Monthly Archives: February 2012

La Quinta Resort – Pete Dye Mountain Course

La Quinta Resort – Pete Dye Mountain Course

Course Review Date: 2/17/2012
Course Reviewer: Sean Charlton

Pictures Below

Located at the La Quinta Resort are both the Pete Dye Mountain and Dunes courses.  The mountain course is literally in the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains.  More than half of the course is backed up to, if not in, the rocky hill side.  A breathtaking site looking up along the mountain ridges or down onto the course from elevation.

I asked the starter for a little advice for this course and the one thing he told me was ‘go long’.  He said that the closer you can get to the greens the better.  Usually a 130-170 yard approach shot is appropriate on most courses, but he said that even if you think that’s the right play, try and get even closer.  The greens are small, he said, so it’s better to have an 8 iron or less in so you have a little more control.  Small greens, with near PGA quality quickness, made this course quite challenging.

Playing from the 6300 yard White Tees at the Mountain course, felt miles shorter than the 6500 over at PGA West – Nicklaus, and was much more forgiving.  Laid out more like a traditional course, using more of the lands natural shape as a guide for each hole, you really felt as if you were playing in the mountains; tee boxes, fairways, and greens in some cases were surrounded by the rocky slopes.

Driver off the tee is an option for just about every non par 3 hole, but narrow landing areas and well placed mid fairway bunkers will test your accuracy and force you to make smart club selections.  200 yard long sand traps lined several long fairways with other holes having rocks and cacti separating you form the green.  Perfectly manicured in every way, from the dark green fairways, to the untouched sand, to the perfectly conditioned greens, this course was my favorite out of the three I played.

Being so close to the hills, the wind was a factor on some holes, but not all.  The wind swirled a bit in places and it felt as if you were almost always hitting in to the wind when it was present.  Apparently, wind is a common factor on this course as the hills accentuate whatever breeze may be blowing.

Like to walk when you play?  Don’t… you get a cart with your very large greens fee and it is well worth it.  A couple long jaunts between holes will wear you out and it’s called the Mountain Course for a reason; it’s not flat, don’t be a hero, take the cart.

This is a tough course that will absolutely test your abilities and is a must play during a Palm Springs visit.  The views alone are worth the greens fee, the golf is an added bonus.

Golfchops.com rating: 25/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 5
Amenities: 5

  • Customer Service was impeccable. A shared clubhouse for both the Mountain and Dunes courses has you greeted at the front door, clubs taken down to your cart, and cleaned upon your return by the cart staff.  Very friendly clubhouse staff from the front desk to the bartenders.
  • Greens=Perfect, Fairways=perfect, Tee Boxes=Perfect
  • A small restaurant and bar in the club house, on course beverage service that hit us every 3-4 holes, nice proshop with a great selection, and a real estate agent on site, just in case you saw a home on the course you have to have.

Value – coming in off the street, you’re going pay $195 a round in the peak season (late December- late April).  However, they do offer discount passes for 3 rounds (One must be at the Dunes course) for $379 that can save you a little money, OR you can work a little magic with the La Quinta Resort and negotiate a ‘stay and play’ package for yourself.  I talked to a group of 12 that paid 600 bucks each for 3 nights and unlimited golf.

PGA West- Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course

PGA West- Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course

Course Review Date: 2/16/2012
Course Reviewer: Sean Charlton

A 15 minute shuttle ride from the La Quinta Resort found me at the front door of PGA West Clubhouse for the Nicklaus Tournament Course, TPC Stadium course as well as the Weiskopf private course.  My clubs were lifted from the shuttle by a gentleman that rushed out to greet us and taken down to my cart as I continued in side to check in.  The Clubhouse holds Ernie’s bar and grill and the PGA West proshop.  10 foot tall pictures of PGA greats like Palmer and Nicklaus adorn the walls mixed in with trophies, quotes, plaques and maps of the courses… a pretty amazing sight to start my day.

After a quick check in I ventured out to the practice area only to find the driving range closed for maintenance.  Really?  I was able to chip and put on the two greens dedicated to such activities just up the hill, but still, a warm up would have been nice before tackling this monster of a golf course.

I was sent to #10 to start so I wouldn’t have to wait on #1 for a member tournament to finish up and was instantly in awe of this golf course.  It’s nothing like what we have here in Washington.  Shockingly beautiful and perfectly manicured with the greenest grass I’ve ever seen.  Every hole has been literally cut out of the desert.  Where there once was sand, now sits this amazing course. With that being said, there’s not a naturally occurring bump, hill or mound anywhere to be found.  Every part of every hole has been designed and created by man, to challenge your golfing ability.  It was absolutely perfect.

Accuracy is an absolute must however generous landing areas for most par 4’s and 5’s.  Not too much traditional ‘trouble’ on the course; no 3 ft fescue to deal with or 4 inch rough to imprison your ball, however the topography and undulation of the rough is what makes things difficult.  Three to fifteen foot elevation changes, from fairway to rough or bunker, will test you on just about every hole. Kept, short, yet brown, grass lines the outskirts of the fairways to ensure you know where you don’t want to be.

The greens, as beautiful and perfect as you can ever find, are ridiculously difficult to navigate.  They were smooth as glass, faster than fast, hard to read, and for me just about impossible as I tried to break in my new putter.  Even the slightest contour moved the ball as it traveled (at light speed) across the green.  It gave me a new appreciation for what the pros deal with because these greens were as close to PGA quality as I’ll most likely ever see. If you can’t spin the hell out of your approach shot, you have very little chance of keeping anything on the green.

Playing from the white tees offered up just over 6000 yards, which would have been ok, but I was looking for a bit more of a challenge.  I went with the middle set ‘Championship Tees’, which added about 500 yards (tournament tees are set back to 7200).  The 6522 was long, very long, and other than the par 3’s, there was only 1 hole where I didn’t hit driver from the tee box, but I probably should have as my 5 wood left a tough approach shot that ultimately founds its way to the bottom of one of the several water hazards.

Amazingly created holes, a challenge on every shot, perfect in every way, and the 140 slope was no joke.  Jack Nicklaus does NOT mess around. This course kicked my butt and I loved every second of it!

Golfchops.com rating: 25/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 5
Amenities: 5

  • Customer Service was impeccable. Greeted at the front door, clubs taken down to your cart, and cleaned upon your return by the cart staff.  Very friendly clubhouse staff from the front desk to the bartenders.
  • Greens=Perfect, Fairways=perfect, Tee Boxes=Perfect
  • A full restaurant and bar in the club house with an outdoor patio, on course beverage service that hit us every 3-4 holes, giant proshop with anything you could want, and a little history lesson in the lobby.
  • Value – coming in off the street, you’re gonna pay $195 a round in the peak season (late December- late April).  However, they do offer discount passes for 3 rounds (One must be at the Dunes course) for $379 that can save you a little money, OR you can work a little magic with the La Quinta Resort and negotiate a ‘stay and play’ package for yourself.  I talked to a group of 12 that paid 600 bucks each for 3 nights and unlimited golf.

Bandon Dunes – Travel Logistics and Stuff to Check Out

Having written reviews on all four golf courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort last year, I thought it would be important to discuss some of the logistics with going and what you can expect before reflecting on another great weekend of golf.

Getting to Bandon Dunes:

We opt for the road trip from Seattle to Bandon, which without to many stops can be done in 7 hours.  We recommend the Enterprise Rent-A-Car that is on 12thst. in Bellevue.  They’ve taken good care of us the last two years and the price has been very good.  Go big though is your are driving with 4 people.  We are able to fill a Suburban to the brim between luggage, 4 golf bags and miscellaneous.  For those that would prefer to fly the closest airport is in North Bend, Or.  Once there you will have to rent a car or hire a shuttle service to get you to the resort.

About 7 hours from Seattle if you’re rolling!
One of the rooms at the Chrome Lake Lodge Lodging:

For the past two winters we have stayed at the Chrome Lake Lodging area at Bandon.  $160 a night (in the winter) and perfect for two people.  Bare bones amenities, i.e. a fridge, two beds and a bathroom.  Assuming you spend most of your time at the resort either playing golf, practicing or eating the rooms really are of little concern.  They do not have a microwave or kitchenette and we presume this is too encourage you to eat at the restaurants.  Book your rooms early, especially in the winter when folks are taking advantage of the cheap greens fees.

Food and Booze:

There’s a few places to eat at the resort but the only real standout that we have visited is McKee’s, the Irish pub next to the first tee of Bandon Dunes.  Excellent food and very tasty selection of micro’s on tap.  We had very good service on our two visits to McKee’s this trip.  For breakfast, there is a buffet in the main lodge area for $15, but it’s not very good.  Runny fake eggs and grease laden pork is not an ideal way to start a 36 hole day.  Unless you are hung over I guess.  The service wasn’t very good either.  Servers are friendly but seemed like they had too much going on to get to us in a timely manner on both our visits.  The best thing to do if you have a vehicle is to run to town and hit Ray’s grocery store, Subway or Bandon Pizza.  This will save you some coin and its only about 15 minutes down the highway.

As for beverage service…be very careful here and hide your wallet once you hit the property.  Beer prices on the courses are outrageous!  $8 for a 14.9oz Stella, $4 for a Coors Light, and $8 for a Foster big can.  $8 for a Stella was just stupid.  Ray’s grocery store in Bandon has an excellent beer and wine selection that will save you tons of cash while down there.

McKee’s has some excellent food…and booze.
The newest edition to the mecca, Bandon Preserve Stuff to Check Out!

Head to the practice facility and make buddies with someone who is working the grounds.  On the right side of the driving range is a secret par 3 course with greens made by the designer of Bandon Dunes.  They even give you a little score card for it called “Shorty’s.”  It was pretty cool to bang out an unexpected free 9 holes at Bandon, on the driving range no less, before our round at Old Macdonald.

Play Bandon Preserve!  Bandon Preserve is the new 13 hole, par 3 course that doesn’t open until May 1st.  We didn’t have the opportunity to check it out much but you can see a lot of it while playing Bandon Dunes and it looks incredible.  It had this really strong forest green color to it that really stood out from the rest of the area.  Already looking forward to dialing that into the next trip.  I think it will be a welcome relaxing round for people who have been pounded by Bandon and Pacific.

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