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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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 # 7, Terra Lago GC, Indio, CA

Hole # 7, North Course, par 3, 132 yards

I love elevated tee boxes and when you get to play hole # 7 at Terra Lago North Course in Indio, CA, you’re in for a treat. Named ‘Peak-a-boo’, hole # 7 takes you high up in the desert where you can see most of the desert community across the horizon. Depending on the pin placement, the hole is certainly named appropriately. If placed in the far right corner of the green, the green is certainly playing peek-a-boo with you.

Today the pin placement was ‘2’ and it was a clear shot from the tee box. Because of the elevation, I chose to take one less club. At 132 yards, I normally would hit a 9-iron but today, I chose my 10-iron instead. If you’re playing with a set of Callaway Big Bertha irons (like me) then you’re lucky to have a 10-iron, otherwise hit a 3/4 swing with a 9-iron or a strong PW.

As soon as the group ahead of us cleared the green, I got ready. When both carts left the area, I was ready to hit my tee shot. I like to make sure that I don’t hit the ball into the group playing ahead of us. I hit a beautiful shot towards the green. It landed softly on and left me with a 6 foot putt. I would par the hole after misjudging the break.

 

 


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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 # 3, Mesquite Country Club, Palm Springs, CA

Hole # 3, par 5, Blue tees, 492 yards

On the Mesquite Country Club scorecard, hole # 3 has a number 1 in the handicap row. That means, hole # 3 is the hardest hole on the entire golf course and after playing it, I totally agree. If you hate water then it’s going to be hard for you to embrace this hole. From the tee box, you have to make sure you don’t a worm burner, one of those drives that skips along the grass because if you do, you might as well throw it in the water yourself.

Your tee shot has to carry the water. If you simply keep your cool, you can do it without breaking a sweat. The fairway is pretty wide once you prepare for your second shot, however at 492 yards, it is not easy to go for the green in two. Take a fairway wood and blast it over the water. Or if you’re a little unsure of your clubs then take a mid iron and hit it short of the water. You always go for the green in three and ensure yourself a dry GIR.

On your approach shot, take plenty of club because there are sand traps guarding the green. If you have to, sail it left rather than right so that you miss the bunker on the far right side behind the green. Remember, this is handicap hole # 1 and it will certainly test you. If you can get a par, congratulate yourself. It is well deserved.