GK Saturday in Indio

Yesterday, the latest Greenskeeper.org “casual” golf outing was held at Eagle Falls Golf Course in Indio, CA. Several times throughout the year, they organize these group events for fellow GKers to get together for some good times and good golf. Though I’ve been a member of the site for many years, I’ve really gotten more involved in the past year. So this was the first group event that I signed up for, and I’ve been looking forward to it for awhile.

There were a couple of minor “complications” in planning this event. The main one was that it happened to fall on one of the weekends when the Coachella music festival was in town. So lodging was hard to find for people coming from out of town (and if you could find it, it was quite expensive). That didn’t really affect me personally since I knew I’d just drive out for the day, but I know it made things trickier for some people. The other complication was one that could not have been planned for, and that was the extreme heat out there yesterday. Normally, this would be a perfect time of year for golf out in the desert, but we just happened to get a little unlucky this time.

But those minor complications aside, the event went off without a hitch and I had a blast out there meeting a lot of fellow golfers and enjoying a round on a great course. More on that later, though, because there was a little bit of golf taking place even earlier in the day…

I was contacted by fellow GKer, dconnally, earlier in the week as he posted an invite to play an early morning round at Shadow Hills (North Course) before the event (which wasn’t starting until 11am) and an opportunity to carpool. I took him up on the offer, even though it meant leaving Irvine at 4:15 in the morning! We picked up another GKer on the way (bnick13) and met up at the course with another member, weber2323. [Screen names used to protect the innocent.]

Our time was set for 6:30 at this relatively new 18-hole par-3 course, so we figured it would be a nice tune-up before the event. Shadow Hills has another regulation course that I have yet to play, but I had read some nice things about the North course and was looking forward to getting the chance to play it. 

We got out there as the clubhouse was just opening, so they were a bit disorganized as we checked in. But we ended up being the first group off the tee and there was hardly anybody out there. I only saw a couple of other groups on the course the whole day. So we were able to play at a nice pace and have plenty of time leftover to head over to Eagle Falls after the round.

I didn’t know too much about the course coming in, but I really enjoyed it out there. Easily the nicest par-3 layout I’ve ever played (though the Monarch Dunes Challenge Course in Nipomo is pretty awesome, as well). 18 holes with a lot of different hole configurations and variety of distances that let you use every club in your bag (except the driver). The course presents good challenges for golfers of all skill levels and great desert views from hole to hole. Would be a decent beginner’s course, but it has plenty of bite for seasoned golfers, as well. It definitely kicked our butts! Course was in incredible shape and looked beautiful from tee to green. The greens looked great, but were painfully slow. I was really impressed in by all the work they obviously put into design and build this course for resort quality, as well as keep it so well maintained.

It was a great place for a quick tune-up round before the event and I’d highly recommend it to anyone if you are looking for a fun and quick round in the desert.

Some pictures from Shadow Hills (North) 4/21/12:

We finished at Shadow Hills by about 9:30 and headed over to Eagle Falls (just a few miles away) to get checked in early and grab a bite to eat before the event started. I was in the third group off at 11:15.

Eagle Falls is connected to the Fantasy Springs Casino/Hotel. They still just have trailers instead of any official clubhouse, but that was probably the only weakness in their quality of service. I grabbed a turkey sandwich in the snack shop and checked in with JohnnyGK, who founded Greenskeeper.org and works his butt off to organize these events for us.

It was very hot outside and I was beginning to regret playing the round earlier in the day. It sapped a little bit of energy out of me and I was pretty exhausted during the first few holes. But I eventually got used to it. I drank plenty of water (which was provided free at the course) and Powerade I bought from the cart girl. She also gave me an ice cold wet towel that came in very handy when I needed a refresher.

The group I was in was all different guys than I had played with earlier in the morning, so it was fun to meet them. We had plenty of fun out on the course despite the heat. My partners went by the handles of sr129, dethman and jjrauen and were all great guys.

The format for this event was called “The Man,” which is something I hadn’t played before. Basically, each player was randomly assigned four holes. Their score for that hole counted for the team score. Then there were two “best ball” holes to round out the scorecard. That added some fun (and some stress) to the round because nobody wanted to choke on their holes. I was actually proud of myself for shooting +1 on my four holes (which included two lip-outs or I would have been -1). They ended up giving out a prize for the best four-hole score. It was even par, so I was a little bummed about my lip-outs when I heard that.

I did, however, win my “flight” (B3) with a score of 87. Not spectacular, but it was a decent round for me and it was nice to win something. There were a lot of different prizes given out (closest-to-pins, long drives, several flights based on players’ skill levels and, of course, team scores). Then there was a raffle at the end and they gave out a number of other nice prices. I didn’t win anything there, but still had fun.

The course itself was excellent. I tend to like the courses on the North side of the I-10 a lot as they are more rugged and isolated than the more residential/resort courses on the other side of the freeway. It was comparable in style and quality to another course I played earlier this year, Desert Dunes.

It’s a great desert layout with a good variety of hole designs, mountain views all around and beautiful landscaping. We played from the white (Hawk) tees, which were only about 6,100 yards. That opened up a lot of scoring opportunities and some fun risk/reward decisions on a couple of short par-4 holes and some of the par-5 holes.

The conditions were exceptional. Fairways were fast, but nice and fluffy. Great to hit off of fairways and rough. I was in a few sand traps and they all seemed to be in great shape. The greens looked great and putted very consistently. Medium speeds and not as fast as I would have expected. The greens were a bit too firm for my tastes. I don’t get much backspin, so I had a hard time holding the greens on a number of approaches and chip shots. Other than that, though, I cannot complain about course at all.

Great day, great event, great courses and great company. I was very glad I signed up for this one!

Here are some pictures from Eagle Falls (4/21/12):

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