I think it was back in 2006 or so when I first—and last—played Dos Lagos out in Corona. Back then, it was a pretty new course. It was built near the end of the golf (and real estate) boom in Southern California and it never quite became the level of course it was intended to be. Though development around this area has definitely picked up significantly since the economy’s downturn (there was absolutely nothing on this side of the freeway near the course last time I played), the course remains as one that is still generally looked over by most golf aficionados.
I remember that I somewhat enjoyed my one previous experience at the course, so I’ve been looking for an excuse to come back and give it another shot. That finally happened today when I saw a GolfNow “hot deal” time for just $21 and, after researching other course options on Greenskeeper.org and seeing most with aeration alerts, Dos Lagos was a good choice as it is not punching the greens until next month.
I had booked a 12:08 time, but hit some traffic on the way out. I called the course to let them know I was running a little late and they said “no problem.” When I got there and checked in, the pro shop guy said I was ready to go whenever I wanted. I checked in with the starter down below, and he gave me the option to play by myself or wait and join another group. Just then, a twosome rolled up. Knowing there were folks out on the course, I opted to play with them and enjoy a more relaxed pace.
We didn’t run into anyone until the 7th tee and then it was pretty slow going after that. We finished the front nine in just 1.5 hours, but it took about 2.5 hours on the back as things slowed down significantly and it looked like there was a small tournament group ahead of us.
Dos Lagos was designed by Matt Dye, who is the nephew of golf architecture legend, Pete Dye. It doesn’t really incorporate any significant Dye family hallmarks, but you can tell he attempted to use the diversity of this property in the layout. Because of this, the course kind of has a few different personalities.
Dos Lagos plays to a par of 70 and has an unusual routing with six par-3s and four par-4s. I will say the collection of par-3 holes is fairly enjoyable with a good variety of distances and shot angles.
There are some long, flat holes. A couple are rather boring and a few are challenging with big water hazards in play (the 13th and 18th come to mind). Then there’s a stretch of holes on the front (3-9) that play along a narrow ridgeline with all sorts of environmental hazard areas in play. Then, you have the most fun stretch that starts with an uphill approach on the really long par-5 14th and ends with a major drop-off on the par-3 17th. That’s easily my favorite part of the course.
There are a number of short risk/reward holes at Dos Lagos. Some might call them “funky,” but I find most of them to be rather fun. Some holes are definitely what you’d consider “target” design and others are more wide open. In all, it’s kind of an interesting mix of holes. Sometimes it’s challenging and uncomfortable, other times you can be aggressive and be rewarded with an easy birdie. It’s definitely not a layout everyone will enjoy and there are definitely a few holes I don’t care for, but I still enjoyed myself there today.
The course was in decent condition. It didn’t really look pretty with the grass being semi-dormant bermuda, but it was very playable. Some tee boxes were really good and some not so great, but I never had a hard time finding a good place to tee it up. Some fairway sections were a little shaggy and others were very tight and firm. Though inconsistent, I can’t say I ever had a bad lie. I did notice on the hillside holes, they had either been overseeded those for winter or perhaps they keep a different grass there year-round. That would explain why those holes always look greener and more enticing most times I see the course from the freeway!
The rough was not a factor as it was pretty much cut down equal to the fairways. It makes the layout more forgiving, but also makes the sight lines much more awkward. With no real definition between fairway and rough (and a spotty course knowledge), it threw me off a couple times. They do have 150-yard barber poles for aiming, but they don’t always look or feel right when standing on the tee. I found a couple of fairway bunkers and they had good enough sand. I wasn’t in a greenside one, though. The greens were relatively soft and receptive, rolling at medium speeds. They were a little bumpy at times, but were mostly pretty true.
I enjoyed my day out there because I had a good deal and could look the other way on some of the conditioning flaws. If I paid more, I would have been more critical. Like I said, though, it isn’t super pretty or consistent right now, but the playability is fine throughout. The staff was friendly and we saw the cart girl several times. The drinking water jugs had plenty of water in them to quench the thirst on a warm afternoon.
It’s not a course I will opt to play regularly, but I won’t mind coming out here every so often if the deal is right.