Getting on the green

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

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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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Strathmore GC: Hole 1 | par 5, 516 yards

Strathmore GC, Strathmore, Alberta: Hole 1 | par 5, Blue tees: 516 yards

On a nice summer day in Calgary, it is worth a drive out to Strathmore for a challenging round of golf. Strathmore is a small town east of Calgary on Highway 1. Once you pass Chestermere, it is about 35 minutes of pretty fast driving. When you reach the town, you will see a big Canadian flag on your left.

Strathmore GC is a fun and challenging course. Take hole # 1 for instance, a long par 5 at 516 yards from the blue tees. Most of the time, you are greeted by the starter who is parked at the first hole. He likes to encourage higher handicap players to start at the white tees and I think it is fair. More golf courses should employ starters like this, who do their job to make golf more enjoyable. Why play a tee that is more challenging than your playing ability?

From the tee box, Mark didn’t know where to land his tee shot. Sometimes it is nice to see the pin but in this case, it is not visible. A good tee shot is straight or a little right but definitely, not left. Mark was recovering from hip surgery so he decided to take it slowly. He had a brand new Taylormade Burner driver in his hands and he wanted to bolt it out there. He swung and his tee shot flew off to the right. He was in good position for his next shot. Jim was next. As a lefty, he would have to hook his ball to get it to the right side. He chose his Taylormade R9 driver and hit a beautiful draw to the middle of the fairway. Next up was me. I took out my Taylormade RBZ driver and hit it low to the middle of the fairway. With a lower trajectory, my ball ran a few more yards than Jim’s ball.

We got into our carts and drove up to the forward tees where Margaret bounced up to the red tee box and teed up her ball. She took one practice swing then she belted it out there. We are all in good position.

From the fairway, you can see the pin off at a distance. It was almost a sharp dogleg left but from the tee boxes, the pin was not visible. On the left side of the fairway, there were stakes marking off environmental areas. Here is where birds from all over would fly and nest here for the summer. I overheard the starter saying that the Arctic Tern would spend their summers here.

Back to golf, I had over 250 yards to go so I used my 4-hybrid to advance the ball. I would end up with a 9-iron shot to the green which was incredibly large. It was as big as a Olympic sized pool. The pin was located on top of a tier with a very small platform. This is where some accurate shot making is required. Jim was the best chipper around so I watched him intently. He always manages to chip it within 5 feet of the hole. Some people have that talent in their game and unfortunately, it’s not me.

We all made it on the green and were ready to putt it in. Margaret was first because she was the furthest. She took a tennis stroke and her ball flew off her putter like no tomorrow. The green was fast. Mark was next and he too, bolted it past the hole. I was next but Jim took his turn, feeling nervous because he just met Mark and Margaret earlier on the day. He finished off with a bogey. I putted last and tried to get a par but the ball seem to roll uncontrollably. I would end up with a double bogey.

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Hole # 1, Kukuiolono GC, Kauai, HI

Hole # 1, par 4, 321 yards

After playing a great round at Wailua Golf Course, the municipal course in Lihue on the island of Kauai, we were told by a couple from Airdrie, AB to play a cute but challenging course called Kukuiolono. Like so many things in Hawaii, I looked up the course and found some interesting things about the course history. Back when sugar was harvested on Kauai, there once was a man named Walter Duncan McBryde. If you have been to Poipu then you have driven through the Tunnel of Trees. Was this a freak of nature or did someone plant these trees along the road? We have Walter Duncan McBryde to thank because he donated these eucalyptus trees about 150 years ago. The trees have since grown and provide a canopy over a mile of road.  Before passing on, Walter wanted to create a park for his mill workers and families to enjoy so he staked out a piece of land that overlooks the ocean. The park is in Kalaheo and most of its residents had worked for Walter McBryde. Part garden and part golf course, this land has sweeping views of the ocean and Kauai below.

For a mere $9, you can play Kukuiolono as many times as you wish. The $9 is the “daily contribution” and you can go round and round from dawn to dusk. This is because Walter had left his life savings for the maintenance and operation of the golf course.

Teeing up on the first hole from the white tees, you can see that the perfect drive would be on the right side of the fairway because it is a dogleg left. Nervousness came over me and caused my ball to hook left. The other two guys did the same. From about 160 yards away, I did not have a clear view to the green. I decided to hit a low stinger below the branches and hope for the best. Unfortunately, my ball hit a few leaves along the way and settled short of the fairway in the rough. I had about 80 yards left so I decided to use my 56-degree sand wedge. Luckily it popped out clean and I was putting. I was amazed at how smooth the green was. The course is very well maintained for $9 and clearly, it is challenging.

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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 # 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 # 4, Water Valley Golf Course, Water Valley, AB

Hole # 4, par 5, 420 yards

Hole # 4

Hole # 4

We had a golf tournament at Water Valley Golf Course earlier this month. When we were planning for the long drive hole, we decided it was going to be a long par 5 hole so we chose hole # 4. When we arrived at the course two hours before our first tee time, we asked Mike Anderson, the Head Professional at Water Valley whether hole # 4 was a good driving hole. He said yes.

When our group came up to hole # 4, we walked up to the white tees and surveyed the hole. It was a beautiful hole, perched up high on top of a hill. Down below was a hourglass shaped fairway. If anyone was going to win long drive, he would have to land his ball in the narrowest part of the fairway.

I noticed the long drive stake ahead and it was a long way from the white tees. Wayne went first because he was a low handicapper and played from the blue tees. He hit right but landed safely before the bushes. I was up next and I was teeing off from the white tees. I hit it well but it got caught in the longer grass. A few more feet and it would have landed on the fairway and rolled. Kam was next to hit. His tee shot ended up right as well, near Wayne’s ball. The lady in our group, Genevieve hit a beautiful drive from the red tees to the middle of the fairway.

It was clear that neither of us would win the Men’s Long Drive but it was interesting to find that Brent who had played from the black tees ended up winning the long drive challenge. It was a tough long hole and we were lucky to walk away with a bogey.

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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.