My 40th Birthday Golf Outings

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Things have been a little hectic around the Breakfast Ball world lately and I realized last night that I’ve never even talked about the three and half rounds I played while I was on vacation last week.

It could be because out of the 63 holes that I played that week I only played well for 27 of them. I’m not taking full responsibility though, there were some “factors” that were completely out of my control, but you can be the judge of that.

April 23rd – Cascata Golf Club, Boulder City, NV

I had been watching the weather forecast for weeks leading up to this round. Originally it was supposed to be taking place in Pebble Beach but since that plan went down the pisser I couldn’t have been happier to be playing one of the more exclusive courses in the Vegas valley, Cascasta Golf Club. Ten days out the forecast was looking great and five days out not much had changed. It wasn’t until Sunday night when I saw a dramatic shift in the weather pattern that I started to worry.

My worrying was justified when I got up that Tuesday morning, peeked out the window and saw the pine trees in my backyard doing an amazing limbo impersonation. A ridiculous weather system had “blown” in overnight, dropping the temperature about 20° and bringing with it some insane 40-50mph wind gusts.

I decided it would be smarter to try and brave the winds then be hit with some kind of penalty for cancelling on the day of the tee time, so I packed up my stuff, picked up Bill and headed out to Boulder City.

I’m so glad I did too. I was hoping that the mountains would protect us from the incoming north wind gusts but that wasn’t the case at all, it was almost like the mountains increased the wind coming down the hillside. It was nuts. How nuts? Well I can, on average, carry my 6I about 170-175 yards. My first swing with that club on the range I barely made it to the 115 flag and it was one of the best balls I struck that day!

Cascata Golf Club

Then add in the fact that the greens as Cascata that day were rolling way beyond fast. Our caddy told us that they were stimped at an 11.6 that morning, maybe on an uphill putt into the wind. There was absolutely no way that those greens were anything short of a 13.

I knew it was going to be impossible to play decent golf in those conditions and that theory was quickly justified when Blake, our caddy, let us know that 7 of the 9 holes on the front were going to be played uphill and into the wind.

That’s about all the golf I want to talk about. I had some decent holes and I did have a few putts for birdie, but with the fast greens and crazy wind I had hardly any chance at making any of them.  The experience though was fantastic.

Cascata goes way out of their way to make you feel like a Superstar. From the Valet taking your car as you arrive, to the engraved nameplate on your locker in the clubhouse they hit you with amazing customer service from the moment you arrive to the time they hand you your keys as you get in your car. One of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed was already having my car ready with the clubs already loaded as we stepped out the front door of the clubhouse.  The golf may have been crappy that day but overall, Cascata knocks it out of the park when it comes to a total golfing experience.

Cascata Golf Club

April 24th – Sand Hollow Golf Resort, Hurricane, UT

Championship 18

With a still full belly from a fantastic Birthday dinner at Carnevino Steakhouse (plug) I woke up nice and early to get ready for out 2.5hr drive north to the city of Hurricane Utah and the Sand Hollow Golf Resort. If you’re curious Hurricane sits just east of St George on the map and Sand Hollow is south from there.

The winds had made their way out of the region for the most part and with blue skies and some breathtaking scenery we were excited to get out and play some real golf. I planned our drive so we would arrive at the course about an hour before tee time so I could do my 20/20/20 routine. 20min on the range, 20min chipping and 20min putting, that was the plan at least. When we checked in they informed us that there was a frost delay this morning and they we at least an hour behind on tee times.

When we did eventually tee of the first holed played really fast. Tee shot, approach, putt and on to the next hole, that’s when the brakes were heavily applied to the round. There was four groups on the next hole, so needless to say we waited, and waited and waited and then just when we were ready we waited some more. It took probably 40min to play the second hole. No idea what the heck happened but you want to talk about a mental drain. We spent 2.5hrs in the car then had a 2hr wait before we could tee off, then had another delay on the course. My bad, erratic play was inevitable. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm at all.

Sand Hollow Golf Resprt

Lucky for me we had two of the nicest people I have ever had the chance to play with. David and Suzanne, a couple from New Mexico who were probably in their late 60’s to early 70’s, whipped us all over the course, ok, they whipped me. Bill actually had a good day. A good day that included one of the best sand saves I have ever witnessed.

On the Par 3 15th hole on the Championship course Bill hit his tee shot to the right of the green into the newly named “Bill’s Bunker” (not my doing) and made an unbelievable shot to escape that trouble and then sank the 40’ putt on the next stroke for a truly amazing par. I had a 15’ putt for birdie and had I made it I don’t think I would have left that green thinking I won the hole. It was hands down the best sandy par I’ve ever seen and it’s going to be a tough one to match.

Sand Hollow Golf Resort
Bill’s Bunker is way up on the hill to the right of the green.

I ended up shooting a 100 on the championship course and I really wasn’t too upset about it. I know, I know I should be furious at myself for playing that bad, but truth be told, I just didn’t have my game for those holes. I hit some really bad irons shots that put me in some bad situations that anyone would have had a tough time recovering from. My putting is what really let me down. I had what only can be described as “Fast Green Fears” because I don’t think I got one putt to the hole. The only thing I could think about was how I barely had to touch the ball at Cascata to get it to go 30’ and those fears lingered the entire round.

Links 9

When we wrapped up our round at the Championship 18 we headed right over to the Links 9 and started playing. With the mental pressure of trying to perform well over with and a new outlook to just have a good time, we backed up to the tips and just went out and had a good time.

For me it was a round that I just let all my frustrations and anguish go away. I played really well and had it not been for a sprinkler head located in the middle of the first green, yes a SPRINKLER HEAD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GREEN, I could have put up a score of 41 or 42. It was a 44 that I ended up shooting and for me it was a relief being able to see myself play the way I know I can play.

Sand Hollow Links Course

The Sand Hollow trip was a memorable one. The course is one of the most scenic courses you find out here in the southwest. The red sand that encompass the entire course gives you an experience that you won’t find in too many places. The pace of play was a disaster though and they broke a cardinal sin of mine and that’s charging $100 for a round of golf and then giving you a tiny little red bag of about 25 golf balls to warm up with. To quote Peter Griffin That GRINDS my GEARS!

Sand Hollow is a course that I’ll more than likely play again, but with a handful of course out in the St George area it will probably be awhile before I make my way around it for a second time. If you’re planning a trip to the area and want to play some golf add it to your list and make sure you take on the Links 9 course too, it was a blast to play.

April 25th – Las Vegas National Golf Club, Las Vegas, NV

One of the best things about writing this blog, beside the self therapy, is coming into contact with some really great people that are involved with the golfing world. Mainly I’ve been introduced to other writers, other blogger, Matt Ginella from Golf Channels Morning Drive, CEO of companies and a handful of marketing/social directors for some pretty cool companies.

This day though I got the pleasure of playing alongside one the future stars for UNLV’s Golf team James Feutz. It was my first experience playing with someone that just lit up the course like it was the North Las Vegas Par 3 course. I don’t want to spoil too much about the round because James sat down with me afterwards and was kind enough to do an interview, which I plan on posting later this month. Hopefully you’ll agree with my assessment that UNLV’s golf program has a bright future!

UNLV Golfer James Feutz
UNLV Golfer James Feutz on the 16th tee at Las Vegas National.

Ok, back to me.

On the drive home from Sand Hollow Bill and I were talking about the days rounds and he asked me if I noticed the difference between the round I played on the 18 hole course and the 9 hole links course. My thoughts were that I was just more relaxed. Bill, having a different perspective noticed that I had abandoned my normal pre-shot routine and was just stepping up and hitting the ball. He was right. I freed up my mind, aimed and my target and fired away.

That got me thinking a lot that night and when I went through my warm up session for the round on Thursday I did exactly what I was doing on the links course, aim and fire. Less time over the ball and a freer mind lead me to some pretty decent ball striking. Nothing spectacular like what was taking place by cart companion but I was happy with what was going on.

I ended up with a 91 on a tough track. A course low for me at Las Vegas National and I left about 8 strokes out on the course. Three penalties that should have never happened and a handful of putts that I was just afraid to hit, DAMN YOU CASCATA!!!

All in all though I left the course that day on a high, I had gone from horrible golf in miserable conditions on day one, to so-so golf with a snail’s pace of play on day two, to some really good golf that was close to being really good golf on an amazing spring day in Vegas. Talk about a rollercoaster of events!

I guess that’s not a bad way to spend your 40th birthday. Golf, friends and family!  I don’t think I would have had it any other way.

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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