On a personal level, 2015 was filled with many ups and downs. However, the one constant was golf. It’s what keeps me sane in an insane world, so I was out there making the most of every opportunity to play this year.
My golf priorities changed this year. In 2014, I had completed my quest to play all the public regulation 18-hole courses in Southern California. By the end of that year, I was already getting antsy, so I decided to go ahead and play all the public short courses, as well. That was a goal I completed in 2015 after a barrage of my “Short Course Blitzes.” For the most part, I was done with it early in the year, but there were a few stragglers I took eventually crossed off the list by summer.
In the meantime, I had also shifted my focus to playing private clubs throughout Southern California. With the help of some fellow course collector friends working every angle, “member for a day” deals and quite a few SCGA member outings, I was able to play more than expected in 2015 and I hope to keep up the pace in 2016.
Hitting the Road
Last but not least, I took several road trips. I visited the Bay Area multiple times. I went up to Northern California, Oregon and Washington. A friend and I took our annual November trip to Las Vegas. And, I was able to check out the excellent golf in Tucson for the first time over Thanksgiving. The big trip for the year was to the East Coast in August. I flew into Washington, DC, where I played a round in the District itself while also visiting five new states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia). I even got to fulfill a longtime dream of going to an Orioles game at Camden Yards! My total is now up to 43 states with hopes of finally completing that quest in the next couple years.
2015 found me playing a handful of really unique courses along the way. I experienced true desert wasteland golf at Trona Golf Course. I teed it up on the oldest course in America (Oakhurst Links in West Virginia), complete with replica hickory clubs and gutta percha balls. I played Bandon’s “secret” course, aka Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch, where I literally had the whole property to myself while there. And perhaps most unusual of all was playing golf inside a baseball stadium as a result of Callaway’s genius idea to create The Links at Petco.
Course Struggles and Resurrections
I am hoping the El Niño storms hit Southern California as forecasted. Not only will that allow me to take a little break early in the year, but it will hopefully help put an end to the awful drought we’ve had. It really has ruined many great golf courses and forces me to lower my expectations, even when playing some of these top-shelf private clubs in the area. With the exception of the Coachella Valley courses it seems, all courses are being very much affected by the drought and it’s beyond depressing at this point.
Sadly, I’ve seen a number of courses close in the past year, but I also played several resurrected courses that have risen from the ashes. The most notable were Rams Hill Golf Club and Reflection Bay Golf & Beach Club. Then, there were Birch Hills Golf Course and Warner Springs Ranch Resort. Word has it that The Links at Summerly also just reopened after being shut down for awhile.
The Best New Courses Played in 2015
As always, I have ranked all the new courses I played during 2015 (123 in total). This year was especially difficult with such a wide variety of destinations that can be hard to compare to one another, as well as a weird mix of high-end private clubs and low-end short courses throughout SoCal. Below is my top 50 new courses played in 2015.
- Rams Hill Golf Club • Borrego Springs, CA
- Stone Eagle Golf Club • Palm Desert, CA
- The Omni Homestead (Cascades Golf Club) • Hot Springs, VA
- The Greenbrier (The Old White TPC) • White Sulphur Springs, WV
- Cinnabar Hills Golf Club • San Jose, CA
- DragonRidge Country Club • Henderson, NV
- Bayside Resort Golf Club • Selbyville, DE
- Langdon Farms Golf Club • Aurora, OR
- Bulle Rock Golf Club • Havre de Grace, MD
- The Course at Wente Vineyards • Livermore, CA
- Arizona National Golf Club • Tucson, AZ
- Golf Club at Dove Mountain • Marana, AZ
- The Farms Golf Club • Rancho Santa Fe, CA
- Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club (Mountain Course) • Tucson, AZ
- The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe • Rancho Santa Fe, CA
- Shady Canyon Golf Club • Irvine, CA
- Rolling Hills Country Club • Rolling Hills Estates, CA
- Mission Viejo Country Club • Mission Viejo, CA
- Bajamar Ocean Front Golf Resort • Ensenada, Baja CA (MEXICO)
- Starr Pass Golf Club • Tucson, AZ
- Wyncote Golf Club • Oxford, PA
- Sewailo Golf Club • Tucson, AZ
- San Juan Oaks Golf Club • Hollister, CA
- Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Bandon Preserve) • Bandon, OR
- MountainGate Country Club • Los Angeles, CA
- The Santaluz Club • San Diego, CA
- Eagle Ridge Golf Club • Gilroy, CA
- Reflection Bay Golf & Beach Club • Henderson, NV
- Camas Meadows Golf Club • Camas, WA
- Red Hill Country Club • Rancho Cucamonga, CA
- Wood Ranch Golf Club • Simi Valley, CA
- Chehalem Glenn Golf Course • Newburg, OR
- The Golf Club at Roddy Ranch • Antioch, CA
- Lake Arrowhead Country Club • Lake Arrowhead, CA
- Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club • Rancho Santa Fe, CA
- Vista Valley Country Club • Vista, CA
- The Springs Club • Rancho Mirage, CA
- Thunderbird Country Club • Rancho Mirage, CA
- Baywood Golf & Country Club • Arcata, CA
- Pauma Valley Country Club • Pauma Valley, CA
- Grants Pass Golf Club • Grants Pass, OR
- Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club (South) • Coto de Caza, CA
- Fairbanks Ranch Country Club • Rancho Santa Fe, CA
- The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club (North Course) • Aloha, OR
- Poppy Ridge Golf Course • Livermore, CA
- Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch • Bandon, OR
- Shadow Lakes Golf Club • Brentwood, CA
- Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club (North) • Coto de Caza, CA
- Quarry Pines Golf Club • Tucson, AZ
- Sierra La Verne Country Club • La Verne, CA
As I look forward to 2016, I hope to keep playing more private clubs throughout Southern California. There are already quite a few SCGA outings I have my eyes on. There are also a few courses my friends and I already have “in the bank” after bidding on some charity tournament auctions in the last few months. Redlands CC, The Newport Beach CC and Big Canyon CC will be huge ones to check off our lists.
I figure I’ll squeeze in a handful of road trips as usual. There is still so much I want to play in Northern California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona! I hope to take at least one big trip out of state, ideally to the upper Midwest, where I still have the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin left to play. If I can knock them all out in one shot, that would be great. If not, I may have to decide between hitting several states or just laser-focusing on Wisconsin to play all the awesome courses there like Erin Hills and everything in Kohler. We’ll see how it works out.
As always, thanks to everyone who supports the blog, follows me on Twitter/Facebook and keeps me inspired to go out there and explore all the new courses I can. By the way, if you haven’t already gotten your 2016 Bogeys Across America calendar, click here for more details. I still have some available for purchase.