Getting on the green

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

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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.

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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.