Fast times and greens at Royal Vista Golf Club near Los Angeles

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

WALNUT, Calif. -- The third hole on the East Course at Royal Vista Golf Club looks innocent enough. It's 193 yards from the back tees and is downhill, so it plays shorter than its yardage. What's so tough about it?

East Course at Royal Vista Golf Club - hole 3
The par-3 third is one of the most difficult holes on the East Course at Royal Vista because of the greens.
East Course at Royal Vista Golf Club - hole 3Royal Vista Golf ClubSouth Course at Royal Vista Golf Club - hole 4
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Royal Vista Golf Club

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20055 E Colima Rd
Walnut, California 91789
Los Angeles County
Phone(s): (909) 595-7441
18 Holes | Semi-Private golf course | Par: 72 | 6304 yards | Book online | ... details »

Nothing -- unless the pin position is back left. Put the ball above the hole, whether it's on the green or not, and watch out. You could be there for a while.

Royal Vista, a 27-hole daily-fee complex in the heart of southern California, churns through golfers at a steady rate. The 50-year-old Ted Robinson, Sr.-designed course combinations aren't long, so almost anyone can play here. But the greens are challenging, to say the least, from the novice to the low-handicapper. The third hole on the East Course is just one of those examples.

"A lot of the up-and-coming guys love to play here because the greens are so fast and so challenging," said Jon Marquez, the head professional at Royal Vista.

Shore up your short game at Royal Vista Golf Club

In other words, Royal Vista is a great place to work on your short game, whether it's pitching, chipping or putting. The aforementioned pin position on the third hole was on a small shelf. Miss the green to the right, and you have to hit a precise pitch that stops in about a 4-foot area. Even if you make it there, the downhill putt to the hole is tentative at best, given that anything past the hole will roll all the way to the bottom of the green. A five-putt is certainly a possibility if you're not paying attention.

And, did we mention the greens are deceivingly fast? The Poa annua bent combination looks tame enough, but it's not uncommon for the speeds to approach 12 on the Stimpmeter. And for good measure, the majority of the greens slope front to back, meaning crisp approach shots with spin are extremely helpful.

More to Royal Vista Golf Club than fast greens

In all fairness, though, Royal Vista isn't overly difficult. From the back tees, the longest combination is the most common, East-North, which plays 6,435 yards. There are certain holes that play a little long, but they are the exception. Some of the more difficult holes can actually be the shortest. The 111-yard, par-3 seventh on the South Course has a corridor of overhanging limbs from the tee, forcing players to shape their shots into the green.

Speaking of the South Course, it's the shortest at 3,040 yards, but it's certainly not the easiest. Some of the holes are a little quirky, but certainly enjoyable. Accuracy is a must, and like the rest of the golf course, you have to pay attention on the greens.

"The course has really got a little bit of everything for everybody," said Matt Lowe, the director of golf operations at Royal Vista.

It also has excellent practice facilities, dining facilities and a large clubhouse, perfect for outings. Lessons are available from the professional staff.

Royal Vista Golf Club: The verdict

If you're looking for resort or high-end country club conditions at Royal Vista Golf Club, you're likely to be disappointed. But if you just want to play golf on a somewhat quirky and enjoyable golf course, then this your place, especially for the price.

This is also a course that will help you improve your short game. Around the greens, you have to hit the right shot, meaning you have to know where to land and how the ball is going to run out if you're going to have any success. That's half the battle. Once you get on, the greens are deceptively fast and always in good condition these days. Distance control with the putter is critical.

The facility also has a great public golf feel. The people who play here love golf, and it shows. Many of them come out several times a week, have regular games and know the course like the back of their hand. Hook up with one of the locals, and you'll have an even better time.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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