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SPORTS WEEKEND

Southland Focus

September 25, 1998|SHAV GLICK, 17 handicap

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

HUNTER RANCH GOLF COURSE

Address: 4041 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles

Phone: (805) 237-7444.

Green fees: $45-$55.

Tee times: Seven days in advance.

The facility: The course was designed by Ken Hunter, who also developed the Sandpiper and La Purisima courses in Santa Barbara County, and is surrounded by vineyards. After a front nine that includes three par fours of more than 400 yards or more, the back side is a tricky proposition with a lake that comes into play on four holes. In addition to the picturesque and challenging 18 holes, there is a fine driving range. The clubhouse offers a panorama of the wine country a few miles from Highway 101, near Paso Robles.

The good: Back-to-back water holes offer the kind of test one might expect from a U.S. Open course. The green on the 396-yard 11th hole is almost surrounded by water. No. 12, a 415-yard par four, calls for a 150-yard carry over the lake to the fairway, but there's still a challenge left--a long iron across a creek to reach safety. A par and a bogey on those two should make you smile.

The bad: The fairways appear to have a lot of open space, but beware the 100-year-old black oaks that dot the course. The oaks seem to be out of play, but a shot from beneath them often can be obstructed by an overhanging branch or dripping Spanish moss. Greens are quick, and get quicker as the day heats up.

The score: If you're fortunate enough to celebrate a hole in one, or even a few birdies--or in some cases a few bogeys, there are wine tasting stops, such as Arciero, Eberle and Laura's Vineyard a little more than walking distance from the clubhouse.

*

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.

*--*

Hole Back Tees Middle Tees Par Front Tees 1 405 383 4 356 2 424 397 4 355 3 197 169 3 138 4 400 372 4 341 5 339 312 4 276 6 509 495 5 426 7 586 570 5 498 8 187 167 3 135 9 334 326 4 287 Out 3,381 3,191 36 2,812 10 325 308 4 291 11 396 346 4 368 12 415 396 4 368 13 403 371 4 343 14 186 156 3 127 15 518 505 5 471 16 173 138 3 121 17 544 526 5 489 18 400 355 4 330 In 3,360 3,101 36 2,827 Total 6,741 6,292 72 5,639

*--*

Rating/Slope: Back--72.2/128; Middle--70.4/124; Front--71.7/125

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