Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Golfing In The Heat At PGA West

As promised, here's my review of my weekend of golf playing the TPC Stadium golf course at PGA West in La Quinta, CA.

I think it goes without saying that it was pretty damn hot. I drove out on Friday and arrived in Palm Springs around 4:30pm and the thermometer read 111 degrees. You have to wonder if golfers, including myself, have a few screws loose to want to play golf in that kind of heat. A couple of my co-workers thought I was crazy to hit a little white golf ball around in the desert. I'd have to agree with them ;-)

Anyway, on Saturday I played the PGA West Jack Nicklaus Tournament course and at 9:00am it was already 96 degrees. After about 15 minutes on the golf range, I was drenched in sweat and thinking this was going to be a long day.

The first hole was a disaster. I managed to pull an Aaron Baddeley and took a triple-bogey 7. I pulled myself together and was 1-under for the next 8 holes finishing the front in 38. It was highlighted by birdieing number 9, which is the #1 handicap hole. By this time the temperature was probably around 105 and I was starting to feel it.

I started off the back nine a little rough by bogeying the first two holes. I struggled a little bit and managed a 41 on the back, which gave me a 79 for the day. I was somewhat satisfied considering I had a triple and 2 double bogeys.

Sunday's round was on the TPC Stadium course and it was going to be hotter than Saturday. There was absolutely no wind and a lot more humidity because they were watering the course. I was playing well until I came to the par 5 fifth hole. I crushed a drive and had 7-iron left to reach the green in two. I pulled it and ended on the fringe up against the primary rough about 50 feet away. I ended up 3-putting for my 5 and disappointed that I didn't get birdie.

The next hole was the par 3 sixth hole and I hit a 6-iron to about 35 feet. I hit a really poor first put leaving it 8 feet short just short of the ridge I wanted to make it down. Now I had a tricky downhill putt and I proceeded to run that by 4 feet. Well you probably know what comes next... I missed that and ended up with a 4-putt. I can't remember the last time I 4-putted.

My putting confidence went right out the door and I ended up 3-putting the next 2 holes to card a 41 on the front. I started off the back nine really strong and I was even par on the back until I came the par 5 sixteenth hole. If you haven't played the 16th then you haven't seen what I consider to be the highest bunker. It's called "The San Andreas Fault" after the San Andreas earthquake fault line in California. The bunker has to be at least 20 feet deep or more.

I hit a good drive on the hole, but I had a side hill hook lie for my second shot. With "The San Andreas Fault" on the left side of the green my chance to reach the green in 2 safely wasn't looking to good, especially since I started feeling a little nauseous from the heat back on 15. I decided to go for it and sure enough I landed square in the middle of the 20+ foot bunker.

I took out my 56 degree sand wedge and basically opened it up to the point where the face was laying completely flat. I picked out a spot about 2 inches behind the ball and took a full swing. The ball popped up and just barely cleared the lip and probably clipped a few strands of grass. I was so excited that I made it out that I ran up the step grass side of the bunker to see where I landed and I was only 12 feet from the pin... that was a career bunker shot! I missed the putt, but it was a great par.

I started to feel the affects of the run up the side of the green because I was feeling a little dizzy. I felt more nauseous and as I stood on the infamous 17th hole Island green tee I wasn't sure how I was going to hit the ball. Heat stroke was starting to set in and I took a cool wet towel and put it on my neck, but that didn't seem to do much. Needless to say I hit my tee shot in the water and walked away with a triple bogey. I drank as much water as I could and got up to the 18th hole with my hands shaking. I managed to get my drive out there and finish with a bogey and a back nine of 40... with an overall score of 81.

This was the second time I've had a heat stroke or heat exhaustion and it is definitely not fun to have. I drank about 2 Gatorade's and within 30 minutes I was back to normal. If it wasn't for the heat exhaustion I could have easily finished with a 77. You should really get out there and play any of the PGA West golf courses especially the TPC Stadium.

Have you played the Nicklaus Tournament or TPC Stadium course before?

Have you ever had heat exhaustion while playing golf?

Leave me a comment about your experiences with either one.

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