According to the United States Geological Survey, the state of Florida is 18.5% water. And according to my personal research, 50% of that area can be found at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Trust me. Some form of water is in play on 10 of the 18 holes, and you will find it. There is greenside water, long carries over water, water to the left, water to the right. There is nowhere to hide, it will get you. Fortunately only the water is dangerous, as I only saw one baby alligator patrolling one of the 8 or so lakes. Continue reading Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge→
Ahh rain. My luck of dry days in the northwest this year finally ran out as autumn began. I guess it’s my fault for tempting mother nature with a round 3 weeks into the NFL season. I’ve gotten frustrated living in the desert; 100 degrees day in and day out gets old after four or so months. You have to golf at the crack of dawn and still drink like a camel just to avoid heat stroke. Even working in the garage or taking the dog on a quick walk gets you sweating enough to need a cold shower. But 18 holes and 4 hours in a steady, 60-degree downpour? Continue reading Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club→
In 2015, the US Open will be held here at Chambers Bay. You’ll see stunning visuals of sailboats and yachts out on the Puget Sound. Countless slow pans of the lone Douglas Fir behind the 15th hole. Maybe even some Jimmy Roberts pieces about the site’s history as a gravel mine. It will look great on television and be one of the most unique majors in recent memory. But nothing compares to actually walking these links. Spending four hours hiking up and down the natural contours of the course, taking in the unmatched scenery with every stride and breathing in the refreshing sea air is hands down the best experience I’ve had yet on this young journey. High above the golf course sits the clubhouse and restaurant, with a panoramic view of the premises as well as an excellent club sandwich. Just be dead sure you have your valuables safely hidden in your vehicle before walking into the pro shop, where there will always be a line of customers purchasing various memorabilia. After checking in, a shuttle will transport you down to the practice range and the rest of the course, dropping off right by the snack shack. The quick bus ride down to this golf playground hauling all your gear gets the adrenaline going in much the same way that taking the gondola up the mountain up with skis in tow does, knowing an awesome day awaits.
The TPC Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta, California is a constant member on lists of both the finest and the toughest courses, and deserving of those rankings as well. Spectacular mountain views, pristine lakes and bunkers with sand as perfect and soft as a Park City powder day are present on all 18 holes. Punishing mounds, long carries over water and teeny-tiny greens also characterize every hole at PGA West. It’s a perfect marriage of the two most important aspects to making an excellent golf course: possessing breathtaking scenery while simultaneously providing a challenge of a golfer’s skills with all his clubs. Pete Dye set this track up in a way that tries to hide most of the dangerous spots on the course. Obviously the water is hard to miss, but the undulation of the earth from tee to green plays tricks on you. It masks the bad spots, crosses up your eyes into incorrectly judging distances (which is no fun when you could have sworn that fairway bunker was at least twenty yards shorter than it ended up), and stubbornly refuses to kick rolling golf balls anywhere but off the fairway. I get the feeling that in the days before GPS carts this course really was a bitch. The starter even warned me to pay special attention to the little flatscreen in the cart, as many hidden traps were revealed. Mix in some greens that were half the size of a reasonable putting surface, surround that with bunkers deeper than the Mariana Trench and narrow fringes and now the course has put strain on your iron and short game play. Continue reading TPC Stadium Course at PGA West→
The Boulders, a top 100 public golf course according to Golf Magazine, presents everything great about Arizona golf. Desert scenery (the version with soaring saguaros, wind-rounded rocks and colorful mesas, not the barren expanses of badlands only Les Stroud would enjoy), exciting target golf and numerous complimentary amenities. Set in the upper elevation of Carefree, about 45 minutes north of the Phoenix of airport, the whole course is secluded among the hills and winds throughout the villas and homes at The Boulders Resort, a Waldorf Astoria property. While nothing has yet matched the awesomeness of Troon North, The Boulders is very similar, like a Troon North for higher handicappers. Misses are not as devastating, the greens are easier to read and the fairways don’t roll balls into desert rock. That being said, the Boulders is a course that needs to be played smart, as I discovered after a great tee shot on the par-5 5th hole that left 240 yards to the green. It turned out ignoring the way the landing area to the green narrowed like the center of an hourglass brings ol’ #7 back onto the scorecard. This is one of several examples where the risks do not outweigh the potential glory of eagles. Continue reading The Boulders→
I’ve been an Arizona resident for about 9 months, and had never really found a reason to go to Maricopa. Now I’ll definitely be going back and hopefully soon, thanks to Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club. I finally got to put my Troon Golf Card to use on this blistering hot day in Arizona (as opposed to all those cool summer days the state’s known for). I’ll get the round details out of the way early because I could go on about them all day. It started on the driving range. At the end of a quick ten-swing warmup I had a sand wedge in my hands and the ball cart closing in. I hit a perfect sixty-yard pitch that was tracking right into the windshield. I stood there admiring my shot like Jose Bautista taking in one of his long home runs. Twenty feet, fifteen feet, ten feet, five feet… And then nothing. The driver swerved at the last minute (apparently they’re picking up balls with Mini Coopers out there) and my ball fell harmlessly to the grass. I raised my hands in disappointment and saluted the driver for his evasive maneuvers. He smiled and laughed. I was a cart boy for a couple years and I remember golf balls rattling the steel cage of the cart that made it sound like World War III had just erupted on the Round Hill driving range. But I wasn’t letting him get away with that. He was driving away when I swung at one last ball with him about 80 yards out. Like a perfectly led wide receiver streaking down the sideline, my ball floated through the air and smacked the top of the cart roof a hundred yards away. If only I could snipe like that on the ice rink… Continue reading Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club→
Troon North Golf Club’s Monument Course in Scottsdale, AZ is well deserving of its spot at #45 on Golf Digest’s 2010 Top Courses You Can Play list. Due to budgetary reasons, I booked this tee time for the middle of August, during the hottest time of the year in one of the hottest deserts on the planet. Still, even though the sweating started before the clubs were on the cart I enjoyed every second on this course. The practice areas were top tier; the putting green rolled so smooth I came away thinking it would be an easy day after draining a few 20-footers. I came prepared. A solid pre-round meal, plenty of SPF-50, new Adidas clima-cool shirt, comfy Dri-Fit socks and over 120 fluid ounces of Gatorade and water meant the heat would not be as daunting as the triple-digits appeared. Then I teed off. Continue reading Troon North Golf Club – Monument Course→
I set a goal in 2011 of playing at least one round of golf in all 50 states by 2021. This is a quest to play some of America’s finest courses in every state, even the flyover ones…