#GolfCourseReview #OakValley #Golf #Beaumont #California
Reviewed by: dconnally, Mission Viejo, CA
I was happy to join GKer itslikeimsayin when he posted a Meet-Play for Oak Valley at 1:52 on Sunday, 10/15/17, as I really like this track and wish it was a little closer to me so I could play it more often.
As I found from my ongoing head-scratching at trying to hit these greens and get putts near the hole, repeated plays here are necessary to better appreciate the correct sides of the fairway from which to approach the greens, and to get more familiar with all the subtle movement on the greens and the best way to approach various pin positions. I generally like Schmidt-Curley designs, as I think their green complexes “make sense”, but there was definitely a lot more movement and green segmentation at Oak Valley than I remembered – just because you are “on the green” doesn’t mean you have a putt at the hole. Combined with this is the abundance of uneven lies throughout the course, as it plays out into shallow washes and back – a level lie, even in the middle of the fairway, is pretty rare here, so this also must be factored into shot-making.
It was hot and windy, but not that crowded as we queued up behind a couple of foursomes. We waited only a little bit on the first few holes, then play stretched out after about hole #5 and we rarely even saw the group in front again, and weren’t pushed from behind. Early on we were concerned about the amount of wind we were seeing around the clubhouse, but once on the course it wasn’t as bad as we feared, and the Santa Ana condition made many of the longer holes play downwind. You had to factor in the wind in club selection, but it wasn’t punishing at all. The humidity was so low that I think the ball was flying better than normal – we had several instances where balls flew much longer than we anticipated.
Greens were in very good shape. I thought they were smooth and rolled well at medium speed. I did notice some differences in firmness between greens – some were very receptive (Mark’s approach plugged in place on the elevated #4 green), but others were firmer and you could get a stiff bounce. This pattern continued throughout the round, and you were never quite sure what kind of reception approaches would get. Green speeds were fairly consistent, I thought. These greens also have some pretty steep runoffs into collection areas that generally were filled with deep lush grass, making recovery chips challenging. The course uses a red-white-blue flag rotation, but they weren’t slaves to it today – the par-5s into the wind today all had red flags, making landing on those small green-front areas challenging.
Fairways and rough were generally in good shape, and could vary from dry/firm to lush/soft, depending on the vagaries of the irrigation system. We generally had quite a bit of release on the fairways, especially downwind. Sand looked to be in good shape everywhere. I was in 2 fairway bunkers where the sand was fairly firm, though depth varied. The green-side bunker behind #15 was also pretty firm and could use more playing depth.
Tees were the most questionable part of the conditioning. We immediately noticed areas of distinct uneveness for the first few holes – they were generally better further into the round. The recent maintenance had left the tees with obvious post-punch patchiness, but finding a good spot was dictated by terrain, not foliage. Many of the par-3 tees had no divot mix boxes, and were pretty torn up, with #14 being especially bad. Some tees with divot mix boxes had no mix in them. And some off the shorter par-4s, where players might use an iron or a hybrid, could also use divot mix boxes. Many of the tee box surrounds appear to be the favorite hangouts of the local gopher population.
Carts are basic – no GPS or ball-washer, but there is a cooler. Restrooms on the course are very basic, and they had capped the sink in the men’s restroom on tee #6. There are no sand refills available at the turn or elsewhere, so many divots went unfilled. Water jugs on tee #6 and tee #8 were empty. The clubhouse was closed when we finished just after 6pm, so no bathroom or water before the trip home.
GKer Andrew1 had made some comments about this being a Dye track – I knew it was Schmidt-Curley, but Mark says he thinks they were both once Dye associates, so the bulkheaded lakes, mounding and deep runoffs, and inscrutable greens at OV make more sense if that’s true and they brought some Dye influence to the ambiance. Sorry to doubt you, Andrew! Thanks to Mark and Wendy for a very enjoyable round, and I definitely need to plan on getting back here sooner rather than later.