Course Review: CordeValle

March 20, 2012

Even though we claim to try to review courses that the average joe can go play, I will not try to defend reviewing CordeValle.  Spoiler: This is a favorable review.  I will preface the review with an apology:  I was so wrapped up in the experience that I forgot to take pictures.  Below are the few that I remembered to take.

This gem of a course used to be a hidden treasure of the south bay until it became home to the Frys.com Open.  One reason I was so excited to play this course was because of my own experience watching Tiger and other professionals play this course during that tournament last fall.  Full review here:  Frys.com Review.

Though the details of why I was able to play this course must remain a secret, I can assure you they would make any man jealous.  For those not so fortunate, members of the public are invited to play 5 times a year during fundraising tournaments.  Details available here:  http://www.cordevallegolf.com/golf/foundation/2012-tournament-dates.  For $150, you get two meals, logo-ed Tee prize, cart, greens fee, and forecaddie.  I don’t really think there’s a better deal in CA golf-wise.  Do it.

On to the review.

What can I say?  CordeValle is amazing.  Since  watching a Golf Destinations special on the Golf Channel (aka TV) including CordeValle and the Frys.com, I had to get out there.  The front nine opens with an easy par 4 and par 3 to get things started.

One of the things that really stood out to me about this course was the collection of par 5s.  I love them.  I think they might be the best par 5s i’ve ever played.  The par-5 third hole is one of the most challenging par 5s I think I have ever played.  The hole requires a long tee shot into a narrow landing area.  Too long though, and you might run into the hazard that cuts across the middle of the hole and runs up the left side.  The left side of the fairway is best to have the best angle for the layup to the right, but if you are right, you get a tempting look at the green protected on the left by a large tree.

The par-5 sixth, on the other hand, is a very reachable uphill par-5.  It provides a wide-open tee shot into a generous landing area and requires a laser-sharp approach if you hope to be putting for eagle.

Aside: After the 6th are three of my favorite holes in California.  I did my best to capture the downhill par-3 seventh and short par-4 eighth in one picture.  Rocco Mediate made a hole in one on this par 3 and holed out for eagle on this par 4 en route to his victory at this tournament in 2010.  These were only 2 of his four hole outs for the week! (see our Play of the Week updates at https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/play-of-the-week-2/ and https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/play-of-the-week-2-5/

The par-4 ninth provides a hazard-split fairway and difficult approach to a small and well bunkered green.  This hole is just fun.  Take aim and hit it long.  This image is borrowed from the CordeValle website:

The other par 5s (15 and 18) are similarly challenging and fair.  15, depending on the wind, can be a reachable (straight) uphill par-5 while only the bravest of souls will take on the (long) forced carry over water in two on 18.

While the greens felt slightly smaller than other courses in the area, they along with the wind provide the defense for this track.  Missing the green or even the correct section of the green on this course will really put a damper on your scoring.  My advice: Make sure your wedges are singing when you take on CordeValle.

The back nine was much windier than when I played the front, but still provided the same scenic beauty and certainly the challenge of the front.  The back nine is less accessible during the Frys.com, and therefore this was my first look at it.  The entire course provides elevation change, difficult greens, lush fairways, stellar views, and an unforgettable golf experience.

My personal story of the round comes from the par-3 twelfth.  This medium length par-3 was playing straight downwind.  To give some frame of reference, we played from the 190 yard tee and our caddie said to play our “160 clubs”.  My playing partner who was about 2 clubs shorter than me, but decided to hit his 6 iron.  He put his ball about 40 feet over the green.  I had an 7 iron in hand and hit what I considered to be a chip shot of the tee and ended up nearly rolling off the back of the green.  Left with a 50 footer straight into the wind, I hit the putt with enough force to send it back to the tee.  My spider rolled it ever so gently to the hole and I watched it disappear into the hole like a little mouse.  Easily one of my best birdies.

Though I failed to take pictures of most of the day, below is one of my favorite views on the course.  Though we usually end reviews with an overall impression, I will let CordeValle speak for itself.  If you get the opportunity to play, go.

For one of the best course websites, in addition to golf courses, See: http://www.cordevallegolf.com/golf/course/hole-by-hole-course-tour.

In yet another joint post, LG and I review a place near and dear to both our hearts, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail–specifically, the course at Oxmoor Valley. Nearly two years ago now (Summer 2010), LG and I visited the RTJ Golf Trail for a 3-day trip through Alabama to play three sites of one of the most fun golf experiences in the Southeast, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (see www.rtjgolf.com) (Note: given that this was our second trip, the photos below will show the course at two different times). Although there are a number of trips in the Southeast that I am looking forward to taking some day (Pinehurst and Sawgrass to name a few), the RTJ golf trail is both reasonably priced and easily accessible (relatively) for both LG (who has relatives in Mississippi) and me (Atlanta)–in particular, the courses in Birmingham, AL.

Oxmoor Valley is one of two RTJ sites in Birmingham, the other being the Ross Bridge course. However, we have not played the Ross Bridge course because it is easily 3x the cost of playing the Oxmoor Valley, and, although we’re fanatical about golf, unnecessary cost doesn’t equate to greater value.

As previously mentioned, LG and I have visited multiple RTJ sites. For the price, there is little that is comparable to RTJ courses. For those that don’t know, Robert Trent Jones designed golf courses are typically long, undulating, and punshing while maintaining an understated elegance and natural beauty. 430+ yard par 4s and 3-teired greens are just some of the common elements of an RTJ course. But when he gets a hold of an excellent piece of real estate–as he’s done throughout Alabama–RTJ manages to produce excellent golf. And the courses are well-maintained, even in the winter and the dog days of summer.

What’s more, most RTJ sites include multiple golf courses in one site. Oxmoor Valley includes 36 holes of full-length golf and a par-3 “short course” that provides an excellent challenge. When LG and I visited the RTJ course several years ago, we opted to play the Ridge course and the Valley course in the same day. Halfway through the Valley course, we left and went back to the Ridge.

I have played about 130 holes of RTJ Trail golf (27 at Silver Lakes, 45 at Capitol Hill, 27 at Oxmoor, and 30-ish at Grand National, not counting short courses), and the Ridge course at Oxmoor Valley may be my favorite of all.

First, the clubhouses at all RTJ Courses are large and inviting lodge-type atmospheres, complete with full restaurants that serve very good meals to hungry patrons. The structures are adorned with memoirs of the great times one has playing golf and reminders of the history of the game.

A view from the first green back toward the tee at the Ridge course gives a great idea of what lies ahead. Rolling hills, meandering tree lines, green fairways, and precise layouts make shotmaking in critical demand for a good score. The visual obstructions often make tee shots intimidating experiences, seeing how many places one can miss the fairway. Still, little matches the natural beauty of a well-planned golf course, and RTJ has plenty of that.

Yet another indicator of the beauty of this course is seen at the par 5 3rd hole. A brave driver can place his ball in the fairway between the water.

Even if you manage to hit a career drive, RTJ leaves very little payoff. The uphill second shot to a pedestal green is an unlikely reach, even for the longest and most precise hitter.

What might be the signature hole of this course, the par 3 8th, is downhill and all carry over water. A nicely hit 7 or 8 iron (depending on pin location) will put you in a good spot for a birdie.  A quick story from LG here:  We have had two chances to play this hole in our time.  During our first trip, the pin was located in the back right section of this green, and during our second, it was located in the front left location.  During both trips, JK somehow managed to stick his ball in a position to have the longest putt imaginable on this green.  I think he would have had about 5 feet of putts total left had the pins been swapped.  I, on the other hand, have played this hole in even par for my career thanks to two nicely placed shots that left me a grand total of about 25 feet of putts on this green in two rounds.  The closeup of the green below allows you to see this for yourself.  Now back to JK.

As my memory serves, I don’t recall thinking this course was very long. Yet, at over 7,000 yards from the tips, no one can call it a short course. I suppose I was too focused on other features of the course to worry about the length.

Although I haven’t seemed to play well, I can’t blame the course at all for that.

Quick aside from LG:  JK might not be able to blame the course, but I’ll definitely throw in a complaint.  RTJ designs a hard golf course.  I love them and would love to have one be my home course some day, but man, they can kick your tail.  A quick example is the dastardly par-4 6th below.

The dogleg left hole measures 447 yards from the tips and requires a massive carry over a ravine.  The more that I think about this behemoth, the less terrible I feel about making a quadruple bogey 8 on it during our last outing.  The carry must be long and precise.  The fairway slopes left toward the ravine and it is impossible to tell from the tee where the fairway comes out to save an errant ball.  Moreover, the ravine cuts across the hole and makes any approach from the right rough a tall order.  Oh, and even if you hit that monster drive, heaven help you if you have anything longer than a 7 iron in because this three tiered green demands a high, soft shot to get within range.  Missing the green on any side, long, or short will provide a daunting up and down.  My advice:  play this hole as a par 5, or hope that your karma is better than mine.  In two rounds, I am collectively 7 over on this hole alone.  Now back to JK.

The drawbacks–it’s hard to say. The courses are not really walkable not only because of undulation but also because there is a lot of distance between greens and tees. They are typically out in the middle of nowhere, but Birmingham wasn’t bad at all. Not to mention, when you’re golfing, you typically don’t want to be in an urban center. The service is great. The cost is reasonable ($52/18 holes with cart).

One thing, you may want to check and ensure that maintenance is not being done during your trip. LG and I had planned to play one RTJ course during our 3-day visit that we skipped because it was being aerated during our visit. Thankfully, we checked when we called ahead–not sure they would’ve told us if we hadn’t asked.

All in all, though, it’s a great place to play golf.

Value: 8/10
Condition/Maintenance: 8/10
Price: 8/10
Layout: 9/10
Challenge: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

PS, LG and I also STRONGLY recommend a trip to Saw’s BBQ after the round. Unbelievably good, if you like good BBQ: 1008 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL | (205) 879-1937 | sawsbbq.com

Today, we review the home course of the NCGA – Poppy Hills in Monterey, CA.  One quick note about this course prior to the review: JK and I had planned on playing this course during our first trip to Monterey, but never got around to it because we were both exhausted after playing Spanish Bay.  After this round, JK, I can tell you we made the right decision.  Not because the course isn’t worth playing–it definitely is, but it would have kicked our butts and likely not been the ocean course experience we were looking for during this trip.  Had the weather been like this during our trip though, there’s very little doubt in my mind we would have been out there.  The pictures tell the story.  Onward!

Poppy is a beautiful Robert Trent Jones designed course located in the heart of Pebble Beach.  Driving there gave me a heightened sense of excitement as compared to the usual round of golf because the last time I drove down 17 mile drive, I was on my way to play Pebble.  Rather than take the scenic drive down toward the water, however, the road twisted and turned back into the hills and opened up to this wonderful 18 hole facility.

The course, pro shop, and practice facility at Poppy are outstanding — there is very little I can say that hasn’t been said by the prizes that Poppy’s pro shop has won don’t already say.  The layout is interesting and challenging.  Some of the holes feel a little tricked up, but others are simply stunning.  An example of the former is the par 4 5th hole.  At 428 yards from the black tee, the hole’s principle defense is a giant bunker on the left side, water on the approach, and a subtly tiered green.  The second shot is a demanding one, but for some reason, the man-made pond on the right makes this hole feel more contrived than natural.  Call me critical.  Full disclosure — I dropped one right into the middle of this lake after skying a driver short into the fairway.  The par 3s on this course, on the other hand, were some of the best I’ve played in a long time.  The second hole, on the other hand,was reminiscent of Pasatiempo with an absolutely enormous bunker short of the green.  Below is a view from the green back to the tee:

And now from the tee to the green:

The scorecard shows just how stout a challenge this course can provide.  My sense is that, despite its absence during my visit, the wind is a critical factor that brings the true teeth to this course on some of the shorter par 4s.

If I am being fair to myself, however, I must say I was disappointed.  The biggest downside for this course may well be the fact of its location.  Were this course near my home in the greater Bay Area, I have no doubt that I’d be the first in line to get a membership.  Because this course is next to Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, Bayonet and Blackhorse, PG Muni, and a slew of private courses, however, it would not be even my 5th choice of courses to play if I were going to Monterey.  When I think of a Monterey golf experience, inevitably, I think of cypress trees, ocean winds, and, well, the ocean!!  While Poppy is a great course, the lack of ocean views, even on as clear a day as I had, sort of diminishes the experience for me.  Knowing what I know now, I would be much more enthusiastic about returning to Poppy, but would have tempered expectations based on my previous experience.  At $72 for the NCGA rate and complimentary gate access to 17 mile drive (normally $10), the deal is nearly impossible to pass up for a fantastic day of golf.

All in all, I enjoyed the day at Poppy.  The weather was, pardon the phrasing, picture perfect.  I couldn’t help thinking though, “man, I wish I’d gone to Spyglass with weather like this…”

First, I must apologize for our recent absence from posting. LG and I have run into a number of more important things, and until blogging starts paying us, I’m afraid we must split our pursuits. Thank you to our loyal readers for your support.

Onward.

Today I review a golf course that I really like–for whatever reason, I’m not sure–Bradshaw Farm. Located in Woodstock, GA, Bradshaw farm is a 27-hole golf course with a really nice layout (at least, part of it; we’ll discuss later). The course is nestled over and around rolling hills and plays down into a valley for part of it. The bentgrass greens are typically in OK shape, although they were a little torn up on my most recent visit. With an abundance of water and a number of different hole shapes, the course has an interesting feel to it.

At first drive into the parking lot, the most obvious feature of the golf course is the bright red barn that is used for the clubhouse. Although the course has feelings of a once-private conversion to public, I cannot recall the course ever being private.

Bradshaw Farm is currently run by American Golf Corporation, who I have previously commented on in https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/course-review-trophy-club-of-atlanta-alpharetta-ga/. As such, my expectations for this course are never very high. However, when I go, I am usually surprised by how interesting I find the layout to be.

As seen in the scorecard below, none of the three nines is over 3,500 yards from the tips. The course feels shorter than that as well, as playing down major slopes gives the feeling that the player can hit the ball a long way. Many tee shots are hit through a shoot over trees that opens into a fairway. The bunkering is well-placed not only to push the player in the correct direction, but also, many of the bunkers will save players from losing a ball, providing a less-penal alternative to a lost-ball penalty or a hazard drop. The course has several “blind” shots, but it is usually clear which direction you must hit the ball. I rarely feel as though a shot is unfair or that I have no options.

My tee time was the first of the day. In the photos below, the eerie mist that seems to cover the Georgia mountains in the morning looms over the course.

The course provides an excellent opportunity to see some of the beautiful country of northern Georgia, including a horse-farm that touches two holes.

The original course had only 18 holes, which are currently the “red” and “white” nines. The “blue” nine was added later. In my opinion, the red and white nines are clearly superior to the blue. The red–one of my favorite tracks in all of Georgia–starts off with a daunting 70-foot drop to a bunkered fairway followed by a shot over a creek to the green. The following holes play up, down, and around large slopes in the fairways and provide many interesting looks at greens (the photo above of the red barn is the 9th hole of the red nine).

The white nine retains some of the character that the red nine has, but it is much more flat. The photos below show the first tee of the white nine. As this tee shot plays into a valley, the remaining holes have little elevation change.


The blue nine is a strange and poorly-laid out nine. The holes are essentially flat and have many places where even a shot in the fairway leaves a blocked approach. The blue nine can allow a player to hit good shots without scoring and hit bad shots while scoring. Altogether, it plays similarly to the other two nines but lacks the character of a well-planned golf course.

As for the drawbacks, Bradshaw Farm’s first knock is that it is run by American Golf. Perhaps in association with that, the course closes one of the three nines every day, and unless you call ahead you cannot tell which one will be. Although typically the course plays red to white, white to blue, blue to red, that has been changed in the recent trips I’ve had to the course. Also, for my trip at the beginning of the summer, the greens were well-maintained, quick, and receptive. At my most recent trip, they were sandy, spotty, and slow. This inconsistency makes me wonder what I will be getting on each trip and generally makes me not want to drive 45-minutes to an hour away on the off chance that the course will be in bad shape. At $40 or so on a weekday, it’s a toss-up as to whether I’ll return regularly.

Maintenance: 6
Layout: 8
Price: 5
Proximity to Atlanta: 6
Management: 1
Overall: 7

Yet another Golfnow.com treat – a 57% discount at Half Moon Bay Golf Links (The Old Course) – is the subject of this review.  A word of caution for Golfnow users: While the last two rounds I’ve played through Golfnow have been marvelous, this one was less than stellar due to the fact that Golfnow did not warn me that the reason the rate was exceptionally good this weekend was that the greens had recently been aerated (within the last week).  I know that I should be skeptical of deals that appear to be “too good to be true,” but greens fees at 50% off are not “too good to be true” for normal conditions when a course is not able to fill its tee sheet.  At minimum, I believe that Golfnow should warn purchasers somewhere beyond the small print that the course has recently been aerated, if that is the case.  That complaint aside, even aerated greens cannot tarnish my impression of the Old Course at Half Moon Bay.

Sunday was a picture perfect day in Half Moon Bay, CA.  70 degrees, clear skies, and a slight N-NE wind made for a perfect conditions for good ball striking.  As the round progressed, and as we got closer to the ocean, the wind picked up and became more of a factor in shot selection and strategy.  My sense is that these conditions are not necessarily the norm for this course.  Playing at Half Moon Bay should come with the expectation of high, gusty winds and generally gray conditions.  Though the marine layer will burn off over the course of the day, the wind will pick up as well.

The Old Course reminded me, in a few distinct ways, of the Presidio Golf course in San Francisco.  This is not all-together surprising since the two were designed by Arnold Palmer.  Both courses provide distinct risk-reward opportunities, generous landing areas on longer holes, distinct aiming lines, and the occasional forced carry over clear-and-present danger.  In the case of the Old Course, the par-5s generally had open landing areas, par 4s generally tell you the exact line to take via a fairway bunker or natural depression in the course, and the par 3s provided all the clear-and-present danger necessary to create exciting shots.  The 16th hole also provides the prototypical Palmer “hero” shot.  A well-placed drive leaves a short iron or wedge approach to a raised green guarded by a ravine.  The ravine cuts sideways across the fairway at an angle that punishes a hook or an overcooked draw.  If the pin is cut on the left, the middle of the green is the best target.  Unfortunately, this reviewer did not take a great picture of the approach on the 16th hole, so below is the picture from Half Moon Bay’s website taken from the back of the green toward the tee.

A quick note about the facility as a whole:  Half Moon Bay is home to two courses: the Old Course and the Ocean Course (designed by Arthur Hills).  Though one of the two gentlemen playing with me made the off-hand comment that “the locals play the Old Course,” I got the sense that this was more or less the case after talking to the starter and pro shop staff.  The Ocean Course provides wonderful scenery and interesting golf holes, but the Old Course provides a more interesting and complete test of a golfer’s skill.  That being said, I personally think the comparison can be likened to choosing between chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies: I’ll take either at any time, and the more I get, the happier I am.

The Old Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links

The Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links

If there was one complaint I had about the Old Course, I think it must be that I felt as though I was playing golf between houses the entire round.  When I think about my favorite holes on the course (16-18), part of the reason I enjoyed them the most was that they did not have any visual distractions around the course architecture.  It may also be that I am a sucker for ocean views, but I’ll let the views from 17 and 18 below speak for themselves.

17th Tee

18th Tee

The signature 18th hole at the Old Course is simply outstanding.  Though this course does not have the fame of Pebble or Cypress, I would argue that the scenery and the feel of the 18th at the Old Course is on par with those courses.  The ocean breeze is most definitely a factor on this hole, generally creating a strong crosswind that forces the high ball hitter to start the ball over the water if a reasonable approach is desired.  The preferred trajectory here is a low, running shot that does not run so far as to leave a severely uphill approach.  In keeping with the theme of this course, the rolling hills in the landing area will likely prevent a flat lie for your second shot.  Most players will miss left on the approach for fear of going near the water on the right.  One of the most interesting parts of this hole is the amphitheater setting created around the green.  The approach is played directly into the rear entrance of the Ritz-Carlton where lots of seating is available for the hotel guests.  During this trip, there were several people seated and watching groups come in.  The pressure is squarely on your short game and putting if you are at all intimidated by a large gallery.  Take your best shot and be sure to tip your cap to the fans.

18th Green

Overall, Half Moon Bay offers two wonderful courses that will both challenge and delight.  The courses are difficult and beautiful.  If you are lucky enough to get a chance to sneak out, be sure to check the aeration reports.  Even with the 57% discount, $80 is a bit pricey to me when the greens are essentially sand boxes.  I will certainly be keeping an eye on golfnow.com for my next chance to take a loop at Half Moon Bay.

Cost: 5/10
Maintenance: 8/10
Greens: n/a – aerated
Layout: 8/10
“Fun” factor: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Today, I review yet another gem of the Monterey Peninsula – Bayonet.

A quick shout-out to Golfnow.com for making this round happen. I had, on Wednesday (9/28) expressed my dissatisfaction with my recent rounds at Palo Alto Muni and Shoreline to JK when he suggested I run down to Monterey and get in a real round. In order to assuage curiosity, I logged onto Golfnow.com and searched for cheap tee times for the coming weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to find an 11:10am tee time on Sunday for $54 (rack rate $120). Considering I had just paid $49 to play (read: suffer) the Palo Alto Muni for 6 hours, I jumped on the deal. Thank you, Golfnow! On to the review!

While I was driving out of Mountain View towards Seaside, the weather looked somewhat unfavorable for playing a nice course. During my warm-up and first two holes, the sky remained close to the picture above. As I finished my 3rd hole (actual 12th hole), the sky broke and the Monterey Bay was visible from all parts of the course.

The golfing experience is always colored by those with whom one plays. Today, I was joined by a true gentleman named we will call Dan. He was a joy to play with and very knowledgeable about his golf (having played 60 of the top 100 courses). It was lucky for me that Dan had also played Bayonet in his travels. His notes were very helpful tee to green.

The course is part of a 36-hole military affiliated complex just north of Monterey. The slogan is Bayonet and Black Horse: the best 36 holes on Monterey Bay. Attorneys and sticklers for detail will have to agree (Pebble and Cypress aren’t technically on Monterey Bay). Don’t let the military designation make you skeptical, at least 18 of the 36 of some of the finest holes I’ve had the opportunity to play in my time in Northern California.

The Course:

The condition of this course was immaculate. Little did I know, but my round was the day before a Monday Qualifier for the Frys.com Open. From the appearance, however, this condition is the usual faire for Bayonet and Black Horse. This course will also be hosting the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship (Not to be confused with the Major – though the top 20 do qualify for the PGA Championship). Those honors may give you a sense for the prestige and quality of the course, but the layout is impressive and very playable for any golfer.

From the tips, this course demands long, accurate tee shots. The rough, while not difficult to get out of, makes holding these hard, fast greens nearly impossible. You’ll definitely want to be hitting out of the short stuff on this course. This course does afford the American golfer the unique opportunity to play a few bump and runs, as well as longer “running” shots into the greens, but again, accuracy off the tee is the only way to setup those optional routes. I was surprised and ended up having to adjust for actually getting roll with my 60* wedge on this course. No longer was I able to short side myself and get up and down. For once, strategic planning had to go into planning my approach shots. I hope I get the chance to repay this course for the damage it did to my short game’s ego. One nice thing about the hard and fast greens, though, was that my confidence that I am a good putter was reconfirmed. I made some longer putts and some breaking putts that normally would have lipped out at my usual courses due to JK and my nemesis, the “lumpy doughnut.”

One note: If you are considering making a trip, do it soon. Construction is underway on several houses that will sit between some of the prettier holes on the course. Some of these houses will sit very close to the greens and will likely throw off the aesthetic of the course. Moreover, I personally dislike the claustrophobic feeling of playing between houses. It’s also better on my score, generally, to play out of the trees than someone’s backyard. One quick story on this point: I drove my tee shot on the par-4 5th hole way right. The dirt layout of the house that will soon occupy that spot setup a clean, unobstructed second shot of only 111 yards to the green. I like to think that I made par out of someone’s guest bedroom on that hole.

I was also informed during the round that this course was recently redesigned and rerouted to include some holes from the old Black Horse course. Though I am unable to locate any substantive details of this redesign, I can say that the result was a success in my book.

The Facility:

The Bayonet and Blackhorse Facility has one of the best practice complexes one could hope for. The redesign appears to have moved the driving range from near the 18th to near the 1st hole. While this does create some problems if you hit your Titleist 7 into the sea of Titleist practice balls that showers the left side of the first hole, it does not undermine the quality of the range. The range has three hitting areas (all with grass tees), a large bunker with REAL sand and nearly every lie imaginable and a REAL green to hit onto, a large undulating practice green, and even a chipping/pitching area with yet another REAL green. Of all of the practice facilities that I’ve visited in Northern California, I think I would have to take this one in my backyard. Oh, did I mention the whole facility has bent grass greens as well? They must know their audience at the PF.

One detail that often goes overlooked in reviews is the quality of the power carts. While JK and I both prefer to walk, we aren’t going to pass up free carts when they are included in the greens fee. Bayonet had exceptionally nice carts which included free water bottles, tees, and towels for cleaning clubs.

During my round, I stopped in at the watering hole at the turn and was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t being terribly ripped off for food at a nice course. I paid a total of $10 for a handmade turkey sandwich, chips, and soda. On the other hand, I normally like to procure a yardage book from nicer courses that have them. In this case, while the course had one, I refused to spend $20 for it. For those who can’t live without them, this one was the equivalent of a tour yardage book with all kinds of crazy slopes and angles written in. I’m pretty sure 90% of the measurements wouldn’t be useful to 99% of the people that play these courses, but who am I to tell them not to have them?

Bits and Pieces

While there is no “near-hole-in-one” from Bayonet, one other item from the course bears mentioning. The starter that greeted me prior to my round was exceptionally nice. He welcomed me, asked me about the course, asked whether I was playing in the Qualifier (one day…), and remembered my name as I made the turn. Starters, and the staff generally, like this can really put the feather in the cap of a nice course. So to you, sir, if you ever read this, thanks for being a nice guy. You are doing a great service to your employer and I hope he repays you in kind.

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JK Notes:

I played this course (well, one of these courses) several years ago with my brother-in-law. Much as you describe, the weather was something I remember well. It was warm to start the day. Just when it was getting a little hot, the fog rolled in from the Monterrey Bay and cooled us off, only for the sun to run a few holes later.

What I remember of the course, it was very fair, moderately open, and very enjoyable. I’m glad you made the trip down–and this is an excellent review.

This week’s review covers a course I have wanted to play for awhile and finally got the chance to recently.

City Club Marietta is a municipal golf course in Marietta, GA. Although my impression of munis is usually that they’re not up to snuff, I had higher hopes for this course. I thought I had played all of the munis in and around Atlanta, so it was good to see that there was another out there.

In reality, the course was better in my imagination.

City Club Marietta is a very, very short course located on an old military site. The terrain is fairly undulating, with a large hill leading down into a valley through which the holes play, the hill being perhaps the most notable feature of the course.

At under 6,000 yards, the course is EXTREMELY short. It almost feels like playing an executive course. Par 5s are not greater than 500 yards, which seems very odd when coming from some other courses around. The course makes up for some of the length loss with tightness. However, nothing can make up for it completely. For example, the second hole is a 250-yard par 4. Even though it’s a dogleg with trees and a little uphill, I can probably hit a 4-wood onto this green from the tee box. And the trouble near the green isn’t so daunting that I would shy away from hitting it either. Although I admire some holes under 300 yards for being cleverly designed, this one does not offer any “risk” to go with the reward of going for the green.

Speaking of, the greens are nothing more than OK. I was surprised to find that they were bent grass, but they were not tight, had inconsistencies, and generally were just OK. Moreover, the course was not marshalled. My friend and I played the front 9 in about an hour and a half, but got caught behind a slow group that never let us through on the back side.

This course reminded me of Cobb County’s version of Bobby Jones Golf Course. Each county has a muni that plays about the same way. It’s designed to be very easy so beginners can play it, but inevitably it is just too much hassel to be worth playing for an experienced player. Moreover, they’re too expensive. $39/person on a weekday afternoon is WAY too much to play this course.

One interesting note as well: driving to the course feels very strange. The clubhouse sits as a nice, southern building. However, it appears that a Hilton was built next to the clubhouse a number of years ago. As such, when driving into the parking lot of the course, there is almost no signage to tell you that you are in the correct place. Instead, you see giant Hilton signs to the massive Grecian Empire hotel. Only when you near the front of the hotel do you find a sign directing you to the golf course on the left. Although it makes for an interesting view from the fairway on 9 and 18, the course has a strange feel to it–almost as if the hotel is an insane asylum, or the hotel from The Shining.

Moreover, the course is in an odd spot. Although it’s not far from Marietta, it’s kind of difficult to get to. I felt like there was too much driving away from the highway for as close as it looked on the map.

On a high note, however, I hit what is probably one of the top shots of the year for me. A 355-yard downhill par 4 10th, this was the result:

That is my ball mark to the right of the pin. Literally, I LANDED 5 feet right of the stick. Although I missed the eagle putt, that ball was KILLED. So that was a high point. The view from the tee is below, although you can’t see the green (it doglegs to the right).

All in all, the course is just not up to snuff. Too short, too bad of shape, too crowded. At $39/person, I would recommend skipping this one.

Cost: 2/10
Maintenance: 3/10
Greens: 3/10
Layout: 2/10
“Fun” factor: 3/10
Proximity to the City: 2/10
Overall: 2/10