Oak Valley Golf Club

Oak Valley might not have the sexiest location, right off the I-10 in Beaumont, California. You may have seen it on the way to Palm Springs but probably didn’t pay much attention. 

This course has hosted PGA Tour Q-School events, and Zagat also named it one of America’s top courses, meaning there is some incentive to check this place out. 

The course is challenging, and despite its location, architects Brian Schmidt and Lee Curley, almost designers of a personal favorite, Mt. Woodson, did a great job of giving this course a very secluded feel. Many of the holes are framed nicely at Oak Valley. I would compare the course to Carlton Oaks but with elevation. 

The third hole is an excellent straight drop par 3 with a freeway view, which is somehow charming at this course. It is the last time you encounter mass transit.

Many of the greens are perched up on plateaus giving this course a unique feel and requiring precise shotmaking. No wonder this course is used to weed out potential pros. 

The back nine defines Oak Valley, with several lakes that come into play. The 11th hole is a challenging 199-yard par 3 with water to the left and views of Big Bear Mountains to the left. Hole 16 is a perfect risk-reward hole. It plays as a 535-yard par five from the tips, a good drive avoiding trouble on the right and bunkers left will leave the player with a decision to go for it and prevent the massive lake that runs down the second half of the left side.

The 17th hole is a great short par four that shares the lake with the 12th hole and has railroad ties, giving it a Pete Dye feel. After a very scenic stretch of holes, the finishing hole is a bit underwhelming.

The conditions were relatively good, and the course was open. The greens were challenging and rolled smoothly. I noticed how well the cups were cut; they were immaculate like a professional tournament and a noticeable change from most courses. Oak Valley was a pleasant surprise in the middle of nowhere, and I think it would be a better place to play in the winter when snow is visible in the mountains nearby.

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