Getting on the green

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


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Hole # 1, Indian Wells Golf Course, Indian Wells, CA

Indian Wells

Indian Wells Player’s Course

Hole # 1, par 5, Player’s Course, 494 yards

Never played here but always wanted to and finally, I’m here on the first tee. The course is immaculate and the greens are fast. At least that’s what our host, Judith says about both courses here in Indian Wells. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the whereabouts of Indian Wells, it is a small desert city just southeast of Palm Springs. To get here, you have to fly into the Palm Springs (PSP) airport and head east on I-10 until Washington. Take a right turn at the top of the ramp and drive for about 10 minutes. You will pass the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on your right where they play the BNP Paribas Open every March. When you reach Highway 111, turn right and in 5 minutes, you will be in Indian Wells.

The first hole can be intimidating from the blue tees because you have to sail it past the starter and a desert waste bunker in front of the white tees. I decided to play from the white tees because it was my first time and I didn’t want to get beat up. From the tee, my drive went straight and towards the bunker on the right. The ladies teed it up next and both were in great shape. From the middle of the fairway, I could see trouble on the whole right side. Everything seem to slope right and if you went too right, your ball would end up below the fairway and onto the Celebrity course that played on the other side of the wash.

I hit a 4-hybrid and the ball settled just in front of some hedges. I had about 148 yards to the green that looked pretty deep. I used a 8-iron to scoot the ball up there but it came up short of the green. I decided to use my 52-degree wedge to get it close and the ball ended up on the right tier. The greens were exceptionally fast on the putting green and I thought it would be the same on the course. I was right, lightning fast. My ball sailed past the hole and I was looking at an uphill putt. I would walk off with a double bogey to start my round at the Player’s Course.


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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 # 1, Rancho Las Palmas CC, Rancho Mirage, CA

Hole # 1, North Course, par 5, 510 yards 

It was already hot when we teed off at 8:00am in the morning. There was a slight sheen on the grass because of the sprinklers that cool down the course last evening. Without spiked shoes, it was slippery to walk on, especially on the inclines.

I have never played the North course before so it was going to be treat. The first hole looked narrow from the blue tees. Perhaps it’s because it’s right off the driving range and the fence makes teeing off daunting. It’s also downhill towards a grassed aqua duct. I teed up my ball and took a few practice swings. I started waggling my driver like Jason Dufner and when I was comfortable and relaxed, I went for it. My drive went high and long. I would lose sight of it once it hit the morning sun but I knew it was down there somewhere.

Carts are allowed everywhere so to make the walk bearable. When it’s above 90 degrees, it’s taxing on the body because you sweat so much. I drove up to my ball and looked across a small canal that separated me from the green. The green was situated on a slight uphill and it really didn’t look far from where I was. I decided to hit my Callaway Diablo Edge 4-hybrid. After making solid impact, I was about 50 yards from the green. I had to hit down on the ball to launch it high because of the wet and soggy grass. Also, they don’t seem to rake the lawn clippings after they mow it.

My ball popped up on the green and I was left with a 15 foot putt for birdie. The greens were really slow and I ended up three putting for a bogey. Disappointed but glad that I was playing the North Course.


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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 # 9, Palm Royale CC, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 9, par 3, blue tees, 85 yards

Hole # 9

Hole # 9

Just when you think you have your short game under control, you pull a shot left. And on hole # 9 at Palm Royale Country Club, it was going to be a tricky up and down. Dick was next to hit. He also chose a SW but he mishit it and his ball ended up wet. Cindy was up next. She chose a PW and she hit it well. Her ball went straight for the pin and settled just north of the pin.

Dick hit his third shot from the drop area but went completely underneath the ball. It’s easy to do that at Palm Royale because the rough can be quite long at this time of year. I walked over to my ball and assessed the situation. I had a bunker between my ball and the green. The elegant shot would involve a flop shot but I was worried about skulling the ball into someone’s patio. I ended up chipping it over the bunker and off the green. I would settle with a double bogey. Dick did as well. Cindy was the only one that walked away with a par.


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Hole # 6, Crater Springs GC, Midway, UT

Hole # 6, par 5, 600 yards

In winter and spring, snowboarders and skiers take to the hills in Park City, Utah for the best snow around. But the summer and fall months belong to golfers who love the mountain air and the fantastic golf nearby. Just 31 minutes from Park City, the Heber Valley awaits you and is home to the Crater Springs Golf Course in Midway.

When you drive up to the bag drop, you can’t help but notice the beehive sitting on the parking lot. It’s 12,000 years old and it’s a geothermal sink hole that is 65-feet deep. Look for the steel door then venture down the 55-foot tunnel to a pier where you will witness the bluest of blue water. It’s unreal and warm too.

Hole # 6 is a long par 5, dogleg right. Don’t try to cut the corners because there are villas lining the whole right side. Just take out the driver and hit it straight down the hill. If you let out a good drive, you will reach the corner or elbow where you can see the flag. If you are not a big driver, hit a 3-wood and go for it in three.

On your second shot, watch for the lake on the left. The fairway is pretty wide but choose a hybrid instead of a fairway wood. When you’re close to the green, choose your club wisely. I had 120 yards to the green and chose my 9-iron. I didn’t want to pull my shot into a long narrow bunker on my left so I favoured the right side. My ball stopped short of the pin and I had a 16-footer for a birdie. Two putts later and I was in for a par. This was a great hole to play at Crater Springs. A good tee shot with a solid hybrid makes all the difference.