|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.
I feel bad about writing a review about offseason golf in Auckland, New Zealand because we were playing golf during a long period of drought. The Formosa Golf Course kept their greens well watered but many places the grass had turned brown. This is always good for a nice roll so all is not bad. Formosa Golf Course had many touches of Asian gardening that added color to the course and I chose this golf course because it offered scenic views.
The hole pictured above is one of the course specialties. It's a short par three downhill and if you miss the green, well, you're down on the mucky tidal beach below. To make it more difficult, the green is sloped to the side and it is a large green so that even if you land on the green with your drive, you still might have many long putts. The view however is spectacular. For a first taste of New Zealand golf it offered lots of birds, views, plant life and challenge.
The first challenge we encountered was our lack of car. We thought, no problem, take a taxi. The taxi driver was willing to wait at the course and earn the return fare for no extra gas, but the cost of play was much less then taking the hour to and from drive from our hotel in Auckland. Live and learn. This wasn't the case for most New Zealand golf because after this, we had a rental car.
The above hole was my favorite with exotic trees to look upward at, lots of sand, and some large zen stones in a sand garden along the side, or maybe that was a slightly different one. The course plays with lots of uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies. It features many sand traps, many views of the coast and bay, and several large duck ponds.
The course is somewhat more challenging for women than for men. The clubhouse is large with friendly staff.
The video below shows a better view.
One Christmas, my husband and I decided to explore the island of Puerto Rico and so did a mini-tour picking up some of our favorite sites to see, enjoying Christmas away despite a few days of rain, and golfing. Of course, golfing is a must when you visit Puerto Rico because there are many fine golf courses.
During our stay at the Embassy Suites Dorado Del Mar, we played the Dorado Del Mar Golf Course which sits right beside it several times because they had a special deal that allowed us to play a couple times at reduced cost.
The Embassy Suites Dorado Del Mar was one of the nicer places for us to stay with a wonderfully large swimming pool, free happy hour, many restaurants, and comfortable chairs in the rooms, with a decent rate despite the holiday.
The Dorado Del Mar Golf Course is fairly wide and flat so is welcoming for newer golfers. The course has plenty of challenge from hazards, water being one of the major sources of humility causing events.
Anyone may play golf alone, as a twosome or foursome depending on the crowd, but no one will ever be alone on the Dorado Del Mar golf course because visitors are certain to find a green iguana or two to keep them company. The green iguanas often dart into the water if approached too close since they are considered food, especially since they tend to be overpopulated.
Near the end of the round, golfers are challenged to cross the water and land on a small green surrounded by sand traps, see golf photograph above.
There's a small snack shop at the Pro Shop but food is also available at the Embassy Suites Dorado Del Mar. In all, families and couples will have a grand time on this course.
My husband Bob and I played with the Central Florida Golf Club at Dubsdread Golf Course and found that despite their reputation as the oldest golf club in Orlando, that they offered plenty of the modern conveniences.
Their golf carts feature a GPS system that was very accurate. Every time Bob measured the distance to the flag, he was within 1 or 2 yards of what the Dubsdread GPS system showed. Often we find that GPS systems aren't accurate to the flag, only to the front and/or back of the green. This system also allowed you to enter golfers and track their score so you didn't need to fumble around with your phone or worry about charges or having it short out on you on the distant holes.
Also, in honor of the upcoming Veteran's Day recognition, they offered the chance to win a package of balls and get a discount at the pro shop with charity proceeds dedicated to Wounded Warriors. Bob thought he'd never hit the green so skipped, while I, with only 90 yards to go took the chance. Unfortunately, I had a great drive but hit the apron which was very wet and stopped. I was sure I'd bounce at least a foot forward, but not even an inch was gained.
Dubsdread is in great condition especially the greens. Many homes front the fairways but were set back enough they never came into play.
There is plenty of challenge on the course, especially slopes along water hazards that dump you in. Luckily, the GPS system shows most hazards.
Dining was especially good and popular at the Taproom at Dubsdread. We both had salads--me, fried chicken, Bob a Cobb salad. At first we were told it would be 20 minutes for food service but we were helped quite soon.
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.
My first tryout of the Free Android App for Golfers titled Swing by Swing, started out fine. I opened it up, picked the golf course local to my region and found the one where I was playing.
I added myself as a golfer using my email address then added by husband as a partner. You can add a foursome.
So what's the bottom line on this App?
It works well but it's not the best choice. Why?
It uses a aerial view of the golf course for providing GPS readouts along the golf course hole by hole. These readings don't seem very accurate; we had better results with our golf range finding device. Maybe it was the course we were on or availability of GPS satellites, others might get better results.
The golf pad portion of the application allowed you to record your score, but if you moved away from the end of the hole, it would move on to the next hole. The previous hole would use a default value (I had the wrong score at the end of 18 holes) and it was complicated to go back and change it. Admittedly, you're supposed to record your score before you leave the hole, but practicality wise, Android device records are slower than writing it on a score pad and my husband always moved on to the next hole while I was typing. Frustration city.
The recording of scores is pretty easy, it assumes par with appropriate number of putts and these are easy to add to. There was no record of penalties.
Tracking shot by shot didn't work with ease.
My vote is still on the Free Android App Golf Pad.
I’m cool, warmed up, loose.
I’m gonna crack this ball straight down the fairway all the way to the white post, clean and straight.
Yeah. I’m the king of the worm burners, oh, no, I’m the baddest Tiger of these here woods. Ha ha, not bad, I launched that there rocket clean into that oak, missed my forehead, missed my partner, never you mind. I’m out on the fairway now.
I’m cool, warmed up, loose. Got my eye on the ball. King of Zen. Just swing and … yeah.
Okay. I’m King of the beach blanket beee-ing go.
Okayyy. No problem. Golf is about practice and practice make perfect. Okay, closed my eyes there. Splash?
Splash it is. Okay, I’m Chipping King, just smack that ball into that little ole hole. God’s be with me.
Whew. I’m the man. Ain’t I the man? Blow me a-way! It’s all won on the greens guys.
Ain’t I the King? Didn’t I just chip right in? Ever see anything like that before? MMMhmm.
You on for five on the next hole?
River Oaks Golf Club is located in Meaghers Grant, Nova Scotia, Canada, close to Halifax and takes about an hour to get to from downtown. When you drive to this golf club from Halifax, you follow a nice highway through the mountains and over Middle Porters Lake until you reach Musquodoboit Harbor, then you turn up a road (Hwy 357) along a beautiful creek (see photograph below) to get the River Oaks Golf Club clubhouse. Traffic was not a bother. We arrived in time to have lunch, both of us were satisfied with our typical golf grub lunch. The service was good too.
One of the first holes leads you to a hole near a set of farm houses, showing clearly this golf course was probably built out of farm land, but has enough features that it is not your typical pasture land course.
Our first challenge came with the rain, the golf course manager told us if they were locked up by the time we finished due to few players, to go ahead and park the vehicle etc. This turned out to be the case but we were still able to get into the clubhouse and use the restrooms. Bathrooms mid course are available.
Some of the more challenging holes involved that lovely creek we followed, it provided some marsh land, lakes, and cut across the fairway a number of times.
Other players were on the course, but we seldom saw them during play, since the holes don't cross and have good spacing. You feel like you're alone in the mountains.
One of the last holes involves lots of water, the carry for men is a little long but the women make out okay.
The course played quick and fair and even with the rain, we still managed to have a great round of golf.
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.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sheri loves to golf, travel and to write.
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