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“Great Course Design, Poorly Maintained”

DarkHorse Golf Club
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Owner description: Challenging Keith Foster-designed layout features 18 holes stretching 7,031 yards with more than six ponds and eight streams coming into play.
Reviewed September 24, 2006

I've played DarkHorse three times as part of an annual tournament.

The first year we played (2004), it was definitely a top 100 course. The clubhouse facilities were not finished (still aren't), but the service and condition of the course were excellent. The greens were fast and true and the fairways were in great shape.

We played again in 2005 and 2006 and the condition of the course has deteriorated considerably. Both years, the fairways were spotted with bare patches and hardpan that had not previously been there and do not belong on the fairway. There were patches of dead grass and ground under repair on almost every hole. One should not be penalized for a well hit shot that lands on the fairway, just because the course has not been maintained properly. In 2005, the greens had recently been plugged, but even taking that into consideration, they were beaten up and unhealthy. 2006 saw the return of fabulous greens that rolled fast, but true.

Overall, this is one of the most well designed courses I have played; difficult, yet fair if you strike the ball well and play smart. However, the lack of course maintenance shows. I have played many municipal courses that are in better shape than DarkHorse.

Service was fair. The bar only serves beer and wine and the food is overpriced and substandard. I ordered a polish dog that included kraut (this was the only way to order it) before the 8th tee from the menu that popped up on the GPS computer. When I picked up my order, the bun was a soggy mess resulting from the cook not draining any liquid from the kraut before putting it on the dog. If you are going to have a kraut dog on your menu, you need to know how to serve it properly. The bar cart provided excellent service.

The lack of clubhouse facilities is disappointing. There is a sign posted in front of the clubhouse trailer showing an artist's rendition of the clubhouse that will be, printed on the sign in bold black letters: "coming next year." That sign has been there since 2004.

Overall DarkHorse is a wonderfully designed course, but poorly maintained. It is not worth the drive or the money.

1  Thank boogoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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31 - 32 of 32 reviews

A TripAdvisor Member
San Francisco, CA
Reviewed February 22, 2004

Pasatiempo was the prettiest course I'd played in California until two days ago when I played at DarkHorse. The course is deftly carved out of farmland that's way off the beaten path. I've never encountered such a well thought out and beautiful design. And this was in overcast, muddy, bare mid-February! I fully understand why they don't have a signature hole - there are too many in contention. More than once did I stop to turn around and admire the scenery. When the late day sun snuck out a few golden rays out across the par-5 18th (elevated tee, dogleg left, meandering stream running the length) I just about had a heart attack.
I'd just never seen anything like it.

I think I counted maybe 2 holes that didn't have a notable elevation change...which brings me to this point: I am a walker. I despise carts.
But let me say this. If there were ever a course where I'd recommend a cart, DarkHorse is it. I'm in good shape and this walk kicked my butt.
I'm still recovering. Besides, the carts are fully GPS, graphic-interface-equipped. We were always asking my friend (who rode) what the yardage or the "pro tip" was. And a menu for ordering food automatically pops up on the 8th tee. Pretty cool.

To put it lightly, this is a challenging course. Prior to this I had shot an 83 during my last outting. Here I posted a 96. Yes, it was my first time here but damn, this course is no joke. A 135 slope off the copper tees we played should have tipped me off! There's a bit of water on almost every hole, requiring some decent tee shot carries in many cases. It's also the most well-bunkered course I've ever played but, as the sand is in *wonderful* condition, it was a pleasure to hit out of, fairway and greenside.

The general condition is great. The greens were the most honest, true rolling I've played in California. And again, this is in damp mid-February. If I missed a putt it was 100% my fault. No bumps, soft spots, or "cones" around the cups.

The staff and facilities are excellent. The food was excellent. Hell, even the website for the course is excellent. I can't wait to go back after the rains have stopped and some greenery has come back to see how it looks and plays...it's gotta be incredible at its peak.

Fully recommended.

2  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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