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To the Reckless Go the Toughest Shots

February 11, 1993|PATRICK MOTT | Patrick Mott is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition

"Do you realize that water comes into play on 18 shots? That's 18 shots!" --Tom Weiskopf on the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio

*

Big deal.

Tee it up at the new Cypress Golf Club in Los Alamitos, Tom, and welcome to hell. Because, depending on how long you are off the tee, that's just about how many times you're going to be looking at water in front of your shot at Cypress.

Designed by Perry Dye, son of the famous course architect Pete Dye, Cypress is a jewel of a course that can put a lump in your throat--the same sort of lump you get when you fish an envelope from the IRS out of your mailbox.

Still, Terry Titus, the head pro, insists it's fair, and after a while you start believing him. You've heard the old saw, but it's true here: The course rewards intelligent, straight shot-making and punishes the reckless and wayward. These are things, Titus said, that can't be learned by one trip around the course. It'll start to feel more comfortable, he said, after two or three.

"There are no dull golf holes out here," he said, "and the premium is on good shot-making."

Actually, Titus said, many holes will forgive you if you're only a little bit off the mark. Two Dye trademarks take care of that: The short, steep moguls bordering many fairways tend to kick the ball back toward the center if the shot doesn't stray too far off line, and the railroad ties that buttress the water hazards are built up slightly, so balls rolling toward the water can be gently nudged away.

The greens, however, will not forgive. They're planted with a relatively new strain of bent grass called SR 1020, which "creates a very smooth, very even surface," Titus said. This means, of course, that the ball will do exactly what you tell it to, and you must tell it gently. Heavy-handed putters will be three-putters.

The rough is easier to take. The drought-tolerant buffalo grass is less dense than the more common fescue and doesn't grab one's club as tightly when the head sweeps through it. However, in the rough or in the fairway, you'll seldom find that your feet are planted on the same plane with your ball. This course undulates.

It was much more well-mannered years ago when it was the Los Alamitos Golf Club. However, that course was closed in 1985, and when Dye set to work on the new layout it was decided to completely re-grade and build a new course from the dirt up. Nearly 700 mature trees from the old course were preserved, however.

The new site, which opened in September, sits on only 104 acres, but the fairway-side moguls create separation of holes and lend an "out-in-the-country" open feeling.

So do the tee boxes, which offer five separate tee blocks from which to choose. And so does the 15th hole, which, when played from the black tournament tees, is 609 yards long.

The inevitable catch: You're going to pay for all this exquisite torture. The greens fees are $75 Monday through Thursday and $95 Friday through Sunday, including cart.

A Matter of Course

* Cypress Golf Club, 4921 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, 90720.

* Distance: 6,610 yards.

* Par: 71.

* Greens fees: Monday through Thursday, $75. Friday through Sunday, $95. Fees include cart.

* Lessons: $25 per half-hour session, $100 for package of six lessons.

* Driving range: Small bucket, $4; large bucket, $6. Players hit off mats.

* Reservations: One week ahead. (714) 527-1800.

* Amenities: Pro shop, restaurant, full-service bar, putting green.

* How to get there: Take the San Diego (I-405) or Garden Grove (22) freeways to Los Alamitos Boulevard, north to Katella Avenue. Left to the course. Enter at same entrance used for Los Alamitos Race Course.

Los Angeles Times

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