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SPORTS WEEKEND

Southland Focus

June 26, 1998|SHAV GLICK, 17 Handicap

A weekly look at golf courses open to the public in Southern California.

RAMS HILL COUNTRY CLUB

Address: 1881 Rams Hill Road, Borrego Springs.

Phone: (760) 767-5125.

Green fees: $40, including cart.

Tee times: Seven days in advance.

The facility: Built in 1984 by Ted Robinson, the desert facility went through a series of owners until it was reopened last November under control of Troon Golf Properties, a worldwide collection of courses that includes famed Turnberry, a British Open site in Scotland. It is one of only two courses in the Borrego Springs area open to the public. Much of the play comes from Europeans who vacation in the desert.

The good: With wide fairways and greens that putt true and quick, it is a pleasure to play. When the rough is up, it can be a difficult 6,866 yards from the championship tees. A U.S. Open qualifying round was held there this year and only three of 94 golfers bettered par 72. Seven lakes, including two on the signature No. 14 hole, catch a player's attention. No. 14 is only 384 yards long, but a double lake 250 yards off the tee protects the green, which calls for a downhill carry of about 150 yards. One lake is higher than the other, with a colorful waterfall linking them.

The bad: A hurricane-force storm last September destroyed 35 trees, which the owners hope to replace over the next several years with olive, palm and desert pines. The bunkers are also rocky from years of neglect, although cleaning them is an ongoing project.

The score: The scenery is breaktaking, with views of different mountain scenes from 14 of the 18 tees. With a climate a little cooler than Palm Springs, Rams Hill is a delight to play--except that it is a long way from any metropolitan area, 85 miles from San Diego, 90 from Palm Springs and more than 150 from Los Angeles.

*

Overall course rating: 3 1/2 balls.

* One ball: No-frills golf.

** Two balls: Worth an occasional round.

*** Three balls: Like shooting four strokes under your handicap.

**** Four balls: Where the golf gods play.

*--*

Hole Back Tees Middle Tees Par Front Tees 1 434 398 4 351 2 550 518 5 466 3 186 164 3 141 4 418 385 4 337 5 492 468 5 430 6 197 168 3 140 7 395 371 4 327 8 365 349 4 315 9 386 357 4 330 Out 3,423 3,178 36 2,837 10 377 355 4 331 11 419 378 4 343 12 517 476 5 436 13 170 145 3 133 14 384 362 4 323 15 424 380 4 332 16 220 180 3 156 17 527 505 5 460 18 405 369 4 343 In 3,443 3,150 36 2,857 Total 6,866 6,328 72 5,694

*--*

Rating/Slope: Black--74.0/133, Middle--70.7/125, Front--72.9/128

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