This has always been one of my favorites in Orange County, though I’ve only played here twice before because I don’t like playing in OC that much (especially on weekends when courses are both crowded and ridiculously overpriced).
However, a friend of mine is a Creek Card member as of this year and they had a special deal going this weekend. It was a $40 rate after 2:00 and guests pay the same fee as the member. That’s a great deal for Tijeras Creek.
I reviewed the course once before and you can read that here, but I’ll post some new photos and comment further about Saturday’s experience in this update.
We had a 2:00 time and were paired with a single. As expected here, the pace on the course was pretty slow and it was a 5-hour round. Something about this place (challenging layout, big crowds, lack of marshals, etc.) keeps it from ever playing quickly. Fortunately, it was such a beautiful day and the back nine was extra picturesque.
I’ve used the saying “A Tale of Two Nines” on multiple reviews over the years. I’ve played many courses where the front nine has a different vibe than the back. That is certainly the case at Tijeras Creek. In fact, we even noticed a hat in the pro shop with that exact tagline.
The front nine is a solid design with a pretty classic Ted Robinson flare, reminiscent of Tustin Ranch in that the overall terrain is relatively flat. It plays through some residential areas and brings in some nice contours and significant water hazards to ramp up the challenge and visual appeal. That said, the front nine isn’t anything overly distinctive. I do love both par-3s, though, and Tijeras does boast one of the best collections of par-3s in all of Southern California,—at least in my opinion.
The 10th is a really fun short par-4 that follows in that same style. But then holes 11-17 are a clear departure as the course plays along the edge of a ridgeline for a few holes and down into a small canyon. These holes are all unique, challenging and very scenic. The natural lighting during the time of day we were playing the back nine provided some great new pictures.
The conditions weren’t quite as lush and nice as the last couple reviews on Greenskeeper.org indicated, but still very good overall. Actually, there was a noticeable difference on the fairways from the front nine to the back. The front had more browned out areas, whereas the back nine was very nice and lush in most areas. Everywhere the fairway grass seemed a tad shaggy, but I always had nice fluffy lies. The rough was cut down and not much of a factor.
The par-3s (blue tees) had a ton of divot damage filled with sand, but otherwise the tee boxes were mostly good. The greens felt pretty soft walking on them, but a lot of balls really seemed to release more than expected and downwind shots were extra tough to hold. The putting surfaces were a little bumpy late in the day and much slower than expected. The practice green seemed quicker. I was in a couple bunkers and they were fine, though one fairway bunker I was in had a lot of pebbles in it.
I’m nitpicking a bit with the conditions. Overall, it was very good for the most part, but maybe not quite as nice as you can usually expect at Tijeras Creek. For the rate we paid and the beautiful weather, it was a great day and I can’t complain much. This is still one of my favorite OC tracks and I’ll gladly play here more with deals like we had on Saturday!
Some pictures from Tijeras Creek Golf Club (6/8/15):