|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:
When my husband and I visited Ireland, we chose to play at four fairly reasonable golf courses that were close to our other places of interest. We chose Athlone Golf Club because of it was between Dublin and Galway, close to the famous peat bogs near Shannonbridge, and also close to Clanmacnoise, a site established by St. Ciaran in the mid 6th century which has quite notable High Crosses.
Golf at Athlone Golf Club was quite friendly; we were paired with a local lady golfer and had a great time. The golf course is quite pleasant, some areas winding through forest, some looking like meadowland, other greens getting close to the water.
The dress code allowed for my golf tee with a collar and slacks. We were able to walk the course with rental pull carts. Here I am on one of the more challenging greens with a very narrow profile and if you want to reach it without going over the water, it costs you another stroke.
Golf in Ireland in May is very pleasant since May is the month with the least rain. We found only two days of rain during our month long visit. To get your self in the mood for golf, check out these I, or listen to Robin Williams doing his Irish Drinking Golf routine.
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.
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?
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.
Our arrival at the Links at Crowbush Cove at Lakeside, Prince Edward Island, Canada was mighty early for two lazy travelers but we had our choice 7:45 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. so we decided to just get up and go for it.
There's not many places to stop between Charlotte and the Links at Crowbush Cove for breakfast and the golf course restaurant didn't serve breakfast either. Our solution was gas station packaged rolls, not so good.
One of the reasons this course is so popular is the weather in Prince Edward Island is really quite pleasant, even in early September.
The Links at Crowbush Cove golf course is immaculately maintained, with lush sculpted sand traps you don't want to visit. The slope is somewhat higher for women than men, I think because of the uphill play.
Several of the holes at the Links at Crowbush Cove have beautiful views--here my yellow Pinnacle golf ball made it to the green on their signature par three scenic hole. Not all of their par three holes are as easy to par, I think I actually birdied it. Tweet Tweet.
If you go, expect to have a wonderful game with some nice local players. From here, it is easy to continue on to the Prince Edward Island National Park, which is also well worth the visit. Directions to the course are easy to follow. There's bathrooms at the turn and midway, yeah!
When visitors arrive at Legends Golf Club in Clermont, Florida near to Orlando, the elaborate waterfalls framing the entry gate may seem intimidating, but after you're through with a game of golf, you'll understand that this golf club was well designed to create wonderful memories of challenging golf. Legends is open to the public and during the warm summer off-season they offer a $179 all the golf you can play card May 1- October 1 after 1pm, after 3pm get a $10 deal on cart. They have a deal on golf balls for use on the large outdoor driving range, too and a large putting green.
The clubhouse is reassuring to visitors since it is quite small and staff very friendly and helpful. The small pro shop stocks visors, socks, clothing, and the usual golf supplies and snacks. A meal with your golf ticket for $12 is available, I think to keep wait staff well up to the task of serving large groups. I had chicken tenders, my husband a club sandwich. Food was tasty and arrived quickly including refills on soft drinks and seconds on beer.
The tower advertising Legends Golf Course with the purple golfer is played on the back nine which is a bit tougher to play than the front nine. Legends Golf Course makes good use of the unusual for Florida hilly terrain.
Close up of the tower. Below, the Legends #14 par 3 hole can be tricky to play, hit long because the ball is likely to roll down hill (see golf photograph below).
This golf course is pretty favorable to women player's with the purple (normally red) tees playing an average of 108 for 5200 yards approximately.
Most tees have wide open fairways and usually you can avoid any but occasional trouble. The rough is pretty rough now due to all the rain--over 8 inches, bring extra golf balls. The course ends with several back to back uphill holes so make sure you have enough energy to get through this fun course.
The wonderful clubhouse at MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando, Florida features a snack shop downstairs and sit down meals upstairs. The golf course is doing major renovations on the sand traps so the cost is very affordable and the annoyance minor. Most of their sand traps are enough out of the way, experienced golfers won't even notice them (except around the greens). Soon though, with all the rain Florida has had (13" in June that usually comes in the afternoon to cool things down after hot sunny mornings) everything will green up.
The difference between a badly maintained sand trap and a freshly renovated sand trap can be immense. This golf photograph shows one of the most scenic holes at Metro West, on an almost island in the lake with sand traps blocking it. As part of the renovation, they've cut out the traps with a bulldozer, later they'll add more topsoil, refit hunks of grass over the top, dig a new sand trap hole with nice clean sharp edges and fill it with light sand.
On a bad sand trap, the edges can be clogged by grass, or have areas where the edges have eroded. When your ball falls into the edge, it can get caught instead of nestling amid the sand. When you try to chip out of an edge, chances are you will cause additional damage to the trap. You always have the option of pulling the ball out of a trap filled with water due to poor drainage or to remove your ball off a bad edge. The downside is the extra stroke. Sand that is wet is harder to get out of because your sand wedge doesn't cut into it easily.
The real challenge on MetroWest is all the uphill holes. A golf course with many uphill holes will play longer than its rated because you won't get as much role and for short hitters, that can mean extra strokes on every hole.
I found MetroWest very lush, well-maintained and well-managed. Despite all the work in progress, we were never bothered by noise or machinery delay. The lunch in the restaurant was quite tasty and my husband as usual loved his beer.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sheri loves to golf, travel and to write.
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