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SPORTS WEEKEND

Southland Focus

March 06, 1998|MARTIN BECK

Strawberry Farms Golf Club

Address: 11 Strawberry Farms Road, Irvine.

Phone: (714) 551-1811.

Green fees: $85-$125, including cart.

Tee times: Seven days in advance (will take reservations up to 30 days in advance for $15 per player added fee).

The facility: Strawberry Farms, which opened in November, is in a spectacular setting--the front nine plays along a wetland corridor and the back around a large reservoir that comes into play on five holes. The course has a fine pedigree: Jim Lipe, a senior architect for Jack Nicklaus' company, designed it, Arnold Palmer's company manages it and former Angel Doug DeCinces is the managing partner of the group that built and owns it.

The good: This is what a high-end course should be: challenging and fun. The spikeless shoe policy keeps the greens unmarred and the fairways are pristine because carts (with computer screens that give exact yardage to the green) are limited to paths. The final three holes are stunning: the 16th with water hugging the left side, the par-three 17th over a finger of the reservoir and the 18th that starts on a peninsula and finishes on a green framed by a towering rock waterfall.

The bad: If your game is erratic, plan on bringing extra balls. Fairways aren't overly tight but are bordered by environmentally sensitive areas that are off limits. Also the new course is still a bit rough around the edges, especially on the back nine where winter rains are causing significant erosion on surrounding hillsides.

The score: Five sets of tees make it as long as 6,712 or as short as 5,030. The course will only get better as it matures.

Overall 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.

*--*

Back Middle Men's/women's Front Hole Tees Tees Par Tees 1 403 377 4/4 359 2 372 329 4/4 329 3 200 178 3/3 147 4 414 400 4/4 380 5 431 396 4/4 372 6 501 463 5/5 463 7 153 133 3/3 115 8 285 253 4/4 248 9 515 492 5/5 455 Out 3,274 3,021 36/36 2,868 10 353 334 4/4 334 11 162 138 3/3 133 12 592 563 5/6 558 13 412 386 4/4 381 14 340 323 4/4 307 15 146 132 3/3 115 16 443 432 5/5 427 17 177 158 3/3 129 18 388 367 4/4 362 In 3,013 2,833 35/36 2,746 Total 6,287 5,854 71/72 5,614

*--*

Rating / Slope: Back--69.9/111, Middle--68.8/108, Front (women)--72.6/120

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