Category Archives: Pacific

West

Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek Golf Club in Mesquite, NV

Me and CJ

The Stats

Tee Time: October 23, 2016, 1:00, 82 F, sunny

Designer: Dennis Rider, 2000

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan

Tees: Champions, Par 72 (70.9 rating/138 slope/6,309 yards)

Course Handicap: 11 (8.6 index)

Stats: 87 (41-46); 40 putts; 8/14 fairways; 10/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes

The Course

wolf creek golf course mesquite nevada hole 8
The serene setting at #8

Many generations of video games ago (so like, 15 years) Tiger Woods’ EA golf games added in fantasy courses. My research is spotty, but it started in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 when they began adding fantasy courses, fictional settings that had these crazy holes in a mesmerizing setting. They were named Penguin Falls, The Predator, Emerald Dragon and Wallaby Creek, among others.  Then, with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, they added a new fantasy course: Wolf Creek. Except this is a real place. It may seem like something only a video game designer could conjure up, but thankfully it was Dennis Rider who brought this fantasy landscape to life just an hour up the road from Sin City.

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Aviara Golf Club

Aviara Golf Club & Resort in Carlsbad, CA

aviara golf club
Mike, Kevin, me and Bill

The Stats

Tee Time: July 13, 2016, 7:25, 73 F, sunny

Designer: Arnold Palmer, 1991

Playing Partners: Kevin, Bill and Mike

Tees: Middle, Par 72 (70.0 rating/129 slope/6,054 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.3 index)

Stats: 90 (44-46); 37 putts; 2/14 fairways; 5/18 greens; 7 penalty strokes

The Course

After a great week at the Major League All-Star festivities (I wonder how far Giancarlo Stanton could hit a driver), there was just one last thing to do before heading back to the dry desert. That would be getting an early-morning round in at Southern California’s top golf resort, Aviara Golf Club, home of the LPGA Kia Classic. This course must look amazing during the TV coverage, with pristine lakes and scenic waterfall features throughout. I’ll make sure to catch it next spring.

aviara golf club hole 14
Of all the water par 3’s here, the 14th is probably the toughest

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Callippe Preserve

Callippe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton, CA

Me, CJ and the lots of little kids
Me, CJ and the lots of little kids

 

The Stats

Tee Time: June 18, 2016, 2:10, 81 F, sunny

Designer: Brian Costello, 2005

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Ryan and Mike

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (71.5 rating/129 slope/6,409 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.0 index)

Stats: 88 (43-45); 40 putts; 8/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

In the foothills of the mighty Mount Diablo is where I grew up golfing, in the sunny warmth of the East Bay summer. It’s always beautiful there, even in its current drought-stricken conditions. The hills aren’t dead and brown, they’re vibrant and golden. Gorgeous oak trees provide cool shade, as well as a nice home for stray golf balls that will never see the ground again. This is the first time I’ve ever had to pay for golf in the greater Danville area, and it was well worth it. In high school, I was lucky enough to have three golf courses to play anytime I wanted to, with the Lakes and Falls courses at Blackhawk and while I worked at Round Hill in Alamo.

callippe preserve hole 12 panorama mount diablo
Looking over the driveable, 299-yard 12th with Mount Diablo in the distance

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Edgewood Tahoe

Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, NV

Me and CJ
Me and CJ

The Stats

Tee Time: May 23, 2016, 10:50, 48 F, cloudy turning to rain

Designer: George Fazio, 1968

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Larry and Mike

Tees: Blue/White Combo, Par 72 (71.2 rating/137 slope/6,610 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.0 index)

Stats: 92 (47-45); 31 putts; 7/14 fairways; 1/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes

The Course

Even in mud season, there’s no better place in the world than in the presence of the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe. It’s so inspiring here that I set a major portion of my brand new book, Hunt, in this location. You can buy that here, because the more sales, the more golf trips! But anyways…

See, look at that sweet Tahoe setting...
See, look at that sweet Tahoe setting…

It’s nearly Memorial Day and Donner Pass is still getting snow. But ski season’s over now, and the golf course is the next best place to enjoy the outdoors. If I was ever gonna have a bad time golfing, it would’ve been this round. A hurt back on a frigid, breezy, rainy day and trying to keep calm while playing with a creepy, camo-clad Dale Gribble look-a-like who must’ve said six words all day, shot at least 130 and was using a disposable camera? But I had my ever-enthusiastic buddy CJ with me and, even sweeter, the amazing Edgewood Tahoe golf course offering up 18 holes of jaw-dropping alpine scenery. You can never have a bad day at Edgewood. I almost should just stop writing and let the pictures do that talking. Check out how gorgeous the 9th green is below.

Like this view from off the 9th green...
Like this view from off the 9th green…

Continue reading Edgewood Tahoe

Presidio Golf Course

Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco, CA

presidio golf course graig mantle
Jordan, me and Dave

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 18, 2015, 11:10, 68 F, sunny and windy

Designer: Robert Johnston, 1895

Playing Partners: Dave Jensen and Jordan Stankowski

Tees: White, Par 72 (70.7 rating/129 slope/6,101 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (5.7 index)

Stats: 80 (40-40); 32 putts; 5/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

Set in the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s Presidio Golf Course is a beautiful gem in a city full of them. Just don’t look too closely at the city or you’ll see all the flaws too, like a porn star in HD. Anyways… I would’ve played anywhere today given the circumstances. I got to get a round in with two good college friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (and it would’ve been a third if not for some random conference). And just like the old days, I made a couple dollars and beat Jordan by a couple dozen (actually 80 to 96). Somehow it’s already been over ten years since I spent a year sharing an 11-foot by 13-foot room with another human being, and a shower with about 40 others. Continue reading Presidio Golf Course

Half Moon Bay (Ocean Course)

Half Moon Bay Ocean Course in Half Moon Bay, CA

half moon bay ocean course

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 15, 2015, 2:20, 68 F, overcast

DesignerArthur Hills, 1997

Playing Partners: Craig, Larry and Leonard

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (71.2 rating/125 slope/6,470 yards)

Course Handicap: 6 (5.7 index)

Stats: 87 (44-43); 37 putts; 6/13 fairways; 8/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

golden eagle
Before I go on, check out this badass golden eagle

Based on the pictures alone, Half Moon Bay’s Ocean Course is a must play. I’ve heard stories of five and six hour rounds, which is always a mood killer and stayed away. But since I had some time to kill before Stanford’s 7:30PM Thursday-night dismantling of UCLA, what better way than to spend a few hours next to the ocean just a few miles from Palo Alto? I was taking a gamble with a 2:20 starting time, given that sunset right now is just after 6:30. Surprisingly, there were only a few waits and we managed to get all my 87 strokes in before the stars came out. While slow play is the worst thing in golf, there are worse places to be trapped than on this relatively new links layout on the Northern California coast. And at a fraction of the cost of some other cliffside courses a few miles down the road, any Bay Area resident or guest should head out here once. Continue reading Half Moon Bay (Ocean Course)

Sandpiper Golf Course

Sandpiper Golf Course in Santa Barbara, CA

sandpiper golf course hole 12
Sandpiper, the land of dramatic panoramas

The Stats

Tee Time: June 28, 2015, 8:20, 75F, sunny

Designer: William Bell (1972)

Playing Partners: assorted (tournament)

Tees: Gold, Par 72 (72.8 rating/131 slope/6,646 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (7.7 index)

Stats: 91 (48-43); 34 putts; 6/13 fairways; 3/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

Best I recall, there are two spots on the California coast for golf that everyone agrees are the best. Obviously the trio at Pebble Beach and then the south course at Torrey Pines in San Diego. In between, in Santa Barbara, is a coastal course that is worthy of the same praise the others get. Sandpiper Golf Course, just north of Santa Barbara on the 101, features six holes that take you right up to the cliffs or beach of the Pacific Ocean, and another with an approach that fills the viewfinder with pristine blue ocean. Well, once they clean up the oilContinue reading Sandpiper Golf Course

Poppy Hills Golf Course

Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, CA

poppy hills pebble beach
Me and CJ
*this is actually Pebble Beach, where we ate

The Stats

Tee Time: May 23, 2014, 1:40, 63F, overcast and breezy

Designer: Robert Trent Jones, Jr. (1986)

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Andrew and Dave

Tees: 4 Poppies, Par 71 (72.1 rating/132 slope/6,672 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.2 index)

Stats: 98 (39-42); 34 putts; 6/13 fairways; 3/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

So I got to go home to the Bay Area for Memorial Day weekend. It just so happened that CJ would be visiting from Utah, so we decided to golf at the prime destination that is Pebble Beach, California. So all week I got to say I was golfing in Pebble Beach, though not at Pebble Beach. All they must have heard was “Pebble Beach”. I actually didn’t realize there were so many golf courses just on 17-Mile Drive: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, Poppy Hills and private clubs like Monterey Peninsula and Cypress Point. Not to mention places like Bayonet Black Horse and Pacific Grove just around the corner. This little slice of California is to golf what the Vatican is to religion. With such high demand, though, comes raised prices, especially at the Pebble Beach trio. Luckily, we were able to take advantage of an NCGA member rate at Poppy Hills and walk a freshly redesigned golf course. And I do mean fresh, as after a year-long renovation by original architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the place reopened just this past April 4th. Poppy Hills made for the second newly reopened course I’d played in less than a week (the other being Camelback’s Ambiente Course in Scottsdale, which reopened in November 2013). Just walking the course, being secluded among the majestic Monterey Pines that define the central coast of California, is an experience to cherish. The entire layout is as gorgeous as it gets, unfolding around each bend and over every hill with perfect green grass and a photo-worthy look from any angle. Continue reading Poppy Hills Golf Course

Royal Hawaiian Golf Club

Royal Hawaiian Golf Club in Kailua, HI

royal hawaiian golf club
Manny and I

The Stats

Tee Time: February 9, 2014, 9:30, 82 F, overcast

Designer: Pete Dye (1994)

Playing Partners: Manny Nova

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (70.9 rating/136 slope/6,595 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.0 index)

Stats: N/A (we only played the back 9, front was too wet, but I did par 6 straight)

The Course

Royal Hawaiian Golf Club is not a golf course. It’s a paradise. One of those fantasy locations you see on the Travel Channel. Or like the impossibly beautiful and difficult dream courses in Tiger Woods. Granted, part of this ambiance is helped by the fact that the course was completely empty during the round. A week’s worth of steady rain turned the turf into slush and my clothes caked in mud after only nine holes. The front nine was too saturated to play and the backside, at a slightly higher elevation, only slightly less so. But man it’s an awesome place to bring the golf clubs. It somehow feels like you left Hawaii and entered somewhere even more remote in the rain forest. Exotic birds sing, the ridges of the volcanic crater tower into the clouds and every inch not shaped by man is covered in dense foliage and trees. After snaking through the long, one-lane road inland to the facilities I half expected that we would drive through a giant gate with the Jurassic Park logo on top. Continue reading Royal Hawaiian Golf Club

Turtle Bay Resort

Arnold Palmer Course at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku, HI

turtle bay palmer course clubhouse
Jordan, Greg, random model, me and John

The Stats

Tee Time: February 7, 2014, 2:00, 75 F, rainy

Designer: Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay (1971)

Playing Partners: Jordan Ritenour, Greg Ryan, John

Tees: Gold, Par 72 (70.8 rating/133 slope/6,225 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.0 index)

Stats: 86 (41-45); 39 putts; 9/14 fairways; 10/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

There are so many things to do on the Hawaiian island of Oahu that you can almost forget to do the one thing you came to do: relax. Between hours of beach volleyball, deep sea fishing, nightclubs open until 4am and the necessary trip to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, it can be hard to remember to come up for air every now and then. For me, golf is the ultimate relaxation. Four (sometimes five, let’s go people) hours of hanging out with buddies in the fresh air on green grass will ease any stress away. For some, golf is the opposite. The club-throwing, f-bomb dropping, cringe-inducing malcontent who swears the world is on a personal vendetta against him specifically through shanked 5-irons and bladed sand wedges. Continue reading Turtle Bay Resort