Getting on the green

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


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Hole # 6, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Palm Desert, CA

Hole # 6, Mountain View Course, par 5, 455 yards

If there’s water on the course then my ball will find it. It’s not a mind game with me and water doesn’t really play on my psyche neither. It’s just my golf ball and its obsession with water.

When you drive up the path on hole # 6 on the Mountain View course at Desert Willow, you see water off the tee box. It’s not really in play but it’s a good reminder that water is in play further up the fairway. Gord was first up. He stood on the tee box nervously and waggle his driver like Jason Dufner does. After a few minutes, Gord went into motion and hit a nice drive to the middle of the fairway. Jim was next up. As a leftie, Jim likes to cut the ball so he would start it right and have it draw into the center. With two balls in the fairway, I was up next. I was hitting it pretty good so I was confident that I could join my playing partners and hit it near the center. My ball sailed straight but stayed left. 

On the second shot, we all hit our hybrids except for Jim. In his younger days, Jim would hit a long iron but now at 75, he had to hit his 3-wood to get up to our 4-hybrid distance.  I decided to fade one over the water hazard and onto the landing area just before the green. There’s water that dissects the fairway and it requires a wedge to get it close to the pin. By the time I got up there, I couldn’t find my second shot. I think it must have rolled in. Jim also couldn’t find his ball but he thought he must have went to right and lost it to the water hazard on the right side of the fairway. Gord’s ball ended up in the palm tree oasis to the right of the pond.

From 100 yards out, I played a stroke penalty and hit my ball to the green. Jim followed with a 80 yard pitch shot to the green. Gord decided to sit it out and watch us putt. We were in for a count of 7.


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Hole # 3, Desert Willow, Palm Desert, CA

Hole # 3, FireCliff course, par 3, 139 yards

Desert Willow was one of the recommended courses and a Golf Digest must-play course. After playing the FireCliff course for the first time, I can see why it’s a preferred course. First of, there’s very little to no buildings in play. Courses like Rancho Las Palmas, Mission Hills and Desert Springs may be a problem to golfers who often slice or hook off the tee. At Desert Willow, the worst thing that can happen is that you lose lots of balls rather than putting a ball through someone’s living room window.

The range is complimentary if you want to start the round off with a warm up bucket. If you choose to visit the range, the starter will give you a pager that will vibrate and sing when your tee time is up. Nice touch.

When I drove up to hole # 3, I was thinking of a hole in one. Playing from the white tees, it was a perfect 9-iron. It is a beautiful hole with lots of desert between you and the green. I managed to hit the green but it left me with a rather long putt for birdie. The greens are extremely difficult to read and they were fast too. I ended up with a bogey because I could not read the breaks.

 


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Hole # 2, Shadow Ridge GC, Palm Desert, CA

Hole # 2, par 5, 478 yards

Mark and Bud, my playing partners at the Marriott Shadow Ridge GC in Palm Desert, CA fell silent after watching me struggle out of the greenside bunker on hole # 1. You can see the worry on their faces, wondering whether we could keep up with them and whether our level of play was sufficient on a course like this.

Hole # 2 was a par 5 with water on the right side of the fairway. There was trouble on the left too, with long grass and waste land. Mark decided to hit first and he pulled it left again. His ball went into unchartered land and he had to take a drop. I was up next. I concentrated on hitting a nice smooth tee shot which I did. My ball sailed straight down the middle and long too. Bud was up next. He ended up hitting short and right.

After Mark and Bud’s second shot, I drove up to assess my situation. I had about 220 yards to go. Instead of reaching for my hybrid, I chose to hit a 6-iron. I wanted to come up short of the green but dry. My balls tend to like water and whenever there is a lake, pond or creek, my ball manages to trickle in. I made good contact with the ball and it landed about 60 yards short of the green. I decided to lob it in with my 56-degree wedge and I had a 12 foot putt left. I would two putt in and walk away with a par. I could see that I was redeemed. Both Mark and Bud congratulated me as they accepted me into their league.

 

 


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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 # 11, Mountain Vista, Palm Desert, CA

Hole # 11, Santa Rosa Course, par 4, Gold tees, 356 yards 

When I fully retire, I’m going to live at one of the many Del Webb communities like Mountain Vista. Located in Palm Desert, Mountain Vista has two 18-hole courses to choose from. Both courses are equally nice but the one we had the pleasure to play on, was the Santa Rosa course.

Teeing off on a short par 4 means that you have a chance to make birdie. If you can drive it 220 yards then you will be left with a 9-iron to the green. My favourite club is the 9-iron so I should be able to hit the green in two and putt for a birdie. The trick is getting a good drive in, but on the Santa Rosa course, hole # 11 is a tough one. First you have to hit it straight and not fade or slice the ball because water runs pretty much along the right side. Hitting it long may not be a good idea because of all the water that is in play on this hole.

No risk, no reward is what I say to my wife who is playing with me. I hit this perfect drive down the middle and it almost rolls in because I ran out of fairway. I am left with 130 yards to the green but I have to carry it over water that is on all sides of the green. Before I hit my club, I stop and admire the vista. It is absolutely beautiful here like all courses in Del Webb communities.

I keep my head down and focused as I hit a beautiful shot to the green. It lands softly and I have a chance for birdie. Unfortunately, I can’t read the green and end up with a par. At least it’s dry.