Getting on the green

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


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Hole # 6, River Spirit Golf Club, Calgary, AB

Hole # 6, Millburn 9, par 4, 302 yards

Hole # 6

Hole # 6

This is the time of year to play River Spirit, a golf course west of Calgary, AB with views of the Rocky Mountains and farmland. The autumn colours are most vibrant against blue skies where golf is really a walk in the park.

We drove up to hole # 6 on the Millburn course where there were no noticeable damage to the hole. The Alberta floods in June 2013 swept away a lot of fairways and tee boxes on both the Spirit and Millburn 9’s but this hole was spared. We hiked up to the blue tees while Sean kept going to the black tees where he tees off. Sean was a student of the National Golf Academy in town and held a 8 handicap. He said he used to play a 22 handicap until he took lessons at the academy where they showed him his swing on video. They corrected his bad habits and really grooved his swing. Sean was a good player but he would occasionally spray his tee shot. Unfortunately, he would hit his tee shot left of the fairway, into dense bush.

Mike was up next. As a leftie, he had a natural draw to his swing but after playing 26 holes, it was developing into a pull hook. He compensated by aiming very left and drew his ball into the fairway. He was lucky that his ball didn’t keep going, otherwise it would have been in the right rough. I was up next. Standing on the tee, I couldn’t help but to notice how narrow the fairway looked. It was the framing of the hole. All around you were forest. The fairway was 200+ yards away and bordered by two large trees. It was like threading a needle with your tee shot.

I made sure I kept my head down as I swung my club. It went well and straight down the middle. Sean wasn’t as lucky. Three on the fairway weren’t too bad. I managed to walk away with a greens in regulation and a par.

 

 


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Hole # 1, Elbow Springs Golf Course, Calgary, AB

Hole # 1, par 4, 355 yards 

Elbow Springs

Elbow Springs

The Elbow course at Elbow Springs Golf Course is back. Due to the floods in June, it was closed for some time. There were considerable damage to the course and a lot of grass had to be re-sodded. The sand bunkers are still being repaired. For some reason, it’s hard to hit balls off the grass. It almost feels like you’re hitting marshmallows and not golf balls. I think it’s the silt that was washed up from the river.

Hole # 1 from the blue tees can be intimidating for some because the driving range is on the right and water on the left. Focus on the barber pole and hit your tee shot towards there. Wayne was first and hit a beautiful cut to the middle of the fairway. He would have 150 yards to the green. I was up next and concentrated on a slow takeaway. I hit it well and my ball went straight towards the barber pole. It landed short of Wayne’s ball and I had 160 yards to the green. Henry was up next and he was nervous. He ended up slicing his ball right towards the driving range net.

When we arrived at our balls, we could see the damage from the floods. There were silt washed up and where there were once grass is now bare land. All the bunkers were under construction and a lot of the new sod were roped off. Wayne was safe on the green. I would have trouble with my second shot. But on three, I was safely under the hole. Henry found his ball further up than he thought. He would chip on and we all would have a birdie putt to make.

Wayne would be the only one to walk away with a par.


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Hole # 18, Mt Lorette GC, Kananaskis Country, AB

Hole # 18, par 4, 427 yards

Hole # 18, Mt Lorette

Hole # 18, Mt Lorette

As an Albertan, it was an annual obligation and desire to play one of the best golf courses ever built. From Calgary, it would be an hour drive west towards the Bow Valley Parkway, then south towards the Kananaskis Country. It would always be a treat driving there because of the scenery and wildlife. On the day when we drove out, it was dry but rain was in the forecast. When we arrived at the golf courses, we drove up to the valet and no one was there to greet us. After the floods, they had to let most of the staff go because the course was closed for the entire 2013 season.

The floods had damaged both courses. Instead of a meandering creek, it was now a raging river. The sand bunkers on hole # 18 on the Mt Lorette course was practically washed away, along with the 400 yard fairway. The green is still intact but even the cart path suffered some damage.

It was a sad sight. Only the tee box remained on hole # 10. The fairway from tee box to green was almost non-existent. They said at the height of the flood, Mt Lorette was completely underwater. Mt Kidd was spared but there is considerable damage on the 10th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes. Luckily the signature hole, par 3 with the island green was untouched except for one sand bunker.

 


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Hole # 13, Canals at Delacour, Delacour, AB

Hole # 13, par 4, 383 yards

Strange holes on Hole # 13

Strange holes on Hole # 13

Drive east on Country Hills Blvd from Calgary and within 20 minutes, you will find the Canals at Delacour Golf Course. From the road, the golf course doesn’t look like much. It looks like a big farm with golf carts running free but it’s a link style course and it’s tough.

Wayne played here a few weeks ago and loved it. For a guy who shoots in the mid 80’s, he finds this course challenging but fair. Tom and Allen have never been to Delacour but they had played Muirfield before and enjoy the track. I would think with Muirfield being in the prairies, it would look like the Canals at Delacour, flat and straightforward.

Wayne was busy working on his putting. Allen decided to warm up on the range and Tom and I took it easy until it was our time. We started from hole # 10. Wayne wanted to make it more interesting by playing in teams. It would be him and Tom versus Allen and I. After a few holes, Allen and I had some catching up to do. On hole # 13, the fairway sweeps left. There is an opportunity to cut the corner by using the cart path as the target. All three guys played it safe and dropped their ball in the fairway near the 150 yard marker. I went for it and ended up left of the 150 yard marker off the fairway but a good lie.

I hit a sweet 7-iron and it bounced and rolled on. I would two putt it for a par.


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Hole # 8, Elbow Springs GC, Calgary, AB

Hole # 8, Springs Course, par 4, 335 yards

Elbow Springs

Elbow Springs

Sometimes nothing comes together and you feel like you should have stayed in bed. But here you are on a golf course. When I played Elbow Springs last week, I felt exactly that. My drives were going nowhere, my irons were not hitting the mark and putting felt weird. After playing the Mountain course then to Springs and reaching 17th without a single par (or birdie), I knew it was too late to put in a good round. I think when I play alongside really good players, I tend to fold. The competition is too great and I play with absolutely no confidence.

Hole # 8 on the Springs course is a short par 4 but with water on both sides of the fairway. For some reason, I always drive it left into the trees. From within the pine trees, I would have an obstructed view of the green. It would be a 150 yard shot out of the trees with no chance of sticking it on the green. I tried anyways. My ball sailed up, bounced on and off the green. I would have a horrible chip from the right side of the green. It was hard sticking it close after hitting my 58 degree wedge. ‘

I ended up with a bogey.

 


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Hole # 2, Springbank Links, Springbank, AB

Hole # 2, par 4, 357 yards

Hole # 9

Hole # 9

I have heard a lot of people say they would avoid playing Springbank Links because they think the front 9 is gimmicky. I really don’t understand that because I think the front 9 is really tough. To be successful here, you have to leave your ego at the clubhouse and play to your handicap. If you can’t drive the ball consistently straight, let me recommend that you play from the silver tees instead of the blue tees. Otherwise you are going to lose a few balls off the tee and it won’t be any fun for you either.

Hole # 2 at Springbank Links is tame compared to the holes that follow. It plays uphill and is a dogleg left. There are no gulleys or rough to clear. As long as you stay on the fairway, you can get a birdie or par on this hole. Unlike the next seven holes, hole # 2 is going to look easy to you.

Get a good tee shot by staying right and you will have a short iron to the green. I’m first because I managed to par the first hole. I take one good look then I pull the trigger. My tee shot ends up right and down from the hill. I have just a little more than 130 yards to the green. It’s a bit of a blind shot to the green because it’s uphill and you can’t really see the green from below. I hit a high shot with a 9-iron and it lands on the front edge of the green. It’s a two tier green and I’m on the lower tier. It’s going to be tricky putt for birdie.

The green is exceptionally fast today and I had to settle for a bogey.


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Hole # 14, Lakeside Greens, Chestermere, AB

Hole # 14, par 4, 401 yards

Some people wouldn’t play courses like Lakeside Greens in Chestermere, AB because they fear putting their tee shot into someone’s window. If you’re one of these golfers then you might want to skip this golf course and play another one in Calgary instead. There are a few holes here that can make a slicer sweat on the tee box.

Unfortunately, hole # 14 is one of these holes. If you’re playing from the back tees, someone’s kitchen nook window comes into play. If you’re going to slice your ball, try moving up to the forward tees and hit from there. The houses on the right aren’t as close as you move up. Today, I chose my 4-hybrid because I could hit it 200+ yards and straight too. Worst case, I will pull it left.

I would find my tee shot left of the cart path. From there, it’s hard to see the green because of the undulating fairways on the left side. Take a walk to the fairway and see what you’re hitting to. Instead of a blind shot, it’s always safer to make sure it’s clear of people before hitting. You don’t need any dead golfers on the green.

I chose my 5-iron to get my ball to the green. Hole # 14 is pretty straightforward so once I visualized my shot, I went for it. Luckily my ball landed up front and rolled onto the green. I had a two putt for a par.