Course Review: Lake Arrowhead Country Club

It was another productive weekend for me as I got to check two more private clubs off my Southern California list. On Friday, I made my way back up to the mountains to play Lake Arrowhead Country Club.

Some friends and I signed up for a charity tournament here. It was the Ted Roy Foundation Mile High Classic, which has been a big event here for many years. It turned out to be a really fun tournament with all sorts of swag, meals and prizes on the line. In fact, our team ended up winning 2nd place in the net best ball division. Just don’t tell anyone there were only three teams playing this format as opposed to the scramble that most others were playing. We’re still not sure if we were supposed to have a choice playing this format, but we just wanted to play our own balls and it ended up working out well. We also took home a silent auction prize for a foursome at The Springs in Rancho Mirage, which will be another one for our checklists!

The event was fun, but it was really just an excuse for us to go up and play the course. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was warm up there, but not nearly as hot as it was elsewhere that day. And, we had a nice breeze all day.

As for the course, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and fun it was. I knew it was up in the mountains, but didn’t know it was such a “mountain” course. As I tweeted while playing, I do love me some mountain golf. Of course, we started on the most mountainy part of the course and probably the toughest stretch of holes, depending on who you talk to. It was a shotgun start and we were on the 12th hole. Really, holes 11-15 are the most narrow and hilly ones on the course. Before and after that, it’s much more open and the changes in elevation are minimal.

The 15th hole is referred to as “The Beast” by locals. It’s a par-5 that is only 455 yards from the white tees that we played for the tournament (only 473 max from the blues). So, when  you look at the scorecard, you might be salivating. However, it is one funky and tricky hole. The tee shot is extremely narrow, hitting out of a chute of trees to an awkward fairway landing area. Then, the fairway continues downhill and to the right a little, even though the green is way up and to the left. Big hitters can try to hit a draw and cut the corner with a totally blind second shot. For those laying up, you can try to get up to the top shelf, which is a blind and awkward shot, but will leave you with an easy third. That’s what I tried, but I failed in my placement and was screwed on my approach. Or, you can lay-up down and to the right, which will still leave a semi-blind and longer uphill approach, but it’s a simpler angle of attack.

However you play it, the 15th is just one of those holes you have to play many times to figure out. As first-time players with no previous course knowledge, it was indeed a beast.

That’s certainly the hole I will remember most, but the rest of the layout is fun and diverse. No two holes play the same and there is plenty of trouble in play. Lots of big old pine trees factor in. There are numerous water hazards and creeks criss-crossing the fairways, too. If you play it safe here, though, you can post a good score because I think its relatively forgiving overall if you use smart strategy. The low slope and rating would hint it’s an easy course and I’m sure it does become easier the more you play it. We were a little outmatched, though.

Probably the biggest aspect of challenge was the rough. It was very thick and brutal here, making for very tough recovery shots. Us Southern Californians aren’t used to much rough these days because of the drought, so it was both nice (visually) and not-so-nice (playability) to see such lush and green rough throughout Lake Arrowhead. The other thing that was definitely not nice was the greens. They were all sanded up and just not good for consistent playability. Given that this tournament and another one for the Boys & Girls Club next weekend are the two biggest events of the year at this club, you’d think they’d time this maintenance better so the greens were ready. It was kind of a bummer, to be honest.

Beyond the greens, the rest of the course was in very nice shape. Everything was lush and green. It looked beautiful and played nicely. I was very impressed with conditions away from those heavily sanded greens.

Getting up to Lake Arrowhead Country Club wasn’t too tough, so I would play here again if another opportunity presents itself and I would easily recommend it (especially if I know the greens are not all sanded up). It is a fun course and a nice clubhouse. It’s one most people don’t know much about because it’s rather obscure and isolated up on the mountain and really not that close to the village of Lake Arrowhead or the lake itself.

Some pictures from Lake Arrowhead Country Club (9/25/15):

I normally will rearrange the pictures to show the course in order from 1 to 18. However, because the late afternoon lighting changed so much, I decided to keep them in order here, starting from hole #12. (Actually, the first photo is from around the 9th and 1st holes as I was waiting for things to start.)

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