Tag Archives: Irvine

Highlight Hole: No. 8 at Strawberry Farms

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When reviewing golf courses from one golfer to another, we usually first default to brevity and try to capture the course in a word.

For instance, it’s common to describe a given course as “long,” “tough,” “hilly” or, best-case scenario, “fun.”

For Strawberry Farms in Irvine, that word is “tight,” which we all know is golf speak for narrow. That’s partly why I’ve shied away from this course when it has been presented as an option in the past.

Well, last week, there was no option. We had an online deal and this was the course we were playing. So I stocked up on golf balls and pointed my car north prepared to experience a little pain and frustration – & hopefully discover a great golf course along the way.

What I found is a beautiful course with a lot of scenic holes, many of which are, indeed, tight, especially on the back nine. In golf, this is what we call a shot-maker’s course, and you know it’s going to require strategy and to occasionally check your ego on the tee and hit iron.

One of the holes were you could, and probably should, do that is the short par-4 8th … but that’s not what I did. I went for it, and made it, thanks for a weapon in my bag that is more than the point of this post than the course.

As you can see from the photo, No. 8 is one of those diagonal fairways littered by bunkers. Playing it for the first time, it’s nearly impossible to pick the proper aim line because you don’t have any experience with the yardages and the landing area.

Well, the day we played I looked at the green sitting 292 yards out, noticed the wind behind me and decided there’d be no laying up. With that, I reached in my bag and pulled my 14-degree SLDR Mini Driver, the latest club breakthrough from TaylorMade. It’s a driver with a 260cc head that performs more like a 3-wood off the tee in terms of accuracy, but it’s got a Speed Slot so you still get distance. After two weeks of toying with this club, I hit it fairly straight and about 260-280 yards, about 20-40 less than my driver.

It’s ideal for a hole like No. 8, which is usually the type of hole that hands me my lunch because I hit a draw and struggle working the ball left to right. The Mini Driver turned this from a nervous tee shot into a confident one.

I hit a ball high in the wind, aimed at the front left of the green, and it carried the pot bunker in front and settled in some rough near the fringe. I’ve had a few success stories so far with this club, but this was by far the best.

My playing partner took his first swing with it and got similar success, though he was about 10 yards shorter and caught the pot bunker. Still, they were two impressive shots that ultimately produced pars.

You’ll be reading more about the Mini some pieces I’ve got coming up, but I wanted to share this experience because it’s one I’m not using elsewhere and is the example of the perfect shot scenario for this club.

If you try this club, you’ll notice you get a feel for it very quickly. The three people I’ve had try it have been immediately impressed.

With that quick trust in hand, you quickly start get a sense for when to pull this club. I’m using it as my driver right now and haven’t really tried hitting it out of the fairway, though I’m told it works well off the deck, too.

Anyway, if you happen to have a chance to experience this club, I’d appreciate you adding your two cents in the comments. I’m cataloging my Mini Moments as I continue to play with this club, and I’m sure you’ll see future posts here about it. Maybe I can include you.

Stay tuned to your local – heck, global – golf blog for more Mini news to come.

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Tee shots on No. 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlight Hole: No. 3 at Oak Creek

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As a group, the par-3s at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine aren’t among the more memorable holes on the course, but this little gem is the exception amongst its par-3 peers.

The par-3 3rd plays 163 yards from the Gold tees and 154 from the Whites and captures a lot of the character of the course. It’s a mid-length par-3 on a mid-length course played to a highly contoured green protected by a couple sand traps that play tougher than they look. (I, for one, would want no part of that little trap you can barely see off the back.) And obviously water looms short and right, but unless you badly push your tee shot or under club, it shouldn’t come into play.

I hit a soft 7-iron that I expected to hold the middle of the green, but instead my ball trickled off the back into a collection area. From there, I hit a short uphill chip that unfortunately settled above the hole. I ended up lipping out a tricky downhill 5-footer for a frustrating four.

Score aside, I enjoyed this hole and the course, which reminded me a lot of Golf Club of California in Fallbrook in how it looks, plays and feels. Besides length (GCoC is much longer), the biggest difference is the bunkers. The bunkers at Oak Creek are much more severe than anything you’d find at Golf Club of California. Otherwise, the challenge is largely the same.

The greens seemed to be rolling at a merciful speed Monday. At a faster pace, I can see the challenge on the greens here being something like Barona Creek. Some tricky pin placements also accentuated the putting challenge on Monday.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a round in Irvine, check out Oak Creek and come prepared to be tested on and around the greens.