On Monday, I played Victoria Club in Riverside as part of an SCGA member outing. I was excited to finally check out this course.
Victoria Club and its golf course(s) have quite a long and complex history dating back to the late 1800s. Their website chronicles it pretty well. Check out this link: http://www.victoriaclub.com/About-Us/Club-History.aspx
It is a old course that has gone through some renovations and redesigns in the past century, but I love playing anything that has such a rich local history. My favorite part of Monday’s experience was strolling through the really neat clubhouse and locker room. The style of it inside just oozes history. My favorite view on the golf course was from the 1st tee looking up at the clubhouse atop the hill. It has a cool victorian look with the landscaping.
It was a 9:00 shotgun start. The SCGA had a relatively small group and then there was another tournament being hosted at the same time. The course had plenty of players, but the pace moved nicely. My group started on the 7th hole and we were finished in about 4 hours, 20 minutes. The outing also included a nice barbecue lunch, and I was able to grab a pretty tasty burger at the turn.
When I told friends I was playing Victoria Club, they gave me some sense that it was kind of a quirky old course. I had driven by there before, so I had a basic idea what to expect. Overall, the course vaguely reminded me of a lot of older Southern California courses (various mid-level country clubs and some muni/county courses—not any one in particular). In other words, it felt pretty familiar and it definitely has some old school quirks.
There are a few blind tee shots and the routing is a bit tangled and confusing in places. The signage is minimal and more course knowledge would have definitely been a plus. It is narrow in places, so it is definitely more of a target/strategy kind of course where ball placement is crucial for a good score. Though there aren’t any major changes in elevation (it is moderately hilly), there is a lot of natural slope in play. The greens can be tricky to read.
One of the unique things about Victoria Club is the back nine. It features three par-3s and four par-5s. In fact, after the 12th hole, you don’t see a par-4 the rest of the way. The 13th and 16th are par-3s, while four of the final five holes are par-5s. The front nine only has one par-5 and two par-3s. The total par for the course is still a standard 72 when all is said and done.
One of those par-5s on the back nine is most definitely one of the most bizarre holes I’ve ever played. The 15th is crazy. Our foursome was all first-time players. There are no maps on the scorecard and we were flying a little blind. The tee shot is pretty straightforward, and then to the eye it looks like the hole doglegs left over a creek/ditch that cuts across diagonally. There is a secondary fairway over there, but it’s a ways out.
I didn’t hit that big a drive, so I laid up on the right half of the main fairway. Once I got up to my ball, we still saw no green to the left. Instead, we finally noticed some bunkers and the flag located beyond a big row of trees directly in front of us. So, I had to hit my third shot over the trees to what we guessed was the green. Then, it only got more interesting up by the green. Those bunkers we saw were way higher than the actual green surface. It was a giant mound in front of the green. The flag was attached to a pin that was at least 10-12 feet tall so we could see it over that bunker mound. Adding to the fun was the aforementioned creek/ditch running just a few paces left of the green.
That is my best attempt at describing this funky hole. None of us could quite figure out the reason for the secondary fairway on the left. It would give you a good angle to the protected green if you hit to the very end of it, but I still can’t imagine it gets much action. For shorter hitters, it’s too far to hit over to that section of fairway as a lay-up. For longer hitters (and even mid-length) hitters, there doesn’t seem to be a need to lay-up left because almost everyone will want to take a shot directly at the green (even if it means hitting over the trees or getting caught in one of those elevated bunkers). Even from the back tees, the hole tops out at just 491 yards.
We were laughing so much while playing this hole as first-timers. Still, it was by far the most memorable part of the course. Even if that secondary fairway is somewhat useless, it is still a very strategic hole when you know what to expect. If I were to ever play Victoria Club again, the 15th would be the hole I was most looking forward to.
I think that’s the most I’ve ever written about one hole, and I still cannot quite describe it properly. My photographs won’t really show the angles either. I did snag a screen capture of the satellite view to try and give you some idea.
Beyond the entertainment of the 15th hole, I left Victoria Club feeling a bit underwhelmed overall. It’s a decent course and the history is great, but it’s no better or more unique than a lot of other older Southern California courses that offer the same basic style.
The course was in okay shape, generally playing better than it looked. The aesthetics definitely contributed to my lackluster impression of the course. Everything was pretty dry out there. For a private club, I would expect more greenery, but it’s just not the ideal time of year I guess. The tee boxes were fine. A few could use some flattening out. The fairways generally provided good lies. Sometimes they were a little shaggy, and sometimes they were a bit thin. The rough was not much of a factor. The greens were very soft early and then firmed up as the round went on. They were still quite receptive to all shots all day. The rolled pretty well at medium speeds. Many of the bunkers had brand new sand that was too soft, so we saw a handful of fried eggs.
The clubhouse at Victoria Club was neat and the overall historic vibe was enjoyable. The course itself is fine and evokes the quirky style you’ll find a lot of other places. It’s not a must-play and the funky aspects of the layout may turn some people off. Others will likely have a decent time trying to figure this course out for the first time.
Some pictures from Victoria Club (5/8/17):