|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.
Sand Hazards are not all built alike. They often vary in depth, sand quality and type, edging, and placement. The shot out of a sand trap may require additional loft in order to make it out safely due to the depth. A sand wedge gives that loft, but if the hazard isn't all that deep, a different iron or driver can be used. It requires the judgment of the golfer to decide which club to use based on that initial depth but also the distance the golfer would like to go.
The picture above taken at the former Walkabout Golf Club, now the Indian River Preserve Golf Club in Mims, Florida, shows one of the nastier type of sand hazards, one dug into a hill situated in the middle of the course. The golfer must hit over the hill on their fairway shot with enough loft and distance to avoid landing in the sand hazard.
If a golfer is unlucky enough to fall within the sand hazard, they must hit without knowing where to place the ball. A walk to the top of the hill will often be enough to site the flag on the green, but they must choose a tree or other feature of the course to act as the target. This sand hazard is deep enough that club with more loft is needed. The penalty for the golfer that finds their ball is this hazard is that the loft needed may make it impossible to reach the green on the next shot, so their penalty is extra shots.
I've always managed to miss this particular golf hazard known as the church pews at Royal St Cloud Golf Club in St. Cloud, Florida but I've seen others fight it. The green grass pews sit within a relatively flat sand hazard but they are curved and the grass is hard to mow so it is often deep grass. If the ball lands near the sand-grass edge, the golfer faces interference from that edge. If it lands in the deep grass, it may have an uphill or downhill lie due to the curvature. Downhill lies often result in a flat hit without loft so the ball might end up in the sand. If the golfer doesn't hit out of the sand with enough distance, they are likely to hit out of the sand again, and maybe again. This one has more pews than are shown, with the green grass sections perpendicular to the direction of the flag.
Some sand hazards are more decorative, like these at Washington National Golf Course in Auburn, Washington. Here the purpose is to show off the UW Husky "W" while also guarding the green. Shots directly to the green that fall short will fall in the first sand hazard, while the ones to the side will pick up any shots that veer left. They are somewhat deep and the distance from the trap to the green is not as short as a player might wish.
Phil Mickelson's book "Secrets of the Short Game" on how to get out of a golf bunker or sand hazard made the most sense to me when I read about how to do it. His video below offers some helpful tips:
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.
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.
Golf in Florida and other areas of the country can involve "casual water" on the golf course and a variety of of other problems after heavy rainfall.
This photograph shows the passing of a rain filled cloud in Florida.
Many golfers from the Seattle, WA area have a rule called "embrace the rain" since it's very likely people will encounter rain so rather than stop all life, you just go do. There are good reasons why golfers play golf after heavy rain, here's my best list why:
It may seem self-evident, but I've found that keeping your golf shoes isn't as easy as you might think.
In this photograph, I show how a golf tee can solve the problem of how to get stuff stuck in your shoes out. Before you get out of the golf cart, give your shoes a once over with a golf tee to loosen muck and grass out of your shoe treads.
As you can see, I don't wear traditional golf shoes, partly because I find they don't give and end up with blisters, but also because Florida's wet weather means my feet stay wet so I picked an option that let me survive. Read more about Why I Love My Teva Sandals.
Because we hate the smell of decaying grass in our car, we always carry a small broom in our car. This small broom shown in the photograph can quickly remove sand, grass, and loosened much off of your shoes and legs. Removing all of these things ensures that you don't track debris wherever you go--home, restaurants, golf clubhouse, etc.
Many golf clubhouse's offer to other methods to clean your golf shoes. The typical method found is a ground installed foot brush. An alternate method is a air hose that allows you to blast the much free (this is my favorite solution because everything goes).
Golf Smith has some good suggestions for keeping the golf shoe upper's clean.
Ebay offers a complete list of different types of tools for golf cart, floors, etc. for cleaning your golf shoes.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sheri loves to golf, travel and to write.
WA State Golf Reviews
Auburn Golf Course
Bellevue Golf Course
Blue Boy West Golf Course
Enumclaw Golf Course
High Cedars Golf Course
Kenwanda Golf Course
Kayak Ptoint Golf Course
Lake Wilderness Golf Course
Maplewood Golf Course
Sumner Meadows Golf Course
West Seattle Golf Course