Getting on the green

Blogging about some of the world's best golf holes.

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Sunset Hole at Palm Royale

The sunsets in the desert are always spectacular, especially when you’re finishing up on Palm Royale CC in La Quinta, CA. When the sun goes behind the mountains, watch for the colors in the sky. There can be purple, orange and streaks of red in the sky when the sun is setting.

Hole # 18 is a challenging stretch to finish off your round. It is short but not easy. It will test your short iron to the max. From the blue tees, it is only 120 yards give and take 5 yards. Often the pin is tucked in the right corner where there is a small waterfall and a small sliver of grass to land it on. If you want to stay dry, don’t attempt to draw your ball. Instead from the tee, hit a fade so that most of your carry is over land.

Water plays havoc on the whole right side. If you can carry your shot all the way to the green then go for it. But don’t blame me if you go in the sand trap or fly the green to the clubhouse.

Yesterday, Rick from Kelowna, BC hit a beautiful shot high up to the heavens and down to the green. He had a 2 foot putt to a nice birdie putt. What a great way to finish off a round in the desert. It’ll be another year before Rick is back for more of the desert.

His wife Linda wasn’t so lucky but she had enjoyed her time on the course meeting nice people and vacationing from the cold snowy days at home.

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SilverRock #9: Short, Sweet par 3

SilverRock # 9

SilverRock # 9

After playing the difficult #8 at SilverRock Resort, La Quinta, CA, the ninth hole is a simple par 3 at 148 yards from the blue tees. No use going long because there is a mountain of rocks behind the green. Some veteran players have used these rocks as a back stop but I don’t recommend it. Who knows how your ball is going to bounce off the rocks?

For me, I’m always coming up short because the green doesn’t look that far. If the pin is on the right then coming up short is fine because you can hit a nice chip up to the hole. But if the pin is on the left side then you have to hit enough club to get over the sand bunkers that guard the pin.

If you hit the green then you are putting for birdie. This is a beautiful hole to birdie or par it.

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SilverRock Resort: Hole 4 | par 4, 355 yards

SilverRock Resort, La Quinta | Hole # 4, par 4, Blue tees: 355 yards

Bighorn sheep at SilverRock

Bighorn sheep at SilverRock

Standing on the blue tees on hole # 4, all you can see is sand, sand and more sand. Talk about intimidation. First up is Mike from the Tri-City, south of Spokane, Washington. He has driver in his hands and he plans to beam it down the middle. Mike has a really tight swing but he hits it a long way. His tee shot flies through the air and he runs out of fairway. His ball ends up in the desert wasteland which is on either side of the fairway.

I’m next up. I also have driver in my hands and plan on going down the middle too, but short of Mike’s tee shot. I take it easy but I found myself hurrying at the top of my backswing. I would go over the top and come down from the outside in. My ball would fly left and into the desert wasteland where Mike’s ball was. I really didn’t want that but it happened.

The two girls hit and they were both safely in the fairway. Mike and I drove up to see the damage. I had 140 yards to go and Mike had 120 yards. Both of us would have difficult shots, having to blast out of the desert wasteland which consisted of small rocks and rough sand. It would mean scratched up clubs for us, no matter what we used.

I decided to hit a little more club and grabbed my 8-iron. Mike chose a PW. My ball would end up short of the sand trap right of the green. Mike would sail his ball to the back of the green. The two girls were safely on the green and were ready to putt.

Mike and I would both end up with bogey. The girls walked off with a par each.

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Hole # 1, Shadow Ridge GC, Palm Desert, CA

Hole # 1, par 4, 368 yards

It was turning out to be hot day when we arrived at the Marriott Shadow Ridge resort in Palm Desert for a round of golf. The place was buzzing with people coming for the Sunday buffet at the Grill. We joined the line of cars as we made our way to the bag drop just left of the clubhouse. Once checked in, we looked for our clubs and the cart that it was on and proceeded to the starter who gave us 15 minutes to tee time. We had just enough time to warm up on the range and putt a few balls before heading out.

On the first tee, we met our playing partners, Mark and Bud. Mark was a resident of La Quinta and Bud was visiting from San Francisco. They decided to play the combo tees which was a combination of playing the blue and white tees depending on the course handicap. I obliged.

Off the tee, I wasn’t nervous at all. Perhaps it was because of the resort setting or the wide open feeling on the first hole or there were very little people watching me. My ball went down the middle and left me with a 177 yards to the green. Mark pulled his tee shot to the left and Bud hit it just right of me.

From 177 yards, I decided to pull my hybrid out. Bad mistake because I literally, pulled my shot left. My ball sailed into a large greenside bunker the size of a swimming pool in Palm Desert. The sand wasn’t fluffy like the stuff they use at most resort courses. Both Mark and Bud were on the green and waiting for my arrival. Unfortunately, I was going to be late because I had a lot of trouble with the sand. After 3 wasted strokes, I was out. I settled for a triple bogey as my playing partners walked away with a par each.

Did I redeem myself? Stay tuned.

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Hole # 9, Palm Royale CC, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 9, par 3, blue tees, 85 yards

Hole # 9

Hole # 9

Just when you think you have your short game under control, you pull a shot left. And on hole # 9 at Palm Royale Country Club, it was going to be a tricky up and down. Dick was next to hit. He also chose a SW but he mishit it and his ball ended up wet. Cindy was up next. She chose a PW and she hit it well. Her ball went straight for the pin and settled just north of the pin.

Dick hit his third shot from the drop area but went completely underneath the ball. It’s easy to do that at Palm Royale because the rough can be quite long at this time of year. I walked over to my ball and assessed the situation. I had a bunker between my ball and the green. The elegant shot would involve a flop shot but I was worried about skulling the ball into someone’s patio. I ended up chipping it over the bunker and off the green. I would settle with a double bogey. Dick did as well. Cindy was the only one that walked away with a par.

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Hole # 3, SilverRock Resort, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 3, par 3, 176 yards

The Humana Challenge (formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic) just wrapped up on Sunday after Brian Gay beat Charles Howell III on the second playoff hole. Just around the corner from Arnold Palmer’s Private course is the SilverRock Resort which was used to host the Bob Hope Classic from 2008 to 2011.

After a long par 5 on the second, hole # 3 is a short par 3. From the blue and white tee boxes, the yardage may vary but today, it is playing 160 yards. I chose a 7-iron after my playing partner, Ryan shot it over the green and cart path. His father John would hit a perfect tee shot to the green. When it was my turn, I tried to ignore the big desert wasteland on the right. I have been in the wasteland before and I can tell you, it’s no fun getting out from there.

I took my club back slowly and hit down on it. Unfortunately, I hit it fat and my ball darted left. I would have a difficult chip to make. Everyone was on the green except me. The pressure was on. I chipped the ball and it landed on the apron before dribbling on to the green. I would two putt for a bogey. John walked away with a par and Ryan came up short for his par.

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Hole # 1, PGA West – Greg Norman Course, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 1, par 4, Blue tees, 379 yards

Greg Norman named this starting hole ‘Hourglass’ because the fairway narrows as it approaches the green and widens out at the green. Coincidentally, we were teamed up with another couple from Calgary. Ian and Susan were down for a month, spent their Canadian Thanksgiving in the desert and had played various golf courses in the Palm Springs area for the past three weeks.

Ian looked like an avid golfer and a long hitter. So when he was swinging his club at the blue tees, I wasn’t going to object. He sailed it nicely down the fairway over the blue lake as though it wasn’t there. Water off the tee usually makes me nervous but I couldn’t help admire the course from the tee box, just before hitting. “It was surely a tight fairway but one thing for sure, the million dollar homes were too far away for me to slice or hook into”. I setup my ball, addressed it with my new driver (ie. Taylormade R9 driver with a 10.5 degree loft) and took a deep breath. I hit it smoothly as it sailed over the lake and onto the middle of the fairway. Phew!

It was the ladies’ turn as they teed off without a hitch. Susan could really hit the ball and confidently too. She said she plays D’Arcy Ranch a lot and was used to hitting it hard and long. It was a good start with all four balls on the fairway. That’s showing it to the starter who probably figured we were a bunch of hacks from Canada.

On the fairway, we had about 160 yards to the green. I can see why this hole was named ‘Hourglass’. The fairway really narrowed out to about 10 yards with desert landscape all around. Luckily for us, we all came up short on the tee shot. If we hit as long as Bubba does, our ball would have found desert. I chose a 7-iron and hit it cleanly but it was short. Everyone also came up short so we were all chipping on. By the time we putted out, we all bogeyed the hole. So far so good.

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Hole # 1, The Golf Club at La Quinta, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 1, par 4, Blue tees, 378 yards

Golf Club at La Quinta, Hole # 8

Golf Club at La Quinta, Hole # 8

Before stepping out on hole # 1, hit a few balls on the range to warm up and get the ‘feel’ into your game. At the Golf Club at La Quinta, formerly known as the Trilogy Golf Club, you get treated to free range balls. It’s nice when a course provides range balls for free, even though the temperature is well above 100 degrees. It’s quiet here in late spring and summer so you practically have the whole course to yourself. Don’t hit several balls but take the time to visualize your shot and hit a good score.

Hole # 1 is a straightforward hole. Back at the blue tees, it’s alittle daunting for some because of the tunnel vision caused by a tight fairway. Left of you is the driving range and right of you are houses. Forget it for the moment as you line up your tee shot straight down the middle. If you are going to draw it then perfect, you’ll be in the middle. Otherwise a little bleeding to the right won’t hurt you.

My tee shot ends up 30 yards from the barber pole, leaving me 160 yards to the green. I set up to hit a draw and end up hooking it left. I’m left with a small chip which I give myself a 2 putt for a bogey. Not a bad start but I should have putted it better. Next time.

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Hole # 1, Palm Royale CC, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 1, par 3, Blue tees, under 100 yards

It’s hot out here today and I’m beginning to see hallucinations. I see a mirage with palm trees, hazy air and water. No actually, these things are real at the Palm Royale CC in La Quinta. The Palm Royale CC is a nice Ted Robinson layout with 18 holes, each less than 100 yards and some long holes are 150 yards. Before you write off this course, play it. If you can shoot less than 54 then go celebrate and never play here again. If you don’t shoot par then see you back here again and again until you’ve mastered your short game.

Hole # 1 is no easy hole. With water on your left and hole # 10 on your right, choosing the right club and tempo makes all the difference. I usually choose my PW but on days like this when the air is still, I’m going to hit my sand wedge. You want to float your ball in and land it front of the green and let it trickle on. Anything more will simply roll to the back of the green.

I hit my SW and dropped it on the green. My playing partner scalds the ball and it flies to the back rough. She chips on and is looking for a par. I 2-putted for a nice 3. She ends up with a bogey.

Have you played here lately? If so, please post a comment.