And so our desert leg begins. ¬†From LA to New Orleans apparently there‚??s nothing much but sand, and a few rocks. ¬†Vast, vast countryside ‚?? the next few days are certainly gonna be an eye opener. ¬†And hot.
Last night we zipped down the 10 from LA to Palm Springs, which was more of a climb than I‚??d expected. ¬†By some fortunate coincidence a chap called Gary ‚?? from the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa ‚?? contacted me in the afternoon, before we set sail, offering his help. ¬†(He‚??d run into a mate of ours down in Florida last week, and heard about what we were doing). ¬†With no accom arranged for last night, the plan was to spend it in Dodgy ‚?? no worries. ¬†Gary had a better idea though, and instead put us up in a plush pad overlooking one of the 26908 golf courses in this area. ¬†What a treat. ¬†Trading the back seat of Dodgy for a bed the size of a small nation was like trading muskets and salt for large tracts of land ‚?? a sweet deal!
This morning we boosted 17 miles or so down the road to PGA West, a phenomenal golf facility. ¬†There are 7 courses or so here, and a whole bunch of condos lining each. ¬†Almost entirely a golf town (La Quinta). ¬†Because we don‚??t yet have a GPS for the car, before we left I scribbled some directions on my forearm taken from the ever mercurial Google Maps. ¬†¬†Not for the first time, we were misled. ¬†It was a happy coincidence, therefore, that the chief staff writer for the USPGA Tour called Mike for a yarn while we were en route ‚?? she was able to give us (proper) directions in between questions! ¬†Dodgy rolled into the carpark 5 minutes late for our tee time, but thankfully there was a pretty open tee this morning, so all was not lost.
The Americans really do golf well. ¬†As soon as my left foot hit the tarmac a gentleman rolled up in a cart to take our sticks, and usher us to the pro shop. ¬†The pro told us there was no rush, and that we could hit some balls if we‚??d like (which we did). ¬†Given the Stadium Course at PGA West had been built up as a monster, we thought we better sharpen up and be ready. ¬†The starter then cautioned us against playing the tips (circa 7000 yards), which turned out to be a shame. ¬†We accepted his counsel and played blues ‚?? too short at 6500. ¬†The ball flies further up here too, with the heat and altitude.
Neither of us got off to a flier, but after a few holes birdies began to trickle onto our scorecards. ¬†With receptive greens and generous fairways, you can really score here. ¬†That‚??s if you stay away from the water (something we each failed to do on several occasions). ¬†Dye has built a balanced course, with water running along left and right; with long par 5s and short par 4s; and tough par 3s. ¬†He‚??s renowned for designing tough tracks ‚?? but going solely on PGA West, you‚??d be far more worried by Greg Norman or even Nicklaus. ¬†I‚??ll reserve judgment until we‚??ve played a few more of his designs.
One of the nicest things about this morning was that there was hardly anyone out there. ¬†A sign of the times perhaps? ¬†Maybe just a reflection that there are a ton of courses around here, so competition is hot. ¬†The offshoot for us was that we got round in 3 hours, including a couple of ‚??comfort stops‚?Ě (I love American euphemisms). ¬†You can drive carts on the fairways, which means you don‚??t have 55 walks to and from the cart as you do when it‚??s ‚??cart paths only‚?Ě. ¬†Nice.
The scenery was pretty dramatic, too. ¬†Real Lone Ranger stuff. ¬†On the horizon all around you are scraggy peaks, creating a (hot, dry) cauldron effect ‚?? framed by piercing blue sky, of course. ¬†Might have to pick myself up a pair of sunglasses, David Duval styles...or not. ¬†They must use a boatload of water out here for irrigation, ‚??cos there ain‚??t much rain. ¬†We did see snow on a couple of peaks though; snow that looks really enticing when you‚??re being toasted alive by the California sun. ¬†(Note to self: avoid playing in the middle of the day in the desert). ¬†¬†
Mick and me played a best ball today, in the hope of having a combined under par score. ¬†I weighed in with 4 birdies, but Mike‚??s putts weren‚??t dropping. ¬†And after a careless bogey on the last for each of us, 1 under disappeared from reach ‚?? giving us a disappointing 72. ¬†Rubbish. ¬†Today was one of those few days that I should‚??ve shot under par, but instead bottled it and shot 76 (thanks to a 3 putt par on 16 and some sloppy chips coming down the final stretch). ¬†Life goes on.
On the way ‚??round we bumped into a 6 strong crew of lads ‚?? probably a couple of years older than us ‚?? up here on a golf vacation. ¬†We got chatting as they let us through. ¬†Their warmth and positivity was indicative of the enthusiastic reception we‚??ve been lucky to receive here in the US. ¬†Everyone seems to ‚??get‚?? puregolf2010, which helps keep us ‚??up‚?? 24/7. ¬†I can see why people love this place.
Mike‚??s going to put up a video blog showcasing the golf course and the surrounding scenery. ¬†And our swish LoudMouth pants! ¬†Enjoy.
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