Located only two miles from the coast in Huntington Beach, Meadowlark Golf Course offers the budget-conscious golfer a chance to escape the summer heat.
The climate, layout and accessibility make it a favorite with locals. General Manager Mez White said Meadowlark hosts approximately 115,000 rounds a year.
The ocean breezes cool the temperature but can also help inflate the scores, although this short par-70 course (5,609 yards from the back tees) doesn't need help to toughen it up.
As one of the county's oldest public courses--it opened in 1922--Meadowlark features plenty of mature trees bordering its relatively tight fairways. The rolling terrain also includes water on five of the first eight holes. And several elevated and mounded greens will accept only the most precise approach shots.
That's plenty to challenge, or miff, the mid- and high-handicap players.
The course begins with its longest par four (435 yards) and finishes with its longest par five (484 yards). In between, there is the usual mix of good and bad.
Some will be frustrated by the three par fours on the front nine that each measure 260 yards or less. Only the longest and most accurate drivers can successfully attack the greens on Nos. 6 or 8, which are both guarded in front by water.
Water also guards the front of No. 7, the course's best par three. Measuring 182 yards from the blue tees, players hit from an elevated tee to a contoured green with sand traps on the left and right.
The course's worst hole is No. 15, an uphill, dogleg left annoyance.
With a deceivingly small, flat landing area on the 304-yard hole, even a drive to the center of the left sloping fairway could result in an awkward side hill lie. The contoured green is no bargain either.
But the back nine also features a nice par four (No. 12, a 370-yard downhill, dogleg left) two mid-range par threes (the 170-yard No. 13 and 164-yard No. 16) and a strong par-five finisher.
The 18th is a good risk-reward hole. A big drive up the right side of the fairway could give the long hitters a chance to reach the green in two. But the same lake that stretches up the right side of the fairway on No. 1 also defends the right side on No. 18.
Meadowlark offers several specials. Seniors, age 60 and over, can play for $16 Monday through Thursday and juniors, age 17 and under, can play for $6 after 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
During the first hour of daylight on the weekdays, golfers can play the back nine and then have breakfast at the clubhouse, all for $15 Monday through Thursday and $17 on Friday.
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* Course: Meadowlark
* Address: 16782 Graham St., Huntington Beach 92649
* Phone: (714) 846-1364
* Green Fees: Mondays-Thursdays--$24, after 3 p.m. $15; Fridays-Sundays--before 11 a.m. $33, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $30, after 3 p.m. $18.
* Carts: $12 per person, $8 after 3 p.m.
* Par/Yardage: (Par 70 men, 71 women)/Blue 5,609, White 5,251.
* Rating/Slope: Men's--Blue 66.8/113, White 65.1/109; Women's--Blue 71.9/120, White 69.9/117.
* Reservations: Available up to seven days in advance, free; eight to 13 days in advance, $2 per player; 14 to 21 days in advance, $4 per player.