So I experienced something last week that profoundly changed my outlook on the game of golf. Even though this life altering occurrence took place during the greatest golf week of my life – while I was attending the PGA Show – it had nothing to with the show and a lot do with how the game is played.
Here’s a little back story first to sweeten the plot..
Growing up in Vegas I was fortunate enough to have some tremendous golf “destination” resorts here in town. Add in the fact that you can play pretty much year round and you can quickly realize that there isn’t really a down time for the golf courses here in the valley.
That being said, tee times can come at a high premium, especially if you’re interested in playing some of the nicer courses we have. Unlike Southern Florida where they get an onslaught of Snowbirds from the North invading the area while the chill in the air and on the ground subsides, Las Vegas and the surrounding areas have a multitude of visitors year round and a TON of them play golf. In fact, the majority of them come here for the golf – the gambling and clubs are an added perk.
In Southern Florida once the warmer weather starts creeping into the Northern areas of the country, those snowbirds abandon their comfy nests and return home, leaving behind some pretty outstanding courses that are desperate for players. We’re not that fortunate. Warmer weather in this valley just means more fun in the sun for travelers and that also means more people coming to play golf.
In all honesty there is a benefit to the heat, the rates do drop for the summer months and a lot of the courses have some decent twilight rates where you can get in 18 holes starting off as late as 5pm, which is when I love playing.
I went off on a tangent there so let me get the story back on track.
The point I’m trying to make reverts back to the tee times being at a premium almost year round. The negative effect of this being a destination town is the locals get crapped on because the tee sheets are full almost every day and mainly from out of town visitors. Which is fine, I love the tourist, they help pave my roads and pay my taxes but after my round at Streamsong last week I also found out that they are robbing me of what makes the game of golf go from awesome to amazing, and that is walking a golf course.
I never get to walk a course here in town. Unless you’re playing at one of the elite courses where only a handful of guests go out each day, there is no way in hell a pro shop is going to allow a single or for that matter a group to go out and walk 18 holes when there are tee times that need to pushed out every 7 minutes.
Nowadays here in Vegas a 5.5 hour round of golf is the norm and that’s just sad. I remember going into the pro shop after a horrendous round last year that took 10min shy of 6 hours to complete. After we finished up I went into the Pro Shop to voice my displeasure with the pace of play, lack of marshals and complete disregard by the course management to try and make the round enjoyable and was greeted with a very disheartening “You don’t like it, don’t come back!” from the clerk behind the counter. Per their wished I haven’t been back.
I wish it was possible to pass the blame around but in my opinion it’s the big suits in the offices at these courses that were shown the money train years ago and have never looked back. It’s hard to argue with facts and facts say if there’s a tee time in Vegas, chances are it’s going to be booked, so you better snatch it up pronto!
So you can see why it’s practically impossible for me to show up at a course here in town and ask to walk 18. I’d be laughed out of the building, and if by some chance I was able to make it out onto the course in only my True’s, the first time I held up a group from teeing off cause they were “waiting” for me to “walk” to my ball I’d probably get some old school Vegas mafia style treatment just so they could get to the strip club in a timely fashion!
OK, that’s enough ranting on that subject. You can see I have a bone to pick with some of the courses around here, but let me get back on point to why I’m writing this tirade in the first place.
When we played Streamsong last week we got to walk the course, which is fairly common there. Luckily we had some pull carts because my out of shape ass struggled enough pulling my bag . . . I could only imagine had I needed to lug it throughout the entire course I might still be in Florida recovering.
Not getting to walk out here in Vegas I was a little nervous about the idea. Like I stated before, I’m not in great shape right now and the last thing I wanted to be was a nuisance because I couldn’t make it up a hill or two.
In reality what I found was one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve ever felt on a golf course: the clarity of an uncluttered mind.
I hit my first tee shot and pulled the ball a bit, it was in decent size bunker so I wasn’t too worried about it, but as I made my way down the hill from the number one box on the blue course I started to really take in Streamsong.
The course is breathtaking to say the least and walking from the tee box to my ball, chatting with some friends and seeing the next shot I needed to execute as I walked up to my ball was so refreshing.
Cart golf pales in comparison. You hit your shot; hop in a cart, and in 30 seconds you’re at your ball ready to make contact. The sheer enjoyment of where you are and what you’re doing is completely lost! This was the first time that I think I actually saw a golf course for how it was intended to be seen.
That Wednesday I played some of the best golf of my life and had I not been “Doaked” a few times by the incredible architect Tom Doak, who designed this masterpiece, I could have put up a really nice score.
I ended up shooting a 93 but even Adam said I had certainly played better than the score had indicated. I felt the same way too, and when I started looking back at the at all the holes we had played I realized just how relaxed and calm I was throughout the entire round.
One of my biggest issues I’m having with my game right now is a mental block where I completely disengage myself from the round. I’ll hit a poor shot then allow it to build up to a point where in my mind I’m done. By doing so I’m taking a step back and then struggling to re-engage in the round.
I didn’t have that problem at Streamsong and I know it was because I was able to put my mind through a “filter” so to speak by taking a breath, relaxing, and enjoying walking the golf course.
I’m going to start looking for more courses that are open to walking. As much as I’d like to stroll every course in Vegas there are some that are just not walkable due to some pretty extreme elevation changes. Those I’ll acknowledge and not force the issue, but for the rest that are walking friendly I’m going to try and make it a habit to at least explore the option.
What about you guys? How many of you walk vs. ride? I know the golf cart is certainly a convenience for us but has anyone thought about how much the golf cart takes away from a round of golf? I know I’m real green when it comes to the subject but I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks about walking vs. riding.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.