Yesterday I had the opportunity revisit Sun Lakes Country Club in Banning. I played the Championship Course here last year, so I was able to go back this time and check out the Executive Course at this private 55+ club.
I played alongside the Assistant Pro at the club and he shared a lot of great information and insight about the courses and community. Apparently, the Executive Course was originally a 9-hole layout and they eventually added nine more holed to make it a full 18.
It was designed by David Rainville and plays to a total par of 60. There are three par-4s and six par-3s on each side. Most of the holes are relatively short. The longest par-4 is 323 yards, though it does play uphill and it was directly into a very stiff wind yesterday afternoon. It played more like 423!
There are a couple of long-ish par-3s (the 178-yard 3rd is the longest, also playing dead into the wind yesterday). Most are short and some are truly “pitch and putt” length holes. Four holes on the back nine play well under 100 yards.
The wind is definitely a factor here as Banning is regularly windy and that definitely adds some teeth to this course. Even without strong winds, this is a short course that is both fun and challenging enough to entertain even the most serious golfers. The greens are small, fast and undulated. There are tight spots and there is trouble to be found on just about every hole in the form of OB, houses, water hazards and a big ravine that cuts across parts of the front nine.
Speaking of water hazards, the Executive Course recently underwent renovations on all their water hazards. New plumbing was installed, some edges were redefined and new sod was laid down. They look fantastic. There is one hazard that is being filled in, so it is still under construction at the moment.
Despite some challenging elements, the course also offers plenty of aggressive scoring opportunities. It’s fun to go pinseeking on some of the shorter holes. I came extremely close to an ace on the 103-yard 7th!
Unfortunately, our round was cut a few holes short by a police emergency that had one of the Sun Lakes streets shut down and the final few holes closed off for play. The good news is I will be able to come back and play the full course again. I’ll look forward to another excuse to play it, especially when the wind isn’t quite so fierce.
Conditions were nice considering it’s winter and they do not overseed this course. Residents prefer to play year-round without any shut-downs for overseeding, so they keep the turf all year and take nice care of it. The tee boxes were primarily dormant, but nice to play from. The rough and collars around the greens were in excellent shape. The fairway areas showed some brown, but I always had nice lies. I was in one bunker and it had good sand.
Sun Lakes really prides itself on having some of the best green surfaces around and that’s clearly evident even on the Executive Course. They were receptive and rolling super smooth at very quick speeds. It sounds like they can get them super fast any time they want if they really want to ramp up the challenge. As they were yesterday, any downhill chip or putt was often hard to stop.
I look forward to coming out to Sun Lakes again and finishing what I started. A lot of people don’t even know these courses exist, but if you ever get invited you will have fun on either course you get to play. They do have a Charity Week every year, as well, which will allow outside guest to sign up for special tournaments and activities.
Some pictures from Sun Lakes Country Club (Executive Course) (12/12/17):