Getting on the green

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

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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 # 7, Terra Lago GC, Indio, CA

Hole # 7, North Course, par 3, 132 yards

I love elevated tee boxes and when you get to play hole # 7 at Terra Lago North Course in Indio, CA, you’re in for a treat. Named ‘Peak-a-boo’, hole # 7 takes you high up in the desert where you can see most of the desert community across the horizon. Depending on the pin placement, the hole is certainly named appropriately. If placed in the far right corner of the green, the green is certainly playing peek-a-boo with you.

Today the pin placement was ‘2’ and it was a clear shot from the tee box. Because of the elevation, I chose to take one less club. At 132 yards, I normally would hit a 9-iron but today, I chose my 10-iron instead. If you’re playing with a set of Callaway Big Bertha irons (like me) then you’re lucky to have a 10-iron, otherwise hit a 3/4 swing with a 9-iron or a strong PW.

As soon as the group ahead of us cleared the green, I got ready. When both carts left the area, I was ready to hit my tee shot. I like to make sure that I don’t hit the ball into the group playing ahead of us. I hit a beautiful shot towards the green. It landed softly on and left me with a 6 foot putt. I would par the hole after misjudging the break.



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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 # 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 # 16, DeBell GC, Burbank, CA

Hole # 16, par 4, Blue tees, 290 yards

I love holes like this, downhill and reachable in two. Hole # 16 on DeBell Golf Club in Burbank is an easy hole if you are a straight hitter. At 290 yards, the long hitters will shoot for the green and hope to get close to the green. A chip in would mean eagle and a miss, would be an opportunity for birdie. For the rest of us, it is a short par 4 to get on the green in two.

If you checked the website before coming out to DeBell to play, hole # 16 looks easy. But out here in person, it’s a different looking course. First of, the website doesn’t give you any sense of height. When standing on the tee box on #16, you look down to the fairway. The line of trees on the right scares me because I can easily slice my ball there. Overall, it is a narrow golf course and you really need to play smart here unless you’re ready to lose lots of balls.

When it was my turn, I chose to hit a 3-wood. With a 3-wood, I managed to hit it with a lower trajectory than with my driver. At least I was in the fairway and not in the trees as my playing partners. My second shot was going to be easy. With just 70 yards, I chose my SW to land it softly. Putting for birdie was nice but sinking it was even better.

Pickup your DeBell gift cards from Costco – save 25% this month only – 2 cards for $74.99.

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Hole # 11, Westin Mission Hills, Gary Player Course, Rancho Mirage, CA

Hole # 11, Gold tees, par 5, 548 yards 

Hole # 11

Hole # 11

If you get a chance to play this course, do so but bring lots of balls. Also a good dosage of courage too, because you’ll need it to score low on the Gary Player course at the Westin Mission Hills. Hole # 11 is brutal. From the gold tees, it looked narrow. Perhaps, I was spooked on the front 9, after slicing my ball and finding it in someone’s back yard near some patio chairs. After that experience, I wasn’t too confident off the tee and wanted to call my insurance agent to up my liability insurance.

Sure enough, when you have doubt in your mind, your muscles tenses up. The fairway was split into two, green on the left side with expensive homes. And water on the entire right side with expensive homes just on the other side of the lake. How do you take the water out of play? Or how do you take the million dollar homes out of play?

Tensed and all, my drive was nowhere to the calibre of a good and relaxed drive. It ended up short of the water edge and a million miles away from the green. I decided to hit my new 4-hybrid (ie. Taylormade Rescue Burner 4-H) and luckily, it flew straight toward the cart path. I really didn’t acknowledge how good I hit it until I found it, nestled in the fluffy grass. When you lay down your iron in this grass, you lose complete sight of it. That’s how fluffy it is. I should have learned something but I didn’t. I had less than 100 yards to the green, located on the other side of a watery grave. It really didn’t look far and I didn’t want to hit it long since there was someone’s patio on the other side of the green.

I decided to hit a sand wedge. The ball popped up and went straight into the lake. It flew no more than 60 yards, probably because I went completely underneath the ball. I couldn’t get a divot out of that and lost distance because I couldn’t compress the ball. From the edge of the water, I hit my fourth shot but pulled it left. I had to chip on and two putt in for a double bogey. It was a tough hole.

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Hole # 1, PGA West – Greg Norman Course, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 1, par 4, Blue tees, 379 yards

Greg Norman named this starting hole ‘Hourglass’ because the fairway narrows as it approaches the green and widens out at the green. Coincidentally, we were teamed up with another couple from Calgary. Ian and Susan were down for a month, spent their Canadian Thanksgiving in the desert and had played various golf courses in the Palm Springs area for the past three weeks.

Ian looked like an avid golfer and a long hitter. So when he was swinging his club at the blue tees, I wasn’t going to object. He sailed it nicely down the fairway over the blue lake as though it wasn’t there. Water off the tee usually makes me nervous but I couldn’t help admire the course from the tee box, just before hitting. “It was surely a tight fairway but one thing for sure, the million dollar homes were too far away for me to slice or hook into”. I setup my ball, addressed it with my new driver (ie. Taylormade R9 driver with a 10.5 degree loft) and took a deep breath. I hit it smoothly as it sailed over the lake and onto the middle of the fairway. Phew!

It was the ladies’ turn as they teed off without a hitch. Susan could really hit the ball and confidently too. She said she plays D’Arcy Ranch a lot and was used to hitting it hard and long. It was a good start with all four balls on the fairway. That’s showing it to the starter who probably figured we were a bunch of hacks from Canada.

On the fairway, we had about 160 yards to the green. I can see why this hole was named ‘Hourglass’. The fairway really narrowed out to about 10 yards with desert landscape all around. Luckily for us, we all came up short on the tee shot. If we hit as long as Bubba does, our ball would have found desert. I chose a 7-iron and hit it cleanly but it was short. Everyone also came up short so we were all chipping on. By the time we putted out, we all bogeyed the hole. So far so good.

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Hole # 8, Shadow Hills GC, Indio, CA

Hole # 8, par 3, Blue tees, 153 yards

Hole # 8

Hole # 8

With two holes-in-one, I often think the third one is just waiting for me on the next par 3. At the South Course on Shadow Hills, hole # 8 is a nice par 3. The whole left side is guarded by water and the hole plays nicely to a natural draw if you have one of these shots in your bag.

Bert was first up and he decided to club down. He hit a beautiful draw to the green but unfortunately came up short. After watching him hit a 8-iron to 153 yards, I decided to follow him. I went back to the cart and changed clubs. I was going to hit a 7-iron but something in the wind told me it was shorter than what the GPS had said.

I hit it smoothly and the ball sailed straight towards the right side. Luckily, it hit a mound and bounced left. It settled about four feet from the hole, giving me my first chance for a birdie. I was having trouble with my putter all day and it was evident that I could not putt. I walked away with just a par.

Shadow Hills is closed for overseeding until November 5th, 2012.

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Hole # 17, Tierra Rejada, Simi Valley, CA

Hole # 17, par 3, Blue tees, 105 yards

After playing a long stretch of holes along the road at Tierra Rejada, hole # 17 is a nice change. From the blue tees, I used my PW and hit a knockdown shot to the green. There was no use flying it because the pin was upfront. Flying it on a windy day would not be a good idea. If you have played there before, you would remember this par 3. It is short, really short and players often use their sand wedge or even their lob wedge to get the ball close. But there’s no forgiveness when you hit the green because of the undulation. When the pin is upfront, there is no coming up short. Going over the flag is one option but count on a tricky putt.

On this day, my ball would come to rest at the bottom of the valley past the hole. I took one good look at the line and putted it close but not for birdie. I would end up with a par. My playing partners would end up with a bogey each, over sailing their shot to the back of the green.

How did you do? Please share your comments, experience, tips and adventures on short par 3’s like this hole at Tierra Rejada.