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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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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Lakeside Greens: Going for Dry

Hole # 3, Lakeside Greens, Chestermere, AB

Most people are fascinated about island greens but at Lakeside Greens in Chestermere, the tee boxes are on the island. From there, your tee shot has to fly clear of water that is on the left side of the fairway. The perfect tee shot is a draw that starts off right and ends up in the middle of the fairway.

I was up first because I had par’d the last hole. I drove the ball really well on the first hole and so the feeling was still fresh in my mind. I aimed my tee shot at the first tree on the right, hoping to draw it over the trees and to the middle of the fairway. I was too quick on my takeaway and came down over the ball. It skirted right. I would have the shortest drive. next to a tree in long grass.

I decided to pop it out with my 4-hybrid. I was lucky to sail it over the trees and onto the fairway but a little too left to see the green. I would have 177 yards left with 2 bunkers to carry. I chose a 6-iron and hit it well. I would come up short, just beside the cart sign and before the greenside bunker. I used my 58-degree wedge and lobbed it over the bunker and onto the green. I had a downhill putt to make.

I was happy to walk away with a double bogey. Last week, I had a 10 on the same hole.

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SilverWing Links: A par in the Wind

Roll out of bed and onto golf course

Roll out of bed and onto golf course

It was a pleasant day to golf at Silverwing, a 27-hole facility just a stone throw away from the Calgary International Airport. Travellers passing through Calgary or have business trips should stay at one of many airport hotels nearby, including the Marriott that backs onto the MayFly 9. Talk about rolling out of bed and onto the golf course.

We had just finished playing MayFly 9 when the gentle breeze had turned fierce. It was now blowing up a notch as we made the turn on DragonFly 9, the longer of the nines at Silverwing.

Hole # 8 on a calm day is usually an easy 6-iron but don’t you think for a moment that it is an easy par. The perfect shot is a draw to the green, over rough, a creek and a set of sand bunkers. If you do come up short, stay right because left is wet.

With a strong wind in your face, I used my Taylormade RBZ 3-wood. I hit a stinger through the wind and drew it in to the green. It was a gutsy shot but I waited patiently until the wind died down then I started my swing. It was a low shot but I hit it well. The ball landed just above the hole and it left me with a downhill putt. By the time I was on the green, the wind had calmed down. I was so amazed at hitting a 3-wood on a 165 yard hole but my playing partner would come up short with a 5-wood.

I tapped the ball and it rolled a far way down. Luckily it was an uphill putt for 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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Hole # 5, Kona CC, Kona, HI

Hole # 5, Mountain Course, par 3, 148 yards

After playing the Mountain course at Kona Country Club, I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. Green fees were considerably less than that of the sister course which plays along the ocean but the views were unmatched. Instead of playing next to blowholes and lava rocks, take to the hills and enjoy hillside views of Kona below and ancient lava flows.

Hole # 5 on the Mountain course is a short par 3, at least it looks that way. Remember the air in Hawaii makes everything look closer than it is. At 148 yards, I trusted the distance and chose an 8-iron. After watching the head pro hit his tee shot towards the green from the back tees, I ran up to the white tees to hit. My ball would hit a slope located just in front of the green. It bounced on and rolled towards the hole. I would have a 10 foot putt for birdie.

Chris was next. He chose a 7-iron but his ball came up short of the green. He would chip on and close too. First to putt was Jason. He would two putt for a par. I would follow suit. Now it was Chris’ turn to do the same. He would mis-putt and end up with a bogey.

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Hole # 7, Kona CC, Kona, HI

Hole # 7, par 4, 373 yards

Hole # 7

Hole # 7

Playing golf in Hawaii is always memorable, especially when you can play with Head Professional, Jason Souza at the Kona Country Club. If it wasn’t for running out of electricity, we wouldn’t have had the chance of meeting Jason nor playing a few holes with him. If you do play the ocean course and plan to play the mountain course back-to-back, be sure to change carts at the turn. Stupid us, we didn’t and paid for it on hole # 4. The unthinkable happened – our cart died in the middle of the fairway.

Hole # 7 is the hardest hole on the Mountain course. It plays 373 yards from the white tees and requires a good drive. Jason played from the back tees because he was a pro and he sailed it down the hill. From the back tees, you really couldn’t see the fairway below. Jason told me to aim right of the palm tree that was situated on the left side of the fairway. With a clear purpose, I hit a good drive and it went down the middle. However, I didn’t see it land but Jason was smiling at me so I presume it was good. Chris was next. I could see that he was nervous and he ended up leaving most of his weight on his right side. His ball flew left, straight for someone’s back yard. He would hit a provisional just in case he couldn’t find his first ball.

Jason went looking for Chris’ ball but couldn’t find it after 10 minutes. It was deemed lost. Chris decided to play his second ball which ended up right of the fairway. He had a long way to go and had to clear a lake on the right hand side. Chris played it safe and decided to lay up.

I found my ball in the middle of the fairway with just 120 yards to the green. Jason’s ball was just a few feet behind mine. It was his turn. He chose a wedge and hit it high. His ball landed at the back of the green. Chris was next. At 150 yards, Chris hit a low boring shot to the green and cleared the water. He would end up with a double bogey. I was next up. I chose my 9-iron and hit it crisp. It sailed in the air and landed at the back of the green, next to Jason’s ball.

I would watch Jason’s roll and see that it would break left. I followed and two putted in for a par. Jason congratulated me for scoring a par on the #1 handicap hole.

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Hole # 5, Dunes at Maui Lani, Maui, HI

Hole # 5, par 4, Blue tees, 334 yards 

When you’re talking to your buddies, 334 yards sounds like a short par 4. But tell them to play the Dunes at Maui Lani and see if they stay dry. Hole # 5 is one tough hole because off the tee, you don’t see that your tee shot can easily go swimming. From the tee box, all you can see is undulating fairways. Little do you know it, the lake is easily reachable. From the blue tees, water comes into play at 213 yards.

With the wind against my face, I chose to hit a 3-wood. Luckily it didn’t balloon and stayed low to the ground. By the time we drove up, my ball had settled about 10 yards from the lake. It was close and I had to take a deep sigh of relief. I had about 130 yards to the green so I chose my 9-iron with a slight draw. It bounced in front of the green and rolled on. I would have a 10 foot putt for birdie.

Dunes at Maui Lani is a beautiful course to play. It doesn’t get much traffic because everyone is playing the Kaanapali and Wailea courses near the ocean. If you’re looking for some good advice including playing lessons for this course and pretty pictures, be sure to visit our website.

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Hole # 3, Woodside Golf Course, Airdrie, AB

Hole # 3, par 3, Blue tees, 176/ 225 yards

I played a charity golf tournament at Woodside Golf Course in Airdrie, AB a few years ago and really enjoyed myself. Hole # 3 is a challenging par 3 from the blue tees. From the white tees, it plays only 155 yards which I would prefer. My long irons are iffy so often, I have to rely on my hybrids to do the job.

On this hole, you have water on the whole right side. Along the fence on your left is houses. If you think this is narrow, you are right. There is no room for error. At least if you are going to get wild, let it slice rather than pull it into someone’s backyard or patio. The course is susceptible to wind and if it is windy, move to the white tees and give yourself a chance.

If you hit your irons well then go for it. Otherwise, you can bail by dropping your ball short of the green and chip up. No one is watching so lay up if you have to.

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Hole # 1, River Spirit Golf Club, Calgary, AB

Hole # 1, Cat Tails course, White tees, par 4, 353 yards

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River Spirit has three 9-hole course layouts. Cattails is the newest course of the three and is considered the easiest but I can tell you, it has its challenges. Playing from the white tees, hole # 1 may seem short at 353 yards but see if you can keep it straight and on the fairway. Trouble comes into play around the 150 yards marker as the fairway gets narrower. It’s easy to slice your ball but for a right hander, the worst you can be is to hit into the 18th fairway on your right. Going left is not good either with a chance of losing your ball to high grass and trees. A straight tee shot is best and you will be rewarded with a short wedge to the green.

My tee shot went to the right but I had a clear shot of the green from the rough. I chose a 7-iron and hit it well. My ball ended up short of the bunker on the left and I had to pull a Phil Mickelson to get it close to the hole. My playing partner, Ron hit a solid tee shot and was left with less than 100 yards to the green. He hit a clean wedge and his ball landed back of the green. It would be a tricky putt for him as the greens were running fast on the stimp meter. His wife Linda had to hit a tough chip out of the long grass and it jetted across the green. I would knock it in for a bogey and so would Ron.