Getting on the green

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

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Sunset Hole at Palm Royale

The sunsets in the desert are always spectacular, especially when you’re finishing up on Palm Royale CC in La Quinta, CA. When the sun goes behind the mountains, watch for the colors in the sky. There can be purple, orange and streaks of red in the sky when the sun is setting.

Hole # 18 is a challenging stretch to finish off your round. It is short but not easy. It will test your short iron to the max. From the blue tees, it is only 120 yards give and take 5 yards. Often the pin is tucked in the right corner where there is a small waterfall and a small sliver of grass to land it on. If you want to stay dry, don’t attempt to draw your ball. Instead from the tee, hit a fade so that most of your carry is over land.

Water plays havoc on the whole right side. If you can carry your shot all the way to the green then go for it. But don’t blame me if you go in the sand trap or fly the green to the clubhouse.

Yesterday, Rick from Kelowna, BC hit a beautiful shot high up to the heavens and down to the green. He had a 2 foot putt to a nice birdie putt. What a great way to finish off a round in the desert. It’ll be another year before Rick is back for more of the desert.

His wife Linda wasn’t so lucky but she had enjoyed her time on the course meeting nice people and vacationing from the cold snowy days at home.

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Hole # 1, Indian Wells Golf Course, Indian Wells, CA

Indian Wells

Indian Wells Player’s Course

Hole # 1, par 5, Player’s Course, 494 yards

Never played here but always wanted to and finally, I’m here on the first tee. The course is immaculate and the greens are fast. At least that’s what our host, Judith says about both courses here in Indian Wells. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the whereabouts of Indian Wells, it is a small desert city just southeast of Palm Springs. To get here, you have to fly into the Palm Springs (PSP) airport and head east on I-10 until Washington. Take a right turn at the top of the ramp and drive for about 10 minutes. You will pass the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on your right where they play the BNP Paribas Open every March. When you reach Highway 111, turn right and in 5 minutes, you will be in Indian Wells.

The first hole can be intimidating from the blue tees because you have to sail it past the starter and a desert waste bunker in front of the white tees. I decided to play from the white tees because it was my first time and I didn’t want to get beat up. From the tee, my drive went straight and towards the bunker on the right. The ladies teed it up next and both were in great shape. From the middle of the fairway, I could see trouble on the whole right side. Everything seem to slope right and if you went too right, your ball would end up below the fairway and onto the Celebrity course that played on the other side of the wash.

I hit a 4-hybrid and the ball settled just in front of some hedges. I had about 148 yards to the green that looked pretty deep. I used a 8-iron to scoot the ball up there but it came up short of the green. I decided to use my 52-degree wedge to get it close and the ball ended up on the right tier. The greens were exceptionally fast on the putting green and I thought it would be the same on the course. I was right, lightning fast. My ball sailed past the hole and I was looking at an uphill putt. I would walk off with a double bogey to start my round at the Player’s Course.

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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 # 9, Cathedral Canyon Golf Club, Cathedral City, CA

Hole # 9, par 3, 179 yards

When in the Palm Springs area, you feel like everybody belongs to a country club. The reason is because so many communities are behind gates and fences. But don’t let this discourage you because the Cathedral Canyon Golf Club is open to the public and they welcome all players. The course is situated in Cathedral City, a short 5 minutes drive from Palm Springs.

If you like tight fairways with houses lining both sides then you will like playing here. Hole # 9 on the Lake course is a tight par 3 with a lake on the left side of the green. From the blue tees, it’s an intimidating shot over water because the green seems like a long way from the tee. Don’t take too much club because there are houses behind the green.

Most players choose to play the white tees because it’s only 169 yards. For me, it’s a strong 6-iron. Others that played with me are more senior and choose their hybrids. Any shot hooking left will find water or a house. Any crooked shot right will find house too. That’s why you have to like tight fairways where the houses lining this course gives you an intimate feeling. It feels like you’re part of the neighbourhood.

The golf club has a fully stocked pro shop and a busy schedule. If you play here, plan for a long wait before you tee off.

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Hole # 5, Rancho Las Palmas, Rancho Mirage, CA

Hole # 5, par 4, White tees, 265 yards

Hole # 5, West Course

Hole # 5, West Course

The Rancho Las Palmas Country Club is situated in Rancho Mirage behind a gated community. From Bob Hope Drive, you enter a guarded security gate which is almost across the street from the River, an outdoor shopping and restaurant complex.

To play Rancho Las Palmas, you don’t have to stay at the resort but you have to be an avid golfer to enjoy the grounds and be challenged to some degree. There are three distinct 9 hole courses here and you really don’t have a choice when the starter dictates your round.

Since this course is a semi-private course, you will see an array of personal or custom carts go by. If you’re lucky, you may see a BMW, Mercedes or a Jaguar. Because of the country club feel, it is important to arrive on time and follow the dress code. As soon as you check in, proceed outside and find the starter. They are very prompt and strict when it comes to early morning rounds here.

Hole # 5 on the West course is a short par 4 but it is very intimidating for those of us who spray the ball. The tee box lines up nicely with the Rancho Las Palmas resort, with villas on your right. The main road to the resort runs on your left side so aim straight and you should be ok. A nice drive will leave you with a short iron to the green which is situated across the water. If you’re lucky then no one is sitting in the outdoor patio or anywhere near the viewing area. If unlucky then you’ll have an audience at the resort watching every move you make.

I was lucky to hit up onto the green and not lose my second shot to water. My playing partners weren’t so lucky as they sunk one then two balls into the water hazard. It is quite an experience to drive up and walk across to the green. Makes you feel like a PGA player making a walk to an island green like at the TPC Sawgrass.

A simple two putt for a par or a difficult, stressful putt for a birdie. Either way, I got a GIR and is happy to play at such an incredible course.

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Hole # 1, Desert Dunes GC, Desert Hot Springs, CA

Hole # 1, par 5, Gold tees, 517 yards

Desert Dunes

Desert Dunes Hole # 17

The Desert Dunes GC in Desert Hot Springs, CA is owned by Canadians. That’s why you find so many cars in the parking lot with Canadian licence plates! Playing the gold tees, get ready with your ‘A’ game because you’ll need to hit all the clubs in your bag. Coming off the putting green, hole # 1 is a straight away hole. Try to aim your ball left then fade in to the center. I did the complete opposite, hit it straight in the middle and it faded to the right. If you follow me, you’ll be down in the dip where the night sprinkling settles. It’s actually pretty wet down there so I don’t recommend you hitting it to the right.

Staying up on the fairway is an advantage on most courses including this one. My drive ended up short of the long grass on the right but the ball was definitely above my feet. For the second shot, I hit my 4-hybrid off the fairway leaving me a tough 150 yards shot to the green. I came up short and my ball ended up in some pretty long grass just off the green.

I decided to hit my 58 degree wedge high up for a soft landing. Unfortunately, it ended up in the green side bunker. My wife who stayed on the fairway after her second shot, managed to land her ball on the green in three. She scored a GIR and two putted in for a par. I had to blast out of the sand and two putt in for a double bogey. A horrible way to start and it wasn’t going to get better. Stay tuned.

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Hole # 2 – SilverRock Resort, La Quinta, CA

Hole # 2, par 5, White tees, 502 yards

Something wacky happened on my drive on the first par 5 of the SilverRock Resort golf course. The ball veered right as though I hit it on the toe. If you’ve played the course before, you will remember that this hole parallels the road leading into the golf course from the street. When the ball took off, my playing partners and I were holding our breath, hoping that the ball would stay in play rather than hit an incoming car. It was scary to say the least.

My ball luckily ended up short of the road and the sandy wasteland on the right. I estimated my drive to be around 225 yards. Playing it safe and giving myself a chance to hit the green in three (ie. GIR), I decided to hit an easy 8-iron to the middle of the fairway. I wanted enough loft to clear the longer grass and to guarantee myself an approach shot from the fairway. I chose my 8-iron because it is my second most trusted club in the bag. I think it’s a good idea for every golfer to turn to their favourite club after an errant shot, just to regain some confidence and to get the good shot feeling.

My ball ended up in the fairway leaving me with a 190 yards approach to the green over water. My playing partners all laid up and had nice wedge shots to the green across the pond. I pulled out my Callaway Diablo 4-hybrid, kept my head down and swung the club. The ball took off nice and straight, cleared the lake and landed barely on the green. GIR achieved. Now I was left with a long putt towards the hole. Today I three putted for a bogey, but was happy with it. I saw this as a good recovery from a bad tee shot and managed to bogey the hole.

Have you played SilverRock in La Quinta? If you have, I would love to hear how you played hole # 2. Please add your comments, tips and any ideas for me to improve my chances for a better score. Or if you think I played it well, please “like” this post. (Thanks!)