|Culture with Camoluscious Gally
This view of the Desert Dunes Golf Course in Palm Desert, California shows the clubhouse from the ninth hole with the huge complex of windmills used to generate electricity in the area. It shows that at times the winds in the area make this a much more challenging course. When we played, a light breeze kept us cool in the cooler spring morning. While at times the course features wide open fairways, these often narrow down with desert landscape on both sides. The good news is the desert landscape offers many sightings of wildlife, even if it eats your balls.
The above picture features some of that desert landscape midfairway, just in case the Robert Trent Jones, Junior designed course isn't tough enough. You can see that there are moguls and hills everywhere that usher your ball into the desert. Most of the desert animals are friendly cottontail bunnies or jack rabbits or squirrels. The birds are quiet, our only spotted ones were a yellow-crowned sparrow and a roadrunner who posed glamorously and a Red Tailed Hawk soaring overhead. More fun was the spotted back with narrow tailed California Ground Squirrel. Play moved fast so we didn't have much time to really examine all we saw. This photo hides some of the superb landscape on the golf course, so I will provide more examples.
This particular photo above offers a view of the golf course I had most trouble with namely the sandless traps that guard most of the greens. They didn't stint on traps and didn't make them shallow. The winds, we were told, suck the sand out of the traps on a regular basis. So they tend to be hard pan mucky holes that require you to pick the ball out. The better plan is to not get into them. To do this, plan your shots carefully. Don't hit a long shot to get on the green, it will rarely happen. Instead, play to make a short chip onto the green and carefully place your fairway shot so it ends up on the fairway.
Don't be surprised to find the Desert Dunes Golf Course has a lake in the middle. The above photo shows their signature 17th hole with the beautifully xeriscaped gardens behind next to the natural desert.
One of the most pleasant aspects of Bay Tree National Golf Club is that while challenging, many features of this course makes it a win for newer players. The fairways tend to be wide near the tees on most holes. Although there are many lakes and traps, these tend to be harder to get into. My husband and I played here recently and only had one or two golf balls roll into the palmettos. The wide fairways can be a relief for newer players who hit hooks or slice from the tee. If your first ball hits fair, that's half the battle.
A few of the back nine holes have narrower fairways and more of the trickier shots. Some holes require the golfer to hit over ditches so chipping up is sometimes needed. A couple of the back nine holes have hills along one side. The first time I played here it was in late summer so I worried about rolling out of bounds. I thought, hit high on the hill, the golf ball will roll down. This doesn't work. It's far better to avoid the hills, my husband and I found there was plenty of room for the golf ball to land away from the hill as the fairways opened up down range. The last hole features a real surprise, you hit toward the green and have to drive way around a small lake before walking onto the green from the back. It's a fun golf course with a lot of variety in how your ball lies and with a lot of scenic views. Located in Melbourne, Florida, 32940, it is near I-95. For a better view of how the golf course plays, see the video below.
The golf club has a good restaurant with friendly help.
A recent vacation to the panhandle of Florida after a side trip to Columbia, South Carolina to see the solar eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21, lead us to the much appreciated good food and nice beach locations in Destin, Florida. There are worse reasons to go golfing than a solar eclipse, see my best eclipse photo:
Our choice of golf outing at Emerald Bay Golf Club in Destin, Florida, turned out to be a real win. Instead of black out sun, we had velvety green fairways, tees, and greens.
The club house was friendly and we got out as a two-some following and followed by the same, sometimes it felt like you were alone on the course even when you were not, at least until we caught up with the mowers, easily done with an early 7:00 start time.
My favorite holes were at the end, this is the view of the Emerald Bay Golf Club clubhouse from the eighteenth fairway, headed toward the green. Before this hole, you finally reached holes with views of the bay, notice on the picture below, both Bob and I had our chips on the green with only one chip. A nicely maintained course allows chips to land and stop, with some roll, but not speeding across it like greased lightning, something that can happen in Florida where greens dry out.
One thing that was nice was the tees were all numbered, I through V (see photo below), using Roman Numerals, to allow golfers to select their tee by their handicap and by the associated usual score for the hole rating known as the course slope: read slope about from the Georgia State Golf Association webpage:
Well, for me it was easy because I had a husband who made all the arrangements for staying at the Barcelo Bravo Palace Deluxe Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic including all of our tee times online the internet (the link takes you to their webpage where you can arrange a room and a tee time). That was the first step.
The second step involved getting our golf clubs to the golf course. We took the resort train from the pick up stop at the end of our hotel building (the place is very large) but I think perhaps getting the golf cart first and picking the clubs up in the same spot would have been much easier.
The third step is checking in with the pro shop--lunch is available in the dining room right next door and since our first tee time was late in the afternoon, this mean lunch first was a great choice. The restaurant here has a dubious reputation for being really slow with some of the people we met, but for us it worked out fine. The restaurant didn't open until 12:30 so we had drinks first until they opened. Barcelo Bravo Palace Deluxe is an all inclusive so the beer (Presidente), Coca Cola light, hamburger, roast beef sandwich, and a dessert had we wanted it were provided without charge. The tee time cost us a charge for use of the golf cart. Had we played 5 times instead of three, the cost would have been less but as it was ended up at $40 per person.
Afterwards, we were able to store our golf clubs at the Lakes Golf Course.
The fourth step is choosing the appropriate tee. My husband thought the blue tee distance was about his pace for his first game, the next two were played at the more typical white tee. The reason is on a couple of holes over the water, the distance can be pretty long. My husband had a much happier, less stressful time on the white tees. For women, the red tees play within a usual handicap.
Other hints about playing the course involve the challenges. One of the hallmarks (see photo above) of the Lakes Course at Barcelo Bravo Palace Deluxe are the scenic golf shot lakes especially the number 9 and number 18 hole with their wood braced raised greens.
Play it with the exact right club (the holes play long when faced with wind) with a high arching chip shot.
Another is the hidden greens (see photo to the left). Place your approach shot so that a high, arching chip shot that lands and stops is your best bet.
Another hint is to stay in the center of the course, choose the right distance club to stay out of the lake with any additional roll.
A last warning is to stay out of the sand traps. Many are hidden. You get over one sand trap only to fall in the smaller one hidden behind.
The Barcelo Bravo Palace Deluxe golf course is in excellent condition. We played after heavy rain and found you had to punch the ball hard to get it in the hole on the green and we also had to walk (most of the course was closed via cart path only rules due to soggy turf). Two days later, the greens were fast and driving on the course was allowed. Rain drizzled and was a relief from heat, the heavy rains came at night. Be prepared with sun protection.
Note: WiFi from the Barcelo Bravo Palace Deluxe resort isn't available on the golf course.
If you're a beginner golfer, you might wonder why they put sand in your golf cart cooler. See the photograph to the left, it shows how you can use the scoop provided to take some out.
This sand is used for filling holes made on the golf course when you take turf (a divot) with your shot and leave it stripped to the dirt.
One of the reasons that you fill the hole with sand is it is very hard to play golf on a surface that is not level. The most important place to fill your divots is on the tee.
In the fairway, replacing divots with sand is also important. If you're sitting and waiting for your turn to play and see a huge hole in the fairway, feel welcome to fill it. You're performing a community service for all the golfers when you do.
There is often a box where you can grab sand to fill divots sitting on or near the tees. They come in a variety of shapes and styles.
Sand is also provided with a shake bottle which you use to pour sand on the grass where you've left a divot. This handy bar at the Walkabout Golf Course is used to swap empty shake bottles with full bottles.
Sometimes sand also contains grass and fertilizer. This occurs most often in Spring and Fall when grass is able to get a better start. When sand is wet, sometimes it is easier to grab and handful than it is to take a scoop or pour.
I thought Sweetwater Golf & Country Club's golf course was going to be easy to play until I reached hole 10. This is not to say that the front nine holes lack challenge.
The Sweetwater Golf & Country Club in Apopka, FL is friendly to visitors. The golf clubhouse is split between several buildings--the snack shop for instance shares quarters with the pool crowd. Dining at the snack shop is very good, I liked the turkey sandwich just fine. There's a separate place for the pro shop and another place for dinner dining. We didn't get golf cart service but they provide drinks vending machines at the bathrooms halfway along each nine.
The golf photograph above is about half of hole number ten. The hole travels uphill through the trees and when you get to the top, you find the lake and the hole curving around it to the left. This hole is pretty tricky since the side hill lie tends to want to put your golf ball in the water as does any roll.
The golf photograph to the left shows one of the tricky par 3's on Sweetwater Golf & Country Club. Three of the par three's require a drive over 150 yards, including this one that has a deep gully and pond. Other challenges on the golf course include a sand trap hidden in front of one green, another long sandtrap beyond a tree that allows golfers to shorten the distance to the green.
This golf club is pretty lively with many events, an upcoming Thanksgiving Day buffet, and a long time on the golf course--5+ hours for our round.
The Deltona Club in Deltona, Florida, offers an unexpected golf course in Florida, one that has no water hazards.
So will you find a golf course with enough challenge?
The answer is of course, it's a golf course.
The best part of the Deltona Club golf course was starting off on the number ten tee and ending up on the number nine green. Why? Because after a tough round, I got to play an easy par 4 followed by this par three in the golf photograph.
The hole shown above shows the sense of humor that the golf course architect had in creating the Deltona Club golf course. Sand is used to save costs and to make it very difficult to do anything but land on the green.
Other golf course challenges at Deltona Club includes holes that climb uphill, downhill, very substantial doglegs including one surprise hole that wasn't right in front of us but off to the right.
The best way to handle Deltona Golf Club is to use plenty of sun protection, pick the right club for the distance to avoid trouble and to use a firm but dug in attack out of the sand trap if you do get into one. Check out Amateur Golfer Benefits to Phil Mickleson's Secrets of the Short game for more help.
The golf course at Rock Springs Ridge Golf Course, Apopka, FL is still suffering from the economy in the form of weeds in the fairway, but the greens were in good condition and the course mowed and sand traps maintained. Both restrooms mid-nine were operational. The cost when we played in October 2013 was $20, so it was a good golf green fees and golf cart golf deal.
One of the major ways Rock Springs Ridge challenges the golfer is their use of Live Oak trees mid course and protecting the green as seen in the golf photograph above and to the left.
To place the ball near the flag on the green in the photograph above requires chipping below the tree but over the sand trap.
To get past the trees mid fairway in the golf photograph to the left requires that the ball travel over the tree or under the branches or if luckly, finding the air and going through the live oak.
What club to use? To chip over a tree, use a pitching wedge with the face almost parallel to the ground. To drive beneath the trees, use a three wood or four iron, or use a club that is almost 90 degrees to the ground.
Other challenges at Rock Spring Ridge Golf Course include the heavy turf and moguls on a few of the holes, as well as hidden fairways, hidden greens, and water hazards.
The restaurant at the Rock Springs Ridge Golf Clubhouse was open on Saturday, offering up tasty 8 oz. burgers, chicken tenders, fries, and the usual sort of golf food.
My husband and I played golf at Deer Island Country Club in Tavares, Florida, just after record winds had knocked many trees down on the course and the golf course staff were busy removing all the debris.
We still had a wonderfully pleasant golf outing, despite a few lurking clouds. The golf course is in supreme condition and is lovely for many, many reasons.
Deer Island Country Club has many bridges that golfers cross as they travel along the course since the course has water on both sides of the fairway in many places and is sitting in the midst of several lakes. Several holes require golfers to drive over a creek or pond.
Water is not the only hazards to watch out for on Deer Island Country Club. The many sculpted sand traps over additional hazards on the course. The lovely sand trap on the left of this golf photograph has a nice ridge making a chip onto the green much more difficult.
The toughest par three hole required you to land on the green or else. It takes a straight accurately selected golf club to make your shot. The course is one of the most fun I've played.
The food at the Deer Island Country Club is also really good and the staff is really friendly. Expect to find bathrooms halfway through each nine and at the clubhouse.
Kebo Valley Golf Club , Bar Harbor, Me golf course has a great view and rates the course conditions from 1-10, we played when it was a 9, with the small loss due to extremely fast greens. Kebo Valley Golf Club offers a number of challenges to the golfer, starting with a course rating that is extremely tough for women, with many choices for the men that can be much harder. For golfers who can set aside their awe at the view, a fun time can be had.
Golf Challenge Number One: Raised Greens
One of the downsides of the raised greens at Kebo Valley Golf Club is they tend to be dry and very fast. To handle the small greens, high lofted shots are the only way to go. With enough backspin, they may actually stay on the green. Using a GPS device will help you identify the exact distance to travel. Part of the strategy should include getting as close to the green before chipping since drives to the green are likely to roll off or get stopped on the approach.
Golf Challenge Number Two: Hidden Fairways
One way to handle hidden fairways is to drive ahead and check out where the best place to hit your drive. A second way is to consult the handy course overview book provided with your greens fee, often it will show a point where to aim and also indicated the distances to any trouble you might find. A third way to handle it is by a sex change operation since the ladies tees are forward of this narrow tee. Another way is to pick an aiming point that lies in the area of the open space, especially if you can spot the 150 yard distance marker.
Golf Challenge Number Three: Bubbles Blocking the Fairway or Green
The name bubbles for the moguls in the pictures come from the celebrated bubble mountains at the center of Acadia National Park. If the ball lands on one of these, golfers will find they need to use an iron because the grass tends to be fairly heavy and the surface variable in direction. Take a practice shot and verify your follow through, chances are the ball trajectory will be angled.
Make sure you use a drive or a chip with a lot of loft to avoid these bubbles/moguls.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sheri loves to golf, travel and to write.
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