In a weird way, I’ve been having some fun revisiting some of these courses that I played long before the blog. However, there are a few “undesirables” on the list that I knew I would eventually have to get to. Upland Hills the other day was one of them, but it has some redeeming qualities if you ask me. California Golf & Art Country Club on the other hand? Well, it’s a tough one.
There are those courses that people love to hate. Shorecliffs, River View, Cresta Verde and Mountain View are a few that come to mind. Perhaps the conditions are notoriously mediocre or the layouts are just too “funky,” but they tend to get a lot of bad reviews. I understand why people don’t like these courses. At the same time, some of the quirks are what make them interesting.
California Golf & Art has the mediocre conditioning. That’s for sure, but the layout is just so dang boring. I wouldn’t call it a course that people love to hate. It’s a course that most people completely forget exists, and for good reason.
Still, I wanted to go back and give it a proper review. I had secret hopes it would be at least a little better than I remembered. Those hopes were quickly dashed. I will start with the positives, though. First, it is very inexpensive. They have deal times available everyday and even the rack rates are quite low. I booked a hot deal on GolfNow for $10 at 12:22. I also happened to have a $10 off reward that I used, so it was essentially a free round other than the inflated $3.49 booking fee I had to pay.
The place just has kind of a sad and abandoned feel. The pro shop, bar and overall facilities have a run-down appearance. Luckily, the course was not busy at all, so I was teeing off by myself a little before noon. I played through a twosome and another slower single on the front nine. On the back, I ultimately caught up to a couple singles and some groups in front of them. Still, the total pace of two hours and 20 minutes was nice.
That pretty much covers the positive aspects of California Golf & Art. Heck, even the name is awkward. It used to be called Cherry Hills, which is much more appealing if you ask me. I do not know where this name came from and why it has stuck.
Condition-wise, the tee boxes, fairways and rough were a complete hodge podge. There were some decent lush/green areas, some hardpan dirt areas, and everything in between. The greens were ugly and bumpy. I will say the sand in the traps was actually of reasonable quality, but the bunkers were very poorly maintained (“neglected” might be the better word).
As for the layout, there is nothing to highlight. It is a really basic design running through a neighborhood. The fairways are wide and there’s plenty of room for error even if you spray your drives. The greens are relatively small, but easy to get at. Most of the course is pretty flat other than the elevated 4th green and 5th tee box. It’s just really basic and boring, which is why it ultimately becomes infinitely more forgettable than those quirky courses I referenced earlier.
The location isn’t great either, at least for me coming from Orange County. Other than people living in Menifee, Canyon Lake or Sun City, it’s not really convenient for anyone else in SoCal. That hurts its appeal, too. Because my round went so quickly, I was hoping I might squeeze in a second round at nearby Menifee Lakes. I still need to replay the Palms course there as part of my revisit list. Unfortunately, there was an accident that made the traffic terrible and I wasn’t able to get across the freeway. I just turned around and went home defeated.
California Golf & Art is not the worst course I’ve ever played. I’ve played courses that are much worse conditioned and layouts that are even less inspiring. Yet, there’s kind of a sadness that looms over this course because it is so forgettable in every way. Considering how many courses have closed in recent years, it’s kind of amazing this course has survived. Their rates are super cheap and they don’t get much play, so I really wonder how they stay in business. For those who live nearby, though, I guess it’s not that horrible as a place where you can play a full round with cart for the same price as a large bucket of range balls elsewhere.
Some pictures from California Golf & Art Country Club (2/12/16):
Nearby Course Reviews: