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VOLUME 5 •  ISSUE 4 • DECEMBER 2011 • COMPLIMENTARY

NEW IRONS TURN UP THE HEAT

WIN TRIPS TO PALM SPRINGS, MAUI AND LAS VEGAS! WHAT WE’D BUY AND WHERE WE’RE PLAYING THIS WINTER NORTHWEST GOLF NEWS & VIEWS • cascadegolfer.com

@cascadegolfer

ENDLESS SUMMER It’s always summer somewhere — you just have to know where to look

Customer Appreciation

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A LOOK

CASCADE

INSIDEGOLFER

Departments 6 PUBLISHER’S PITCH

18 PUETZ IN THE BAG

10 SHORT GAME

• • • • • • •

CG Cup sends two to British Open New courses highlight 2011 All-new Cascade Golfer Players Card A year’s worth of giveaways Take your game indoors Puget Sound pros on the rise CG’s Holiday Gift Guide

Features

28

• Must-have new sticks for 2012 • Putters go belly up

27 RISK VS REWARD

• Gold Mountain (Olympic) No. 6

50 SAVE SOME GREEN

Palm Springs’ most breathtaking holes

54 POSTGAME • Signs you’re a NW golfer

PUETZ GOLF SAVINGS! 8-9 | 22-26 | 52

• Holiday-season treats

CG’S ENDLESS SUMMER

Desert Dreams

53 PRACTICE TEE • Keep up the good work

40

Only In Vegas

Night golf? Themed courses? Only in Vegas

48

Bienvenidos A Mexico! Punta Mita is a five-star gem

THIS PAGE: The Classic Club in Palm Desert hosted the Bob Hope Classic from 2006-08. Many of its holes were considered for our dream desert tour, but only one made the cut — CHECK OUT THE DESERVING WINNER ON PAGE 32.

ON THE

COVER

The ninth hole at PGA WEST’s Nicklaus Course in La Quinta, Calif., is one of the most photographed holes in the world … and it still didn’t make our list of the Coachella Valley’s finest. SEE THOSE THAT DID STARTING ON PAGE 28. Cover design by Robert Becker

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DECEMBER DECEMBER 2011 2011

cascadegolfer.com cascadegolfer.com


Volume 5 •  Issue 4 •  DECEMBER 2011

CASCADE

PUBLISHER’S PITCH

GOLFER O cascadegolfer.com

Cascade Golfer is published and owned by Varsity Communications, Inc. This publication is mailed free to more than 106,000 registered Puetz Golf Preferred members. Additional copies are printed and distributed throughout the Puget Sound.

VARSITY COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 12510 33rd Ave. NE, Suite 300 Seattle, WA 98125 P: (206) 367-2420 F: (206) 363-9099 varsitycommunications.com

EDITORIAL STAFF

P R E S I D E NT / P U B LI S H E R Dick Stephens E D I TO R Brian Beaky ART DIRECTION Robert Becker GR APHIC DESIGNERS Robert Becker, Heather Flyte, John Kimball CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tony Dear, Brian Oar FOR EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS AND INQUIRIES: Brian Beaky • (206) 367-2420 ext. 1209 editor@cascadegolfer.com

DICK STEPHENS

Hoping ‘his’ interest turns into a lifetime with the game n a few occasions during the life of this magazine, I’ve referenced my connection to the game through my family and father. In fact, my Travel Bag story this issue, about my journey to Punta Mita in Mexico, was a trip taken with my brother, Spencer, who loves the game like I do. Our dad, Gary, continues to play a leading role in the Stephens’ family golf saga. I love playing with him and eagerly await his Thursday afternoon phone calls giving me the rundown of his weekly match with his brother and their friends. My Dad’s friendly competitiveness and love of golf has certainly bled into both myself and Spencer. I hope that my children, too, will find an interest in golf. My middle child, 11-year-old Simon (a First Tee student) seems to have a decent interest in the game. Recently, he and I played a nine-hole round with his friends Ben and Jackson, and their fathers. It was Simon’s first actual round of golf. On the way to the course, I prepared him for the whiffs, lost balls and bad breaks, and those occasional sweet times when the ball flies and lies true. As we teed off, he ripped a pretty nice 125-yard drive that put a stride in his step and cushioned the next seven strokes, until he holed out for an eight on his first-ever hole — a

300-yard, dogleg par-4. His reaction to writing down his first score on a real hole was what I hope is a foretaste of what’s to come. He loved it; I could feel it in my heart and see it on his face. He enjoyed being with his buds and his Dad. His mixture of chatter with Ben and Jackson ranged between what kind of golf ball he was playing to what level they have reached on Xbox Lego Star Wars. It was music to my ears. All the boys had fun, and wanted to do it again. I hope he loves it enough to stay with it, so I can enjoy it with him like I have with my old man. It made my weekend and gave us something new to talk about at home. He doesn’t know I am writing this, but someday perhaps he will read it and it will have some significance to him. In fact, I hope my daughter, Lily, and younger son, Fletcher (both of whom have yet to play on a real course) will also take to the game. Now, that would be a foursome I’d love to meet up with regularly for years to come. If any of you have similar experiences you wish to share, email ‘em in here, and we will publish them on cascadegolfer.com. Take care and, as always, TAKE IT EASY!

ADVERTISING & MARKETING STAFF

V I C E P R E S I D E NT / D I R E C TO R O F S AL E S Kirk Tourtillotte S A LE S M A N AG E R David Stolber S A LE S & M A R K E T I N G Simon Dubiel FOR ADVERTISING INQUIRIES, CONTACT: David Stolber • (206) 367-2420 ext. 1204 david@varsitycommunications.com

ACCOUNTING STAFF

DIRECTOR OF FINANCE Bobbi Kramer ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & RECEIVABLE Pam Titland

PRINTING

Consolidated Press • Seattle, WA COPYRIGHT 2011 Cascade Golfer. PRINTED IN THE USA. All rights reserved. Articles, photos, advertising and/or graphics may not be reprinted without the written permission of the publisher. Advertising and editorial contained herein does not constitute endorsement of Cascade Golfer or Varsity Communications, Inc. Publisher reserves the right to edit letters, photos and copy submitted and publish only excerpts. The publisher has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all material contained in this issue. However, as unpredictable changes and errors do occur, the publisher can assume no liability for errors, omissions or changes. All photos are courtesy of the course or individual unless otherwise noted. PRODUCER AND OWNER OF THE PROUD CHARTER MEMBER

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DECEMBER 2011 2011

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9


SHORT GAME

Amos & Haug Win CG Cup; Kowalenko, Holdaas Head to British Open

F

or Victor Kowalenko and Tom Holdaas, the Cascade Golfer Cup has never been about the prizes. Which makes it even more appropriate that at October’s Cascade Golfer Cup Awards Party at the Muckleshoot Casino, the duo took home the biggest prize the Cup has ever awarded. Kowalenko and Holdaas (top right) leapt from their chairs when their names were drawn at random

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as winners of a weeklong trip to next year’s Open Championship in England, including airfare, lodging, and passes to all four days of the world’s oldest professional golf major. “It was a pretty cool moment,” said tournament director Simon Dubiel, who noted that Kowalenko and Holdaas have played in all 13 Cascade Golfer Cup events in the last two years without ever pocketing one of the major prizes. Suffice to say, they’ll take this one — all the way across the pond. The Awards Party was the culmination of five months of play at top courses statewide in the Cascade Golfer Cup, the region’s premier amateur tournament series. Featuring team scoring, net and gross formats and over $100,000 in prizes — including stay-and-play packages to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, the Bay Area, Bandon Dunes, Central Oregon and Coeur d’Alene, plus clubs, rounds of golf and much more — the Cascade Golfer Cup has grown in two years into the largest and most popular amateur tournament series in the Northwest. In fact, if you can find a better amateur tournament series anywhere in the nation, let us know — we want to top it. It was those incredible prizes that brought together nearly 200 players and their families at the Muckleshoot Casino in October, each eagerly awaiting the British Open drawing and the announcement of final scores from the previous week’s season-ending Cascade Golfer Cup Championship at Druids Glen. As the scores and places were announced in

Over 200 golfers and their families attended the CG Cup awards party at the Muckleshoot Casino.

reverse order, teams quickly calculated their new Cascade Golfer Cup point totals, trying to determine if they had a shot at the overall title and the grand prize — the 2012 Summer Golf Package, featuring 20 twosomes at the region’s top courses, including Chambers Bay, Prospector, White Horse, Washington National, Gold Mountain (Olympic), Druids Glen, McCormick Woods and others. Ultimately, though, it was Chad Amos and Ryan Haug (top left) who took home the coveted title, winning both the Druids Glen event and May’s Cascade Golfer Challenge at Washington National. Amos and Haug will be teeing it up for free all over the Northwest next year ... at least, when they’re not cashing in the prizes they earned for their tournament wins — stay-and-plays to Bandon Dunes, Las Vegas and Palm Springs. Not a bad way to spend a summer. In addition to awarding tournament prizes, Cup prizes and conducting the British Open drawing, Cup organizers presented Kevin LaMair and Mike Farnam the title of Team of the Year for their outstanding gross performances throughout the series (and a pair of TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0 drivers autographed by PGA Tour star Billy Andrade), and followed up the party with the first-ever Cascade Golfer No-Limit Hold-Em Tournament in the Muckleshoot Casino Poker Room. Seven tournaments on fantastic courses. Five fun, team-scoring formats. Over $100,000 in prizes. And, for Victor Kowalenko and Tom Holdaas, one trip of a lifetime to next year’s British Open. We’ll see you on the tee box in 2012.

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If you thought this year’s Cascade Golfer Cup was a blast, just wait until you see what we have in store for 2012. Contact Tournament Coordinator Simon Dubiel at simon@cascadegolfer.com to add your name to our Cup e-mail list, and be the first to learn about host courses, dates and prizes for a year you’re not going to want to miss!

cascadegolfer.com


AND THE WINNER IS…

DAZZLING DEBUT DUO

I

f you follow any of the golf construction blogs or websites Salish Cliffs • Shelton (one of the best is GolfConstructionNews.com, managed by Cybergolf vet and longtime Puget Sound golf contributor Jeff Shelley), you’ve likely become accustomed over the last couple of years to a typical storyline … developer comes in with big ideas, announces a fabulous new course to be built among a slew of homesites, then puts the project on hold until the real estate market rebounds. Not here, though. While much of the nation’s golf construction has been temporarily put on hold, the Puget Sound region this year celebrated two of the highestprofile course openings in the nation in Rope Rider at PHOTO BY BRIAN OAR Suncadia and Salish Cliffs at the Little Creek Casino Resort near Shelton. Salish Cliffs marked a return to the region for Gene Bates, whose Circling Raven was rated among the top new courses in America in 2003. Bates’ newest gem is a beast of a different kind, with broad fairways and shallow, natural-edged bunkers that are prettier than they are penal. The course, which brought Tour legend Fred Couples in for its grand opening in September, plays up a ridge to the high point on the No. 14 tee, then back down to the risk-reward, par-5 18th, where a golfer must decide if they have enough left in the tank for one last blast. While Couples was among the first to trod the fairways at Salish Cliffs, it was our own Cascade Golfer Cup players who had the privilege of being the first around Suncadia’s new Rope Rider course, which officially opened three weeks after July’s Puetz Golf Shootout. The mountain track, with its combination of unique holes, family-friendly tee boxes and layouts, and clubhouse in the fabulous Swiftwater Cellars winery, is sure to be a popular new amenity to the Suncadia Resort, and an excellent companion to the resort’s Prospector course. Rope Rider • Suncadia So what’s next for the Puget Sound region? I know what we’ll be requesting this year — we don’t need any USGA tournaments or new courses … just a few extra weeks of sun. Then we can actually get out there and enjoy tracks new and old that are making our region America’s best place to be.

In every issue of Cascade Golfer, we’re constantly thinking about how we can help our readers squeeze even more great values out of their golfing season. That’s why in addition to the over $100,000 in prizes we handed out at our seven Cascade Golfer Cup events this year — including custom-made sets of clubs, rounds of golf to dozens of the Puget Sound region’s top courses and trips to Hawaii, Bend, Bandon Dunes, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, San Francisco … and, of course, the 2012 British Open in England — we secured countless giveaways for our readers in 2011, from foursomes at top area tracks, to free clubs, free lessons, and weeklong getaways to Hawaii, Palm Springs and more. And just to prove that we really do pay out all our bets, here’s the full list of actual CG readers who took home fantastic prizes this year:

APRIL

Kikkor Golf Shoes Brian Keith • Lake Tapps PSP “Little One” Iron Paul Maki • Kirkland

JUNE

Entry to the 2011 Pacific Amateur Richard Morones • Lakewood Boeing Classic VIP Package Patrick Kelly • Redmond Twosome to Meridian Valley Eugene Krueger • Federal Way

AUGUST

Flathead Valley Stay-and-Play Brian Brandes • Everett Foursome at Highlander Nick Knutzen • Kent Foursome at The Classic Jeff Beni • Tacoma Foursome to Bandon Crossings Jeff Watkins • Puyallup Twosome at Meridian Valley Ed Rogers • Maple Valley Innovex Driver Nathan Strand • Olympia

A Cascade Golfers Players’ Card? SAY IT’S SO! Oh, it’s so. Around the CG offices, we were toasting another great Cascade Golfer year and thought, What could we do to give our readers even MORE value in 2012? And thus, the brand-new, limited-edition Cascade Golfer Players Card was born. Now, we’ll admit this is an idea in its infancy, so the details are still being dialed in. But the basic concept is this — a punch card good for rounds at top Washington courses (on the level of those where we play our CG Cup events), plus discounts on additional rounds and golf merchandise … all at a price that will make buying the card like being given free money. We’ll roll out the full launch in April, including a catchy name and details on courses and pricing, but we wanted to throw the concept out there this month as a tease of just some of the exciting things we have planned for 2012. We’re pretty confident they’ll sell out fast, so e-mail playerscard@cascadegolfer.com to be among the first to know! cascadegolfer.com

SIX MORE CHANCES TO WIN THIS MONTH! Like a fresh sleeve of Pro V1s to start your round, we’re closing out 2011 and kicking off 2012 with another full slate of giveaways in December, including not one, not two, but THREE sun-splashed vacation golf getaways! See the page numbers below for more details, then log on to CascadeGolfer.com for your chance to win! Orange Whip Swing Trainer | Page 14 Innovex V-Motion and E-Motion Golf Balls | Page 14 La Quinta Resort Stay-and-Play | Page 31 Six-Day Palm Springs Stay-and-Play | Page 32 Six-Day Maui Stay-and-Play | Page 49 201153 11 Free GolfTEC SwingDECEMBER Evaluation | Page


Ember

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DECEMBER 2011

Tour, and a pair of runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour. Here’s how our Home Team fared in 2011, and what we can expect in 2012.

FRED COUPLES

KYLE STANLEY

Played just six times after June’s Memorial, but still notched two Champions Tour wins and a tie for 16th at the hometown Boeing Classic. Made biggest headlines not with wins or 15th-place finish at the Masters, but as captain of the U.S. President’s Cup team, which he led against Greg Norman’s international team in November.

Only Keegan Bradley had a better rookie year on the PGA TOUR — Tacoma native and Bellarmine Prep alum earned over $1.5 million in his first year on Tour, including a heartbreaking 2nd-place finish at July’s John Deere Classic. After enduring Q School last December, Stanley (pictured above) can instead spend this year’s holidays basking in a 34th-place FedEx Cup finish.

cascadegolfer.com


SHORT GAME

RYAN MOORE Another strong year for the Tacoma native, who pocketed over $1.9 million in earnings with four top10s and a tie for second at June’s Travelers Invitational in Connecticut. Will close 2011 in the top-50 of the World Golf Rankings for the second-straight year.

ALEX PRUGH Followed up terrific 2010 with fast start, earning three top-25s and over $200,000 the season’s first few months. Showed just how tough life on Tour can be, though, with just four cuts made the rest of the way, meaning another Q School appearance is likely.

MICHAEL PUTNAM Made 13 cuts in first year back on Tour since 2007, earning just under $400,000 to sit comortably in Tour’s top-125 through mid-July. Wrist injury ended his season early, though should be able to apply for injury exemption in 2012 to try to make up for lost months.

ANDRES GONZALES College roommate of Ryan Moore was Tour’s most entertaining rookie, with a one-sided Twitter dialogue with Tiger Woods and an “everyman” persona. Made just nine cuts in 21 events, and will be looking to repeat his Q School success this winter.

KIRK TRIPLETT Moses Lake native split $220,000 in earnings between the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour, including a win on the latter in August. Will turn 50 in 2012, when he will become eligible for the Champions Tour and a return home for the Boeing Classic.

PAIGE MACKENZIE Earned a top-10 in May and tied for 20th at the Wegmans LPGA Championship to earn a career-best $177,000 and place 47th on the Tour money list, preserving her card for 2012.

JIMIN KANG Earned top-25 finishes at two majors lifted Kang to 38th on Tour money list and made 18 of 20 cuts to add another $240,000 to her nearly $2 million in career earnings.

NATIONWIDE TOUR Former Husky Troy Kelly hopes to be the next Puget Sound native to make his name on the PGA TOUR after an 11th-place finish on the Nationwide Tour, earning a full card for 2012. Despite strong years, fellow Home Teamers Jeff Gove (30th) and Richard Lee (37th) just missed the top-25 cutoff, and will have to go the Q School route once again this year. cascadegolfer.com

DECEMBER 2011

13


SHORT GAME

EXTRA

2011 Cascade Golfer

H LIDAY GIFT GUIDE Ember Luxury Wood Putters

‘Tis the season for giving, and there’s a few products out there we’ve had our eye on this year, either to help us work on our game through the winter months, or just to decorate the office. Here’s what we’ll be looking for under our tree this season:

Pure Stroke Trainer

Pricing info online | emberwoodputter.com 614-325-5988

$129 (CG Special — $89) | mypurestroke.com 915-522-5218

Maybe you’re looking for a unique showpiece for your home or work office. Maybe you want to wow your playing partners on the golf course. Or maybe you’re just looking for the perfect way to say thank you or Happy Holidays to a golfer in your life — might we suggest an Ember Luxury Wood Putter? Hand-crafted in Ohio from the finest woods, and featuring high-quality finishes carefully and professionally applied through a four-step process, the putters are both stunning to look and USGA-conforming. Complete customization of fit and design are available, including name or logo engraving, printing or inlaid gemstones and mother-of-pearl. Ember’s designers will even take wood from your own home or golf course, and turn it into an incredible, one-of-a-kind piece of functional art — a gift any golfer would be proud to receive.

The Pure Stroke Trainer features two large iron forks extending off the clubface, with a gap barely the width of a ball between them. By learning to putt the ball between the forks, without touching either side, golfers develop a consistent stroke, striking the ball in the center of the face every time. “You have to be perfect in every part of your stroke. If you don’t take the clubhead back square, or don’t keep your shoulders square, the ball will hit the forks and bounce off,” says inventor David Hopkins. “You absolutely cannot cheat this club.” Best of all, Hopkins is offering the club to CG readers at a steep discount — normally $129, CG readers can pick one up this season for just $89 by visiting the website above and clicking on the Cascade Golfer icon.

STUFF YOUR STOCKING – FOR FREE! Why cross your fingers and hope that your spouse or friends have caught onto your hints about that new club or swing trainer you’ve been hoping to get this holiday season? Let Cascade Golfer play the role of Santa Claus this year by entering to win either of two of the most-talked-about products we’ve reviewed this year … the Golf Digest silver medal-winning Innovex V-Motion and E-Motion golf balls (five dozen to give away — a $179 value!) or the Orange Whip, the easy-to-use swing trainer that’s actually made it into the bags of PGA Tour pros. Two cool products, six lucky winners! LOG ON TO CASCADEGOLFER.COM FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!

14

DECEMBER 2011

Grip Solid

$19.95 | gripsolid.com

DriveLine Laser

(Use coupon code ”CGMAG” to save 10%)

$275 | drivelinelaser.com 714-899-2148

While most training aids focus on helping a golfer learn the proper takeaway or swing plane, there are millions of golfers whose problem begins before they ever even begin their backswing. The Grip Solid training aid, therefore, was developed to help golfers perfect one of the most crucial and most often overlooked aspects of a successful swing — the grip. A thin rubber strap that is worn over your glove includes a raised “FLEX-BAR” that provides immediate feedback as to the pressure and position of your grip …if you feel the bar compress, you’re gripping too tightly. Easy to slip on and off while warming up or even waiting on the tee, it’s a simple, functional way to drill proper grip pressure throughout your swing, whether practicing or on the course. This one first caught our eye when it toppled a field of hundreds to win Best New Product honors at the 2011 PGA Expo, and we’ve had it on our wish list ever since. And unlike many swing trainers, it’s one that will fit nicely into our stocking.

Not satisfied with what he could learn through instructional videos on the Web, and finding it hard to repeat at home the good mechanics he had learned in expensive lessons, engineer Norm Kellogg set to work developing a cost-effective swing trainer that would help him practice a perfect swing on his own, wherever and whenever he felt like practicing. His DriveLine Laser uses sensors built into a laser plane generator that clamps directly onto the shaft of your club, and allows you to fine-tune your swing at slow speeds, then practice your new, perfect groove with full swings, all the time receiving feedback from the laser as to how well you’re maintaining the proper plan. Since it can be adjusted to fit an iron, driver or putter, it’s essentially three trainers in one, allowing you to develop perfect posture and position with all of your clubs, on your own schedule, without need of any specialized training. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked.

1-888-427-6504

cascadegolfer.com


One Shirt To Rule Them All

W

e’ve come to accept energy bracelets, energy necklaces, energy rings … but an energy shirt? Come on, you can’t be serious. At least, that was what we thought before we turned up the names of some of the golfers who swear by Energy Athletic’s IonX apparel — like Paul Azinger, the 1993 PGA Champion and 2008 Ryder Cup captain; or PGA Tour winner Robert Garrigus, who claims he began playing “the best golf of my life” after switching to an Energy Athletic shirt (available online at wearenergy.com). The science behind the IonX apparel is really no different than that which has been putting energy bracelets on the wrists of millions of golfers and nongolfers alike for the last decade — the body benefits from an abundance of negatively charged ions, which increase blood flow to your muscles resulting in a greater range of function, increased flexibility and power, and quicker recovery. Running water is a common source of negative ions — one reason why we feel so energized and relaxed while taking a shower, or walking near a flowing mountain stream. Most ionic jewelry is designed to produce an electromagnetic field that traps negative ions in your body. Energy Athletic’s IonX apparel, by comparison,

cascadegolfer.com

creates a massive electromagnetic field from the molecular structure of the fabric it’s made from — in essence, it’s the rough equivalent of wearing 400 ionic bracelets at once. “I feel stronger and more focused when I’m on the golf course throughout the entire round,” says Garrigus. “My body seems to recover more quickly after rounds and I feel fresher and more energized the next morning.” Of course, just as there were when ionic bracelets first became all the rage, doubters have been quick to scoff at the notion of a magic shirt that can improve your golf game. And who could blame them? I mean, if there was a magic shirt, wouldn’t everybody wear one? Researchers who have studied the Energy Athletic IonX suggest that, actually, that’s exactly what we all should be doing. Golf Labs, which tests a number of golf products released each year, put the shirts’ marketing claims through the “truth test” earlier this year, and produced similar results — golfers wearing the shirts felt better, performed better and lost less swing speed over the course of the tests than those that didn’t. Of course, as with any new product, what will really

Paul Azinger

get it moving off shelves is the endorsement of PGA Tour pros. Which makes Azinger’s following endorsement significant: “If I had known about Energy Athletic Apparel while I was choosing the U.S. team’s uniforms for the 2008 Ryder Cup, there is no question I would have put our players into Energy Athletic golf shirts. That’s how much I believe in this technology.”

DECEMBER 2011

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DECEMBER 2011

cascadegolfer.com


cascadegolfer.com

DECEMBER 2011

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Product

IN THE BAG REVIEWS

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and equipment news you can use

YULETIDE SAVINGS BY BRIAN BEAKY CG EDITOR

I

t seems like just a few months ago that I was looking out my office window and watching the sun break through the clouds for the first time in 2011, as the excitement built within me for the many days of warm, sunny golf in store this season. On second thought, that actually was just a few months ago — for the second-straight year, Mother Nature didn’t receive the memo that golf season is supposed to begin in April, not July. Of course, the end of the peak playing season doesn’t have to mean that it’s time to throw the clubs in the garage and call it a year. After all, a pro football player doesn’t just shove the pads in the closet and take up volleyball all spring — instead, they spend the offseason refining their skills, trying out new equipment and putting themselves into a position to succeed right from the first whistle next season. It’s no different for a serious golfer. Whether your goal in the coming year is to make it on the PGA Tour, or just knock a couple of strokes off your handicap, the winter offers advantages at every turn — including vastly reduced greens fees (see this month’s “Save Some Green” feature, on page 50, for some of the region’s deals), and the chance to work on your swing someplace other than the back nine (check out page 12 for some of our favorite places to tinker). What’s more, the months from October to January are the “on-season” for gearheads, as the major manufacturers roll out their new products for the holiday shopping season and January’s PGA Merchandise Show. Not only can a golfer get a sneak peek at next year’s hot new models, but the release of new clubs means that last year’s “must-have” products are marked down to clearance prices, making it the ideal time to stock up on sticks new and old for the coming year — then get in a few months of practice before the sun returns. We’ve gone through the list of fall releases and picked a few of those we think are worth trying out this offseason, and added in a few other products we wouldn’t mind seeing under our Christmas tree this year, either. Here’s hoping Mother Nature lets us get out and use them sometime before July.

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DECEMBER 2011

PING G20 PUETZ GOLF PRICE Starting at $299.95 (driver) $87.50 (per iron, custom-fit)

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ver the past several years, it’s become common for manufacturers to roll out not just one new line at a time, but two — companion lines for low- and mid-handicappers, with plenty of game-improvement technology in the latter, and a Tour-preferred feel and adjustability in the former. That made it catch the attention of the golf world this summer when amateur Tom Lewis of England shot to the lead at the British Open using not PING’s latest line of pro-series sticks, the i20s, but rather the game-improvement version of that same line, the G20s. Over the next few months, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera and Miguel Angel Jimenez also put the G20 in their bags, making it certainly one of the biggest crossover clubs in recent Tour history. So what is it that has mid-handicappers and PGA Tour pros alike reaching for PING’s latest game-improvement game-changer? Bucking the trend of ultralight drivers, PING has slightly increased the clubhead weight of the G20 as compared to its predecessor, the G15, to increase power and feel over a traditional gameimprovement head, while broadening the clubface and sliding even more weight to the rear of the club for increased forgiveness. Product testing conducted this fall showed the G20 does indeed produce a higher ball flight and lower spin rate than the G15, a tried-and-true formula for straighter, longer drives. The G20 irons, too, are more forgiving than their predecessor, which already were among the top-performing game-improvement clubs on the market. It used to be that mid-handicappers tried to imitate the pros — with game-improvement drivers and belly putters now showing up on Tour, it seems the tables have turned. puetzgolf.com

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IN THE BAG TaylorMade R11 Irons PUETZ GOLF PRICE $799.95 8 pc. steel $999.95 8 pc. graphite

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resh off the success of its attention-grabbing R11 driver, TaylorMade carried the R11 name (though not the all-white color scheme) over to its newest line of irons, which are in truth a blend of two popular TaylorMade sets, the game-improvement Burners and the pro-style Tour Preferreds. Like the Burner 2.0, the R11 features a slightly larger clubhead than a traditional players’ iron, and a thinner, lightweight face that allows more weight to be shifted to the rear of the club for a higher launch, lower spin and added forgiveness. Like the Tour Preferred irons, the R11s provide excellent spin in the short irons, a “Precision Weight Port” in the rear of the club to custom-match clubhead and swing weights to your swing, a less noticeable offset than in traditional game-improvement clubs and the improved feel, sound and workability that better players prefer. Essentially, the R11 has carved a niche between the mid-handicapper who’d love to play Tour-style clubs and the scratch golfer who wouldn’t mind a little extra help — in otherwords, about 90 percent of us out there.

Mizuno JPX 800 HD Irons PUETZ GOLF PRICE $699.95 8 pc. steel $899.95 8 pc. graphite

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izuno irons have long had a reputation across the municipal golf courses of America as a player’s iron. If you showed up on the first tee and saw that one of the guys you were paired with was playing Mizunos, it was a good bet that he was headed for the blue tees. Last year, however, Mizuno took their Tour-quality reputation into the game-improvement world with the JPX 800, a club designed specifically to help mid- and high-handicappers by increasing distance and forgiveness from tight lies. The HD — high-distance — line takes that model to the next level, replacing the 4and 5-irons with easy-to-hit JPX FLI-HI hybrids while further enhancing the line’s highMOI qualities with a lower center of gravity and perimeter weighting. Despite the many advantages, though — including Mizuno’s Hot Metal and MAX COR technology in the face for explosive distance — the line retains the classic chrome styling and superior feel that have made Mizunos so popular with top players for decades … meaning you can now look like a scratch golfer, even while you’re still learning to play like one.

Callaway RAZR XF Irons/Hybrids PUETZ GOLF PRICE $1110.95 Driver $1300.95 Irons

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allaway calls its new RAZR XF irons the “most premium iron set” it has ever created. No pressure there, XFs. That the Callaway brass were confident making such a strong statement is a testament to the clubs themselves, which blend elements of each of Callaway’s recent technological trademarks into one high-performance club. For starters, the set features six irons and two hybrids, a big advantage for mid- and high-handicappers who struggle to hit their long irons accurately. Each club in the line features an ultra-thin Carpenter Steel face and forged carbon steel body to blend added distance and forgiveness of a high-MOI club, with increased control over a traditional cast iron. A thermoplastic medallion at the rear of the club dampens the vibration for a softer feel, while Callaway’s patented “Zero Roll Design” and VFT technologies promote a higher ball flight and longer, straighter shots. And while the clubs are considered to be of the game-improvement kind, their all-black finish — another RAZR line staple — will leave even scratch players looking on in envy.

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DECEMBER 2011

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IN THE BAG Odyssey DART Mid- and Long Putters PUETZ GOLF PRICE $189.95

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generation from now, Aug. 14, 2011, may well be remembered in the golf industry as the day belly putters went mainstream. That was the day Tour rookie Keegan Bradley finished off a career-making weekend at the PGA Championship with a playoff win over Jason Dufner, becoming just the third player in golf history to win in their first major championship appearance. What caused nearly as much of a stir was the equipment the 25-year-old used to knock off the world’s best golfers — notably, an Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth belly putter. Bradley became the first player ever to ride a belly putter to a major win; when Webb Simpson won the following week with yet another long-shafted flatstick, the mad rush to the golf shops was on. Odyssey quickly moved to capitalize on the success with the release of mid (43 inches) and long (48 and 50 inches) versions of its popular D.A.R.T. series, with its trademark alignment aid and White Ice insert. It’s biggest advantage? Proponents of the belly putter — a rapidly growing list that now includes Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson — praise its stability, particularly in the “money range” of 6-10 feet where mid-handicappers hope for 50/50, while the best putters rarely miss.

Titleist Scotty Cameron California Series PUETZ GOLF PRICE $349.95

W PING Anser Milled Series PUETZ GOLF PRICE $299.95

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ew clubs inspire as many unique swings as the putter. There are players who lock their arms and take the putter straight back along the ground, others who take the club back with a slight arc, and still others who lock their wrists and rotate the clubhead even more during the takeaway — and we’re not even getting into belly putters and long putters. That’s why this fall, PING released a brand-new line of milled putters in its industry-changing Anser line specifically designed to be custom-fit to the swing of each particular golfer. Like PING’s irons, the putters are designated by color (in the irons, it’s a dot; in the putters, a stripe) — blue stripes for straightaway putters, green for the moderate arcers and red for those with a steeper arc. Each putter uses different hosel lengths and styles to create different balance points in the putter, along with subtle changes in the clubhead size and shape to maximize performance for each type of stroke. It makes sense — after all, you take more strokes with a putter than any other club in your bag, so why wouldn’t you want one custom-fit for your swing?

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DECEMBER 2011

hen it comes to putters, there are really just two names you need to know — Karsten Solheim and Scotty Cameron. Seattle native Solheim essentially invented the modern putter in 1960 with his legendary PING Anser, while Cameron took flaststick engineering to the next level over the last 25 years as a designer first for Mizuno, and now for Titleist. This year, Cameron has put four new putters into the hands of the PGA Tour pros who swear by his designs, each named for one of his favorite California towns — Coronado, Monterey, Sonoma and Del Mar. Each of the putters are milled from 303 stainless steel and boast weighted heads (which can be adjusted in a local golf shop to your precise specifications) and high toe profiles to promote better alignment and a smoother stroke. Most notable, too, are the putters’ “honey-dipped” finish, which resembles a golden California sunset.

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IN THE BAG Titleist Vokey SM4 Wedges PUETZ GOLF PRICE $129.95

W Titleist 712 AP1/AP2 Irons PUETZ GOLF PRICE $799.95 AP1 8 pc. steel $1099.95 AP2 8 pc. steel

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ory McIlroy uses Titleist irons. So do Rickie Fowler and Geoff Ogilvy. And you know what? Those guys are pretty good. That’s why when launching the 2012 version of their popular 700-series irons (the first digit designates it as an iron line, the last two the model year), Titleist designers didn’t feel a need to make radical changes. Instead, the new lines simply incorporate two more years’ worth of R&D into an already successful look, with results that speak for themselves. The AP1s are favored more by mid-handicappers looking to make the jump to a player’s club, with high-MOI weighting, traditional head shapes and a progressive blade length that puts a premium on forgiveness in the longer irons, and precision in the short irons. The AP2s, meanwhile, conform closer to Tour-preferred specs, with forged steel heads, a squarer profile and an embedded tungsten weight that increases the clubs’ MOI for pin-point distance control and a more consistent ball speed. Of course, all that matters is that Rory keeps knocking his 4-irons to three feet … keep doing that, and Titleist’s irons will continue to sell well for a long, long time.

hen the USGA announced its regulations in 2009 limiting the depth and sharpness of groove edges, wedge manufacturers worldwide scrambled to dial back the grooves on their clubs to make sure that no touring pro using one of their sticks would be at risk of disqualification. With two years since to adjust to the new rule, however, new engineering techniques have allowed those same designers to inch back towards the limits of conformity, while advanced computer models scan each club to 100-percent guarantee its legality. Titleist, whose Vokey wedges have been No. 1 on Tour since the turn of the century, celebrated that fact this year with the release of its new SpinMilled 4 (SM4) wedges, 8620 carbon steel wedges that Titleist says are the most precisely milled wedges they’ve ever made. The new design technologies allow the SM4s to regain much of the high-performing spin and control that was lost when the new rules took effect in 2009, and come in 21 loft and bounce configurations and five sole grinds to make it easy to fill any gap in your bag.

Dancin’ Dogg OptiShot Infrared Golf Simulator PUETZ GOLF PRICE $399.95

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ook, we get it — no matter how tough you are, sometimes the rain is just too much, the wind too strong, the air temperature too finger-numbingly cold, to make a round of golf on a Northwest winter day a worthwhile proposition. But, that still doesn’t make the itch to swing a club and knock in a 12-foot birdie putt just disappear. That’s one of the reasons why two Seattle techheads created the OptiShot Infared Golf Simulator, which allows you to take full swings and practice or play some of the world’s top courses without ever leaving your home. All you need is a garage or other open space, a Windows computer, and a set of golf clubs — OptiShot does the rest, using a state-of-the-art infrared swing pad and patented 3DD golf software to track your clubhead speed, face angle, lie angle and other key data at impact and project your shot onto the computer screen in real-time. In addition to playing top courses, OptiShot also features a practice mode to work on your swing during the offseason, with accurate feedback that allows you to analyze your swing, and fix bad habits before heading back to the course in the spring. And if you’ve been wanting to get your kids or non-golfing spouse or friends into the game, it’s a perfect way to work on the basics and build confidence in the privacy of your home, before heading to the range or the golf course.

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DECEMBER 2011

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RISK vs. REWARD Gold Mountain Golf Club Olympic Course

By Simon Dubiel

Hole No. 6 • Par 5 • 479 Yards (White Tees) • 509 Yards (Blue Tees)

PHOTO BY ROB PERRY

The Setup: A long, uphill tee shot must clear the crest to give the golfer a view at the downhill fairway. The long and narrow green is guarded short by a variety of moguls better served for your skis than your wedges, while anything left will end up in any of a half-dozen bunkers. Anything long or right will slope away from the green, leaving the duffer a difficult up-and-down. 

36 17

E D

547

59 C

76 118 150 161 B

133

149

179 174

227

439

304 Ridge 248 A

479 502 528

The Risk: Perhaps the hardest shot in golf is the 15-

The Reward: Any gambler will admit that there are

Final Call: In the words of one music artist, “If you

40 yard bunker shot. That is what awaits the gambler that ends up left, leaving them with much better odds at making six than four. Blast out short and you can try it again, out of another bunker. Anything to the right leaves a chip back onto a thin green that slopes away. Wind up short, and you’ll have a sidehill lie and second thoughts about why you didn’t just lay up to your favorite yardage.

good bets and bad ones, smart bets and stupid ones. And then, there are bets that are just flat-out fun, like what awaits the golfer that executes off the tee. The downhill approach from 250 out is majestic, and the opportunity to get home in two on this hole is too tempting to resist. Birdies don’t grow on trees at the Olympic Course — eagles don’t, either. 

had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted … would you capture it, or just let it slip?” This might not be EVERYTHING you ever wanted, but you’re certainly not seizing the moment by pulling out a 9-iron and laying up. With the long and difficult No. 7 looming, the time to score is now. Two words — “three wood.” Don’t be afraid to hit a great shot!

PRESENTED BY

cascadegolfer.com

DECEMBER 2011

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Desert CASCADE GOLFER’S

Our resident expert heads south to scout the most scenic par-3s, the toughest par-5s, and the all-around incredible holes in the land where summer never ends

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e all enjoyed that last-gasp summer heat wave Among the most popular destinations is Palm Springs, BY TONY DEAR during the second week of September, when once a bolt-hole for the Rat Pack but now a haven temperatures climbed into the 90s to break various for uptight Seattleites eager to avoid a six-month gap records, but once that was gone, conditions didn’t waste any time reverting between rounds of golf. to type. It’s wet and windy outside and getting colder by the second and, Here, we list our favorite Coachella Valley golf holes – not easy when as Pacific Northwesterners know all too well, it’s likely to stay that way for there are well over 2,000 of them within the valley cities of Palm Springs, five months … or more. Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot So, unless you enjoy putting on waterproofs, mittens and beanies, and Springs and Indian Wells. taking on the weather in all its disagreeable inclemency (we certainly salute These holes are not necessarily the most famous, most picturesque, those of you who do), it’s time to start thinking about taking your game south most difficult or even the best, architecturally. They’re simply holes that we this winter. At the end of the year, we Northerners like to scatter ourselves think capture the essence of Palm Springs-area golf; holes that we can’t across the Southwest — specifically California, Arizona and Nevada — to seem to forget and make us want to plan our next Palm Springs trip the prevent our Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from kicking in too acutely. second we get home.

INDIAN SPRINGS GOLF CLUB No. 15 | 407 yards | Par 4

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ndian Springs in Indio opened in 1962 and was designed by John Gurley. By the end of the 20th century, however, it had lost much of its appeal and a major overhaul was necessary if it wasn’t to be forgotten entirely. When a new developer, Roger Snellenberger, bought the place in 1999, he set about making the necessary changes, hiring Gilroy, Calif.-based Dave Ginkel to build what was, essentially, a new course. Only three holes from the original layout remained and the look of the place was transformed by new water hazards, lush grass, flowers, trees and landscaping that saw 1.5 million cubic yards of soil moved. The 15th on Ginkel’s redesign is a 407-yard par-4 where the drive must avoid a fairway bunker on the right and the approach, with a mid to short iron, must fly a creek short of the green but come up shy of water beyond it. Considered a favorite course of La Quinta and Indio locals for its low greens fees (under $100, even on peakseason weekends), fun holes and friendly staff, it’s also a favorite among snowbirds for its many stay-and-play partnerships with area hotels (see sidebar on page 35), plus real estate and vacation rentals on-site.

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Dreams PGA WEST

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Stadium No. 17 | 168 yards | Par 3

he Stadium Course opened in 1986 to raucous disapproval from PGA Tour professionals, who griped about Pete Dye’s imposing bunkers, excessive mounding and green contouring, and ubiquitous water hazards. The 7,261yard layout remains one of the nation’s toughest, with a slope rating of 150 from the tips that tempts daring golfers in search of the ultimate challenge. Alcatraz, No. 17, is its most (in)famous hole (remember Lee Trevino’s ace during the 1987 Skins Game?) — a 168-yard shot across a pond to an island green surrounded by rocks. Comparisons with the 17th at TPC Sawgrass are inevitable; while PGA WEST’S island hole is 31 yards longer, the green is nearly twice as large at 5,925 square feet. A small pot bunker at the front of the green is common to both. The course’s website sums up the challenge succinctly — “Can’t miss right, left, short or long. Good Luck.”

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DECEMBER 2011

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Dunes Course No.17

EAGLE FALLS GOLF COURSE

LA QUINTA RESORT & SPA Mountain Course No. 16 | 168 yards | Par 3 Dunes Course No. 17 | 420 yards | Par 4

No. 6 | 129 yards | Par 3

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agle Falls Golf Course at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio is a brilliant Clive Clark design with striking contouring and formidable bunkers. Modeled on the famed “Postage Stamp” at Royal Troon, No. 6’s tiny green; five deep, Troon-like bunkers; the tall dune to the left and brown, wispy fescue around the green give it an authentic appearance, but the temperature, blue skies and desert views remind you where you are.

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a Quinta Resort opened in the early 1920s when San Francisco businessman Walter Morgan acquired 1,400 acres from the local Cahuilla Indians and built a collection of casitas that soon became popular with the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era, like Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. Guests played golf at La Quinta County Club until 1980 when the Mountain Course, the first of Pete Dye’s two courses at the resort, opened. The Dunes followed in 1981 and now the resort, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, has a close affiliation with PGA WEST, giving guests access to the Greg Norman Course, Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course

and Dye’s thrilling Stadium Course. There are stay-andplay packages that grant various levels of access to the La Quinta and PGA WEST courses, from all-inclusive packages with unlimited golf on all five tracks, to others that allow you to build your own golf-and-lodging itinerary — all while taking advantage of LaQuinta’s world-famous live entertainment, five restaurants, clubs, pools, award-winning spa and other amenities. A Pete Dye masterpiece, the Mountain Course has hosted nine PGA Professional National Championships, a Senior Skins Game and the 1985 World Cup of Golf, yet is playable enough to also be named California’s

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Mountain Course No.16

“Best Course for Women” in 2011. The highlights come mostly on the back nine, which is cut into the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The 15th is a fantastic par-5 that skirts the mountains on the right, but our choice is the downhill 157-yard 16th, a spectacular par-3 whose green is entirely surrounded by sand and rocks. Hit a ball from the 168-yard tournament tee box for views that extend east as far as the Salton Sea, 20 miles away. Whether you find the green safely, or watch your ball bounce around in the rocks before being swallowed up forever by the Santa Rosas, you’ll never forget the experience. The Dunes Course, meanwhile, is the Mountain’s

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links-style cousin, with long fescue grasses throughout, and a 420-yard par-4 17th that was once listed as the hardest No. 17 in the United States by the PGA of America. Moving counter-clockwise around a large lake, this is definitive Dye; the hole rewards the audacious player who takes on a sizeable carry and avoids the strip bunker between water and fairway, but penalizes those who aim farther left than they should or bail out weakly to the right. And even if you do find the fairway, the two-tier green is surrounded by that same water on the left, and pot bunkers and grassy troughs on the right.

UNLIMITED GOLF ON FIVE COURSES AT LAQUINTA? — SIGN US UP! As a thank you to Cascade Golfer readers who have helped make their resort one of the popular stay-and-play destinations for Northwest golfers, the LaQuinta Resort & Club is giving away one of their Desert Links Unlimited Golf Packages to one lucky CG reader this year! Just log on to CascadeGolfer.com and enter your name and contact information, and you could be enjoying two nights for two in a LaQuinta Resort casita, plus a $25 per night resort credit and as much golf as you can fit in between check-in and check-out on the resort’s five internationallyacclaimed courses — including the Mountain and Dunes Courses at LaQuinta Resort, and the worldfamous TPC Stadium, Nicklaus Tournament Course and Greg Norman Course at PGA WEST! Log on to CascadeGolfer.com for your chance to win!

DECEMBER 2011

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ENTER TO WIN A FOUR-NIGHT, 10-ROUND PALM SPRINGS DREAM VACATION! OUR BIGGEST GIVEAWAY OF THE YEAR! We’re celebrating the holidays this year by giving Cascade Golfer readers the chance to win our biggest giveaway of the entire year! Just for logging on and entering your name and information at CascadeGolfer.com, you’ll be entered to win a FOURNIGHT, 10-ROUND dream desert getaway, including: Twosome to Indian Wells Twosome to Indian Springs Twosome to The Classic Club Twosome to Desert Willow Twosome to SilverRock Two nights at the Embassy Suites La Quinta Two nights at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert Log on to CascadeGolfer.com for your chance to win!

CLASSIC CLUB No. 1 | 408 yards | Par 4

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he Classic Club in Palm Desert is one of the few courses north of I-10, and one of only a handful in the Coachella Valley to have been awarded Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status. It hosted the PGA TOUR’s Bob Hope Classic from 2006-08 and was designed by Palmer Course Design. Although the course isn’t hampered by houses like so many others in the area, the layout — as the name suggests — is classic Palm Springs. The views north to the Little San Bernardino Mountains, east to the San Jacinto Mountains and south to the Santa Ana Mountains are superb, and the full array of

man-made “enhancements” are present and correct – 30 acres of water features, 14 stone bridges, flowers, shrubs, pine straw-covered strips between the fairways, boulders, large bunkers, heavily-manicured greens and over 5,000 trees that while not man-made, weren’t here before the bulldozers arrived. It’s all on view here at No. 1, a lovely two-shotter with a wide fairway that should see you on your way with a simple par, provided you don’t pull your drive left into the water hazard. A perfect start to any Palm Springs vacation.

“there IS a *free Lunch at Indian Springs” Best course Under $100 ~the Desert Sun

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*Call For Details 1-866-GO1-Golf IndianSpringsGc.com

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DECEMBER 2011

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DECEMBER 2011

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INDIAN WELLS GOLF RESORT No. 15 | 407 yards | Par 5

SILVERROCK RESORT No. 7 | 603 yards | Par 5

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ith its abundance of man-made hazards, flowers, and lush manicuring, Indian Wells’ Celebrity course can best be described as Palm Springs on steroids. With so many gorgeous holes, it’s difficult to pick one, but the Celebrity’s par-5 No. 4 is not easily forgotten. A dogleg to the right, the hole is just 501 yards from the back, and thus eminently reachable in two for longer hitters. To get there, though, the second shot must clear a creek and carry far enough up the bank fronting the green to avoid rolling back down the hill into the water. Large bunkers guard the front right and left of the green, making it the ideal risk/reward choice for our desert tour.

ilverRock, which hosted the Bob Hope Classic from 2007-11, opened in 2005 and was part of a $90 million investment by the city of La Quinta aimed at stimulating economic development. Situated right at the base of the Santa Ana Mountains, SilverRock measures a fairly considerable 7,578 yards from the back tees, making it the longest course in the Valley. And at 603 yards, the seventh is the longest hole on our layout. Water threatens the tee shot on the right, but a large bunker cuts into the fairway on the left, meaning accuracy is every bit as vital as length. The water then cuts diagonally across the fairway and should be carried to set up a simple(ish) pitch to the green. Make birdie, and you’ll be ecstatic — even more so if you’ve played it on a weekday, when double-digit in-season greens fees make it one of the valley’s best values.

THE GOLF CLUB AT TERRA LAGO

North Course No. 7 | 156 yards | Par 3

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he seventh hole on Terra Lago’s North course, called Peek-A-Boo, offers one of the finest views in the whole Valley. From the tee, the panorama from Palm Springs in the west to Coachella and the Salton Sea in the east is utterly arresting. As for the hole itself, the tee shot plays downhill with two huge bunkers — one left, one long — defending a green that possesses some major contours.

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Play ‘em

I DESERT WILLOW GOLF RESORT

Firecliff No. 6 | 331 yards | Par 4 Mountain View No. 16 | 386 yards | Par 4

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ocated in the heart of the Valley in Palm Desert, municipally-owned Desert Willow Golf Resort built its first course, the Firecliff, in 1997, followed by a second course, the Mountain View, a year later. While its stay-and-play partnerships with area hotels are one reason for its popularity with winter golf travelers, it’s the course’s Platinum Card that has made it No. 1 with CG readers in recent years — $299 for a roughly 40-percent discount in greens fees for the cardholder and guests, plus discounts in the pro shop and restaurant. Split it four ways with your travel partners, and it pays for itself after just one round at peak times. The Firecliff is constantly listed among Palm Springs golfers’ favorite tracks. The sixth is a short par4 that tempts, tricks, encourages, penalizes, rewards and stimulates, as every good short par-4 should. Just 331 yards long, water and a long, narrow bunker are very much in play all the way down the right, and three large bunkers hamper a tee shot headed left. Long hitters will be tempted to take on the green from the tee, but with so much talk of water and bunkers, don’t you think hybrid-wedge may be the better way to go? The sixth offers a little respite on a long, hazardstrewn course, but don’t take it lightly. Danger lurks pretty much everywhere. The Mountain View Course is slightly less of a challenge than its brawnier sibling, but with more water hazards, it certainly can’t be taken lightly. The 386-yard 16th is another of the resort’s excellent short par-4s, this one a dogleg left that is probably out of reach even for the longest hitter in your group. The hole is definitely best played with careful positioning in mind: a fairway wood to the corner of the dogleg, avoiding a nasty cluster of bunkers on the left (and being careful not to find the five bunkers on the other side too, of course), followed by a shortish iron to a green with water right, and a ridge that cuts the surface into halves. Two good club choices and two well-struck shots and you’ll find the safety of the green. Falter even slightly, however, and as it the case so often on the Coachella Valley’s target courses, you’re likely to make an undesirable number.

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f you’re going to try to play your way across the desert, you’re going to need a comfortable bed to rest your head — not to mention your tired arms Embassy Suites La Quinta and legs. We’re right there with you, which makes a stay at the Embassy Suites a perfect fit. With locations in both La Quinta and Palm Desert, the Embassy Suites is an ideal home base for golfers who want to dip their toes into desert golf, without committing to the full resort or real estate experience. Consider a day like this one — roll out of bed in your one-bedroom suite, shake your buddy awake on the hide-a-bed in the living room, grab a complimentary, made-to-order breakfast in the beautiful Embassy Suites lobby (including omelettes, waffles, fresh fruit … you name it), then head out into the 80-degree desert sun for 36 holes of incredible golf. Finish up as the sun slides behind the Santa Rosa Mountains and come back to the Embassy Suites for a fully hosted manager’s reception, including free beer and wine to help soothe your tired muscles, then head out to dinner at any one of dozens of top-notch restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. The Embassy Suites La Quinta (embassysuites.hilton.com | 760-777-1711) is located in the heart of LaQuinta, the valley’s No. 1 golf destination. With over 26 golf courses within the city limits, and the Old Town LaQuinta shopping and restaurant village right across the street, it’s a perfect place to call home away from home. The Embassy Suites Palm Desert (embassysuites.hilton.com | 760-340-6600) is likewise an excellent value for golfers who want to stay a little more to the west, near Indian Wells, Rancho Las Palmas or the dozens of other courses in Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage. Each hotel goes out of its way to cater to golf travelers, with the chance to take advantage of advance tee times and preferred rates at some of the top local courses. Both partner with local favorite Indian Springs, while the Embassy Suites La Quinta can also get you in the door at SilverRock, PGA West and several others. Just book your hotel stay online or over the phone, then let the hotel’s on-site golf sales director put together the perfect package for your desert golf getaway. — Brian Beaky

The OC: Golf Lifestyle Catered to a Tee

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t stands there uniquely — like no other building anywhere in sight. Part pyramid, part Southern California oasis. And, best of all, this Orange County haven for luxury travelers, stay-cationers and galloping golfers alike was designed with the Northwest snowbird in mind. Literally a 9-iron from the John Wayne/Santa Ana Airport, the Fairmont Newport Beach awaits that weekend reprieve from Seattle’s gray winter days. While over 50 of the hotel’s 400 rooms are luxury suites, with soaking tubs to remedy those tired joints, the Fairmont doesn’t feel like a glitzy Hollywood hotel. It’s not over the top — it’s beachy, comfy class and mirrors what Newport Beach is famous for — panache. The hotel caters to golfers with two popular golf packages that can take the planning out of a golf getaway. The Ultimate Golf Package includes accommodations at the Fairmont and golf at the famous Tustin Ranch Golf Club — one round per night’s stay (double occupancy), plus practice balls, free valet parking, concierge bag service and a third night’s free accommodation. They also have a David Leadbetter Mini-School Package, which includes six hours of world-class instruction at the internationally-renowned David Leadbetter Golf Academy at nearby Strawberry Farms Golf Club. A stay at the Fairmont earns discounted rates to the Leadbetter program, plus additional benefits. When you’re not on the links, the hotel staff can help you hit the beach in style and point you towards fine dining, shopping and nightlife. The hotel’s restaurants, pool and spa also await you morning, noon and night, oozing the OC lifestyle with open-air décor, warm weather and the jet-set Strawberry Farms Golf Club feeling. Visit fairmont.com/newport beach to see for yourself. And while you’re online, hit ocgolf.com for info on the seven wonderful tracks on the OC Golf Trail. – Dick Stephens

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Make It a Stay-Cat ion

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ighty-five degree winters. Over 100 golf courses within 40 miles, including some of the highestrated tracks in the world. Yeah, a Seattle guy could get used to this. “About 40 percent of our homeowners are from the Northwest and Canada,” says Lisa Barrett of California Lifestyle Realty, which manages home sales and vacation rentals for La Quinta Resort & Spa and PGA WEST, among others. We spoke to her on an October morning as rain and wind whipped the windows of CG headquarters. “It’s 80 degrees today, and actually, I’m freezing,” she says from her office in La Quinta. “I like it when it’s closer to 100.” Barrett says that most LaQuinta homeowners started out as snowbirds, flying down to the Coachella Valley to stay either at the LaQuinta Resort & Spa or in one of the many rental homes on the LaQuinta and PGA WEST properties for a few days at a time … then a few weeks at a time. When it starts to become a month or more each year … well, shoot, you might as well just buy. Homes at LaQuinta and PGA WEST range from one-bedroom villas to hilltop mansions, with starting prices around the low $200,000s. In addition to owning a beautiful home, residents have the opportunity to purchase golf memberships that grant access to all nine of the courses on the LaQuinta Resort and PGA WEST properties, and own a piece of the serene, glamour-getaway lifestyle that made LaQuinta Hollywood’s favorite hideaway since the resort hotel first opened in 1926. “People come here for the history of the hotel and the resort, and for the solitude, tucked up against the mountains,” Barrett says. “It’s a lifestyle everyone should experience at least once in their lives.” Many seasonal homeowners offset the cost of ownership by putting their home into the resort program, which allows Barrett and her associates to lease the home to other vacationers at times when it is not being used by residents. Nightly, weekly and monthly stays are available in homes of all sizes, and grant renters access to all of the resort amenities, including pools, dining facilities, fitness center and California Lifestyle Realty

Indian Springs

tennis facilities, plus discounted rounds of golf at resort courses. “It’s the perfect way to test-drive the lifestyle,” she says. “There’s really something for everyone.” It’s a similar story up the road at Indian Springs, where residents can take advantage of the many benefits to ownership on the east side of the valley — low-cost power, better schools, greater proximity to golf, restaurants and commercial districts — while generally paying less per square foot than similar homes at some of the valley’s larger, more exclusive communities. “The majority of communities on the east side of the valley are either private, with more expensive homes, or age-restricted.,” explains Chris Casas, who manages real estate sales at Indian Springs. “Indian Springs is public, which reduces the cost of ownership while still giving our residents access to all of those same benefits of living on the east side. In terms of price, location and quality of the neighborhood, it’s far above the competition.” Indian Springs’ 729 homes, the first phase of which were completed in 2002, include 12 different floor plans ranging from just over 1,500 square feet to 2,700 square feet, with anywhere from two to four bedrooms. Starting prices are around the upper $100,000s, with fairway homes (of which nearly 2/3 are) starting around $300,000. In addition to cheap power, good schools and the nearby commercial district, the neighborhood’s best amenity is the golf course, which Casas says is a favorite among locals for its low rates (under $100 — including lunch — even in the peak winter season), and memorable quality. Most residents choose to buy a 10-round punch card for just $799, or purchase an annual membership for $5,000 (individual, $7,000 for a family) to take advantage of unlimited golf and a host of other benefits. “It’s affordable golf, affordable homes and a country club experience,” says Casas. “There’s no other neighborhood like it in town.” — Brian Beaky Indian Springs Real Estate indianspringsrealestate.com | 760-409-5549 California Lifestyle Realty (LaQuinta Resort) californialifestylerealty.com | 760-777-4818

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RANCHO LAS PALMAS RESORT & SPA North No. 5 | 502 yards | Par 5

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o look at the lush, pristine fairway of Rancho Las Palmas’ North No. 5 today, you’d never believe the havoc that was caused almost a year ago. After a week of near-torrential rain last December, parts of the hole sat under six feet of mud when the nearby Whitewater River flooded its banks. Since then, $500,000 has been spent draining the affected areas, relaying sod, reseeding and rebuilding a number of holes, including North No. 5, which represents a wonderful before and after story. With a slight bend to the left, the hole drops down to the water from the tee and climbs up to the green on the other side. Bunkers left and right of the green and a few randomly positioned palm trees afford the hole some protection, but it’s not a terribly difficult hole and one you should be looking to birdie. In that way, it’s similar to the beautiful and relaxing experience had by Rancho Las Palmas’ guests, who enjoy unlimited golf on the resort’s Ted Robinsondesigned North, South and West nines, plus one-night accommodations and access to resort’s multiple pools (including family-friendly waterpark Splashtopia), restaurants and other amenities for as little as $244 per night. cascadegolfer.com


Photo by Wood Sabold

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WESTIN MISSION HILLS RESORT North (Player) Course No. 3 | 528 yards | Par 5 South (Dye) Course No. 14 | 417 yards | Par 4

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wenty years old now and still Gary Player’s only design in the Coachella Valley, the North course at Westin Mission Hills resort stretches to 7,062 yards from the tips and possesses 20 acres of lakes with water in play on 10 holes. The par-5s are especially strong, and it is the first of these — the 528-yard third — that we chose. Rifle-straight and ever-so-slightly uphill, there are two water hazards to be dodged, one a fairly innocuous pool that fronts the tee, the other a far more sinister, 100-yard-long pond that will put fear in the heart of the slicer (right-hand) as he plans his second shot. On Dye’s South Course, we like the exciting, 417-yard, par-4 14th, where the drive shoots out of a line of trees and hopefully avoids a pond on the left that cuts halfway across the fairway at about 270 yards off the tee. The approach to a long, narrow green must stay left of another water hazard but right of a bunker 40 yards in length. Find the sand, and you face a nasty bunker shot hitting towards the water.

CALIFORNIA

Dreamin’

We’ve rounded up the links, mapped the locations and dug up all the contact numbers to make planning your own endless summer a breeze: CIMARRON GOLF RESORT | Cathedral City cimarrongolf.com • 760-770-6060

EMBASSY SUITES LA QUINTA | La Quinta embassysuites.hilton.com • 760-777-1711

LAQUINTA RESORT & SPA | La Quinta laquintaresort.com • 800-598-3828

THE CLASSIC CLUB | Palm Desert classicclubgolf.com • 760-601-3600

EMBASSY SUITES PALM DESERT | Palm Desert embassysuites.hilton.com • 760-340-6600

RANCHO LAS PALMAS RESORT & SPA | Rancho Mirage rancholaspalmas.com • 866-423-1195

DESERT WILLOW GOLF RESORT | Palm Springs desertwillow.com • 760-346-7060

INDIAN SPRINGS GC | La Quinta/Indio indianspringsgc.com • 760-200-8988

SILVERROCK RESORT | La Quinta silverrock.org • 760-777-8884

EAGLE FALLS GC | Indio eaglefallsgolf.com • 760-238-5633

INDIAN WELLS GOLF RESORT | Indian Wells indianwellsgolfresort.com • 888.753.1270

WESTIN MISSION HILLS | Rancho Mirage playmissionhills.com • 760-328-3198

Eagle Falls

The Classic Club

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Cimarron Golf Resort

Westin Mission Hills

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Indian Springs

Desert Willow Indian Wells

111

Rancho Las Palmas

Embassy Suites Palm Desert 111

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Embassy Suites La Quinta La Quinta Resort and Spa SilverRock

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Only in

Vegas Glitz, glamour and golf

Vegas has it all

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STORY AND PHOTOS BY

t was a cool October evening on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, and I was enjoying an ever-sotasty, post-round brew at a great outdoor pub, while quietly tallying up how many times I could exclaim, “Only in Vegas!” in 10-minute span. For those of you who don’t know, Fremont Street is one of the most famous locales in Vegas, better known as “Glitter Gulch,” the nickname for oldtown, downtown Las Vegas. This one-of-a-kind street is widely known for its uncanny mass of light bulbs lining virtually five city blocks — a portion of the street is completely enshrouded by Viva Vision, the world’s largest video screen, which spans over 500 yards and has more than 12 million LED light modules. And to really get the Vegas party going? A 500,000-watt sound system pumps out classic rock tunes complete with choreographed video shows. Only in Vegas. Glitter Gulch has been made famous by numerous

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movies and stories and it’s an exciting place to hang out with over 15 casinos, a handful of restaurants and several clubs all within an easy walk of each other. This wild street attracts people from all over the world, which makes it perhaps one of the finest people-watching locales I have ever seen. The night I enjoyed Glitter Gulch, it seemed especially interesting, since it was near Halloween. In a very short time, I counted a total of 16 “Only in Vegas!” claims of various intriguing sights. I won’t go into specific detail, but they were downright eye-popping, and filled me with “Oh my’s!” and “Ya-gotta-be-kiddin’ me’s!” by the time my 10-minute test was complete. Vegas is truly a one-of-a-kind city, where you can still find the $19.99 cheap hotel room and $2.99 all-you-caneat buffets if you are daring enough to experience them. However, many of the bargain-basement deals Vegas

once advertised are now vastly overshadowed by some of the finest, most elaborate resort hotels in the entire world, complete with every imaginable amenity, culinary experience and entertainment option you could possibly need within one resort. With that said, one can draw comparison from the resort and entertainment side, to the massive menu of golf Las Vegas also dishes up. Golfers have a kaleidoscope of choices. One could select from affordable, player-friendly tracks, to ultralavish, over-the-top, fantasy themed courses. And, for those willing to shell out the cash, Vegas also has a few of finest golf experiences in the entire world, guaranteed to earn an “Only in Vegas!” shout or two. Luckily, for those of us that do have budget constraints, there are enough quality and affordable options within 30 minutes of the strip to keep a golfer happy for weeks. And if you added in the courses within an hour? You would be busy for months. cascadegolfer.com


Bali Hai Golf Resort

OVER-THE-TOP, PLEASE In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Vegas grew quickly, and so did the number of golf courses. The hills around the city exploded with golf developments, and every major golf architect on the planet was crafting courses in the area. With the city of Las Vegas booming and gaming popular as ever, a fortunate scenario presented for one virtually bankrupt poker player from Kentucky named Billy Walters. Walters came to Las Vegas basically broke, but used his best poker face and a keen business sense to become one of the most successful professional gamblers in history, and a true modern-day Vegas icon. Oh, and did I mention he loves to play golf? Walters took his personal flair and passion for the game and broke ground on Desert Pines cascadegolfer.com

Golf Club with a wild idea to theme a course after one in the Carolina Sand Hills. It was a perfect “Only in Vegas” idea — especially since it was located on a barren 80-acre parcel only a mile from downtown. In 1996, Desert Pines opened to rave reviews, despite the extremely limited space they had to work with. A masterful job was done by Dye Designs to create the Carolina Sand Hills look, and creating fun, interesting holes that flow nicely without feeling cramped. They used massive amounts of dirt to shape the holes, and planted thousands of tall pines to line each fairway, providing excellent separation from the other holes. Of course, the work also included a few railroad-tie bunkers to put a signature Dye family stamp on the golf course. But Walters was just getting started. In 1997, construction began on Royal Links Golf Club,

again with Dye Designs at the helm for the construction and design. This time, however, the theme called for “famous holes from British Open venues” to be created on another completely flat, barren piece of Vegas land. “Only in Vegas,” is what I can imagine the architects may have said, when Billy told him what he wanted them to do this time. The links-style course features cool golf holes “inspired” by 11 different British Open rotation courses, including the “Road Hole” and famous features like “Hell Bunker” from the old course at St. Andrews. Once again, the talented sons of legendary architect Pete Dye were able to create phenomenal features and landforms reminiscent of those in the British Isles. One hole in particular is quite similar to the original. The 123-yard, par-3 “Postage Stamp,” from Royal Troon, is complete with its tiny, 15DECEMBER 2011

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Arroyo Golf Club

Vegas

Aces In The Hole Can’t keep track of all the great golf in Vegas? That’s what we’re here for:

Desert Pines Golf Club

Suncoast Hotel and Casino | Las Vegas suncoastvegasgolf.com | 877-677-7111 yard green and five, coffin-like pot bunkers, one of which measures almost seven-feet deep. You go in that sucker, and you’re dead. In 2000, Walters was back at it with yet another idea for a themed course, this one even bigger and better. Walters brought in golf architects Lee Schmidt and Brian Curly to create a lavish, top-notch golf experience located right on the Strip and themed like a South Pacific resort, named after famous the Indonesian land of enchantment called Bali Hai. The incredibly lush grounds of the property include seven acres of water features, 4,000 trees (including 2,500 towering palms), 100,000 tropical plants, and transition areas accented with bright, white sand and black volcanic rock outcroppings. “Only in Vegas,” indeed.

CREAM OF THE CROP From the excessiveness of Glitter Gulch to the over-the-top themes at Billy Walters’ Vegas tracks, the city has taken the VIP experience to the next level. It’s a superb marketing strategy that has worked perfectly to create a sense of envy, coolness and exclusivity that has come to embody the “new” Vegas in the eyes of the public. In fact, at one time, there were a few Vegas golf courses that were ultra-VIP, with no membership, and no greens fee ... you just had to be “on the list” to play. In the past few years, two such courses — and two which I think are among the best golf experiences in the country, if not the world — have become available for public play. Shadow Creek and Cascata truly epitomize the “Only in Vegas” exclamation. Although they are starkly different from each other in terms of design and look, they both offer something special and unique. I could spend another 2,000 words on each property and still not be able to cascadegolfer.com

convey what both courses can do to the spirit of an avid golfer ... I’m becoming a little giddy just writing about them. If you go to Vegas, you owe it to yourself to have the Shadow Creek or Cascata experience.

A NEW STALLION AND A MIDNIGHT RIDE When Bali Hai opened for play, Las Vegas was quickly becoming one of the hottest golf destinations in the country. Schmidt and Curly were soon called back to renovate one of Vegas’ popular private clubs, Stallion Mountain Golf Club, originally fashioned by noted golf architect Jeff Brauer and player consultant Jim Colbert. Like so much in Vegas, there’s a bit of history around the club, which hosted the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational PGA Tour event, and more recently was host of The Golf Channel’s “Big Break II.” In 2000, Schmidt and Curly created new fairway contours, and modified and added new bunkers to provide a fresh look to Stallion Mountain. Recently, a new owner and management from OB Sports has brought a true passion for golf to the club, with a dedication to top-notch playing conditions and excellent customer service, making the now semi-private club a favorite destination for Vegas golfers. Another favorite among locals and visitors are the two golf courses at The Revere, themed after Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride at the start of the American Revolution. These two courses are meant to strike a “Revolutionary Golf Experience” with a galloping, wild ride from start to finish. Both layouts feature numerous elevated tee boxes, and high-flying downhill tee shots that seemingly hang in the Vegas skyline forever. The talented golf architectural team of Billy Casper and Greg Nash collaborated on this one to craft some of te most fun risk/reward holes in Vegas.

Angel Park | Las Vegas angelpark.com | 888-4GOLFLV The Arroyo Golf Club | Las Vegas thearroyogolfclub.com | 866-934-GOLF Badlands Golf Club | Las Vegas badlandsgc.com | 702-363-0754 Bali Hai Golf Club | Las Vegas balihaigolfclub.com | 888-427-6678 Cascata | Boulder City harrahs.com/golf/cascata-golf 702-294-2000 Desert Pines Club | Las Vegas desertpinesgolfclub.com | 888-427-6678 The Legacy Golf Club | Henderson thelegacygc.com | 888-4GOLFLV The Revere Golf Club | Las Vegas reveregolf.com | 877-273-8373 Royal Links Golf Club | Las Vegas royallinksgolfclub.com | 888-427-6678 Shadow Creek Golf Course | Las Vegas shadowcreek.com | 866-260-0069 Siena Golf Club | Las Vegas sienagolfclub.com | 888-689-6469 Stallion Mountain Golf Club | Las Vegas stallionmountaingolf.com | 702-547-6601 TPC Las Vegas | Las Vegas tpc.com/tpc-las-vegas | 888-321-5725 DECEMBER 2011 DECEMBER

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Vegas Our Vegas Insider Tip?

A

Plan Ahead

s Hollywood keeps reminding us, when it comes to Vegas, nothing can get you in trouble more quickly than not having a good plan. Fortunately, there are several resources available right at your fingertips that make planning your Vegas golf getaway a breeze, all but guaranteeing you won’t end up stranded on a hotel rooftop, while your buddies wander the city losing teeth, marrying dancers and stealing Mike Tyson’s white tiger. Angel Park Golf Club • No. 9 Our first stop is typically the website for the Suncoast Hotel & Casino, suncoastvegasgolf.com. Why the Suncoast, and not one of the fancy strip hotels? Because only the Suncoast features 81 holes of golf within walking distance of its front doors, enough to keep you busy for a long weekend without ever even setting foot off the property. Not only do you save money by not having to rent cars or take cabs from place to place, you save a lot of time that you would have otherwise spent driving around — time they can put to good use on the golf course. But back to the importance of planning ahead — the real reason we hit the Suncoast website before any other is because it’s the only hotel/golf complex in Vegas that allows you to build your entire custom golf/lodging package online, before your trip, on one site. In addition to viewing the Suncoast’s wide range of rooms to choose the one that’s best for you (from 550-square foot Mediterranean studios overlooking the golf course, to immaculate 1,500 square-foot two-bedroom suites), the site gives you the option to add golf at any of their seven partner courses — including the rare chance to request specific tee times, no matter how far in advance. Rates for golf and lodging are lower than similar packages through nearly all the major Strip hotels, while the amenities — from the rooms, to the golf, casino, steakhouse, bowling alley, movie theater and video game arcade — leave nothing to be desired. Of course, sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation — especially in Vegas, where the 24hour entertainment cycle can leave a your head spinning like the wheels on a slot machine. The 80-mile drive between Vegas and Mesquite can be just the tonic you need, as you trade the perpetual neon glow of Vegas’ mega-casino skyline for the bare, white mountains and yawning, red-rock canyons that have been drawing artists and nature lovers to the American southwest for 200 years. Fortunately, it’s also attracted plenty of golf course designers — Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and even the Northwest’s own John Fought are just a few of the big-name course architects who have routed stunning 18-hole tracks across the Mesquite landscape. The all-new Conestoga Golf Club was named one of the state’s best by Golfweek, while Fought’s Sand Hollow ranked in the same breath as Palouse Ridge and Tetherow on GOLF’s list of the Best New Courses in 2008. But with so many incredible courses and multiple casino resorts, trying to plan your time in Mesquite can be an overwhelming task if not approached with a plan — which is where GolfMesquiteNevada.com takes over. A one-stop shop for booking Mesquite stay-and-play packages, GolfMesquiteNevada.com features discounted tee times at nine of the region’s top tracks (including both those above, Nicklaus’ famed Coyote Springs, and more), plus specials on room nights at four acclaimed resort hotels. There’s savings to be had both in the wallet — 10-percent savings when booking a night of golf and lodging together, plus an additional 10-percent off for each night and round added (up to 30-percent off) — and your mental state of mind, because trust us … once you’re there, you’re not going to want to leave. Sand Hollow Golf Club • No.13 Want to be among the first to know when Mesquite specials come available? Join GolfMesquiteNevada.com’s online e-club, which includes a newsletter and Facebook and Twitter sites, each featuring news about special savings, contests to win free golf and merchandise, and more. Look, if “The Hangover” has taught us anything about hitting Vegas for a long weekend, it’s to always, always, plan ahead. Well, that and never to let Zach Galifianakis mix your drink. — Brian Beaky

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Legacy Golf Club • No.10

A LITTLE LESS HECTIC If you have “been there, done that” with the Las Vegas Strip and Glitter Gulch, and don’t want to deal with traffic, a mass of crowds and gigantic hotels which make you feel like you have crossed two entire zip codes just to walk from the lobby to your room, then an offstrip hotel like the Suncoast in Summerlin is a welcome option. Suncoast features comfortable rooms, excellent gaming, a bowling alley, movie theatre and plenty of dining options at the hotel or nearby. But, besides all of the convenient features of the hotel, perhaps the best benefit for golfers is the location, as it is only 20 minutes west of the airport, and an easy, all-freeway drive. The shiny, gold-toned hotel overlooks Angel Park Golf Club, featuring two enjoyable Arnold Palmer layouts and the world’s first “lighted” par-3, where you can play under the stars until 10 p.m. If you have never struck a ball after dark, let me tell you, it’s quite a bit of fun to play golf at night. The Suncoast is one of Las Vegas’ best hotels for a golf trip, not only because it is off the strip and easy to get to, but because it features 81 holes of golf within a short walk of its front door. In addition to Angel Park, which runs alongside the hotel, Badlands Golf Club is across the street, and TPC Las Vegas is a few blocks away as well. If that still is not enough for you, there are also nearly 10 additional golf courses within 15 minutes of the hotel, making Suncoast a serious contender for a Vegas stay-and-play. Excellent golf packages are available through the Suncoast, which books advance tee times and discounted rounds at Angel Park, Badlands, TPC Las Vegas and even Stallion Mountain, as well as three courses within a short drive in The Legacy, Arroyo and Siena. The Legacy is another interesting layout by legendary golf architect Arthur Hills, made famous by a set of tee boxes shaped like hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. “The Suits,” as the hole is aptly named, adds an “Only in Vegas” flair to the course, and as a professional golf course photographer, I can vouch that these tee boxes are the most photographed in all of golf. Siena Golf Club, meanwhile, is another of cascadegolfer.com


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Vegas The Revere Golf Club • No. 17

Schmidt and Curly’s masterworks. With a stunning backdrop of towering red sandstone mountains at Red Rock Canyon, Siena was named “Best Value in Vegas” due to a solid design, stunning mountain views and consistent quality of playing conditions. The holes are thoroughly landscaped with desert rock and foliage, and even though the course is routed through a real-estate development, the holes are largely unencumbered by the homes as the architects left a sizeable buffer zone, so the golf still feels open and playable. A total of 97 massive, white-sand bunkers frame the holes beautifully and provide challenge and visual interest throughout the course. Just a few minutes away is its sister property, the Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay-designed Arroyo at Red Rock Golf Club. The Arroyo course offers sweeping views of the Vegas valley and the majestic Spring Mountain range on a player-friendly layout that tops out 6,800 yards, and offers a good opportunity to make a few birdies and have some fun from the regular tees.

ONLY IN VEGAS

The Revere Golf Club • No. 18

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DECEMBER 2011

From my experience in Vegas, no matter what you end up doing, what type of golf courses you decide to play or the hotel you pick, I guarantee you’ll be hearing one phrase over and over again. You’ll hear it in the airport, in the cabs, at the tables — heck, you are sure to proclaim the statement yourself 10 times just driving or flying into town from the sheer energy and vibe Vegas emits 24 hours a day … “Only in Vegas.” Brian Oar is a photo editor at large for Fairways & Greens magazine and one of the nation’s premier freelance golf photographers. A former Vegas resident, he currently resides in Utah, from where he travels to shoot courses all over the world. To view more of his work, visit fairwaysphotography.com.

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DECEMBER 2011

47


TRAVEL BAG

Perfect

Pacifically

S

The “Tail of the Whale” par-3 at Punta Mita’s Pacifico course.

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DECEMBER 2011 DECEMBER 2011

BY DICK STEPHENS CG PUBLISHER

ome places have just got it clocked, you know? Destinations that rise above the rest — those that you read about and hope to one day experience. Now, there are the Seven Wonders of the World — maybe one day the golf world will give me an excuse to go write about one of those. The Great Wall Golf and Country Club, perhaps? The Sphinx Links? Ah, who am I kidding, it’s never gonna happen. Just outside of Puerto Vallarta is a place that comes close — not built by Romans or the sophisticated Chinese, but rather by the shape-shifters and moon-lifters of St. Regis and Starwood Corporation. Speaking of stars, you’ll find of them here along the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline of Mexico — this is a five-star resort, with many publications and professional travel rating entities placing St. Regis Resort at Punta Mita among the world’s elite. And, after having spent five days at Punta Mita with a small handful of writers, producers, photographers and World Golf Hall-of-Famer Hale Irwin, I can say that it was worth every one. A private, gated resort community that is completely exclusive and focused on the finest in life, Punta Mita rises up to meet you at every single step. Upon arrival, I was eased into a relaxed state as we were chaufferred in a Cadillac Escalade along the Mexican coastline to the St. Regis, where we checked into the open-air front desk. I kept waiting for Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize from Fantasy Island to walk through an archway at any given time – but, the St. Regis staff was just as special, offering us a glass of champagne as we made way to our ocean respite. With only 120 guest rooms and suites, St. Regis at Punta Mita is not your typical resort, as its focus is quality, not quantity. The suite in which I stayed —an individual cabana — is designed to be enjoyed in the open air. With a huge French door that opened to a view of the Pacific gently rushing up against the rocky shores behind the 18th hole of The Bahia, one of the resort’s two courses, I enjoyed many late evenings on my deck with my brother, Spencer, sipping a few Modelos. An Emmy-award winning sports producer, Spencer was invited to come and shoot footage for a 20-minute interview I did with Irwin at Punta Mita, which was the basis of our “All Hale The King” feature in the August CG. We had a great time together, and made that deck our post-round hangout each night.

With classic, cozy appointments in the room, bath and the private outdoor shower area, the digs would be properly tagged as “barefoot elegance.” And, for the cherry on top, a 24-hour butler is there to make sure that nothing falls short of perfect. I have never had a butler, and at first had to remind myself that he was awaiting my call for anything, from the French press coffee service and some ironing, to a shuttle valet service for making dining engagements on time and having my clubs ready to go to the course. It was special, for sure, and the butler was as cool as he was accommodating, with great tips on things for Spencer and I to do during our trip.

Golfing in Paradise Playing golf in the midst of Punta Mita’s tropical luxury was only further heightened by playing with Irwin. The guy is flat-out awesome and was funny and personable. He gave me a lesson on bunker play, sat with us for meals and wine both days, and then joined us for golf on The Bahia, which winds through the St. Regis property. Irwin played us in a six-hole match, which kick-started our round there on the nearly new Jack Nicklaus design that stretches just past 7,000 yards. Six of the holes are oceanside and the rest weave into an array of rolling resort design, winding their way up slightly into the terraced hillside of the land. Barely three years old, The Bahia is quickly becoming a bucket-list track with golfers that stay at the St. Regis, or those that wish to come up from Puerto Vallarta for the day. The course is very fair, well-maintained and mature for its years. The finishing home hole is stunning — a par5 with a slight dogleg, it has the ultimate backdrop, the Pacific. It also was right outside the back door of my suite; at night, Spencer and I took beers down to chip and putt on the 18th green while watching the sun sink beyond the ocean horizon. The Pacifico Course, which is rated No. 1 in Latin America, has one special defining feature that puts it on the world’s map of must plays — a “Tail of the Whale” third hole that is ranked by many as one the best holes in the world. It’s truly an island green — it’s not mechanical, it doesn’t float and it’s not connected by a wooden footbridge … it’s literally an island in the Pacific. Reaching as far back as 190 yards, this hole is more cascadegolfer.com


Both courses at Punta Mita, the Pacifico and Bahia, are rated among the finest in Latin America.

than a signature – it’s a destination. When the tide is in, you can only reach the hole via an amphibious vehicle that runs along the shallow rocky shoal that connects the mainland and the island. When the tide is out, you can walk along the shoal to the green, protected by rock formations, sand traps and — of course — the ocean. On the media day with Irwin, with the wind kicking up, the tide in and the tension high, only two of the 20 people in our party hit the green — one was the only three-time U.S. Open winner in our party, the other was Spencer. I, sadly, fed my ball to the sea life. The rest of Pacifico is stunning and the final three holes send you away with the smell of the fresh ocean air in your hair as the layout concludes with breathtaking coastline holes. Dining at the St. Regis Resort at Punta Mita is what you would expect – savory, and filled with ambiance.

There are three restaurants on the grounds and a way-hip lobby bar that features an evening champagne toast in which a swordsman slices off the top of the bottle, then pours bubbly for the guests. Las Marietas offers authentic Mexican fare in a relaxed environment. The Sea Breeze Beach Club rolls out California-themed selections and is hip and casual. The resort’s signature restaurant is Carolina, and it will leave an impression — the menu is themed and will bring your five senses a five-star culinary experience. Altamira, the lobby bar, has ocean views and some tasty tequilas and is also a great place to hang out. The courses are easily accessible from the resort property, feature golf training facilities, a full pro shop and staff. The grounds, pools, bars, 10,000-square-foot Remede Spa and the landscaping leaves nary a stone unturned. Our whole experience was far more than the Tail of the Whale hole – it was among the finest I have ever had in the U.S. or Europe … in fact, maybe instead of building a golf course at the Pyramids, they can figure out how to move the Pyramids to Punta Mita. To see more pictures or plan your own Punta Mita getaway, visit puntamita.com/the-st-regis-resort.

TROPICAL PARADISE SOUND NICE?

GET AWAY, ON US!

Long, high drives backdropped by the deep, blue ocean, the warm sun beating down on your arms and a cold, fruity beverage in your hand at the 19th hole … yeah, that sounds pretty darn good right about now. That’s why we’ve teamed up with one of Maui’s leading resorts to give one Cascade Golfer reader the chance to turn that daydream into a reality this winter — stay five nights at the prestigious Westin Maui Ka’anapali Resort & Spa, and play four spectacular rounds at the Ka’anapali Golf Resort … for free! ENTER TO WIN TODAY AT CASCADEGOLFER.COM cascadegolfer.com

DECEMBER 2011

49


SAVE SOME GREEN HOLIDAY TREATS BY BRIAN BEAKY • CG EDITOR

Indian Canyon Golf Course

T

here’s a lot not to like about our Northwest winters — rain, wind, cold, six hours of sunlight a day and the fact that it’s just plan hard to swing a golf club when you’re wearing more layers than a Walla Walla onion. Of course, if you think all of that is going to stop us from going out to the golf course over the next few months, then you don’t know golfers very well. If we were the type of people who couldn’t handle a little frustration, adversity, self-doubt and general misery … wait, why do we play this game again? The truth is, while the winter presents plenty of unique obstacles to a good round of golf (see Postgame on page 55), it also presents one significant advantage — winter rates. Many of us who seek out the best values in the local golf scene spend our summers feasting on those mid-priced tracks that offer a fantastic round of golf in the $40-$65 range. Sure, we’ll treat ourselves to a few rounds each summer at a higher price point, just to remember what its like to live the good life, or to take advantage of some great destination tracks, but for the most part, our bread-and-butter comes in that middle price range, or even lower. In the wintertime, though, rates at many of the region’s nicest courses plummet right down into our wheelhouse — including some of our favorite tracks like Chambers Bay, Trophy Lake, Washington National and even Newcastle. Best of all, while the greens fees drop, everything else about these tracks remains at the premier level that sets them apart in the summertime — beautiful clubhouses, outstanding customer service and impeccable course design and maintenance, all of which increase your chances of an enjoyable day at the golf course during what can be a real hit-or-miss time of year. That’s why we spend our winters playing on our area’s nicer tracks. After all, you endure a lot to be a Northwest winter golfer — this holiday season, you deserve a little treat.

CG’s TOP OFFSEASON VALUES Chambers Bay — $50-$75 Washington National — $25-$60 Newcastle – China Creek — $55-$80 Trophy Lake — $22-$59 Gold Mountain (Olympic) — $24-$38 White Horse — $20-$30 50

DECEMBER 2011

1

Chambers Bay UNIVERSITY PLACE

Every golfer in the Puget Sound region — heck, just about every golfer in the world who has watched the Golf Channel or read Golf Digest in the last three years — wants to play Chambers Bay. In fact, during the summer months it’s not uncommon at all to overhear conversations in many different languages and foreign accents while making your way around our local links gem, as golfers from across the globe pack Chambers’ fairways to get a sneak peek at the course that will host the 2015 U.S. Open. In the wintertime, though, much of the tourism goes away … which is when we step in. While summer rates at Chambers can climb into triple digits for non-county residents, winter rates plunge to just $55 — weekend! — for residents of Pierce County and $75 (weekend) for the rest of us. And the best secret of all? The same elements that make Chambers a unique golf experience — its hard, fescue fairways and greens and open links style — helps it remain closer to its summertime condition than any course in the state during the offseason. Plugged lies are non-existent, while the many invasive molds and other pathogens that are the bane of Northwest golf course superintendents in the winter months are rarely found on Chambers’ fine fescue turf. In addition, the course is introducing a brand-new Annual Pass this winter that includes unlimited golf, no restrictions on tee times, unlimited use of the brandnew practice facility and other benefits. Basically, it’s like being a member of a private country club — only, if that country club was preparing

to host a U.S. Open. The Annual Pass, which runs from Oct. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2012, will be sold for $3,000, while an Offseason Pass — offering the same benefits in a more limited time frame (no June, July, August or September play) — will cost just $2,000. It’s cheaper than the initiation fees, monthly dues and food and beverage minimums at most private clubs, and gives you unlimited access to one of the top municipal courses in all of America. So, yeah, you’re going to find us at Chambers this winter. There’s really no better time to go.

BEST HOLE

A “Best Hole in the NW” list could easily just be a listing of Chambers’ 1-18 – they’re honestly that good. Picking the best is like throwing darts at the scorecard … so, that’s exactly what we did, and it landed on No. 14, a long par-4 (415 from the sand tees, 496 from the blues) from an elevated tee with incredible Sound views and the longest forced carry on the course. Knock it past the fairway bunker about 275 yards out and you’ll hit a downhill chute that adds 40 yards to your drive. If the pin is on the front of the massive, undulating green, leave your approach short and right and let it run onto the putting surface for a birdie chance.

YARDAGE 5,287-7,547 RATES $50-$75 TEL 877-29-LINKS (5-4657) WEB chambersbaygolf.com

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2

Washington National AUBURN

We pride ourselves in putting our Cascade Golfer Cup tournaments on some of the finest courses in the state. So it’s notable that when we surveyed our players at the end of the year and asked them to rank all seven of our courses this year, Auburn’s Washington National came in second, trailing only USGA darling Chambers Bay. The self-proclaimed “Home of the Huskies” — which has hosted multiple NCAA and Pac-10 Championships, and features tee boxes and golf carts with a decidedly purple-and-gold theme — has earned a reputation in its first decade as one of the nicest, and most challenging, courses in the state. What’s more, unlike many of the region’s highend tracks, it’s actually possible to finagle Washington National’s summer rates into the Save Some Green wheelhouse, with early bird and twilight rates — including a cart — that drop below $50. Of course, with our 6-8 hours of wintertime sunlight, there’s no such thing as “early bird” or “twilight” golf — which makes Washington National’s prime-time winter rates of $52 on weekdays and $60 on weekends ($10 less for Oki cardholders) so appealing. And if you can get out just after noon, to get a full round in before that 4:45 p.m. sunset? Pay just $40 after noon on weekdays, $45 on weekends. Now that’s the kind of wintertime value we feast on. The reduced winter traffic will also make it easier for you to enjoy a course that is truly a progressive experience, starting off relatively straightforward and becoming increasingly more difficult and complex with each passing hole, peaking at the challenging, risk/ reward par-5 17th. The course’s large waste areas full of native rocks and shrubs firm up a bit in the winter, making them easier to play out of, while typically firm, fast greens give back just a little of their intimidation factor, further increasing your chances of scoring well.

yards off the tee, but there are few reachable par-4s in the state where your risk/reward decision is as easy to make as this one — even in the winter. I think you know what we’d choose.

YARDAGE 5,117-7,304 RATES $25-$60 (includes cart) TEL 253-333-5000 WEB okigolf.com

BEST HOLE

For pure fun factor, it’s tough to top No. 7. At 266 yards from the whites and 286 from the blues, the slightly elevated green of this par-4 is eminently reachable, and has enough bailout areas so as to not harshly penalize a shot just slightly mishit. Sure, there are some large greenside bunkers, trees to the right and water that extends 200-220

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DECEMBER 2011

51


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DECEMBER DECEMBER 2011 2011

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ENTER TO WIN

PRACTICE TEE

A $500 LESSON PACKAGE!

Don’t start the season back at square one

There’s no better time to work on your game than the winter. That’s why we’re working with the teaching pros at GolfTEC to give one lucky Cascade Golfer reader a free Par Package, including an evaluation and five lessons, valued at over $500! Get your swing in shape for the season by entering to win at CascadeGolfer.com!

BY LYNDON BYSTROM GolfTEC Southcenter

I

see it every year — people dedicating a lot of time to their games during the golf season and really improving … then winter hits, and the clubs are put away. Then, when March and April arrive, their games are rusty and they find themselves taking a step backwards before they can regain their previous year’s form. I know it’s tough to get out and play in the winter. My suggestion for how to maintain form during the offseason is to incorporate a regular routine of drills. Everyone reads the articles and watches the commercials on TV explaining the perfect drill. But, it’s important to remember that we all learn differently, and what works for one person might not work for you. Some golfers’

bodies are more limited or restricted than others. However, those with restrictions can still become very good golfers. It’s important to work with your PGA or LPGA professional to find drills that ensure that you are working the proper golf muscles and putting your body in proper positions. It’s up to your professional to identify what you need to work on, and then it’s up to you to work on these things in the correct ways. Remember, simple motions for 10 minutes a day go a long way towards maintaining your golfing form. Try to incorporate hitting practice balls into your winter training routine, to keep your swing’s motion fluid and intact. Don’t be overly concerned with ball flight at this point; instead, focus on the good habits you formed through the drills and apply them to your golf swing. Make sure you feel the same motion during your practice session that you did while performing your drills.

Using video is a great way to assure you’re practicing correctly. Video assures that you’re in the correct positions that you’re striving to achieve and sustain. If you are, great! You can now consult with your instructor and move on. If you aren’t, then keep working on those drills. Taking this simple and proactive approach to improving your golf game is a great way to promote success during the next golf season. You’ll be able to come out strong, ahead of your competition and ready to improve even more throughout the year. Lyndon Bystrom is a member of the PGA and has taught golf throughout the United States, including Albuquerque, N.M., and Lexington , Ky. He can currently be found providing certified personal coaching at GolfTEC’s Southcenter location. To learn more, call 206-462-3217 or e-mail lbystrom@golftec.com.

Introducing the Pure Stroke Putter, a unique new innovative way to lower your handicap. What sets the Pure Stroke apart from other training aids is that you absolutely cannot cheat it. From start of stroke to finish this club makes you repeat a perfect stroke every time. You realize instantly if your head moves or you don’t keep the club head square through the stroke, the ball bounces off the forks resulting in an errant putt. Repetition is the mother of all skill and this club will train you to repeat a perfect stroke every time. There is no set up. All you need is this club and a golf ball. You can practice anywhere, at your home, office, motel room, where ever you are.

Cascade Golfer readers: visit www.mypurestroke.com to receive special pricing! Click on the Cascade Golfer icon (your password is “Cascade Golfer”) and the Pure Stroke is yours for only $89.00, regularly $129.00! Money back guarantee. On the amateur level with practice you will shave 2 to 3 strokes per round! cascadegolfer.com

DECEMBER 2011

53


Presented by

POST GAME Top-10 Signs You’re a Northwest Golfer By Brian Beaky CG Editor

I

t occurred to me last April — or maybe it was May, or June, or early July … you know, one of those “rainy” months — as I put on my fourth glove of the day, cleaned the mud off my ball and debated whether I needed two or three extra clubs to reach the green, to wonder if golfers in Arizona, Florida or any of those other sun-splashed states ever have to play these kinds of shots. I mean, how can they possibly know what it’s like to stare down a 12-foot putt that must first pass through a half-inch of standing water, or to find your ball submerged at the bottom of a bunker? We’re tougher, and more well-rounded golfers, than they’ll ever be. I was proud to be a Northwest winter golfer then … for all of about 15 seconds, until I hit my ball and unleashed a massive spray of mud that covered my clothes, flew into my hair and left me temporarily blinded. Which is good, because then I didn’t have to see my ball nose-dive 20 yards short of the green and plug into the fairway. Those of us who brave the elements each winter and spring to squeeze 18 holes into our six hours of sunlight are, as the PEMCO Insurance ads famously quip, “a little different.” So here’s to you, Northwest winter golfer … 10 of our favorite ways in which you’re unique from your spoiled Southern California brethren:

10. You’ve mastered the “towel-wrapped grip” shot. 9. You own at least two pairs of golf shoes — a nicer pair for dry days, and a grubby pair for all the others. And you’ve still never worn the nice pair. 8. You completely understand how significant the difference is between a “2–Very Poor” rating and a “5-Fair” rating on Weather.com.

your short-sleeve crewneck, all over your long-sleeve thermal shirt. 5. You’ve been thrilled to crush a drive 220 yards. 4. You’ve voluntarily left your Pro-V1 at the bottom of a bunker, rather than climb in and risk soaking yourself in six inches of standing water. 3. You are not aware there is such a thing as summer rules.

7.

Even when you see the day is going to be a “2,” you go to the course anyway. After all, it could be worse.

6. Your typical golf attire includes a windbreaker worn over your rain jacket, which is over your hoodie, which is over

2. You know what it’s like to overcome the wind and rain to pure a drive right down the middle, see it land in the center of the fairway … and end up taking a lost ball when you can’t find it under an inch of mud.

And The No. 1 Sign You’re a Northwest Winter Golfer?

1. Even though it’s 45 degrees and raining, you’re still annoyed there’s no beer girl.

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DECEMBER 2011 DECEMBER 2011

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