Getting on the green

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

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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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Maple Ridge: A commanding par 3

Maple Ridge par 3

Maple Ridge par 3

I always liked playing at Maple Ridge but it’s especially nice when it’s rush hour because I rather be on a golf course than to be stuck in traffic. The Deerfoot is more like a parking lot than a highway and drivers look at us with envy.

The par 3 overlooking the golf course is spectacular and it takes our breath away. Today, it is playing 204 yards with a stiff wind that will bat down any ball heading to the green.

First up is Al and he chooses to hit a 5-iron. Al traps the ball between the turf and his club so hard that it flies a long ways. Al hits it well but his ball darts right, bounces on the cart path on the way down and dives into the sand bunker next to the green.

I’m next and I chose my 4-hybrid. I plan to punch it hard and get it on the green. Somehow I didn’t make good contact and it flies low and stays out of the bunker that Al is in.

Last up is Wayne and he chooses to hit driver. Al and I are in disbelief but when Wayne hits it, his ball lands on the green. He is putting for birdie.

We all settled for a bogey except for Wayne who took home a par. Next time, it will be a driver for me when there is a stiff wind blowing around the green.

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Lakeside Greens: Short but Brutal

Hole # 11, par 3, Blue tees, 135 yards After coming close to a par on the previous hole, we drove across the street to the next hole. Hole # 11 is a short par 3 with bunkers on the whole left side. My gps gave me a reading of 135 yards so I decided to go first since I felt the vibe. At 135 yards, I was going to hit my 9-iron and de-loft the club slightly to get more distance out of it. My 9-iron normally gives me 125 yards but I was hoping for a nice smooth swing, a nice bounce and a roll to the green. I had hit it pretty good and it flew right towards the green. I would be short of the green by a few feet. Joe was next. He also chose a 9-iron but pushed it. Allen was next up. With a PW, Allen normally compresses the ball and hits it a long way. He would fly his ball to the back of the green. Tom was next. He chose a 8-iron and pulled it into the sand bunker. By the time I went up to the green, I was quite short and decided to chip on with my 58-degree wedge. I hit it flushed and it flew to the hole. I was left with a uphill putt. The greens at Lakeside were running fast and up to this hole, I was three putting everything. I aimed and fired at the hole. The ball would go past the hole and it would make me putt it downhill. The greens were so fast that if you touched it, the ball would roll a mile. I did exactly that and ended up breezing by the hole. Was this a par 8? The simple par 3 ate us all up. None of us walked away with anything less than a double bogey.

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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, 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.

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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 # 2, Inglewood Golf, Calgary, AB

Hole # 2, par 3, 150 yards

Hole # 2

Hole # 2 from across the tee box

Someone told me that this hole is a must-play. If you started the round on hole #1 then you’re partially warmed up by the time you play this hole. Off the tee, there is water on the whole right side. You only need a 9-iron to carry it but I have seen my share of balls in the water because golfers lift their heads up too early. They need to keep their heads down and trust their ball will fly to the hole.

At 150 yards, most golfers will reach for their 7-iron. However, I’ve been hitting my 9-iron really well lately and have decided to go with it for this time. I don’t think of the water nor do I think of the Elbow River on the far right of the hole. A nice smooth swing with a little draw would work out nicely.

There is a large skinny bunker in front of the green. Some golfers clear the pond but get caught in the bunker. It’s a tricky blast up to the green from there.

My tee shot is nice and high and makes it to the back of the green. From there, it’s an easy chip then most of the time, it’s a downhill putt. I would walk away with a par.

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Hole # 5, Inglewood Golf, Calgary, AB

Hole # 5, par 4, 375 yards

Eagles are glorious birds to watch and if you’re playing Inglewood anytime soon, be sure to bring your camera. Off the tee, #5 looks long. At only 375 yards, a good tee shot will leave you a mid iron into the green. It is quite a narrow fairway but there’s plenty of room on the left in case you hook or pull your tee shot.

It’s better to come in to the green from the right. A slight fade would be perfect with about 150 yards to go. I wanted a smooth swing and a moderate flight. The ball launched up and flew 235 yards with a bit of a tail. My ball ended up in the rough but I had a clear view of the green from where I was standing.

From the right side of the fairway, look up and you will see the eagle nest. In it, you might see the babies with mother eagle tending to them. She is a proud mother and an incredible sight to see. If you’re lucky, she’ll leave her nest and fly circles around so that you can see her wide wingspan.

From off the green, I was looking at the pin just 15 feet from the left fringe. I decided to hit a 7-iron. I was lucky to hit the mound and bounce right. With a greens in regulation, I was looking at a birdie putt. I visualized the path and addressed the ball. I rolled it nicely and with the right speed too. In for a 3 count. Birdie.

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Hole # 9, Stewart Creek G & CC, Canmore, AB

Hole # 9, Blue tees, 411 yards

Before playing Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club in Canmore, AB (just 40 minutes west of Calgary), you have to know that you will be playing dab in the middle of bear country. To make things worst, ask the starter whether he has seen any  bears lately and he’ll plant a seed in you that will totally destroy your game. At least that’s what happened to us. He went on telling us that there is a baby bear that comes running out of the forest and likes playing bumper cars with your golf cart. “Oh he’s harmless” says the starter. “He just wants to play with you”.

Stepping up to hole # 9, all you see is forest and no landing spot. There is a large rock behind a sand bunker that you should aim at. It’s about 180 yards from the blue tees so take a long iron or hybrid and scoot the ball up there. Forget the driver because the fairway ends pretty quickly at the corner of this hole. Hole # 9 is almost an elbow right and there is a drastic elevation drop around the corner.

On the approach, the green is 125 feet below you. Water is in play on your right so try to hit a 9-iron straight or a little left. It’s quite a sight from the middle of the fairway as you look down to the 10th fairway and the 18th hole. The green is about 43 yards deep which gives you plenty of landing. Drop it on for a GIR.