Wow! What an incredibly fun four days up in Northern California. Just got home last night and have a lot to get caught up on since I played 13 new courses. Going to do my best to get everything written and posted, while also making sure to spread things out. I know I likely won’t have any “new” courses to play for a few weeks after this, so I want to keep the fresh content spaced out nicely. Unfortunately, that means you might have to wait a little bit for the best courses I played on the final two days of this particular trip.
First, let’s start with one of two “Short Course Blitzes” from this road trip. I am going to go a little out of order so I can split each blitz into three course reviews while also keeping the groupings together in a geographic sense.
I actually played Valley Gardens Golf Course in Scotts Valley first on Saturday morning. However, I will skip that one for now and post it later. With that in mind, let’s jump right into round two…
Boulder Creek Golf & Country Club • Boulder Creek, CA • 4/21/18
One of the goals of this trip was to take care of the few geographically inconvenient stragglers I had left in the Santa Cruz/Monterey Peninsula region. This course was number one on that list. That’s not only because it is the most isolated of the bunch, but because it is also the most desirable one to play.
I always knew I would enjoy this course thanks to its setting. The quaint little mountain town of Boulder Creek is the gateway to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. I grew up in the extreme redwood country of Del Norte County much further north, so I always get excited when I am surrounded by these majestic trees.
Boulder Creek Golf & CC has no shortage of towering redwoods, especially on the front nine. This course has two fairly different nines designed by Jack Fleming, with the front nine being extremely tight, hilly and shrouded in the shadows of the trees. The back nine opens up and spreads out a bit more as you go across the street and through the villas here.
I booked a 9:30 tee time online and it was a reasonable “bundle” rate of $36 that included a cart. This is a fairly good walking course if you prefer, though. It is hilly in places, but it is ultimately a short layout and the setting would make for a very enjoyable stroll. I arrived a bit early and they got me out pretty quickly. For some reason, they kept me by myself and sandwiched me right in between two threesomes. The course was very busy on a picture-perfect Saturday morning (the weather was absolutely amazing all trip), so there was nowhere for me to go. I ultimately joined the group in front of me and we finished in about 3 hours, 45 minutes.
Boulder Creek is an 18-hole executive course that plays to a total par of 65. The compact front nine is par-31 with five par-3s and four par-4s. The back nine is longer as a par-34 with five par-3s, only one par-4 and three rather short par-5s that might be considered par-4s on normal-sized courses. Either way, it’s a healthy mix for an executive layout and I used every club, though many people will opt to just leave the driver in the bag with some very narrow tee shots.
Certainly, the picturesque setting is a large part of the appeal here and the course is fun, too, as long as you go in expecting that you are probably going to hit some trees and lose a few balls before the day is done.
The course conditions were pretty good overall, especially on the front nine. Everything was very lush, green and soft with so much rain this year. The tee boxes were decent, the fairways were pretty good (on the fluffy side) and the rough was fairly thick. The greens on the front side were very nice, rolling at medium speeds. The back nine, however, was a different story. These greens were more burned-out and some had some really damaged sections. The greens on the back were bumpier and slower with some signs of the recent aeration still showing. Overall, the conditions on the back nine were definitely a step down compared to the front. I wasn’t in any bunkers, but they looked nice.
Boulder Creek may not be quite worth going out of the way just to play, but it is sure a fun stop if you happen to be traveling through this area. My playing partners told me they have some great stay and play packages with golf and villa accommodations included, so it’s definitely an option for a weekend excursion with friends or family.
Some pictures from Boulder Creek Golf & Country Club (4/21/18):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)
Originally, I had planned to move onto the other courses that you’ll find in the second Short Course Blitz installment for this trip. However, I switched things around knowing I was staying up in Fremont Saturday night in advance of Sunday’s rounds in San Jose.
Instead, I drove the long and winding back roads between Boulder Creek and the Silicon Valley area. This was a sketchy, but also very fun and scenic drive. There were a ton of bicyclists out on a Saturday, so that made things more interesting going around the hilly, tight turns. Eventually, I came out the other side in Cupertino, where I was ready to make my next golf stop…
Deep Cliff Golf Course • Cupertino, CA • 4/21/18
If the city of Cupertino sounds familiar, then you probably have an Apple device that has it as the default location for time zone, weather, etc. After all, this is Apple’s hometown and a vibrant part of the insane Silicon Valley region. What this means from a golf perspective is that there is a lot of money around these parts and a lot of people who like to play golf!
Though the tee sheet appeared pretty open online, the course was packed. I’ve since learned that this place has a reputation of always being busy with slow rounds a standard expectation. I showed up a little before 2:00 and was able to get out right away with another single and a twosome. I believe the walking rate was $33 for 18 holes, and the pro shop guy was nice to throw in a pull cart when I mentioned it was already my third round of the day. Another single caught up and joined us for much of the front nine before leaving. It was slow (and quite hot) out there, with long waits on every tee box. In the end, it took about four hours to complete the round. Apparently, this was actually a really good pace for Deep Cliff on a Saturday afternoon!
Deep Cliff is a very charming 18-hole executive course designed by Clark Glasson that plays to a total par of 60. Each nine has three par-4s and six par-3s. None of the par-4s are over 300 yards, but the par-3s are a very healthy mix of distances ranging from 90 yards up to 188.
The course plays in a secluded valley that provides a very pleasant setting for golf, which also includes some redwood trees along with a lot of other tall, mature trees. There are only a few places where houses or streets are next to the course. The layout is fun and just challenging enough with multiple sets of tees for different skill levels. It’ll make you work, but won’t beat you up too much as long as you avoid the trees and creeks (easier said than done sometimes). It’s a good short course that any type of player can enjoy.
The conditions here were good overall. Everything was lush, green and fairly well maintained for a course of this caliber. The greens were aerated a few weeks ago and still a bit bumpy, but they should be back to normal in a couple more weeks. Overall, it’s about as nice as you can hope for at a short course that gets a ton of traffic every day.
I can see why it’s a popular place for locals to play with somewhat reasonable rates (compared to most Silicon Valley courses as you’ll see in my next couple reviews), good conditioning, nice setting and a fun layout that welcomes players of all levels. Just don’t go in expecting a quick round, especially on a weekend.
Some pictures from Deep Cliff Golf Course (4/21/18):
I had one more stop to make in Cupertino, just a few minutes down the road from Deep Cliff…
Blackberry Farm Golf Course • Cupertino, CA • 4/21/18
After a slow round at Deep Cliff, I was happy to have a very quick and easy round at Blackberry Farm. There were only a few people out on the course. I was able to get out right away for $18 (the pro shop guy was nice and gave me the Cupertino resident rate) and I played as quickly as I could despite being sore from head to toe.
Blackberry farm is a 9-hole par-29 course designed by Robert Muir Graves. It has two relatively short par-4s (both around 270 yards) to go with a nice mix of par-3s ranging from 94 yards up to 189.
The layout here is pretty straightforward as the holes run back and forth along a gently sloped hillside. There isn’t anything overly exciting about it and there isn’t much trouble to get into as long as you keep it inside the outer fence lines, but it’s decent for a low-level short course.
The conditions were also pretty good here with good teeing areas, lush grass all around and fairly nice greens. I was in a couple of the tiny bunkers here and they had ample sand.
There really isn’t too much to note about Blackberry Farm. It exists and it was a better course than I would have expected, though I was admittedly too tired to get much out of the experience.
Some pictures from Blackberry Farm Golf Course (4/21/18):