The Fullerton Golf Course is a friendly little track that starts to turn surly when you pour one too many shots into it.
Don’t let the total yardage--a scant 5,242--and the abundance of par-3 holes lull you. Wayward shots, combined with a lack of local knowledge and a bit of misplaced overconfidence, can rocket your score into the clouds. Bring along an extra sleeve of balls and try to relax.
Snakes are not exactly a danger here, but there is a serpent on the course that always demands a wide berth: the creek that comes into play on 14 (yes, 14) holes. Before last year’s torrential rains, said assistant pro Jamie McCance, the creek wasn’t much more than a mere hollow in the ground through which water occasionally ran. Its banks are now clustered with dense bushes and reeds and grasses, and if you’re unlucky enough to roll a ball into it, you might want to save yourself grief and just consider it a sacrifice to the golf gods.
Those same rains, said McCance, also managed to drown a few sections of fairway, with the result that some of the fairways still bear brown scars or the odd patch of bare dirt. The fairway grass, too, is a bit spotty and rough.
The greens, however, are the pride of the management and the delight of the golfer who has managed to negotiate his way to their edge. They are finely groomed and uniform, generally roomy enough to accommodate the reasonably straight shot, and the breaks are mostly subtle and undramatic. You can score on the greens.
From tee to green, however, can be another matter. Remember that creek? You get your first look at it on the opening hole, a modest-looking (on the card, anyway) 369-yard par 4. However, it requires a drive, from a high elevated tee, that must skirt the creek and its jungly foliage on the left and encroaching trees on the right.
The par-5 12th hole is particularly daunting. A long, 533-yard dogleg left, with a blind shot from the tee, it features two perfectly placed gathering bunkers on the right (one for your tee shot, the second for your second shot), a hillside on the left, and the ubiquitous creek hard on the right.
The course figures to reward straight and smart iron play. There are no less than seven par-3 holes on the course, four in a row on the front nine. And none of the par-4 holes exceeds 400 yards. Pulling the driver out may not always be the best option, however. Unless you’re very straight with it, you might want to forgo being a big hitter for being a good course manager and opt for a long iron off the tee, depending on the trouble out ahead of you.
Relief--comic relief--appears on the short par-4 17th. At 294 yards downhill, it might be a long-hitter’s eagle opportunity but for the little round pond plunked down artfully right in front of the green. Your curses will evaporate, however, when you notice that, sitting atop a pole protruding from the dead center of the pond is a small green container labeled “suggestion box.”
A Matter of Course
* Fullerton Golf Course, 2700 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 871-5141 or (714) 871-7411.
* Distance: 5,242 yards.
* Par: 67.
* Greens fees: For 18 holes--weekends and holidays, $18, weekdays $14, juniors under 18 (before 8 a.m. or after noon) $10, seniors over 62 (before 8 a.m. or after noon) $9. For nine holes: weekends and holidays, $11.50, weekdays $9, juniors $6.50, seniors $6. Twilight rates: weekends and holidays $12.50, weekdays $10.
* Carts: $18 for 18 holes, $11 for nine holes. Pull carts $3 for 18 holes, $2 for nine holes.
* Lessons: $30 per half-hour. Series of six lessons for $125.
* Driving range: Choice of mats or grass. Buckets $2, $3.50 and $5.
* Reservations: Seven days in advance, beginning at 6 a.m. (714) 871-5141.
* Amenities: Bar, snack bar, putting green, pro shop.
* How to get there: Exit the Artesia (91) Freeway at Harbor Boulevard and go north.