Birthday Bonanza 2015 (Continued)

I chronicled Thursday and Friday of my birthday weekend, but I still had plenty of golf in store for Saturday and Sunday, so here we go.

In true Nomad style, Thursday was spent in Ventura County and Friday down in Carlsbad. Saturday found me headed east into the Coachella Valley and Sunday I was in Temecula. The first round was one of the silliest experiences of my golf life, but it was another one to check off the list…

Outdoor Resort Indio • Indio, CA • 8/8/15

Some other course collector friends and I played the other Outdoor Resort (Palm Springs) and Motorcoach Country Club earlier this summer, making the effort and spending the money to reserve RV spots with no other purpose than to play the golf courses. The Outdoor Resort in Indio is actually just across the street from Motorcoach, but we didn’t have a chance to play it until this weekend.

Things went easily checking in and getting to the first tee. The place was pretty much deserted this late in the summer and I’m surprised the course was even maintained at all. That’s where things get interesting, though. As my friends were still preparing by our cars, I walked over to the first tee to scope things out. I looked at the first green and noticed no flag was up. I could see another hole nearby and it didn’t have one either.

I walked up to the tiny green and then noticed there was no hole either. I realized this could be a problem. After the trouble we had gone through to get out here, we weren’t going to be denied. We started talking about ways to make up our own holes and play some “normal” form of golf. Luckily, after further research we did find there was an old hole cut on each green and filled in completely with sand. That’s all we needed.

We would hit our tee shots, walk up to the green and find the sanded hole. Then we’d dig out what we could with our hands and play out from there. It was extremely silly, but kind of fun in our own twisted way. The hole cuts were ratty and overgrown, so it was far from regulation, but we made it work and it was good enough to check this course off our lists.

Outdoor Resort Indio is an 18-hole par-3 pitch and putt course with holes ranging from 60 yards up to 124. The conditions were not very good for us, but it’s obvious with the place being basically emptied out this time of year, they are not making much effort to maintain the course. It seems they are keeping it mowed, but not bothering to cut holes. We could see that in the winter it’s probably a really fun course. And judging by the nice conditions we encountered at the other Outdoor Resort in early summer, I am sure it presents much better with some green grass and holes/flags actually in place. There is a ton of water in play, the greens are small and the layout is decent for what it is.

Another one off the list, I suppose.

Some pictures from Outdoor Resort Indio (8/8/15):

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Here’s what one of our “holes” looked like:

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Our main round of the day was at The Westin Mission Hills on the Gary Player Signature Course. My friends treated me to a birthday round out here and I was up for that…

The Westin Mission Hills (Gary Player Signature Course) • Rancho Mirage, CA • 8/8/15

It was surprisingly busy in the late morning/early afternoon, but I think there were a lot of golfers out there using some replay round voucher deals before they expire soon. We played as a threesome and then a single joined us for most of the back nine. We waited on most shots, but nobody out there was messing around too much on a hot day. So, it was a good overall pace of just over four hours.

It’s not the prettiest this course can look as things are getting dried out in late summer, but the playability was consistent and mostly great. The tee boxes were nice. The fairways had some thin spots, but I always had excellent lies. The rough was not deep, but still fairly penal with the way the ball sits down. The greens were firm (didn’t make one ball mark all day) and rolling at pretty slow speeds, as is usually the case in the desert during the late summer months.

This was my second time playing this course and I probably enjoyed it more the first time around, partly due to the great aesthetics in the winter season as opposed to late summer. I was able to focus more on the layout itself this time. It’s a solid course with some nice holes and water features, but a pretty forgiving “resort” style layout for the most part. The greens are mostly quite simple with very little break (especially when running slow) other than the occasional small shelf/tier on some back nine holes.

This is definitely a good overall course, and I prefer it over the Dye course at this resort. However, there are still a lot of other Coachella Valley options I would put before it.

Some pictures from The Westin Mission Hills Resort (Gary Player Signature Course) (8/8/15):

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I was right back at it on Sunday with one round on the schedule…

Journey at Pechanga • Temecula, CA • 8/9/15

This was a special treat and another good reason to be a Greenskeeper.org member. They offered a little “easter egg” GK Plays round somewhat hidden on the site, so the first people who noticed it got to join in a free round. We had eight players and it was a really fun group.

Our first group teed off at 11:00 and it was a busy day out there. This course naturally takes a little longer to play, partly due to a lot of driving in between holes, but we didn’t mind taking our time and enjoying the “journey.”

I enjoy any excuse to come out and play this course as it’s always an incredible experience. The staff here is super nice and they run it as a high-end resort course with all the special treatment. Likewise, the course is maintained at higher standards than most others around. It wasn’t quite as pristine as I’ve seen it in the past, but the conditions were still great from tee to green. The greens themselves were excellent, rolling true and quick all day.

The scenery on this course is incredible and you even get some history lessons about the tribal culture of the area. Very few things can compare to the drive up the path to the top tee box on the 6th hole and looking out over the entire Temecula Valley. What a view!

The layout is always fun and challenging. Having played it a few times now, I can appreciate some of the quirkiness and strategic options some of the holes present, but I can understand why others may dislike certain design elements. Love it or hate it, you definitely will not get bored here.

One new development is that they recently filled in the huge dip that bisected the 18th green. It is much more gentle now. I actually miss the old version because it was so distinctive and crazy, but I might be the only one. The turf there has filled in nicely and will continue to improve with time, but most repeat players will appreciate the softened green complex it has now.

I can’t wait for my next visit to Pechanga!

Some pictures from Journey at Pechanga (8/9/15):

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