Wednesday, July 20, 2016
PGA WEST is a golfer's dream. So many courses in such a small area, you never know where to turn to hit the next shot. Luckily the Nicklaus Tournament course (one of the courses part of the PGA Tour event in Palm Springs) takes a lot of the decision making process as you definitely need to play this course.
I'm usually not a fan of bulldozer courses and one surrounded by houses but for this one I will make an exception. The shot off the tee gives you a lot of options with many ways to position yourself for the next shot. The bunkers don't just hang out waiting for you but can snake the length of the fairway making them a constant hazard.
There is a little TOO much bulldozering from time to time:
but for the most part the moguls make for a fun time.
The par 3's have the classic SoCal water features but on steroids and you can see why the pros play here, its a tough test (especially on the back 9).
The only disappointment came to the greens. Usually courses have a baseline of playability and I was very disappointed that while the Nicklaus course far exceeded this baseline in every, it sadly failed in the most crucial one, the greens. I'm not sure if they were letting them die off to re-seed them (which is understandable if that was the case so I am giving PGA WEST some slack) but it made putting a nightmare.
One of my playing partners is a resident of Palm Springs and said that this conditioning is VERY atypical of PGA WEST so I imagine if you play there at any time other than late June the greens will be in great shape but its definitely something to be aware of.
Overall, I liked the Nicklaus course much more than I thought I would. Challenging and engaging and while it rose out of the landscape via the heavy hand of the Golden Bear, it is worthy of your time when in Palm Springs (as long as the greens get back into shape).
For more info on PGA WEST, check it out here: http://www.pgawest.com/club/scripts/library/view_document.asp?NS=PG&APP=80&DN=NICKTOURN
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The Links at Terranea is a enigma for Southern California golfers. They hear about this course nestled right up against the cliffs in Palos Verdes that is one of the top ranked par 3 courses in the world. Yet almost no one I've know has played the course, due in part to it rack rate. Is it worthy of the hype?
In a word, yes.
1/2 the holes are uphill, 1/2 the holes are downhill but all have bunkers strategically placed and with the winds severally helping or hurting like a proper links course.
What I liked most about the course was that the greens offer you many options to play your tee shot. There are backboards, there are sidehill undulations, all of which are laid out for you from the tee box. Despite the short nature of the course, you could hit several different shots into the same green making the course playable on repeat for sure.
The true high point of the course comes on the highest parts of the course that afford you unbroken views of the Pacific.
When the holes stretch out to 170+ yards, you get both difficult greens and a testing tee shot making the course even more interesting. The eighth hole is 172, into the wind and a full test of your golfing prowess.
The final highlight of the course is the ninth hole requiring a short iron over a ravine to a fescue-surrounded green framed by the Pacific.
The rack rate is influenced by the resort and the proximity to the Pacific. There are deals out there for golfer willing to find them and if you do, I highly recommend playing the course.
For more info on the Links, check it out here: http://www.terranea.com/southern-california-golf-courses
Thursday, July 7, 2016
TPC Stadium is a course with a TON of golf history and holds a must-play spot in golfers' hearts due to its reputation as one of the toughest courses in the world and its responsibility for making and crushing many golfer's dreams in Q School.
The emphasis on this course is penal with thick rough, sloping fairways and bunkers that would take a slingshot to get out of rather than a sand wedge. I was super excited to play the course after all of this buildup and despite the well known nature of the course, I was surprised in many ways.
Surprise 1: The amount of water on the course,
Call me crazy but I am always surprised when encountering many water holes on a desert course. Of course with Dye, the water signifies the real trouble and when it comes into play in holes 5-7 which is arguably the toughest stretch on the course. I was lucky to walk away with one par out of the 3 holes which I consider one of my great golf accomplishments so far.
Surprise 2: The bunkering here is outrageous.
Bunkers can run for the entire length of the hole. Bunkers can be 30 feet below the hole. Sometimes the safest play is to hit from one bunker to the next. It is like Dye took the concept of the bunker and decided to feed it HGH to become an all-pro wrestler or something. When hitting approach shots you have 3 options, hit the green, bail out of the small safe zone or encounter ball death in the bunkers or rough.
Surprise 3: Trees
I was struck by the prevalence and variety of trees on the course. Considering that most Palm Springs courses have palm trees or bust when it comes to this department, Stadium felt practically park-like while playing it. Playing around or through some trees reminded me of playing golf back East although the 100+ temperatures snapped me back to reality that I was in the desert.
Surprise 4: My favorite hole was one of the toughest.
The fifth hole is a lot of fun in trying to completely screw up your game. Most golfers have a fade/slice although many also have a draw/hook. This hole requires you to use both, a fade off the tee and a draw for the second/third shots. It is an absolutely fascinating hole to play and even though I mucked it up with my terrible game it beauty and routing was undeniable.
Surprise 5: The par 3's while classic SoCal water holes, had so much teeth in them, my game still has bite marks from them:
(when one of your par 3's is named "Amen" you know you have issues).
Also the 17th, modeled after TPC Sawgrass is just as tough as it looks on TV. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it is a long shot of over 160 yards, no bailouts at all and if the wind is up, it is super tough.
It was a fun hole and no, I didn't make the green on my tee shot :(.
Surprise 6: The greens were a mess.
I had been looking forward to playing this course for several years and I couldn't believe the conditions of the greens. Whether they were being allowed to die in order to be re-seeded or a negligent lack of maintenance or for some other reason, their condition marred what was otherwise a historic round for me. The putts didn't roll true, the tuffs of grass that did remain deflected the ball off line, and it felt like I was putting on the worst muni course ever rather than a top flight course. Certainly when the winter comes and then the PGA comes to town, these will be nice and green but it was sad after finally hacking your way to the green not to putt on the same surface that the pros do.
Overall, Stadium lived up to its fearsome billing. Despite the chunk it took out of my golf ball supply, it was great to walk the same fairways of the pros and the hopeful pros of Q School. Like Jem and the Holograms, the course design was truly, truly outrageous and once the greens come back into shape, a must play for any fan of golf history.
For more info on TPC Stadium, check it out here: http://www.pgawest.com/club/scripts/library/view_document.asp?NS=PG&APP=80&DN=STADIUM
For a great book about Q School and TPC Stadium check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-School-Inside-Golfs-Fifth/dp/031601432X
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Bucking that trend is Shadow Ridge run by Marriott. Often ranked as one of the best conditioned courses period in America, SR was in immaculate shape when I checked it out during a 105 degree weekend recently. The fairways weren't completely burned out, the sand was in great shape and best of all, the greens (while slow) rolled true.
What I also really liked about SR was the variety of the holes. Often using water features
The course keeps you engaged from tee to green. The course isn't the longest but that is fine with me and also it has so many defenses from the water to the bunkers
The only downside to SR was the pace of play which seems partly due to the lack of marshalls on the course (or marshalls willing to do anything). If I said to you the round I played there was 4:30 you would say "what's the issue ReGripped?". However if you are playing in 100+ heat, you want that round to be quick especially if you are going out pre-7am like I did. I have played rounds in Palm Springs in 3.5 hours or less and this isn't just an SR issue, many courses let play slow to a crawl, especially later in the day.
Overall I'm a huge fan of Shadow Ridge, the routing is interesting, the course is in amazing shape. Consider me convinced!
For more information on Shadow Ridge, check it out here: http://www.marriott.com/golf-hotels/ctdsr-marriotts-shadow-ridge-i-the-villages/shadow-ridge/5224671/home-page.mi
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Hey everyone, come on over to my Coore Crenshaw Quest page to check out the latest course review! You will be glad you did!