My main round last Monday was at Brookside Country Club in Stockton. At the beginning of the year when the NCGA Member Outing schedule came out, this is one that my friend and I targeted. It was one of the less expensive outings at $80. In addition, the timing of it was nice in early October. It was a good excuse to plan a fall trip around.
The outing was scheduled as an 11:00 shotgun start. I raced back down to Stockton after finishing at Emerald Lakes and had plenty of time to catch my breath and eat the pre-packed box lunch they provided for the outing. My group went off on hole 13 and overall it was a pretty good pace for one of these outings. We finished in just over four hours.
The first impressions of Brookside were very nice. The clubhouse has a nice Southern style facade and the facilities seemed great. I knew going in this was a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course design, so I was excited to check out the layout.
Now, Stockton doesn’t offer the most exciting landscape to work with (really no significant elevation changes at all around this part of town) and Brookside is a gated master-planned community with the course as the centerpiece. Jones was able to put together a nice links-inspired layout that seems to be built out of pretty much nothing. I’m sure a lot of earth had to be moved to shape the contours of the course.
Brookside has more water in play than your standard links style design. Otherwise, the contours throughout the fairways and rough help shape each hole. There are also a number of uniquely-placed bunkers. Don’t be fooled on approach shots as quite a few of the “greenside” sand traps are actually well short of the greens. In most cases, you have much more room to work with than you might think. There is no GPS on the carts and we weren’t given any yardage books, so figuring out this course was a bit trial and error. For the most part, however, it’s pretty much right out in front of you. The greens are big and not too hard to get at in most places.
The greens definitely provide the biggest source of challenge at Brookside. They are large and undulating. Adding to the fun was the fact that they were firm and super fast for us on Monday. You did not want to be above the hole. However, I putt much better here than any other course I played on the trip, so I enjoyed these quick greens immensely.
I’m not sure what they consider the signature hole(s) here, but the finishing stretch of 16-18 is the best part of the layout in my opinion. The 16th is a very demanding double-dogleg par-5 that snakes around and between two large water hazards and will provide some intimidation on each shot (whether you are playing conservatively or going for it).
The 17th is the standout par-3 playing over the same big water hazard that protects the 16th green. This is easily the prettiest part of the course with these two green complexes facing one another across the water.
The 18th is another strong par-5 that brings hazards in to play on the first two shots and then has an uphill approach toward the green with the clubhouse behind it.
Overall, I’d say I enjoyed the layout here, but I wasn’t necessarily blown away by anything about it. It’s a solid course that reminded me at times of Seven Oaks down in Bakersfield. Unfortunately, Brookside was not conditioned nearly as well as that course.
I was honestly quite disappointed in the conditions at Brookside for a private club hosting a big NCGA outing. Other than the greens, which I noted were great, the rest of the course was just in “okay” shape at best. The tee boxes were fine, but the fairways were not that good. There were a lot of bare/dead/brown patches and inconsistencies. The rough pretty lush and good for the most part, but also fairly inconsistent. The bunkers were hard-packed with little-to-no sand to work with. Some were borderline GUR looking.
Because of the lackluster conditions and also tough lighting conditions (cloudy, yet kind of bright mid-day autumn skies), the pictures will probably make the course look less interesting than it actually is. Because of the spotty turf and dull lighting, you won’t really get a sense of the subtle contours and linksy elements used in the design. The course was better than my pictures will probably make it look. However, it was still fairly disappointing because of the conditions.
Some pictures from Brookside Country Club (10/1/18):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)
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