This year, we re-visited California for our winter golf vacation and spent a few days at the beautiful Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, CA.
The golf itself included lots of great holes-
#3 is a short, pretty par 3 over a pond;
#7 has this amazing drop and is all downhill;
#8 is big downhill risk/reward par 5, green guarded by water;
#10 could be a drive over the water feature for a chance at the green in 2;
#18 is a long par four with water in play off the tee and on the approach.
The golf was a difficult test with lots of elevation changes; dramatic water features; uneven lies everywhere; large undulating greens that welcomes 3 putts. (2 putts for par feels like victory sometimes!)
Finally- some pictures. There really are no words to properly describe it but it’s fair to say that the pictures doesn’t truly do it justice!
Looking back from #3
Top of the world at #7
Approach on #8
Looking back at the 10th teebox
Ho Hum, another typical par 3 (#14)
The 16th Green
Coming home on the difficult #18
Here’s a compilation from the 2015 LPGA Kia Classic with real pros showing us bogey golfers how to drive over the water on #10 and hitting the green on #16.
For our annual mountain golf trip this year, we decided to stay on the Alberta side of the Rocky Mountains. While we love the BC side of things, there are a bunch of great courses right in our own back yard according to Score Golf’s top 100 courses in Canada.
Top 100 Canada
So we started off with the #35 ranked course according to Score- The Stewart Creek Golf Club in Canmore, Alberta.
Stewart Creek Golf Club
Of all the mountain golf courses we’ve played, I’d rank this course as one of the most playable of the mounatins courses with great elevation changes. Each hole is well designed with fair landing areas and interesting/challenging greens. Oh, and like all other mountain courses, the views are absolutely spectacular! My wife and I continued to reuse and overuse this word “Spectacular” throughout the week time and time again.
We did run into a little mix up that turned out to be quite funny. The golf marshal came by to warn us about a bear on the 5th hole while we were teeing off. However, he accidentally jumped into our cart with our clubs and drove off by the time we got off the tee box. He finally found his way back to us after we let a group play through and thoroughly apologized for the incident. It did break up our flow slightly but we definitely understand the need to try to both the bear and players safe from each other.
In the end, it was quite amusing and it made for a memorable round.
Now for some pictures…
Picture perfect opening hole
Pretty par 3. I ended up behind the back right bunker in some rough fescue. Was happy to just chip on and 2 putt out.
This might have been our bear warning hole?
Finishing our round on the beautiful downhill 18th.
We played 54 holes over Christmas and Boxing Day at Indian Wells and had an incredible time soaking in everything Golf at both courses. We managed to finish the first round quickly (3’45”), enjoyed a nice lunch at the Vue restaurant, and then snagged the last time at noon on Christmas Day. We came back the next day to spend the morning at their grass driving range, and I got a quick lesson from my buddy on sand escapes in their practice bunkers before heading out for another 18.
Indian Wells is a definite “must play” if you visit Palm Springs- it’s definitely on my list to re-visit next time we go back!
My favorite photo from our trip- No 15 at the Palyers Course. We are about 150 yards out- you can just spot the red flag right of center.
My buddy was oh-so-close to an eagle from 130 out on the same hole no. 15 hole (the next day)! It actually hit the pin on the hop and stopped right there. #NoStressBirdie
Play through a sandstorm at the Players Course for our 2nd afternoon round. (Keep right! The fairway tilts towards the water!)
Short (drivable) Par 4 at the Celebrity Course
Back at Players Course the very next day! Par 5 No. 14.
One of our favorite course was Indian Canyons – South Course. My friend had played this course before last Christmas and insists on coming back and I can understand why. It’s secluded behind the mountains, quiet, and very scenic as you can see for yourself. The course is in great shape, including fast rolling greens and a nice practice area that we took advantage of. Also, finally, I started to get in touch with my driver again and made some progress with my irons to get back into my usual bogey golf range. That, combined with an afternoon of 27*C really capped off another amazing day of vacationing and golf.
Lucky my ball stopped rolling towards the drink! Lucky that I’m a righty in this situation.
Every hole is like a postcard!
From the practice green
Another nice shot right down the middle!
We played Palm Desert Country Club the next day, another well maintained public course that weaves in and out through a community.
Some people dislike playing so close to houses but it never bothers me- afterall, they should never be in play, right?
Well, I discovered why after my opening drive massively push sliced almost into someone’s back yard! Even the starter gave me a hearty “WOAH There!” 🙂
In the end, despite another very rusty round, we thoroughly enjoyed the course- helpful staff, everything was very open and fair with no blind shots and no unwanted surprises.
Another early morning start
Unbelievably green and lush in the middle of a desert
Alas, all good things must come to an end and we played the two very different Radium Resort courses on Day 5 and Day 6 to wrap up our vacation.
This is definitely the more scenic of the two courses, set cliffside along the valley. It has a great practice facility, grass stalls, a fairway bunker, a huge greenside bunker, and multiple chipping/putting surface. We spent our first night in town buried deep in the practice bunkers and it helped with the sandshot confidence for the rest of the week.
There were some challenging doglegs, the usual elevation changes and at least for me on that day, excellent putting greens.
Barely got over the right side bunkers on this one
Ride along the Columbia Valley
Tough par 3 on 17
Our last round in the valley was at the Resort Course. This is a much more mature course with recent renovations for 3 new holes. I can verify this because my GPS app went crazy on me for a long stretch on the front 9. They must’ve been spraying chemicals heavily on the day because I was having it caught up in my sinuses and my throat (smells alot like Killex). This course was alot tighter with lots of holes shaped around the natural terrain and contours of the mountains. This made for some great frustrating holes where the fairways will not hold any drives, where a nice drive might send your ball rolling off the low side of the fairway into the rough or rocks+trees if you’re not lucky. Regardless, there were some great holes that makes up for it in the end to make it worthwhile to play.
Very tight hole #10. Somewhere between this practice swing and my actual shot, I got smarter and decided to use a 3W instead. Still, I proceeded to hook it DEEP in the the left forest. Luckily, the steep mountains somehow rolled my ball back to the middle of the fairway!
Tricky club selection on a fun mountainside par 3.
Elevated par 4 is just as fun. The ball stays in the air for an extra long beat!
Finally, a couple pics of our drive through the mountains on our way back home.
We were behind this truck for awhile……
Just outside of Radium
Of all the beautiful, gorgeous-scenery-distracting-my-game golf courses in the Columbia Valley, the most spectacular place has got to be Greywolf Golf Course. There’s not too much that I can say or describe that isn’t better explained by these pictures below.
The Cliffhanger. That is all.
It’s all downhill!
Quaint little par 3 on the back nine
“Hi!” from the CrunchyGolfer mascot on the finishing hole.