Getting on the green

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


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Crystal Ridge GC: Straight Tee Shot Required on #1

Crystal Ridge GC: #1

Crystal Ridge GC: #1

Hole # 1, par 4, 375 yards

Teeing off on the first hole on any course can be a nerve racking experience and on Crystal Ridge GC in Okotoks, it can be for those of you who slices their tee shot. If you are playing the blue tees, make sure you grab a club that is going to guarantee you a straight tee shot. Too much left is no good and probably out of bounds. Right is not good either because the clubhouse is there, just behind the trees. Straight is it.

Once in the clear, you can aim for the green which has a bunker on the left and water behind the green. I got in the sand and easily popped it out. My playing partner wasn’t so lucky because she hit her hybrid too long and her ball was wet. After a week of hot sun, the greens had dried out and it was hard sticking the balls close.

On the green, I had a 10 foot putt. I found the greens to be a good speed, not as fast as a 8 on the stimp meter but close behind. Counting the lost ball I hit left, I ended up with a triple bogey. She did too. At least we were even after one hole.

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A Little Chambers Bay at Muirfield

Drivable par 4 at Muirfield Lakes

Drivable par 4 at Muirfield Lakes

This week I played two courses in the Calgary area that made me feel like Jordan Spieth at the US Open in Chambers Bay. Both courses had holes that were very drivable and with a good tee shot, I had a chance to putt for eagle. Hole # 2 on the Maple Ridge GC is reachable from the white tees and most big hitters with a fade can easily roll their ball onto the putting surface. But from the blue tees, getting on the green in regulation is still good.

The other course I played on was in Lyalta, AB where Muirfield Lakes GC is located. Drive east on Country Hills Blvd to Lyalta then make a right. It is a nice course to play and it would remind Jordan Spieth of Chambers Bay or something from the Scottish links because of the gnarly long grass and open fairways. Hole # 2 on Muirfield Lakes is drivable from the blue tees. With a good draw, players can get on easily from the tee box. They need to start it right then draw their ball in. I did and I was looking at getting an eagle from 20 feet. It’s not everyday you feel like Jordan Spieth at the US Open but for one hole, it was exhilarating. My heart was pumping fast as I lined up my ball and made the putt. It rolled as though it had a purpose then suddenly it stopped an inch from the hole. I had to settle for birdie. The eagle would have been nice but for a moment, I felt like Jordan Spieth on the final round at Chambers Bay, sinking it to win the US Open.


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Lakeside Greens: Hole # 16 is an Elbow Right

Coming up on hole # 16 at Lakeside Greens, you have a line of houses backing on the golf course to your right and a ball park on your left. A good tee shot would be straight down the middle of the fairway. The big hitters would get their ball in position where the green can be seen. But for me who normally hits a 210-225 yard drive, I have to settle for a blind shot to the green.

Today, I drove it just short of the first bunker on the right. My gps would tell me that I had 130 yards to the green. I grabbed my 9-iron and aimed left of the first tall tree. There is a large sand bunker strategically placed on the right side of the green so I had to make sure my shot had enough carry to reach the green. A 9-iron would guarantee me to land on the green or long. Any club shorter would land me into the sand.

I took an easy swing and popped the ball up. Later, I would find my ball on the high side of the pin. It would be a tricky downhill putt but I managed to walk away with a par.

 


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Hole # 9, Elbow Springs GC, Calgary, AB

Hole # 9, Elbow Course, par 4,

I wasn’t playing well all day. I had too much on my mind, after playing a lousy game at Lakeside Greens in Chestermere the day before. Too much golf does that to you too. Once you have a bad shot, you punish yourself for it. The bad feelings come and stay for a long time so it starts to eat away from your good feelings. After yesterday, I was going to throw in my towel on golf.

Today was a new day, so they say. I was driving better and my irons were crisper too. I wasn’t going to let my putting get away. I know my putter head was jerky all week so I tried to be more patient and make a slower and precise stroke. Our playing partners were a couple that claimed to had not played all season. I guess that removed any expectations of their performance but who cares anyways, I know I didn’t.

On hole # 9 on the Elbow course, I hit a clean tee shot to the left of the elbow. It was a dogleg left with water on the left and right side of the hole. There was a slight chance that my tee shot would find water but I figured I was short and the ball wasn’t curling left when it hit the ground. I would find it in the short stuff but I would have 170 yards to the green over water and some small trees. Honestly, I have not never been at this spot. I would always be on the right side of the fairway and get a clear view of the green. It was interesting on the left side.

I pulled out my 6-iron and decided to aim for the flag. I usually hit my irons with a low trajectory and this one sailed across the water and onto the front of the green. By the time I went up to check, my ball was at the back of the green. It had rolled on and continued past the flag which was located in the front. I should have noticed the red flag but I was more concerned about the carry over water than where the flag was. I was the only one off the green so I decided to putt it. My putt rolled straight for the hole and it dropped when it got there. It was perfect speed and it broke slightly right before dropping into the hole for a birdie. Sweet!


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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, Kukuiolono GC, Kauai, HI

Hole # 1, par 4, 321 yards

After playing a great round at Wailua Golf Course, the municipal course in Lihue on the island of Kauai, we were told by a couple from Airdrie, AB to play a cute but challenging course called Kukuiolono. Like so many things in Hawaii, I looked up the course and found some interesting things about the course history. Back when sugar was harvested on Kauai, there once was a man named Walter Duncan McBryde. If you have been to Poipu then you have driven through the Tunnel of Trees. Was this a freak of nature or did someone plant these trees along the road? We have Walter Duncan McBryde to thank because he donated these eucalyptus trees about 150 years ago. The trees have since grown and provide a canopy over a mile of road.  Before passing on, Walter wanted to create a park for his mill workers and families to enjoy so he staked out a piece of land that overlooks the ocean. The park is in Kalaheo and most of its residents had worked for Walter McBryde. Part garden and part golf course, this land has sweeping views of the ocean and Kauai below.

For a mere $9, you can play Kukuiolono as many times as you wish. The $9 is the “daily contribution” and you can go round and round from dawn to dusk. This is because Walter had left his life savings for the maintenance and operation of the golf course.

Teeing up on the first hole from the white tees, you can see that the perfect drive would be on the right side of the fairway because it is a dogleg left. Nervousness came over me and caused my ball to hook left. The other two guys did the same. From about 160 yards away, I did not have a clear view to the green. I decided to hit a low stinger below the branches and hope for the best. Unfortunately, my ball hit a few leaves along the way and settled short of the fairway in the rough. I had about 80 yards left so I decided to use my 56-degree sand wedge. Luckily it popped out clean and I was putting. I was amazed at how smooth the green was. The course is very well maintained for $9 and clearly, it is challenging.


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Hole # 5, River Spirit Golf Club, Calgary, AB

Hole # 5, Millburn 9, par 4, 408 yards

Hole # 5

Hole # 5

It brings back memories of the Alberta floods earlier this year when you see the devastation of fairways and tee boxes at River Spirit Golf Club on Highway 8, west of Calgary. In June, there were so much water spilling off the banks that entire fairways were under water for days. Debris in the form of large trees uprooted and boulders were carried down river, scraping and carving up land.

Mike who is a member at River Spirit, gave us hole-by-hole commentary of how the floods had affected his golf club. Hole # 5 tee box was devastated. When you stand at the blue tee and look back, you no longer see the black tees which used to be way back and surrounded by dense forest. Today, you see a cliff where the black tees used to be and a clearing. The river runs behind the hole and gravel lines the banks. Mike told me that there used to be trees from the end of the tee box to the trees that are still standing, about 150 yards away.

It is amazing to think what Mother Nature has done. Hole # 5 used to be 408 yards but now, it is shorter. It used to take two good shots to come close to the green. Now it is a drive and a mid-iron to the green.