pay the course a return visit yesterday.

I don’t have too much to add to my review from last year, which you can read here. It’s a fun course with some narrow tee shots and greens featuring some pretty severe slopes. It’s not super long and we played the whites yesterday at 6,148 yards. Accuracy will be rewarded here. In fact, I am proud to say I shot my best round ever—a 3-over 75! I’ve actually been playing very poorly lately, but something clicked at Rancho Maria and I was cruising along.

The gigantic eucalyptus tree guarding the 16th green is still something to behold in person and this is just a nice setting for a course with no houses around and pastoral views of the surrounding farmland.

Overall, the course was in good condition. It wasn’t quite as nice as last year, but still solid overall. The tee boxes were good and the fairways were maybe a little shaggy in places. However, I almost always had perfect fluffy lies which I am certain aided in my approach shots. The rough was not much of a factor. The greens were soft and pretty smooth, but a lot slower than last year. They have such severe slopes and I had scary visions of how slick they were last time, I could never quite adjust to the slower speeds.

Rancho Maria is still one of the best-kept secrets on the Central Coast. I think locals prefer it that way. We had an 8:00 tee time and played as a twosome behind some other groups. The pace was great for primetime on a Saturday morning and we finished in under four hours. The walking rate was just $35, so it’s a great deal and good course to hoof it on.

Fortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover early and that kept the temperature more mild than expected. That was until the last few holes when the sun started to peak through more and it seemed to jump 20 degrees within minutes.

Some pictures from Rancho Maria Golf Club (10/4/14):

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We grabbed a quick lunch at Chipotle and then headed over for the main event of the day…

La Purisima Golf Course • Lompoc, CA • 10/4/14

It was also last October when I played La Purisima. That was only my second time here and I’ll always consider it one of my favorites, so I didn’t mind coming back again this year. Honestly, it’s not a course I’d like to play every day because it is so long, difficult and not designed at all for a fade hitter like myself. Holes 10-12 are really the only favorable ones and the length of 10 makes it a three-shot hole for me anyway, so no real advantage there.

We had booked a 1:50 tee time through GolfNow for $39 and my friend also had a 2-for-1 reward promo, which I was very thankful he shared with me. That made it $19.50 each. You won’t find a better deal than that here! As I rolled into town, my car thermometer said the temperature was 103 degrees. That is pretty much unheard of in Lompoc being so close to the ocean. My phone said it was 95 in town, but either way that is unusually hot.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it), you can pretty much guarantee the wind will pick up in the afternoons at La Purisima. By the time we made the turn to the back nine, the breeze had definitely gotten stronger. It wasn’t as crazy windy as it can get, but it did add some challenge. Thankfully, it also cooled things down well.

The place was relatively busy for a hot day, but we enjoyed a nice pace of just over four hours. We picked up a couple other single players along the way as we played behind several other foursomes, so that helped things be more enjoyable.

Wind or no wind, La Purisima will always be one of the toughest courses in Southern California. We amped up the challenge by playing the blue tees (6,670 yards) and I was quickly humbled after my great morning round on a much easier course. Though I wouldn’t want to play here every day, I look forward to coming out here every year or so to put my game to the test.

My review from last year here will tell you more about my thoughts of the course. I’ll post some updated pictures below.

The course was in similar condition to last time. It’s definitely still a little rough around the edges as they deal with the drought, but mostly in pretty good shape. Last time, the greens were pretty much perfect. This time, they were not quite as nice. The front nine greens had a light top coat of sand. It didn’t affect play much, but they rolled a little slower than normal. The back nine greens were very soft and rolling at medium speeds (by La Purisima’s standards), but got a bit bumpy late in the day. Normally, this place has lightning fast surfaces, but that wasn’t quite the case Saturday and like a Rancho Maria, I found myself putting too tentatively thanks to memories of much faster greens.

La Purisima is definitely a must play and good deals can almost always be found in the afternoons. You will have to deal with the added challenge of the wind during that time of day, but I’m fine with that trade-off.

Some pictures from La Purisima Golf Course (10/4/14):

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