Course Review: El Prado Golf Courses (Butterfield Stage)

Saturday was a rare “relaxed” day of golf for me. I only had one round on the schedule and enjoyed a chance to sleep in a bit. Then, a couple friends and I headed up to Chino Hills for an afternoon round at good old El Prado.

My friends enjoy playing here a lot, though they clearly prefer the Chino Creek course, which is generally considered better than Butterfield Stage. I hadn’t played either course in many years before Saturday and have never been in any huge rush to return, but we went for a 12:23 GolfNow “hot deal” on the Butterfield Stage course for just $24 (which included cart). It was pretty busy out there, but we still teed up about 15 minutes early along with another single to round out our foursome. We never pushed the groups ahead too much and nobody ever pushed us from behind, so it was a nice overall pace.

For whatever reason, they had everyone starting on the 10th hole on both courses Saturday. It’s funny because the first couple times I played here, that particular hole was #1 anyway. At some point, they had switched the nines on Butterfield. I do remember the last time I played (maybe 7-8 years ago), the routing had already been switched, so that did happen some time ago.

Before I get too deep into the review, which may come across as a little negative, I must say I have nothing against El Prado. I like that these courses are always there for a cheap and convenient round, but the layouts have never excited me too much. I’m sure I’ll get back to play Chino Creek eventually and give it a proper review. As for Butterfield Stage, as one reviewer on Greenskeeper.org put it, “it is what it is.”

This is a pretty basic, no-frills design. There are a few slight doglegs and a couple more water hazards in play than I remember, but otherwise the course pretty much lays out right in front of you. Trees can come into play with stray shots, yet the overall layout is quite forgiving. That is one reason I didn’t mind playing here Saturday. I was trying out a new TaylorMade JetSpeed driver, so it was nice to have a wide open course on which to give it a test drive. FYI, the jury is still out on the club.

Probably best-looking hole on the Butterfield Stage course is the par-3 8th. It’s not overly difficult or interesting, but it plays over a water hazard and has a decent visual presentation compared to the rest of the course.

The course was in okay shape and actually drained much better than we expected after such heavy rain the day before., Still, it’s quite rough around the edges. The tee boxes were fine, but need to be mowed. The fairways were mostly decent, though there were many thin spots scattered throughout. The rough was inconsistent so you get what you get. In some places it’s super thick and lush. In others it’s just bare dirt (or mud in our case). The bunkers definitely did not handle the rains well and most had big puddles in them. The greens were soft and a little bumpy, rolling at medium speeds.

Another story at El Prado has always been the accompanying sounds and smells. There is a public shooting range just down the street, so there is constant gunfire going off. There used to be a big dairy farm right next to the Butterfield Stage course, so you can imagine those smells. That property now sits abandonded, but there is now a water treatment plant next to another part of the course. That is not pleasant when you get a whiff!

All that said, I’m sure this won’t be my last visit to El Prado. Like I said, there are two courses there. It’s easy to get tee times. It’s easy to find a really good deal. The place is rarely crowded. For the price and convenience, you can look past the flaws and the ho-hum design. However, good deals are pretty to find throughout the Inland Empire these days and there are many better options around.

Some pictures from El Prado Golf Courses (Butterfield Stage) (12/13/14):

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