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I’m dealing with a mild sun burn and random case of dehydration but couldn’t be happier. Woke up early and with a large crew of gents hit up the PGA West Jack Nicklaus Tournament Golf Course in La Quinta, California. What a course! I’ve played countless courses in my life and this was easily one of the best if not the best course I’ve ever played. It was immaculate and firm but fair. If you played it right, no worries. If you got yourself in trouble, watch out…
We arrived at about 9, rented some clubs and immediately made our way to the practice area. It was first class with proper triangular piles of balls for golfers to use at their leisure before teeing off. I’d like to say I was full of confidence after a few swings with the new clubs but it wasn’t to be and an omen of what was to come, haha. At the first tee they had sandwiches, coffee and mimosa for those that wished to partake, it was a nice touch and naturally I indulged in all of the above.
The course was a lot of fun, basically I hit a great drive off the first tee which is always important for your mental state, sadly I duffed my second shot and things didn’t get much better the more we played. One of those days where right when you think things are going well, your next shot puts you back in serious trouble and your score reflects it. It’s one of those courses that just looking at the hole, it seems quite simple but in practice, if you’re not on point you will be penalized.
The course itself is lined with beautiful homes and actually quite open off the tees, especially if you play from the whites. If you play from the blues where we did, your tee shot needs to be on point or you’ll almost certainly find yourself somewhere you wish you weren’t. You can tell that when they designed it they had average driving distances in mind so it was a real risk reward affair and those who get over aggressive (cough) will be penalized for mistakes. There are LOTS of sand bunkers which makes sense as we are in a desert. Also must add that many are very deep and most greens are guarded by such said sand traps. Several holes offer the divine gift of going from bunker to bunker due to the width / slope of the greens. Also lots of rolling hills the minute you leave the fairway offering less than ideal lies. It’s a ball strikers course simply put and a good time.
There is also a lot of water, shocking amounts actually considering we’re in a desert. A few holes also reminded me of the infamous TPC Sawgrass with island greens. One par 3 on the front 9 and two holes on the back 9 had spectacular water guarded greens. Also the 9th and 18th hole are great finishers with lots of water to make you choose your shot wisely. Think I would have played better if off the whites, not my clubs and wasn’t playing well so basically had to eat my peas on most tee shots and the ones that did hit the fairway often weren’t far enough to give me a decent approach shot.
The whites are only roughly 6000 yards, if your handicap isn’t appropriate, don’t even bother with the blues, you’ll have a much more pleasurable round from the whites. Only played blues because one of the gents in our foursome is straight up scratch and myself and the others didn’t really care either way. Have you ever played golf with someone who is scratch? It’s mind boggling how easy they make it. That said, I’ve also seen people who shoot over 120, I’m glad to have carved out my niche in the 90’s (usually).
Afterwards the crew enjoyed the 19th hole at Ernie’s which is a restaurant / bar inside the club house. Basically it was an awesome day that we’ll remember forever as it’s the day before a good friends wedding. Realizing I don’t get to spend enough time with these gents, they are a large part of the reason why Vancouver is one of my favorite cities. I’d like to thank the PGA WEST for my round and if I stay a few days longer, will probably try and play another one of the courses. It’s one of those golf courses that how you played isn’t so important because it’s just so nice you feel lucky to have had the experience.
I’d love ramble on forever but there are festivities going on, ones I must return to.
Let me leave you with this quote from Jack Nicklaus: “I’m a firm believer in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy.”
He’s right, isn’t he?
P.S: The gent at the top deserves top shot, he shot 1 under from the blues in a no drama round. The gent below had a round similar to mine, take a look at what has been dubbed “Bunkerzilla”, it’s massive and this photo does not do it justice, it’s seriously gargantuan.