Do You Know the Way to Pay in San Jose?

After my Short Course Blitz on Saturday, I stayed up in Fremont in advance of a few rounds in the San Jose area on Sunday. A golf buddy met up with me for the rest of the trip. We don’t have a big overlap list of courses we both need to play in this area, so we had to put together the schedule that would max out our time together. Unfortunately, this did not mean getting any good tee time deals. We were forced to pay rack rates on a Sunday, which is especially brutal in the San Jose area.

Even the lowest-end courses in this region get a ton of play and seem to charge exorbitant prices. It pained me each time I had to take my card out in a pro shop, but we sucked it up and made the best of the day. The good news is we were able to get in three regulation courses despite the crowds, and I was even able to squeeze in another shorty at the end of the day.

I’ll cover the first two courses in this article…

Spring Valley Golf Course • Milpitas, CA • 4/22/18

This was our first round of the day and one we hoped/expected would go super quickly. My friend booked the 6:15 tee time, which was second off behind a member foursome. As we arrived in the dark, those guys were getting ready in the parking lot and were “offering” to be helpful, but in an oddly aggressive, territorial way. They could tell we weren’t regulars and it was a bit awkward.

They clearly wanted to make sure they went off first like they probably do every Sunday morning, which they did thinking they might be able to outpace a twosome in a cart. There wasn’t anyone ready to go behind us, so it was just our two groups competing for dominance. After just a few holes, the group ahead relented and begrudgingly let us through. We did see a couple players out on the back nine, but we were able to circumvent them and be finished in a little over two hours.

The price to play was $77, which is more than I would normally be willing to pay for most non-resort courses and certainly way too much for Spring Valley. This is a fine course, but that price is unpleasant.

I found Spring Valley to be an interesting course in that it is a rather uninteresting design despite such a wonderful scenic backdrop. Having played nearby Summitpointe, I knew the hills of Milpitas offered some pretty landscapes and Spring Valley is set right in the middle of a very nice, secluded location. However, the course itself is quite plain.

Most of the course is very wide open and there is not much trouble to get into anywhere. There is only minimal bunkering and trees don’t come into play too often. There really only one big water hazard on the course. It sits in front of the side-by-side elevated 9th and 18th tees to provide a forced carry on your drive, but it’s not too intimidating. Then, the same water hazard extends to the par-3 11th hole, where it definitely comes into play to create what is easily the most memorable hole here.

Beyond that hole, the rest of the par-3s at Spring Valley are pretty dull. One interesting quirk in the routing, however, is the 2nd hole. There are actually two different par-3 second holes and I don’t know how often they switch them up. The one we played was atop the hill. It was super flat, boring and wide open. Then, the alternate one is still pretty simply designed, but it least it has a big elevation drop from tee to green. It definitely seemed more interesting than the one we got.

I will say the course conditions were quite nice overall. The tee boxes and fairways were good. The rough was thick and had good coverage throughout. The greens were rolling well at medium speeds. The recent aeration had pretty much healed, with just a few minor bumps here and there. I wasn’t in any bunkers, but they looked pretty good.

The conditions and setting were surely above average at Spring Valley, but the course itself is unfortunately forgettable. It seems like they could have done more with such a dramatic landscape. I guess there’s a reason why it’s the only course associated with the unheard-of architect, Ray Anderson. For the right price, it’s a good enough course to consider. For me, though, I couldn’t help but have a little bad taste in my mouth after paying full weekend price.

Some pictures from Spring Valley Golf Course (4/22/18):

(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)

 

 

Next, we came down the hill and into San Jose proper for another shockingly overpriced muni course…

San Jose Municipal Golf Course • San Jose, CA • 4/22/18

Anticipating we’d have a very quick round over at Spring Valley, we had booked a 9:22 tee time at San Jose. This is the first municipal course I’ve seen that really takes pride in its muni status, by which I mean their new logo and flags have “The Muni” in big bold letters. I know this is partly to help distinguish themselves from the private San Jose Country Club, but I found it interesting since “muni” is pretty much considered a curse word in some golf circles.

Actually, as far as standard muni courses go, San Jose has a pretty decent one on its hands. At the same time, the prices would sure indicate this is something more special than it is. We paid $70 to play on a Sunday morning with a cart. It is a very walkable course, however, if you do want to save some dough.

It was extremely busy here and there were players lined up on the first tee the whole time we were there. Fortunately, the starter was doing a good job getting everyone going. We teed off just about on time, paired with another twosome who ended up leaving after nine holes. The pace was slow, but steady, with a lot of waiting around in between shots. However, we ultimately finished all 18 in about 4.5 hours, which really wasn’t bad at all considering how packed this place was.

San Jose Municipal is a very traditional parkland kind of course designed by Robert Muir Graves. It’s the basic old school kind of course that you could pick up and drop in the middle of any town in the country and it wouldn’t affect a thing. It’s mostly pretty open, but there is just enough going on to keep you challenged. It really is the prototypical muni design you imagine in your head when you hear that word. It’s not great. It’s not bad. It’s perfectly middle-of-the-road.

Again, I do have to say that the conditions here were well above average for a course that gets so much play. Things were pretty solid all around. The tee boxes and fairways were in good shape. The rough had pretty consistent coverage and it was just punishing enough to make you work. The greens were firm and rolling smooth, but much slower than they looked. I wasn’t in any bunkers, so no comments there.

There isn’t too much else to add about San Jose Municipal. It is there and it is obviously a popular pick among local golfers, who I hope get some residency discounts to make it more appealing. It’s not one I would recommend for a traveling golfer unless you are like me and want to play everything.

Some pictures from San Jose Municipal Golf Course (4/22/18):

 

 

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