The locals will be the first to tell you that the winds at Pinto lake are very unfriendly. They’re constant and they’re always blowing in an unfavorable direction. And with the course wandering very close to the edge of the lake , which warns you on a sign that “the color of the water is not an indication of its purity”, you really don’t want to see your disc move in an unfavorable direction.
The course sits just above Watsonville, CA in a small park and an adjoining wild grass meadow. It was just a nine hole course until recently and the adaptions are obvious. The first four holes are tough. The next five are dull, open field bomber shots with the last being a 1300 foot monster. Then the course becomes the challenge you want in a worlds course. The final nine holes were not set up and I cannot comment on them, however, the designer was on site and he informed me what they would look like. The plan is to set up nine temp holes using a few soccer fields and the space around the parking lot. Sadly, even under the best circumstances, they won’t be much of a challenge for the pros as the land is flat, the grass is green, and the trees are well-groomed. Looking at the online schedule, this is the course for the final nine… Not too exciting.
Fly pads are a bad sign… Especially if it rains. This course has quite a few of them.
The first few holes play down a ravine filled with trees and outrageous OB lines. These lines are made even more outrageous by the speed of the fairways and greens. The familiar dusty soil is everywhere and is compacted down to make the lightest throw skip fifty or sixty feet past its intended landing spot. Staying away from OB is the real task on this course. Hole two is a 600 foot bomb down the ravine with even more OB. Courageous souls will go for it; lucky ones will get this deuce.
Then there is Hole three…
300 plus feet tunnel shot that must turn left and then somehow defy gravity and sit flat against a 50 degree slop going in the opposition direction. And if you catch an edge, it’s OB. The course was pissing me off.
Hole four. 100 feet. A small window shot of no more than three feet across and two feet high. The basket sits on a hill with OB behind it which will find all the shots for those who felt they were lucky to get through the window.
Then the meadow shots begin. All open field shots with not much to smile about. There is more OB but the fairways are over 100 feet wide. However, as if on cue, the southern California winds began to blow. Suddenly the discs flirted with OB strings and the meadow grass is slick. Every shot skipped more than once before coming to a rest. The 1300 foot hole is the only par 5 on the course but it’s easy enough for a par 4.
Hole 12 gives you hope that the course is going to be more of a challenge. Down hill drive toward the lake. There is video footage of Val Jenkins playing it on YouTube, but when she’s playing it, the fringe is pretty rough, which it isn’t now.
The next few holes are lake side and are mostly tunnel shots. All of them unsettling and one of them requires you to throw out over the lake and hope it comes back enough to find the fairway. It will be easy pars for those that are cautious.
The final few holes offer little in the way of a real challenge. Hole 17 should be aced by at least a dozen people.
All-in-all, Pinto is just a 2.5 of a course. If they had made the course just in the thick woods around the lakeside, it would be tougher than Delaveaga, but with the addition of open field dullness, the course will be gravy.
The first two things you notice are the sound of planes landing right above you and the smell of the city dump right next to you. But what you see looks rough. The terrain is “lumpy” desert and there are rough little bushes, clumps of catcus and oddly shaped trees everywhere. This course uses fly pads (and some concrete pads)and they are covered with sand, which makes them slippery. In fact, the smart pro will carry a small broom to make sure he can get some footing.
The course is the furthest south of the courses, sitting in the hills just outside of Monterrey. The majority of the course is played in and out of a small ravine with some of the most inventive holes every created. There are 27 holes with the first 18 playing as tough technical shots and the last 9 playing as open field bombs. And, like Pinto, there is wind. Sadly, the wind was coming from the bay, which pushed the land fill smell directly at us.
It looks like they filmed every Long Ranger episode on this patch of land…
Unlike Pinto which has fast fairways, this soil is hungry and grabs every shot you throw at it and doesn’t let it go. There is no skipping here. If you want a shot to go somewhere, it’s going to take pin point accuracy to get it there. The course isn’t going to give you anything. The first few holes are simple. It’s hole 4 when things get serious. Uphill, to the left, with heavy tree cover. After this hole, the course opens up again, playing around trees, across the desert and down the side of a small hill.
The second nine holes are more of the same. Low ceiling shots. Lots of midranges and touch shots. Easy birdies. There is one hole that plays out of the ravine up hill. It’s a short shot (with a low ceiling) but it’s wonderful. Made so, by the placement of a small wind chime high up in the tree. It’s refreshing to hear it chiming.
The last nine hole are open field bombs.
2 out of 5. There are three or four great holes but the rest are pretty simple.
Sitting just a few miles north of Ryan Ranch on very similar terrain. It’s a great use of land, which sits between the athletic fields of this small college. Of all the courses, this one requires the least amount of walking with the fewest number of hills. This course is a modestly flat course with no real mental challenges. It doesn’t smell bad and the planes are over a mile away, so it’s got that going for it.
The most I can say is that if you enjoy tunnel shots this is your course. It’s tunnel shot after tunnel shot. The terrain is desert with more scrub brush and crazy trees that creep in your mind on every hole. It’s the exact same course as Ryan Ranch but without the great ravine or hillside basket placements. This is the shortest review because this course should have been skipped. The only way to make this course Worlds worthy would be the addition of lots of OB, which they could, and should, do.
2 out of 5.