“Canyon” Courses

What is a good golf course?  That is a debate that sparks a lot of controversy in golf today.

I see 100 shooters telling pros they have no idea what they are talking about in this debate.

There are several categories, IMO (see the word “dump” in Blog Vocabulary).

1.  A course that everyone thinks is a dump.

2.  A course that no one thinks is a dump.

3.  A course that good players think is a dump and bad players think is good.

4.  A course that good players think is good and bad players think is a dump.

5.  A course that I think is a dump and everyone else thinks is good.

I have discovered a concept that puts every course into categories 3& 5.

If the course has the word “Canyon” in it’s title, it is always a dump in my experience.

Big Canyon and Shady Canyon are two of the more exclusive and expensive clubs in Orange County, CA.

DUMPS!  Both of them.  Poorly routed, tricked up greens, non-inviting landing areas, too many places for bad golfers to lose balls, too many unnecessary obstacles for good players to play their game.

In case you think I don’t like these course because I don’t play them well, I broke par the last time I played Big Canyon and I shot well into the 60’s my only trip to Shady.

I don’t like courses that every hole gives you only one choice if you are a good player and no choices if you are a bad player.

Being difficult, unique and pretty doesn’t make a golf course good.

Canyon Crest, Dove Canyon and Steele Canyon.  Dump, Dump and Dump.  As a matter of fact, Steele Canyon has three 9’s and the “Canyon” 9 is the worst of the lot.

I am told Rustic Canyon is good, but I haven’t played it yet.

Also look for code words that might mean Canyon.  Like Creek, Valley, Ranch and Arroyo.

Also, the word Devil in any language in the title of a golf course should also give you a clue.  So if you see a course called Diablo Canyon, bring a lot of golf balls.

PS-All of these courses are perfectly fun to play if the object is to just enjoy the day and the scenery.  I just don’t want to play Q-school or the US Open there.




  1. SB Bruin

    On second thought, you may not like Journey! I didn’t find it a tough course at all. I thought every hole was unique and a test in it’s own way, but there is a lot of “scenery”. I’d actually say it felt like Spyglass to me, in a non beach, not nearly as difficult way. Actually, in no way does it resemble Spyglass, still I enjoyed it.

  2. Monte Scheinblum

    I think Spyglass is great. I like old style course with trees and small greens with a slope back to front. Courses that most golfers call, “well manicured munis.” That one kills me. After the US Open at Winged Foot a few years ago, I heard some guy on the range call it a well manicured muni and that is why it had to be tricked up with funny pin positions. “If there were places to lose balls and hazards and waste areas in the middle of the fairways like new courses, they wouldn’t have to trick it up to make the course play hard. LOL.

  3. Banner 12

    Yes, Rustic is an exception. Tons of choices off the tee, plenty of places to land the ball and numerous options for approach shots.

    The only criticism is that many of the correct places to miss are not apparent playing it the first time so good shots may not be rewarded.

    But overall a terrific design.

  4. BruinMel

    There are some funky things about Rustic’s routing too. And a couple of the greens are downright strange. But the main problem at Rustic is pace of play.


  5. Banner 12


    I usually play Rustic on a Monday or Tuesday and get around in 4 hours. In fact, the last several times I played I never had to wait to hit a shot. Nice. I guess the weekends, however, must be busy.

    But as I learn the course there are places you want to hit the ball and places you do not. Same goes for places to miss the green. Still learning that. The best part about it is that it’s a think man’s course and that makes it fun.

  6. The Veal

    Any thoughts on the dumpitude of Lost Canyons? I understand Sky is perhaps less dumperrific than Shadow.

    Is there a public within 35 miles of the west side of LA with an annual membership that’s worth playing regularly?

    • Monte Scheinblum

      I agree with you, Lost Canyons is not my favorite. Finding a yearly fee golf course is tough in So Cal at a good course, especially within 35 miles of West LA.

      • The Veal

        It seems like it’s nearly impossible to find something even within 50-75 miles.

        I’m in search of that ever elusive place to practice and play at will. Grass range, decent practice greens, practice bunkers, a layout that offers lots of shots and options, acceptable pace of play, etc. The only thing I’ve come across so far that almost fits the bill is Lost Canyons – I’ve played the Sky course a couple of times – haven’t bothered with Shadow due to horror stories (e.g., hit what appeared to be a perfect shot only to have the ball disappear into the Bermuda Triangle).

        Of course, the name of the place is a bit of an issue – do I really want to play a yearly fee course that not only contains, but is solely made up of the words “Lost” and “Canyons”? I suppose I’d get what I deserve on that one . . .

        I’m not much of the country club type, so it’s a yearly fee place for me. I was surprised at how few options seem to be out there in southern cal.

        • Monte Scheinblum

          Probably in December or January I am going to join Oak Creek. $5000 yearly fee includes range fees.

          • The Veal

            Thanks for the heads up about Oak Creek – haven’t been there yet. (and thanks for the quick replies).

          • Monte Scheinblum

            The practice facilities are second to none in OC and the course is decent, but not great.

          • The Veal

            And by the way – got an email this morning about your blog from a buddy – I’m not a big blog follower or online golf instruction reader (I generally have found there’s just too much spew out there, from the writers and the readers), but I’ve now killed the better part of my day working my way around your site. Really enjoying it – lots of useful stuff and a bunch of really good laughs. So thanks for doing what you’re doing.

            End of shameless ass kiss. Carry on.

          • Monte Scheinblum

            Glad you enjoy it, that’s what it’s here for…and I always respond to requests on content if you have any.

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