Getting on the green

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

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Hole # 6, D’Arcy Ranch GC, Okotoks, AB

Hole # 6, White tees, 169 yards

If you’re visiting Calgary, be sure to play D’Arcy Ranch Golf Club in Okotoks, AB. It’s situated about 20 minutes south of Calgary and has become a bedroom community (ie. residents sleep there but works elsewhere) with a population of 24,511. When you drive through the gates, don’t get fooled by the flat piece of land that you drive around to get to the parking lot. This course is anything but flat because there’s a big ravine that carves through the land.

Hole # 6 is a challenging par 3 from any colour tee. From the white tees, it is 169 yards with a large sand bunker and pond on your left. I chose a 6-iron while my playing partner, Jim chose a 5-wood. He would hit the green but his ball would roll to the back of the green. His wife Kari would join us on the white tees and hit a 3-wood. Her ball would come up short but it bounced and rolled to the front of the green. My wife chose a 5-hybrid and had the best shot of the group. Her ball landed pin high and was 10 feet from the hole. I ended up pulling my shot into the sand bunker. At least it was dry.

From the sand bunker, I could barely see the flag because the green was above me. I kept my head down and smoothly entered the sand from behind the ball. When it landed, I heard oooh’s and aaah’s. They were all amazed at how I spun the ball as it landed and sucked back. For tips on how to backspin a ball, be sure to visit our sister site.

Everyone ended up with a bogey, except my wife who rolled it in for a par.

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Hole # 16, Hapuna Golf Course, Big Island, HI

Hole # 16, par 3, Regular tees, 157 yards

Hapuna Golf

Hapuna Golf

Some holes are plain simple. Now that’s not saying Hapuna Golf Course on the Big Island, Hawaii is easy. This course is not easy but hole # 16 can be. At 157 yards from the regular tees, it is not usually my favourite 6-iron shot. Today the wind isn’t as strong so I can go for the pin. Other days, the wind can blow off the ocean and there’s no way to get it close.

Pin placement is important too. I don’t like it when it is #2 because it is right up front. I like to draw my shots so having the pin in the back helps me with a roll. Luckily, I hit it sweet today and the ball is short but it hops up to the green. I’m putting again for a birdie after double bogeying the last two holes.

Did I make the putt? Yes I did. I end up with a 44 on the front nine and 44 on the back nine for a 88 score. I’m proud of myself for doing that.

How did you do? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

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Hole # 4, Lost Canyons GC, Simi Valley, CA

Hole # 4, par 3, Silver tees, 155 yards

Shadow Course - Hole # 4 Silver Tees

Shadow Course – Hole # 4 Silver Tees

When you drive up to hole # 4 on the Shadow Course at Lost Canyons, the sweat begins to form on your eyebrows. Just seeing the amount of rough between tee box and green will make any grown golfer run for the hills (and there’s plenty of hills here at Lost Canyons). People say it’s target golf here on the Shadow Course and hole # 4 is all target.

At 155 yards, this hole isn’t easy. Sometimes my golf GPS reads 165 yards but it stays on the high side. Today it reads 158 yards which to me, is a long ways for a par 3. I like to take my 6-iron and hit a draw. That way, it gets there. I have to start the ball right (towards the rough) then curve it back left. It’s a chancy shot but it’ll have to do.

I’m up and I address the ball. It helps visualizing the shot so I set up, ready to hit it onto the green. My ball travels exactly the way I thought but it comes up a little short of the green. No GIR but it’s over the gully and is a chip away. I get up there and take a big sigh of relief. I chip on and 2-putt in for a bogey. I’m happy with that.

Have you played here lately? If so, please add a comment of how you played.

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Hole # 4, Sterling Hills Golf Club, Camarillo, CA

Hole # 4, par 5, White tees, 468 yards

They say to shoot lower scores, you need to employ course management techniques. And on Sterling Hills GC, it is advantageous if you do, especially when you come to hole # 4. After finishing up on the par 3, you come around the corner to hole # 4, a mid length par 5. It is a tricky hole because when you set up on the white tees, you have a tendency to hit it right towards the bank of trees. Perhaps the better player has the guts to hit it closer to the cart path and slowly fade it in to the center. I set up for my tee shot, aim it to the last tree and blast away. Luckily the ball flies straight towards the center but fades slightly towards the shared bunker on the right. When I get up to my ball, I see there’s a lot tree debris around the rough. Watch out for small twigs that can fly up when you swing your club. Yani Tseng hurt her shin when a large twig flew up and hit her across her leg, when she hit down into her ball at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii.

I decided to hit my 4-hybrid because I could hit it pretty straight. My ball cleared the rough and ended up in the middle of the fairway. From there, I had a 158 yards approach to the green with water on the right and trees to the left. I decided to go with a 7-iron, fly it up to the front of the green and hope that it would bounce and roll on. My trajectory isn’t normal and is lower than most players. Surely enough, the ball dribbles onto the green for a GIR. I would 3-putt in for a bogey. Not bad. I’m just glad it wasn’t wet nor lost.

Have you played Sterling Hills lately? If so, how did you play this hole? Do you go right off the tee or are you a straight hitter? Please add your comments.

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Hole # 4, Moorpark Country Club, Moorpark, CA

Hole # 4, Creekside Course, par 4, White tees, 377 yards

Hole # 9, Moorpark C.C.

Hole # 9, Moorpark C.C.

Ever since I played a charity tournament at the Moorpark Country Club, I’ve been back periodically for more abuse. But it’s fun abuse if you know what I mean. There’s three 9-hole tracks here and on any given day, you really don’t know what the starter gives you. This random act allows the starter to guarantee fast play for its members because this is a semi-private course after all.

Hole # 4 on the Creekside course is one scary hole. There’s a lot of scary holes here if you’re not a straight hitter or a long hitter. I think it’s hard enough at the white tees. Members prefer playing at the blue tees. Your choice but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. When you drive up to hole # 4 north of the clubhouse, you get a good sense of fear. Off the tee is a gully that you have to hit over. From the white tees, it looks like the other side is a mile away so you can imagine what it looks like from the blue tees. It’s like earth calling the moon.

If you hit your tee shot low, good luck. The best way is to keep your head down and swing smooth. Take a deep breath first and don’t look up until you’ve hit through your impact zone. Anything less and you will be kissing your ball goodbye – that gully is deep! On a good day, I normally hit it about a third up the fairway. I’ve seen guys hit it to the back of the fairway and up the hill. I’ve also seen guys lose their ball right, again into the hill. There’s no finding your ball if you miss the fairway so give it all you’ve got.

From a third way up the fairway, I have a scary shot over another gully to the green. It’s at least a 5-iron for me so I choose to hit my 4-hybrid, hoping to get some air beneath my ball. It’s hard enough fighting the temptation to look up let alone, hit it with enough loft to get over the low bearing trees in the gully. It’s like an overgrown river bed down there.

Soon after, all four of us makes our way to the green. It’s hard getting a GIR here so if you do, please write me a comment and tell me how it’s done. Getting par is almost impossible for someone like me who is not playing their best at the moment. I settled for bogey and no lost balls. Phew!

Moorpark has three unique 9-hole layouts, Creekside, Canyon Crest and Ridge.

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Hole # 5, Strathmore Golf Club, Strathmore, AB

Hole # 5, par 4, Blue tees, 352 yards

Just 25 minutes east of Calgary, AB, Canada, the Strathmore Golf Club has a wonderful layout and is a true test of golf. People don’t realize it but there’s a lot of water that comes into play. If you don’t like water, don’t come here. Or bring a couple of cases of balls with you.

One of my nemesis holes at Strathmore is hole # 5, an interesting test of wit and courage. Off the tee box, all you see is trouble down the left side of the fairway. Depending on when you play here, the cattails may either hide some of the water on the left or help you focus on clearing the wetland. A straight drive along the water’s edge is trouble. If you follow that line, you’re asking for it. There’s no real advantage for staying close to the water, other than shorten your approach into the green. I would rather be safe and aim for the middle of the fairway and have a mid iron to the green.

The green jets out like an island of its own with water surrounding it. From the middle of the fairway, players are usually left with 120-140 yards to the green. If you slice your ball off the tee, you will be left with a long shot, 150-170 yards to the green. It’s almost better to lay up and use a wedge to drop your ball on the green because it isn’t a very big putting surface.

I ended up triple bogeying this hole because I lost my tee shot to the cattails. My third shot was middle of the fairway but it was too long to go for the green. I laid up then hit onto the green with a PW and 2-putted. This is one hole that I will play again this summer.

Have you played here recently? If so, how did you do? Please add your comments and your score for this hole.

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Hole # 18, SilverRock Resort, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 18, SilverRock Resort, White tees, 446 yards

One of the most challenging finishing hole in the desert, hole # 18 at the SilverRock Resort in La Quinta, CA. Just watch the video below and check out the decisions that you have to make playing here. Off the tee, you don’t want to hook your shot because there are lot of expensive cars sitting in the parking lot (including mine). More concern is the lake situated on the right hand side. It is very reachable playing from the white tees. The last time I played there, my ball came to rest just inches from the water’s edge. It’s better to be in the middle but my playing partner (with a single digit handicap) drew his ball so badly that he ended up left of the fairway.

Lloyd was visiting Palm Springs from Nashville. His wife attended a conference in town and instead of basking by the pool, he decided to play SilverRock. Lloyd was a tall, lanky guy and talked a lot. You can tell that Lloyd was pretty well off, paying the regular price of $165 and planning a round at PGA West the next day.

Lloyd had sailed his ball some 300 yards down. But from the water’s edge, I had a decision to make. Either hit it across the lake and go for the green in three or lay up on the same side. I decided to take a chance and hit it over water. I chose my Callaway Diablo Edge 4-hybrid and hit it good. The ball ended up on the other side in the middle of the landing spot. My third shot would be short iron to the green which is guarded by water on the left. Lloyd had a 6-iron left and he hit it well. He gave out a loud yelp as his ball landed on the green. He was putting for eagle.

We all met on the green as Lloyd was celebrating his shot. He kept admiring the setting and kept saying how impressed he was about the course. After we putted and made par, he lined up and examined his putt for eagle. He used a belly putter and was pretty good at it too. He came up short but tapped it in for a birdie.

Have you played this course? Have you had an eagle opportunity? If so, I would love to hear how you played it.