Earlier this year, I returned to El Prado for the first time in a long time. I played the Butterfield Stage course. This Saturday, I returned to play Chino Creek.
A friend of mine likes playing out here because it is always a pretty good deal. We were able to book through TeeOff.com with a 30% promo code. It ended up being only $25 and some change for a 10:07 tee time. On a weekend in SoCal, that’s a good price, even if the course isn’t as desirable as others.
This was only my second time playing the Chino Creek course (I’ve played Butterfield maybe 3-4 times in the past). Chino is clearly the better option of the two. However, that’s like saying Selma is hotter than Patti if you are forced to pick between Marge Simpson’s two chain smoking twin sisters. In other words, it’s all relative.
There are many similar qualities between the two, but Chino offers a little more challenge and diversity in design. Easily the most distinctive hole on either course is the par-3 7th, which is a nice-looking one through some trees and over a water hazard.
We played the blue tees (my friend is a much longer hitter than I am), which I regretted. Though not overly challenging layout-wise, it played a bit long for my tastes (skills) at just over 6,800 yards. Also, there isn’t a lot of variance in distances, so I felt like I was hitting the same clubs over and over all round. The par-4s pretty much range from 370 up to around 400. For me that meant driver and then 3-wood or hybrid on every hole. I know that’s the perils of being a short hitter, but it grew tiresome and proved why I’d probably have more fun playing the white tees here. This is just not a course where I feel the need to play the tips. Most longer courses will still have some shorter holes or more variance in the distances, but not so much here.
On that same note, all four of the par-3s play in the 175-180 yard range, which again is rather boring no matter what club you hit for that distance. The one saving grace was that the 16th was playing up a bit and that helped break up the monotony. Unfortunately, its tee box was the worst of the bunch because of some maintenance.
El Prado has really benefited from the cattle farm that was once next door closing down. What once used to be an ever-present stench is now gone, and that’s a good thing. There is, however, a big gun range right down the road and that is noisier on the Chino Creek side of the property. Also, the drought and economy have had their effects on both courses here.
The low rates here do make El Prado a solid and convenient option and the course was in pretty decent shape for the price. You can never expect things to be pristine here, but conditions were about as good—if not a little better—as I could hope for.
The tee boxes were all fine with the exception of the 16th, as mentioned. I did find a few weak fairway lies that were either bare or big patches of weeds, but for the most part the coverage was quite nice. The rough was brutal. It was very thick and deep kikuyu in many spots or it was bare dirt/weeds, so it was extremely penal any time you missed a fairway or green. The greens were fairly slow and a bit bumpy at times.
El Prado does not feature “destination” courses and even most locals tend to pass them up with a lot of great options around. However, they dependable. Perhaps a bit scruffy around the edges, but cheap, easy to get to and not overly crowded.
Some pictures from El Prado Golf Courses (Chino Creek) (7/11/15):