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Boulder Creek Golf & Country Club 16901 Big Basin Highway
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
This is the Phantom Golfers Report of Boulder Creek Golf and Country Club located in the coast mountains at Boulder Creek, California.

Treat yourself and your friends to one of the most pristine 18 hole public courses around. You play amidst the redwoods that line the tight fairways. There are condos located among the second 9 holes, but somehow it doesn’t take away from the serenity of the area.

Make sure your iron play is top notch because there are ten par 3’s ranging from 90 to 189 yards. Although the course par is 65 from the white tees and 67 from the red tees, don’t be fooled into thinking this course is easy. Many of the greens are either raised or located behind a ravine or water and that’s the easy part. Wait till you putt. Take the challenge and you shall be reward with quiet beauty on hole number 17.

Green fees are $40 on weekends and $22 Monday thru Thursday. Boulder Creek also has special packages available for staying in the lodging located on the course and playing a round. Be sure to make a tee time a week in advance. This resort area course is busy but without seeming crowded.

To get there, take Highway 9 to Boulder Creek and turn onto Highway 236. Go three miles to the entrance located on your left. The course is on both sides of the highway.

The Phantom leaves you with a final tip: Although the course is not long, a ride along the scenic cart path just makes the game that much better.

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Blackberry Farm Golf Course 22100 Stevens Creek Blvd.
(1/2 mile West of Hwy. 85)
Cupertino, CA 95014
The Phantom Golfers brings this report on Blackberry Farm Golf Course, owned and operated by the City of Cupertino. It is located off Highway 85 near San Jose, California.

This is one of the Phantom’s favorite little 9 hole courses and par is 29. They play more than 90,000 rounds a year at Blackberry, which means the play is not very fast but it is so dog gone nice being among the pines and away from everything else, you just don’t care.

After you have completed your beginner’s golf lessons, this is a perfect place to get your jitters worked out. Other golfers be patient out here, there are a lot of swing and etiquette challenged individuals on this course. The Phantom and other friends’ best lesson on this course was learned about trees.

The fairways are separated by huge, solid, unforgiving forests. One rule--never, ever, ever, ever try to hit through trees. 99.9% of the time the trees will win. Your ball will be in the same place or in worse shape than it already was if you try and tangle with the pines. Remember that golf is a game of skill and skill takes brains. The Phantom reminds you to use your brain and chip the ball back into the fairway.

Upon entry or exit of the pro shop, one thing that is wonderful about this course, there is no pretense here. The golf shop has basic golf stuff you need. No one is trying to sell you $200 shoes while you pay $11 for a round of golf. Want one of your golf clubs regripped? Leave it at the pro shop and by the time you get back from your round, one of the guys will have it ready for you. That is service. Regular sales are held on merchandise and good buys are always abundant.

After a round of golf there is also a bar and restaurant available upstairs for your dining pleasure, but you best make reservations. The Blue Pheasant Restaurant is popular among the locals who dress to the 9’s for weekday and weekend dining. Better not try getting a table in your polo shirt and tennis shoes either. And leave that 1972 Volkswagen at home. The parking lot fills up, after dark with Mercedes and Jaguars.

The Phantom’s final tip----If you live in the area, ask a friend to meet you here for golf every week. If you don’t live in the area, plan on playing this course during the week and not past three in the afternoon. Green fees are $12 on weekends and $10 during the week.

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Casserly Par 3 Golf Course 626 Casserly Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
Telephone: 831-724-1654
Fee: $5 Monday-Sunday
Casserly Par 3 Golf Course is located in the foothills of Watsonville. They don’t accept tee times and the course can get a little backed up on the weekends. Yardage is from 82 to 175 yards. There are sand bunkers and two holes with water.

Everyone the Phantom met here seemed to enjoy just being out in the fresh air. Local play here regularly like John and Mary who played in the Phantom’s foursome. They are retired and Mary plays in the Wednesday women’s league while John hits the links a couple of times each week with some buddies. Some differences about the course are there are no trees so it can be a little like a shooting gallery. Lots of "FORE’s" are heard. Another difference is you are required to take two shots off the first tee. This is considered your one and only mulligan. The first tee is a grass mat surrounded by fencing like a batting cage. Errant shots frequently hit the aluminum siding on the maintenance garage to the right which can be a little unnerving if you are waiting to tee off on the second tee. Another refreshing difference is the drinks and packaged snacks (these are the only refreshments available) are only $.50 cents each. And don’t be surprised while in the club house to see the owner come in with his dog to watch a little television.

Phantom Tip: Beginners, get out to the par 3’s and play as much as possible. These courses are made for you. Average players, take a beginner. We need more women and children to be encouraged to play the game of a lifetime.

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Cinnabar Hills Golf Club 23600 McKean Road
San Jose, CA 95141
(408) 323-5200
Lovely to look at and delightful to play. The Phantom Golfer encourages you to treat yourself to one of the nicest golf outings you will ever have the opportunity to make. Cinnabar Hills Golf Club is a gem tucked into the foothills just south of San Jose, California. Outside of all the hustle and bustle of the Silicon Valley is a green retreat with every amenity any golfer would ever desire. The 27 holes designed by award winning architect John Harbottle III offers appropriate challenges in a layout that includes old oak trees, lakes and canyons.

The course was named for the red ore mined there in the 1800's and the club logo includes a red-tailed hawk of which can be seen overhead. The service and beauty of Cinnabar Hills will make you think you are at a private resort however this is the first public course built in San Jose in 30 years.

The Phantom's group played the Lakes and the Mountain courses however most people say their favorite is the Canyon course. In looking at the scorecard it is easier although most people wouldn't admit to this fact. It has the shortest yardage of the three and the hardest handicap holes are 2, 8 and 13. The Canyon course also contains the easiest hole on the golf course.

Better bring your "A" game for your second shot. Most of the tee shots are pretty much straight forward. The shot to the green, on the other hand, is usually a little tricky. The challenges include bouncing the ball off a hill, leaving it short so it won't roll into the lake and choosing the correct side of the green to land a shot to set-up a birdie. Mind you that is most of the time. There are a few tee shots that must be accurately placed or you won't have a shot to the green.

The Phantom's favorite hole is number 5 on the Lakes course. It is 320 yards with a blind tee and second shot from the fairway. Use an iron and the keep the first shot in the center of the fairway just below the hill. From there, make a bold shot way to the left. From this angle the ball will roll all the way to the green. As you top the hill you will look down on to a green surround on three sides by water and if you are lucky, a ball sitting six inches from the hole. Number 5 is one of the easier holes but no less rewarding. You are sure to find your own favorites on this sure bet for fun and challenge.

The personnel at Cinnabar Hills are top-notch. From the help in the parking lot to the quick service at the snack bar use the GPS cart computers. What a great amenity. Equipped with Global Positioning Systems each cart provides you with a graphic overview of each hole. It gives you information on how to play the hole, scoring and gives an exact distance to the hole from wherever your ball is located. On top of it all, it gives you the ability to preorder food and beverages that are ready when you round the turn for the next nine.

For the average cost of $100 per person including cart, the Phantom challenges anyone to find a better golf outing for the price in California. Nothing has been left to chance at Cinnabar Hills. Management has prepared well in advance for your arrival to treat you to an experience you will want to have over and over again.  Green fees are $75 during the week and $100 for play on weekends.

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The Course at Wente Vineyards 5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 456-2475

An 18-hole public facility, The Course at Wente Vineyards feels more like a resort. It is located about an hour from San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento in Livermore. It was designed by PGA Professional Greg Norman who chose to utilize the natural landscape provided by the rolling hills and valleys. The facility will remind you of the world famous Napa Valley with all the grapevines present and the beautiful views of the Cresta Blanca Mountains.

When you arrive you will notice the mission style Veteran’s Hospital and park on the left. As you enter the facility there is the five star Wente Vineyard Restaurant and Visitors Center. Approach the clubhouse and young men will gladly remove your golf bags for placement on the cart.

The Phantom rarely raves about golf course pro shops however this is one of the best. The clothing is top of the line yet reasonably priced and all embroidered with the Wente logo. Of course there is wine for sale along with various other items and these people are smart. They display more clothing than equipment for what is sure to be a tourist driven market.

You would think a course designed by Norman might eat you alive but it is actually a gentle giant. Although very challenging, there is nothing overwhelming. Total yardage ranges from 6,949 at the back tees to 4,975 from the front tees. There are a lot of bunkers and they are filled with pure white sand.

One problem you may encounter is determining exactly where the bunkers are located. Many times they will look as though they are surrounding the greens when actually they are set out. This deceptive placement can send you to the cat box on a regular basis. Another problem is the sand is so different from what you are probably used to playing you will have a tendency to fluff your shots.

By far the hardest hole on the course is number 6. It is a Par 4, 240 to 351 yards with an uphill fairway to a plateau green. Don’t be fooled by the yardage. The fairway slopes left to right and is very narrow. Miss the green and you will spend the day looking for your ball in the native grasses. Your safest shot is a lay up but then your second shot will be blind to the green.

The rest of the holes are even challenges with a great mix of elevations, curves and turns. Speaking of elevation, there is a lot of change throughout the course. This is one place you will use your brake pedal more than the accelerator. Green fees are $75 during the week and $95 Friday through Sundays and holidays. The fees include 18 holes, golf car and practice balls. Check out the hilltop driving range. It is killer.

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Deep Cliff Golf Course 10700 Clubhouse Lane
(1.5 mi. S. of I-280, Foothill & McClellan Rd)
Cupertino, CA 95014
This Phantom Golfer Report is from Deep Cliff Golf Course in Cupertino, California. The Phantoms review says this is a short, thirty-three hundred yards, 18 hole course. Par is 60 from the two choices of tees, red or blue. The beauty of this course comes in the back part of the front nine holes. The par 4 hole number 6, is the Phantom’s favorite. It is the hole surrounded by trees to the back and the place where a rabbit and a deer, on two separate occasions, have been sighted behind the tee box. Something about seeing wild animals on a golf course makes the game that much more enjoyable.

The fairways throughout Deep Cliff are narrow and many of them are bounded by Stevens Creek, which meanders throughout the course. CHECKOUT THE TELEPHONES ON HOLE NUMBERS TWO AND ELEVEN! You can order snacks from the hilltop grill and pick them up on you way to number ten or nineteen.

Weekday play is $25 and weekends are $33. There are discount rates for play beginning at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. Reservations are a MUST and should be made one week in advance.

There is a driving range in the middle of the course, unlike any The Phantom has ever seen and it is very popular. You hit off pads into a net. No Checking distance or accuracy here. You can practice your rhythm or get in a few hits to build confidence before you play.

The Phantom ends this report with only one caution. This is an enjoyable course to play except on some weekends when the holes get backed-up with two or three sets of players. Try to play during the week and if you can only play on the weekend, bring along lots of patience.

To get to Deep Cliff Golf course---travel on interstate 280 to Foothill Expressway, exit south to McClelland Road. Clubhouse Lane is on the right off McClellan Road.

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Emerald Hills Golf Club 1059 Wilmington Way
Redwood City, CA
Emerald Hills Golf Club in Redwood City, California is a bit difficult to find the first time but well worth the trip. It is a short 1,163 yard, par 27 but there is plenty to keep the finesse player busy here. You should be in decent shape when you play because a lot of the holes are straight uphill. The Phantom’s group should have gotten a clue about the athleticism needed when we saw the course logo. The name is Emerald Hills but the logo is a mountain goat of which you will need to be related to make the walk. Don’t think about using a riding cart because there aren’t any.

As you enter you will notice the golf course is owned by the Redwood City Elks Lodge. The pro shop consists of a four by four room with a couple of golf bobbles and a wide selection of sodas and bottled water. There is an adjacent room with a big screen TV and a few tables and chairs to checkout the pro tournaments. What do you expect for $12? The price is right and the people are nice.

As a tip, the Phantom suggests you play with some locals who know the course. The whole key to playing well is know where to hit the ball. You might think with each hole being a par 3 that you would go for the green. Actually, you need to play defense in order to avoid getting into real trouble. Most holes take a play to the right or the left to avoid going all the way down a hill, going into water or landing behind a tree. The strike areas are very small and don’t hold a ball well no matter how high you hit, therefore you usually need to shoot a little short to avoid rolling off the green.

The first hole is 205 yards from the white tees and 185 yards from the red tees straight down. This is the only place where the tees have any real room between them since the rest of the holes range between 165 and 90 yards. You can’t see the flag as you tee off from the rear tees but just know that you don’t want to land anywhere on the right-hand side. If your shot is short and right it will definitely be in the water. If your ball doesn’t hit the water it will roll in with a little help from the hard pan.

The next three holes have greens sitting on elevated plateaus. Be sure and use a little more club to adjust for the added velocity needed to make it on top. With all the climbing you need to know you will be rewarded when you get to the top of the fourth hole. From there is an outstanding view of the entire Bay Area Peninsula and it is spectacular. Through rolling green hills comes a surrealistic view of the hustle and bustle that literally seems to stand still. The blimp hangers of Moffett Field in Mountain View appear as tiny silver mounds and the church steeples glisten.

The next five holes level out somewhat and are pitching wedge size. The last tip from the Phantom is to wear tennis shoes or soft spikes. As you leave the course you have to maneuver down a very steep, rocky asphalt path. Golf spikes could land you on your tail for a swift ride down the embankment.

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Forest Meadows Golf Course P.O. Box 70
(3.5 mi. East on Hwy 4)
Murphys, CA 95247
The Phantom Golfers gives this review of the Forest Meadows Golf Resort located in the canyon lands, 14 miles east of Angels Camp on State Highway 4 in Murphy’s California. This is close to wine and Gold Rush country.

The course is an 18 hole par 60 but don’t be fooled by the 3,200 yard course. Designed by golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., it will thoroughly challenge competent golfers and frustrate all others. All others be advised to bring lots of balls and a great appreciation for nature.

The course is covered with towering pines, oaks and cedars. Once again, Robert’s famous course designing will give you the opportunity to use every club in your bag.

Hole number 3 looks so easy but the dry, deep gully to the right has a tendency to eat your golf balls. The rest of the holes through number 10 are very tree laden but fairly straight forward.

Just as you get used to this and more wet terrain, you move to the back 8 holes. This part of the course is surrounded by homes.

The terrain becomes dry and meadow-like. This makes your balls roll much further and take wild jumps after you have just gotten use to the wet slow grass.

One thing you can say about Jones, jr. designs is he always makes a memorable 18th hole and Forest Meadows is not exception.

It is a 295 yard par 4 that looks straight away but about 80 yards from the green, there is water that you can not see looking from the tee. Weekday rates are $25 and weekend play is $30. For carts add another $20.

The Phantom leaves you with a final tip. Use a cart. Especially if this is your first time on the course. There are a lot of terrain changes which a cart can help you maneuver through.

Also don’t miss the view of the Stanislaus Canyon from hole Number 15.

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Gavilan Golf Course 5055 Santa Teresa Blvd.
Gilroy, CA
(408) 848-1363
Gavilan Golf Course is located off Highway 101 just south of Gilroy at Gavilan Hills College. Look for the Cherry Hut on the east side of the road to find the turn off.

The first thing you notice when you enter is the campus and the sports fields, which on weekends, are teaming with action from the locals. The second thing you notice, and the most memorable, is the sign entering the golf course which states "Beware of Mountain Lions". In Arizona you have to beware of the rattlesnakes but they can’t eat you!

After being assured by the personnel in the pro shop that lions are never seen on the course, we began play. Don’t be in any hurry on this 9 holer because the course is filled with hackers and boyfriends giving lessons to girlfriends and guys hitting 2 and 3 balls at a time. No there aren’t any Marshalls and no rules enforced, not even the ones printed on the scorecard. Bring your patience.

Surprisingly, Gavilan is very challenging at a Par 31 with four Par fours with the longest from the red tees being 341 yards and 361 yards from the white tees. All the holes are fairly straight forward with traps mid fairway on the Par fours and in front of most of the greens. The greens are in fair shape although the fairways can be a little scruffy--even down to bare ground on the second and last holes. Bareness on these holes can be tolerated because they are designed to be so drastically up and down. These were the Phantom’s favorites. Both include a tee box parallel to the hole but in between is a very deep valley that require a Billy goat run down and then back up the other side to make it to the green. On number 2 you need to hit it long enough to make it over the valley to set up for a shot to the green. You do not want to hit it to the right or your ball is lost or will hit the giant oak. If you hit it short your second shot will be off bare ground or out of the wet muck.

On the last hole the green is makable in one but you want to use a lot more club than the 138 yards it supposed to be according to the scorecard. Come up short and your ball will hit the bare, hard dirt and ricochet into the driving range. Hit it long and you are into the pro shop.

A few carts are available but unless you are physically challenged you won’t need one. Play is $11 for nine holes and $15 if you want to play the course twice. Tee times are requested but the Phantom couldn’t really see too much need. The play times book had lots of holes even on a weekend.

Phantom Tip: When you have lots of time and you just have to get some golf into your day be sure and check out Gavilan Hills.

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Half Moon Bay Golf Links - Ocean Course 2000 Fairway Drive
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-4438
Half Moon Bay Golf Links is located off of Highway 1 on the Pacific Ocean in Half Moon Bay, California. There are two courses here--the Links Course and the one the Phantom’s group played, the Ocean Course which opened September 1997. Par is 72 with yardage from the forward tees being 5,109 yards. It was designed as a links style course promising to rival those in Scotland. There is a lot to love about this course and the management although a few kinks, as with any new facility, still need to be worked out.

The first kink is getting your cart and start from a guy sitting at a patio table in between the parking lot and the pro shop. For $100 the Phantom thinks there should be a Starter’s Hut. Second, no one told the group soft spikes were required. If you require them you need to accommodate people by having the ability to place them in the shoes of your clientele. What was outstanding about the beginning of the game was being escorted to the first tee by a very likable Marshall. He went over the rules, placement of the hazards and gave the group some tips for playing the course.

Another outstanding credit to the design of Half Moon Bay Golf Links are the equitable tees. All Par fours and fives are reachable in regulation and the Par threes have the same type of shot from the middle and forward tees for comparable players. This is not to say you don’t have to play well to reach the greens but you are not playing well and still not getting on the Par fives in three shots like most courses. This means men and women can finally be competitive based on skill.

The beginning of the course offers some blind doglegs and hilly Par threes. Watch out for the putting surface. You won’t have a clue what to do as you will find out on the first hole which is a Par 4, 330 yards from the forward tees. The Phantom’s group all got on in two shots hot for a birdie. Needless to say, no one got it from any putting position and all were from a different place on the green. They are fast too. Hole number 3 was the most challenging. It is a kin to the famous "postage stamp" at Troon in Scotland. It is surrounded by woolly grasses on top of mounds. From the tee box you can only partially see the bunkers surround the hole. If you miss the green your shot is second best by going too long and to the left.

The mid section is a series of parallel straight forward driving holes with lots of mid fairway bunkers. Kudos to the course superintendent for aiming poles in the fairways. They are a big help for playing a good tee shot. Shame on the superintendent for allowing course maintenance during play. The Phantom’s group was plagued by mowing and watering taking place. They wouldn’t even stop during a shot until one player gave a mower approaching from the rear the "mean eye". The workers were even so bold as to mow in the middle of the fairway only slowing down to put on a helmet. Needless to say the bets started flying on who could hit the guy first.

The last part of the course runs along the Pacific Ocean where you tee off from elevated and de-elevated boxes. It is quite wondrous to be playing golf with the waves crashing just below as you tee off from the ocean cliff edge. Hole number 16 was the Phantom’s favorite. It plays from the cliffs down a 250 yard long slope. From here you can see out into the Pacific for miles. It then levels out for a shot across a ravine to a green surrounded by natural vegetation.

Green fees are $115 to $135 and carts are required. All carts must remain on the path at all times. Because of this, you will find you are carrying half your bag in your hands a lot of the time.

Phantom Tips: Take a jacket with you. Weather along the ocean can change drastically at any time. Secondly, eat before you play and/or take some snacks with you. The chow wagon is seen regularly but encountered rarely. And third, visit the pro shop on your way out. It is well stocked with logoed attire for men and women.

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Mariners Point Golf Links & Practice Center 2401 E. 3rd Avenue
Foster City, CA 94404
The Mariners Point Golf Links is just south of San Francisco, in Foster City, California. Mariners Point Golf Links and Practice Center is the newest addition to the 9 hole courses in the Northern California Bay Area.

Only months old, it is already a popular site. It is located in Foster City, a narrow little strip that has come into its own over the past few years. The first thing you notice upon entering the course is the large sign stating--No Metal Spikes Allowed on Facility. This seems to be the wave of the future but the Phantom had a bad experience with soft spikes landing on her butt some time ago. Needless to say, the Phantom was a little disgruntled.

The pro shop is nicely stocked but no one in the facility would have enough time to talk to you about any of the clubs because they are too busy running in and out the door to get people off the tee. The way the building is situated, they can’t keep track of the players.

The bar and grill are nice, maybe a little too nice for basic hackers. There is olive oil on the tables for bread dipping and an exquisite list of wines and brew pub beers. Unfortunately there isn’t any basic fare like hot dogs that don’t come without sprouts, sun dried tomatoes and their version of mayonnaise. Ketchup and relish are preferred by the Phantom.

As for the course, all you need are three clubs in your bag. Take a putter, a pitching wedge and a middle iron. The yardages range from 66 to 160 yards with a total of 1,134 yards, if all the tees are back. The day the Phantom’s foursome played, almost all the holes were 88 to 110 yards. The guys were using a half swing on a pitching wedge just about all day.

Some of the holes are a little tricky. Number 4 has sand bunkers to the front and deep hollows in the back. Number 8 was a pretty little green surrounded in the front by huge sand bunkers with a grass island in the center. The whole course takes about an hour and ten minutes to play. Not bad if you want to take in a leisure nine holes.

The practice facility is a good one. Golfers have the option of using grass mats or real grass. The driving area is setup with sand bunkers and greens with flags. The nice thing is there aren’t any yardage markers. The Phantom liked this because it gets people to practice finesse instead of distance shots. It also gets people use to determining yardage by what they see instead of looking for markers--which holds up the game.

Visit Mariners Point and enjoy the sites. Flights into San Francisco International Airport fly overhead, The San Mateo Bridge can be viewed while using the practice facility and the golf course sits right on the bay. Take the kids and enjoy a day out in the sunshine. The Phantom offers a final tip---Don’t use a walking cart. There aren’t any trails on the course and the hills are so steep between holes that it makes it difficult if you aren’t carrying your clubs.  Fees are $12 for 9 holes and $20 for 18.

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Peter Hay Golf Course 17 Mile Drive
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
Telephone: 800-654-9300 or 831-624-3811
Fee: $15
For $15 you can play Peter Hay Golf Course and say you played at Pebble Beach. It is located on the famous and beautiful 17 Mile Drive and sits above the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, home of the AT&T Pro Am held each February. After you pay at the Pebble Beach Pro Shop you take a nice hike up the road and down a dirt path to start play. The Phantom felt a little funny walking into a multi-million dollar facility where players are shelling out $325 and requesting a caddie to play, but that is the way it works. You should also know that when you come into the park you pay a fee of $7 which is counted against your $15 green fee leaving you with a bill of $8.

Holes range from 70 to 118 yards. The tricky thing about this course is playing under and over trees which are placed in direct line with the hole. The sand bunkers around the greens can get a little tricky as well. This is a great place to practice accuracy shots.

A story we heard from a starter at the course. He was sitting in a cart and his job is to offer you tees and ball markers and to sign your scorecard. When asked about his job being terribly boring he said the course didn’t use to have anyone as a starter but they got so many people walking on without paying, they had to start putting personnel at the first tee. It is a funky little course with grass that is way too long and wild animal droppings all around the course but when you get up on top and look out at the ocean it doesn’t seem to matter much.

Phantom Tip: Beginners, get out to the par 3’s and play as much as possible. These courses are made for you. Average players, take a beginner. We need more women and children to be encouraged to play the game of a lifetime.

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Pruneridge Golf Club 400 N. Saratoga Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050
This Phantom Golfer review is The Pruneridge Golf Club in Santa Clara, California, in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

This is a 9 hole, 1,860 yard course surrounded by townhouses and is bordered by busy San Tomas Expressway. Although the course is surrounded on three sides by bustling traffic, the golfer never has to fear losing a ball over the fence because of the huge pine trees that border the course.

One of the Phantom’s most memorable experiences at Pruneridge was at the very first tee box. The group ahead included a woman who hadn’t played in a while and was called to bat. The clubhouse includes a window where the starter has full view of the players. The woman placed her ball and took the first swing, which missed. She lined up again and took a second and third swing, again missing the ball.

The entire time, she was being encouraged to relax and concentrate only on making contact with the ball. She took a deep breath, made her stance and swung through. She looked down, only to find the ball still cradled safely on the tee. Suddenly a voice from the loud speaker said, "Pick it up and throw it!". The Phantom’s group, including the woman burst out laughing as she hurled her ball--by hand--onto the fairway.

All the holes at Pruneridge, are straight forward with the exception of a slight dogleg on hole number 1. According to the scorecard, hole number three is the hardest.

The Phantom disagrees with this opinion and believes hole number 9 is the hardest on the course. Hole 9 is a par 4, 303 yards with a green surrounded on three sides by water. The hard part is finding your ball in the fairway among the other 100 or so balls that have been launched from the driving range. And although the range is surrounded by very high fencing, the balls still make it over.

When you are done playing, check out the adjoining cafe and pro shop. Both have lots of goodies.

Weekday play is $12 and weekends are $16. There are no motorized carts but the course is easily walkable being relatively flat.

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Rancho Canada Golf Club East P.O. Box 22590
Carmel Valley, CA 93922
Carmel Valley Rd., 1 mi. from Hwy 1
Rancho Canada, in the green Carmel Valley of the Central California Coast sports two golf courses; East and West. The first thing you notice upon entering is the sign PLAY with an arrow pointing to the right and PRAY with an arrow pointing to the left. Of course the PRAY sign indicates there is a church which is located to the west of the golf compound.

The clubhouse is beautifully appointed like you might expect at a very expensive course. The pro shop is full of logoed gear from balls and bags to shirts. But surprisingly, the cost to play is only $45 for the East course and $65 for the West.

The courses are more than 25 years old but they receive the best care. Maintenance workers are everywhere and maybe that is why the Phantom would rate Rancho Canada as one of the best maintained courses in the Western United States. There is not a blade of grass out of place and although there are lots of workers they never interfere with your game. The pith helmets were a great look too.

The 18th is a 339 year Par 5 surrounded by sand bunkers. It is rated as the hardest hole on the course from the forward tees. The Phantom agrees. No water and a fairly wide fairway but for some reason looks can be deceiving. The other tough hole is number 8. It is a dogleg to the left with water almost surrounding the green. Water you sometimes cannot distinguish is there from the fairway. After a mid-fairway tee shot the Phantom pulled out a 7 iron for a beauty aimed at the right corner of the green. The shot came off the club just right and went sailing---sailing. Upon the walk up to the green you suddenly realize the water semi-circles into the path of what should have been a putt for birdie. Instead--the Phantom was all wet.

You need to play here a few times before you get into a serious game. Like any course it has hidden surprises but they are not formidable.

After a game be sure to treat yourself to a refreshment at the bar and grill. It is a bright and cheery establishment with a good selection of eats. The treat bowls they deliver to each table are great.

The Phantom has two tips: Get your reservations early. Many locals frequent Rancho Canada and rarely play anywhere else. Second, dog lovers should stop at the snack shack. They have the jumbo dogs with the really good buns and lots of condiments. Back to the top

Stevinson Ranch,
The Savannah Course
2700 N. Van Clief Road
Stevinson, CA 95374
Telephone: 209-668-8200
Fees: $65 (M-F); $85 (Sat-Sun), Twilight Rates start 12 noon
Stevinson Ranch is located in the Central Valley between Los Banos on Highway 152 and Gustine off Interstate 5. Seems like quite a remote location but they draw players from a 2 hour radius from Sacramento to the North, Fresno to the South and the Bay Area near the coast. The day the Phantom played they certainly were busy.

The course was designed with a Scottish influence and a determination to protect existing wetlands and native vegetation. It has received numerous awards including Best New Upscale Public Course in California by Golf Digest in 1996 and it is in the top 25 list of best courses in California.

The dress code is enforced requiring shirts with collars, no cutoffs and soft spikes. There is a water jug on each cart which is used frequently on summer days which can be in the 100’s. This is the best use of refreshment carts the Phantom has ever seen. Most of the time the courses restrict you from bringing your own drinks and cooler but then you never see a drink cart on the course. Not at Stevinson Ranch. Of course good tips to the attendant may help too.

Like any course, you must keep the ball in the fairway but this is especially true here. If you stray, you ball will become virtually unplayable. Between the reeds, the native grasses which aren’t grass at all and the St. Andrews style bunkers, you feel like you will never see the green. And once you do, you are so far in the hole you can’t make it up. For example, the Phantom made 14 strokes on 3 holes and the other 15 were pars and bogeys. One quadruple came at the hands of three mammoth sized sand bunkers placed directly in the Phantom’s line to the hole. Get out of one and you go into the next. Get out of that one, hit the green and you role into the bunker directly behind the green. The one positive thing to be said is the sand was of superior quality, the white stuff like the pros play out of in televised tournaments.

Everyone in the foursome picked hole 14 as their favorite. It is called "Alps" and for good reason. There is a large hill guarding the green from site. It is a 233 yard, par 4 that takes a precise shot in the fairway to give you site of the flag. Any other placement on the green will leave you in a fairway bunker or still shooting blind.

This is a remarkably beautiful course, easy to make a good score if you stay in the fairways and well worth the drive. Enough can’t be said for the personnel at Stevinson Ranch. From the time you enter the facility everyone greets you with a cheerful welcome. Check in was a breeze and although the Phantom doesn’t like soft spikes, they had personnel available to put them in and take them out quickly.

Green fees range from $25 for twilight weekday play to $85 for prime time weekends during the summer months. Carts are $10 per person.

Phantom Tip: The first time you play this course buy a yardage book, follow it and don’t make any risky shots. Risk at Stevinson Ranch does not equal reward. It equals a painfully bad score.

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Summit Pointe Golf Club 1500 Country Club Drive
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-8813
Summit Pointe Golf Club is located in the Bay Area in California off Interstate 680 in Milpitas. From the Jacklin Road exit go east and up into the hills along Country Club Drive. The view is wide open from the second and third holes on top of this course surrounded by multimillion dollar custom built homes.

There is a story told about Fred Couples playing the front nine and then leaving saying he would never play the course again. The Phantom can believe it and so will you after the first nine, which is too bad because the back nine has two holes considered to be the best in Northern California and the Bay Area respectfully. The course record is 64 on this par 72 golf course which means someone didn’t have any trouble.

The front nine layout is very hilly but it is wide open. The problem the Phantom encountered was that even when you hit a good shot in the fairway you will end up with the next shot above or below your feet. Practically all the fairways are set on some kind of slant which can make this demanding course even more so. Another point is this is yet another course that doesn’t have equitable tees. In one case, a par 4 has a difference of nine yards between the middle and forward tees and 100 yards difference on another par 4. One is too little and other is too much.

The management at Summit Pointe are very nice and for once the Phantom saw a teaching pro tent that was active all afternoon. Inside, the pro shop is well stocked and the bar and restaurant are nicely setup with an outstanding view of the back nine. There is also a handy snack bar on the outside of the building to accommodate those wanting to get a quick bite.

A tip for playing the front nine is not to get too cocky, especially on holes six, eight and nine. These are doglegs with drastic side hills and slanted fairways. Players will want to cut across the hill but don’t. It is deceiving and will bring nothing but heartache when you find yourself stuck on the side with the ball way above or below your feet. The trick is staying high enough so that when the ball settles it will still be in the fairway but not so high that it gets caught in the tall grasses.

The Phantom’s favorite on the front nine is the first hole. Number one is good for the mere fact that if you hit the ball straight it can roll almost all the way to the green making this an easy birdie on this par 4, 273 yard hole. No frills, just a plain and simple ego booster before you get taken down to your knees by the rest of the golf course.

On the back nine the Phantom suggests you use your most trusted clubs and forget about yardage. Even if you come up a little short your main objective should be to keep it in the fairways and out of the water which comes into play on six of the nine holes. Your second challenge will be putting. The greens are extremely difficult to read and very fast.

Pat yourself on the back when you finish hole sixteen which is rated as one of the best par 3’s in Northern California with a long, thin green and water in front. Pay attention at the eleventh hole which has been a member of the Bay Area’s "Dream 18".

Green fees are $73 on the weekends and holidays including a cart. During the week, prices range from $25 to $59 with carts ranging from $7.50 to $15 per person. Reservations can be secured seven days in advance and up to 30 days in advance with a small fee.

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Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course 605 Macara Lane
(South of US 101 via Mathilda Ave & Maude Lane)
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Our Phantom says this has got to be one of the finest municipal courses in Northern California. It is complete except for a driving range. They have a huge pro shop, a nice size banquet room, lounge and patio area.

Sunnyvale Muni, as it is referred to by the locals, is considered to be short for 18 holes at 6,249 yards from the blue tees, but you can’t tell that when you play it. The course is relatively flat with water coming into play on five holes and those were the Phantom’s favorites. Two of them require great tee shots and then a choice of whether to shoot for the island type greens or lay up for a pitch and one putt. Either way, the holes are a challenge.

The Phantom also likes the clean waters at Sunnyvale. Although some of them are an odd color blue, it is better then those scum ponds you find at other courses.

As an added bonus, Sunnyvale Muni, with it’s proximity to Moffett Field Air Base is probably one of the only course where you can shake hands with the pilot of a Stealth Bomber on his way to landing. The planes really come that close on hole number 10 where there are landing lights in the middle of the fairway.  Although the Base is now closed, it is still used to service NASA and Lockheed Martin.  Even the President drops in every once and a while on Air Force One.

The only criticism the Phantom had of the course would be the lack of enthusiasm by employees. Golf is suppose to be a game, therefore Sunnyvale Golf Course could be a little less regimental and a little more friendly. Non-resident weekend green fees are $36 and to get there take Highway 237 to Maude Avenue South. The course is on Macara Lane to the Left.

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Sunken Gardens Municipal Golf Course 1010 S. Wolfe Road
(2 mi. E. of I-280, exit Wolfe Rd.)
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
This Phantom Golfer review is The Sunken Gardens Golf Course located in the heart of the Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California. This is a 9 hole, par 3 course.

Sunken Gardens brings back some of the Phantom’s favorite memories of golf. Those memories were created on holes number 5, 6 and 7.

Hole number 5 is 132 yards. It is basically a blind shot from a very elevated tee box, down to a green surrounded by a bowl. There are three approaches that will get you within putting range. The first is your basic straight shot. The second shot is a hook which will throw your ball to come of a hill and the third is the basic high flyer into the condominiums and down into the fairway just off the green.

The trick with the last shot is to miss the huge cathedral windows of the condos. The Phantom says she always misses the condos.

Hole number 6 is a 271 yard par 4--probably the best challenge on the course. If you can hit that far you will need a perfect draw shot.

Hole number 7 is 110 yards. This is where the Phantom duffed the first shot and hit the second shot about 40 yards into the hold. It took seeing the ball lodged against the pole to believe it had really gone in.

Sunken Gardens is a great place to practice your game. Getting around the course may take some time though. A lot of beginners come out to this course but don’t let that keep you away.

The Phantom’s final tip about Sunken Gardens is to go out as a single and join a threesome. It is a great way to find a partner and play regularly.

Weekend play is $15.50 and weekdays are $12.

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Valley Gardens Golf Course 263 Mt. Hermon Road
(1 mi. West of Hwy 17)
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
The Phantom Golfer gives this review from Valley Gardens Golf Course in Scotts Valley, California.

The is a course for the locals situated just off the main drag in this small town along scenic Highway 17 near the Santa Cruz Coastline. The course, like the community is laden with pines and ponds.

Unlike some other 9 hole courses, Valley Gardens has all the course challenges of an 18 hole facility. There is plenty of water, sand and trees. This 1,700 yard facility even has enough distance for you to pull out a wood, now and then. In fact, there are four par 4 holes with yardage from 218 to 267.

Hole number 2 is a little dogleg to the left. It is really not hard to get on in two but most people get too close to the left and can’t see the hole for their second shot. Stay right whatever you do.

Hole number 3 is a tricky par 3 that has a huge pine tree on the left. If the pin placement is on the same side as the tree-- players are better off going for the center of the green. If you get anywhere near the pine you don’t have a second shot.

Number 6 is probably the Phantom’s favorite. You hit from an elevated tee into a large valley. It looks as though you couldn’t possibly get into any trouble, and you can’t---except for the water that surrounds the back. This along with an unforgiving green will make you say, "Stop Ball, Please Stop!!", as you fall to your knees on what should have been a beautiful shot, instead is all wet.

The Phantom’s most memorable hole is number 8. Unfortunately, it is not the surrounding beauty this is memorable. It is the time Tom, a friend in the foursome, sliced a ball around a tree and past the Phantom’s head. The U-turn shot was close enough to leave dimple marks and make you seriously think about increasing your life insurance.

Green fees are an economical $12 weekdays and $13.50 on weekends. There are no power carts and be sure and make a reservation. This course is well known by the locals and because of the tremendous value, it gets very busy.

The Phantom leaves you with a final tip. If you are not familiar with the area, leave early. The course is a little difficult to find even though it is located on a main street. The signage to the entrance could be more eye catching, but then maybe that is the way the locals like it.

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