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Lure of the Lush : Mile Square Features Deceptive Fairways

July 08, 1993|PATRICK MOTT | Patrick Mott is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition

Unless you're one of those sorts who never has to worry about hitting your tee shots anywhere but 275 yards straight down the middle, you're likely to find yourself in the trees at Fountain Valley's Mile Square Golf Course, pulling the petals off daisies and mumbling, "It loves me. . . . It loves me not."

This layout, she is fickle. The course, at 6,427 yards from the white tees, may not look long on the score card--or even from the tee boxes, for that matter--but trust the words of head pro Steve Seals: If you hit the ball only average distance, it can be like playing every inch of Route 66.

The reason for this, ironically, has to do with what is probably Mile Square's greatest asset: beautifully tended, fluffy fairways. It's like driving the ball onto deep-pile carpet. A low tee shot will get little or no roll, and suddenly a 387-yard par-4 starts to look a lot more like a par-5. It isn't at all unusual, Seals said, to see weekend golfers needing three shots to reach some of the par-4 greens.

None of this should keep you away, however, because the 24-year-old Mile Square is a lovely, mostly forgiving course. Average players may not burn up the track, but neither are they likely to get into terrible trouble, Seals said, mostly because there is no terrible trouble to be found.

There is a fair amount of sand throughout the course, and some greens are well-bunkered, but the fairways are invitingly wide and flat and encourage strong tee shots. The greens, Seals said, tend to be deceptively tricky, with subtle rather than obvious breaks, but in summertime the grass is allowed to grow slightly longer, allowing putters to take a harder swipe at the ball. There are three lakes on the course, but only one comes directly into play, on the par-3 fourth hole.

There are five par-3 holes, which tend to be difficult, said Seals, and five par-5s, which tend to be easier. Play often stacks up on the par-3 holes (three of which are on the front nine), said Seals, so, beginning Monday, the front and back nine will be reversed. Seals said this move is designed to speed up play in the early holes.

Still, it can actually be fun to be stacked up on the current second hole. Anticipating some waiting time for gridlocked foursomes, a small practice putting green was installed adjacent to the tee to give idle golfers something to do.

Another sight to watch for on the course, which can be amusing but potentially expensive, are the families of kit foxes that live in burrows in some of the bunkers. They tend to come out late in the day, said Seals, but when they do they often emerge only long enough to snatch up a player's ball and make off with it. The foxes have found, said Seals, that golf balls--particularly the soft-cover balata balls--make perfect chew toys.

A Matter of Course

* Mile Square Golf Course, 10401 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 968-4556 or (714) 545-7106.

* Distance: 6,427 yards.

* Par: 72.

* Greens fees: Monday through Thursday, $17. Friday through Sunday, $22. Twilight and nine holes Monday through Thursday, $12. Twilight and nine holes Friday through Sunday, $14.

* Carts: $21 for 18 holes, $12 for nine holes.

* Lessons: Private lessons, $25 per half hour. Package of five one-hour group lessons, $60.

* Driving range: Buckets for $5.50, $4.50 and $3. Range is lighted at night.

* Reservations: For times Monday through Thursday, one week in advance, beginning at 6 a.m. For times Friday through Sunday, five days in advance beginning at 7 a.m. Phone (714) 968-4556 or (714) 545-7106.

* Amenities: Banquet room, bar, snack bar, putting green, pro shop.

* How to get there: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to Brookhurst Street, go north to Warner Avenue, turn east to course entrance.

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