|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.
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.
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.
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.
The Pro Shop at the Rolling Hills Golf Club in Longwood, Florida looks like it was set up so the pro could take a quick dip after a hot summer round. I think it's rather picturesque. The price right now for a round of golf makes Rolling Hills a good choice for a break from the same-old, same-old round you play weekly at your golf club.
One thing about having a golf course with lots of uphill and downhill like Rolling Hill Golf Club is you're likely to find some surprises, like this hole that drops out below where you can't quite see what is coming. Nice city views make this hole a winner.
And having a creek as well as lakes makes the golfer have to pay attention to how they will make their shots. The bunkers that raise the greens on some of the holes at Rolling Hills Golf Club make landing on the green tough. This hole hops a creek, then doglegs to the side on a raised bunker. If you hit the bunker edge, you fall straight down on the beach or into the lake. Fun course, worth the challenge of playing it. Nice neighborhood.
There are a number of hazards in the game of golf that help to increase the challenge of the game. Some of these hazards are natural, some of them are constructed to look natural as in the photograph to the left taken at Walkabout Golf Course in Mims, Florida. This raised green sits in a place surrounded by water hazards. A water hazard is a hazard because it is very difficult to get your ball out of the water with a typical golf shot, pulling it out of the water requires the payment of a stroke. Sometimes the penalty is the loss of the ball entirely. The Top Rated Golf Courses with the Most Water Hazards is a handy guide to finding out how to challenge your golf skills playing courses with water hazards. Other hazards include man made obstacles, sand hazards, bunkers, moguls, rough grass, trees and woods.
Water hazards are often marked with a red stake as in this golf picture to the left, taken at Providence Golf Club in Davenport, Florida. If your ball falls in a water hazard, you take a drop, one club's length from the marker line. If a water hazard is not marked with a red stake, or a red chalk or paint line, the rule is to take the drop from the top of the bunker where the ball went in. Many water hazards are sloped sharply to provide a deeper water catchment to keep water off the golf course. Some, like this particular spot, seem hidden to golfers during play, due to curvature of the slope or indentures near the green. It helps to check the golf card or the hole post to see a diagram of the hole so that you know what is coming.
Sometimes water hazards are constructed as barriers between the fairway stretches or the green as seen in the photograph to the left taken at Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis, Florida. The barrier here is formed by a lake.
If your ball falls into such a water hazard, the golf course typically has a ball drop marked on the far side, where you take your next stroke. Sometimes the distance needed to be covered exceeds the ability of the player--this is the main reason for the ball drops.
Water hazards can be made by lakes, streams, rivers, ocean, ponds, swamps. In areas in the Southeast United States, use a ball retriever to fetch a ball in the water due to American Alligators and Cottonmouth snakes.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sheri loves to golf, travel and to write.
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