Getting on the green

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

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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┬ádriver 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 # 12, Inglewood Golf and Curling Club, Calgary, AB

Hole # 12, par 4, White tees, 330 yards

I usually hate teeing off on golf holes that looks like hitting through a tunnel. Hole # 12 at Inglewood Golf is exactly that. From the white tees, you have a little utility house on your left and lots of bushes and shrubs to your right. A little further down, just across the cart part is a row of trees that forms a wall between you and the fairway. It is a dogleg left and to take advantage of the short hole, you have to blast your tee shot up the middle or over the trees.

Kevin, a scratch golfer and member at Inglewood used his new Taylormade RocketBallz 3-wood to hit a beautiful draw left of the trees. It was a pretty good shot as he landed past the barber pole and had less than 100 yards to the green. I hit driver and made it over the trees and onto the fairway. I too, had less than 100 yards to the green. I chose to hit my A wedge but pulled it slightly and ended up left of the green. Kevin would pop it on below the hole. It would be a close birdie for him when his ball would lip out. He settled for a par. I chipped on and settled with a bogey.

Kevin went on to scoring 72 while I came in at 91.

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Hole # 9, Lost Canyons GC, Simi Valley, CA

Hole # 9, Sky Course, par 4, Silver tees, 420 yards

With two courses to choose from, Lost Canyons GC in Simi Valley, CA is a true test for the low handicapper. For me, it’s just a humble reminder that I’m not as good of a golfer than I think. In my opinion, the Sky Course is more fair than the Shadow Course. If you like blind shots then go play the Shadow. Otherwise, if you want to play a decent game then stick with the Sky.

Hole # 9 is called the Sky Lake hole. Why? When you drive up to the hole, you can see why. A large lake spans across from tee box to landing area. It’s up to you how much of the lake you want to carry your ball. I like to aim my ball so that I’m left with 150 yards for my second shot. Big hitters can probably go for more but make sure you hit it hard.

I like my TaylorMade Burner Draw driver with a 10.5 degree loft. When I hit it well, I end up in the middle of the fairway – dry. My friend Stan usually hits it short and into the bunker that runs along the lake, right of the fairway.

My second shot is 150 yards right on the mark. The green always looks far away but it can be quite deceiving if you don’t choose the right club. I usually hit a 6-iron and hit it with three quarter power. It flies low and bounces up to the green. I’ve got a GIR and ready for a 2-putt. I finish the front nine with a par.

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Hole # 6, DeBell Golf Course, Burbank, CA

Hole # 6, par 3, Blue tees, 125 yards

Just when you think your game is right on, you come to the short par 3 at DeBell Golf Course in Burbank, CA. If you haven’t played here before, you have to. It has some characters of a bigger course because of the size of trees but it’s tight on land because land in California is expensive and the course is backed up into a mountain.

Hole # 6 is short but with swirling winds down below, it plays like 140 yards sometimes. To make things worst, the green is not straight ahead. Instead it jogs a little left. Sometimes, the pin is so far back on the green that the tree to your left comes into play by blocking your tee shot. A player who can draw in their balls have a perfect shot to the green but it has to stop on a dime, otherwise it can roll into any one of the three bunkers.

From the blue tees, I am always tempted to hit my 9-iron. However it is downhill so I would go down a club to a PW. However, the green is a long way down so maybe hit a three quarter with a 9-iron. With all that doubt swirling in my head, I mishit and my ball dribbles down to the bottom of the hill. I’m left with a pitch shot to the green. Finally after two horrible shots, I’m putting for par. I’ll end up with a double bogey.

Have you played here recently? If so, please tell me how you did by adding a comment. If you haven’t played here, mark your calendars for May 12th, 2012. Between 9:00am and 2:00pm, the 2nd Annual Super Demo Day will feature all the new clubs from TaylorMade, Callaway, Ping, Cleveland, Nike and Titleist. Maybe we’ll see you there!

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Hole # 10, River’s Edge Golf Club, Okotoks, AB

Hole # 10, River’s Edge Golf Club, Blue tees, 404 yards

Risk and reward means different things to different people. On hole # 10 at River’s Edge Golf Club in Okotoks, near Calgary, AB, Canada, players often take risks and bomb their tee drives over the rough to reach the green in one. The trouble with that is either losing their ball to the long grass and shrubs that litters between tee box and green or they hook it so badly that players on the par 3, hole # 11 has to duck for cover.

Other players not taking risks will play their ball straight and occasionally, slice their ball into fairway one where they can easily recover from. After teeing off from the blue tees, I found my ball a little right of the cart path. Luckily, I had a clear view of the green and decided to hit a 8-iron to a pin located in the back of the green.

A safe shot off the tee earned me an easy GIR. I 2-putted and walked away with a par. My playing partner took the risk and lost his tee shot in the rough. He ended up with a double bogey. Better luck next time.

For those of you in the area, visit River’s Edge on Saturday, April 28th for their 2nd Annual Monster Demo Gala. Lots of new equipment to demo from Callaway, TaylorMade, Ping, Exotics, Titleist, Nike, Adams and more.

Part of giving back, be sure to bring a non-perishable food item for the food bank. See you there!