Stuck in Lodi, Again

I don’t remember the last time I took basically a full month away from golf, but it was a good break for me. I was able to make some headway on updating all the older posts and links throughout the site, though I still have a ton of work left.

Anyway, I did just return from another trip to Northern California. I played 11 new courses over the course of four days, so I have plenty of fresh content to post now. I hit the road Sunday morning and got back into the Golf Nomad groove right away…

Lockeford Springs Golf Course • Lodi, CA • 9/30/2018

My first stop was at Lockeford Springs. I arrived there a little after 9:00 and the course looked pretty empty for a Sunday morning. I was able to get out right away for $20 with a cart. The rate was for nine holes, but the guy in the pro shop said I was welcome to play 18 if I wanted. I just played the nine and finished pretty quickly, having to play through one group along the way.

The whole situation at Lockeford Springs is a little sad right now. This course has really struggled in recent years. It used to be a full 18-hole regulation layout, but within the last year or so they’ve had to shut down nine of the holes. I believe they even shut the whole place down for a short period before opening back up recently with the revised layout. Essentially, they removed what was originally the back nine. Now it is just a 9-hole par-35 layout that has you playing the old front nine.

Based on the lack of people there on a beautiful Sunday morning, I don’t know how long this place will last even if they are saving money with only the nine holes open. Time will tell, but I wanted to at least play it while I could. Unfortunately, I never got out there when the full course was still open.

It’s too bad about the financial situation they’ve been in because this is actually a very solid course. It’s kind of a farmland links style design in a very rural setting. The terrain is flat, but the course has some good contours and interesting angles that keep it just interesting enough.

The conditions were very “scruffy,” for lack of a better word. The overall grass coverage was pretty decent, but the presentation was rather “unmaintained” and enhanced the sad state of the property as a whole. The tee boxes were decent enough. The fairways were nice in some areas and super shaggy in others. Some sections were like deep rough and I lost at least one ball after a shot right down the middle. The rough was all over the place. There were some bare spots and some really nasty stuff. It was really easy to lose balls here because it was so wild, so I had to pay very careful attention on every shot. The greens were soft, wet, spongy and slow, but the turf was reasonably maintained. It just felt like they hadn’t been mowed in a couple days. I was in one bunker. It had decent sand, but was also really not maintained at all.

Hopefully they are at least able to put more effort into the part of the course they still have open. As a 9-hole course, the layout still works just fine as a solid value option for locals. They also have an 18-hole disc golf layout here that runs through parts of the main course and other parts of the property. It looks long and challenging, so maybe I’ll go back and play that someday. As for the regular golf course, I just worry about what the future holds for Lockeford Springs based on my experience.

Some pictures from Lockeford Springs Golf Course (9/30/18):

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

The main round for Sunday afternoon was scheduled at Woodbridge Golf & Country Club, also in the Lodi area. A friend and I met up for that round and then split a room at a crappy motel in Lodi for the next couple nights. Hence, my CCR-inspired title to this article, even though Micke Grove should probably be a part of this story instead of the next course to make it truly a Lodi story. However, I suppose this is the “again” part of that famous lyric.

My friend and I are both avid course collectors, though we kind of have minimally overlapping lists in the greater Sacramento region. Over the course of this trip, we played a handful of rounds together and then several on our own, but sharing on the lodging expenses was a good plan to save a little dough.

I will review Woodbridge separately and then skip ahead to our early morning round on Monday…

Dry Creek Ranch Golf Club • Galt, CA • 10/1/18

We were up early the next morning to get in a dawn patrol round at Dry Creek Ranch, which is located right along the 99 just north of Lodi in the town of Galt. We had a 6:33 tee time and were the first group off ahead of some older local regulars, who were very nice and were happy to let us set the pace by pretty much teeing off in the dark. The price was very reasonable at $29 with a cart. We were able to get around very quickly.

Dry Creek Ranch was designed by Jack Fleming, who is responsible for a lot of classic courses throughout the Bay Area. It’s a fine overall layout, though not without its old school quirks. Almost every hole here features a pretty significant dogleg (most turning to the left to favor a right-to-left ball flight that I don’t have). There are many big trees in play waiting to knock your ball down if you get too close to either side of the fairway. Several holes also have trees blocking approach shots to the greens.

It’s a challenging course and definitely more of a target layout. It’s the type of course you’d have to play quite a bit to learn the ideal angles and understand when you can and can’t get aggressive. I think a good score is achievable, but bad scores can add up quickly when the trees are in your way. Unfortunately, they were in my way often!

Otherwise, I thought this course had a fun overall layout. The fact it is located so close to the busy freeway does detract from an otherwise pleasant setting for golf. You actually have to drive under the freeway a couple times on the back nine and it’s an uncomfortable experience with the big rigs rattling the elevated structure that doesn’t look as sturdy from below as it feels above.

I would say the most memorable hole at Dry Creek Ranch is the par-3 5th, which has you hitting over a water hazard. There is ample landing room on the other side, so it’s not the most intimidating water hole you’ll find. It just sticks out as one of the more interesting holes here.

The par-5 10th stands out as one of those where the trees will really cause you headaches. It is a long and gentle dogleg right overall, but it gets super narrow the closer you get to the green. Ultimately, a big tree guards the left side of the green and really limits your angles to attack the pin. Even if you are dead-center in the fairway, you may be forced to play a lower punch wedge into the green because you just can’t come in high unless you are playing with a significant draw.

The conditions were decent and probably what I’d consider perfectly “average” for this region at this time of year. The tee boxes were fine, on the firm/thin side. The fairways were fairly good overall with some inconsistencies and bare spots. The rough was more hit and miss, but not too much of a factor. The bunkers were damp and heavy, but the sand was pretty good in them. The greens were just aerated last week and we knew that coming in. They were slow, wet and sandy, but not super bumpy. They had the holes and sand leveled out pretty well and they should be really nice in a few weeks. You can tell they take pretty nice care of the greens here.

Dry Creek Ranch is certainly not a “must play.” However, it’s a solid enough value option with a convenient location.

Some pictures from Dry Creek Ranch Golf Club (10/1/18):

 

 

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