Plumas Pines Golf Course & Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club

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A few weeks ago I attended one of my favorite pre-summer time activities which is an annual golf trip outing to the Reno, Nevada area.  I am a relatively new-comer compared to the rest of the gang that joins this event.  I’ve been attending only for the past 4-5 years while the event itself celebrated the 20th anniversary this year.  I’m so blessed and privileged for these guys to continually invite me back as we always have such great fun and it’s a terrific few days of relaxation and to escape the rat-race of the business environment.


Graeagle storeWe’za nota in da bigga city any longa’

The tournament is a well organized four days of activities which includes a lot of golfing and, of course, socializing (which is my favorite activity frankly).  It’s typically a group of 50-75 guys that rent out a few four-bedroom vacation condimiums for the extended weekend.  For this year’s event we played three consecutive days.  The first day we played at Plumas Pines Golf Course (http://www.plumaspinesgolf.com/).  The next day we played at Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club (http://www.golfwhitehawk.com/).  And then the last day we played a best-ball format at Plumas Pines again.  Although it was the same course, playing the best-ball (a.k.a. “scramble format”) made it different, interesting and fun.

#Winning and a Man-Down

Tv with namesWhile the first two days of golf is certainly fun, every year my particular group really likes to focus-in on the Sunday, best-ball, scramble event.  This is where we typically shine and this year we did not disappoint!  Ever since I’ve been attending this event we have had a consistent group of the same four guys but this year one of our dear members could not make the tournament, unfortunately due to other obligations, so we had to truck-on without him in his honor as he would have encouraged.  None of the three guys, including me, in our group is a great golfer but somehow, for whatever reason, we seem to come up with a great shot in the best-ball format.  It was amazing and we shared the first place prize for the 2014 Scramble event!

It’s a strange cRoger swingingompetitive dynamic that my group of three golfers possesses.  We are are reasonable people and not overly competitive but our commonality is that we each to do our best.  This particular format is fun because all golfers encourage each other to make a good shot, and I guess that’s where my threesome of golfers is so successful.  We sincerely want each other to success and it’s genuine.  While we might poke-fun of each other a bit as we play the round but the teamwork of the group really is evident in the results.  My team seems to really shine at the right time and that’s quite rewarding to participate in such great coordinated teamwork.

Heaven in the Hills

sardine lakeThis particular year our fearless organizer, Ed, sprung a wonderful surprise on us.  On Saturday evening he had the whole group of us gather in the parking lot of the Whitehawk Golf Course.  We had no idea what to expect.  All he shared with us is that we would have to drive somewhere.  So about 20-30 cars and trucks caravanned on our way to who-knows-where.  You must remember that the area we were in at the time was extreme wilderness so we had no idea what we were in-for.

 

A little bit of fancy in the wild outdoors

sardine lake dinner menuAfter a little bit of a drive, and going extremely into the back woods, we arrived at the beautiful Sardine Lake (http://www.sardinelakeresort.com/index.html).  It was absolutely gorgeous!  It’s a relatively small lake but it’s situated in the most awesome of environments in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  For about an hour or so after we arrived at the Lake in our vehicles, the group spent this time enjoying the wonderful weather, beautiful environment and friendly conversations.  But after a long day of golf, it was time for us burly guys to eat!  And eat we did!  The restaurant is surprisingly (at least to me because of the extreme location) high-quality and the service was simply outstanding.  Many of us had prime rib however, as you can see from the picture to the right, they served a wide variety of items includes fish, chicken or vegetarian meals.  Sardine Lake is really a great place to go if you are looking for ‘a little fancy’ while you are still in the ‘rugged out doors’.  It is truly a remarkable experience and worth experiencing.

Lucky 21!

golf iconThis year’s event was the 20th consecutive year.  Some of the people, places and faces have changed but these guys have kept the tradition going all these years.  I am already looking forward to next year.  Just when you think you have experienced everything then something new seems to amaze you.  I personally had a wonderful time, once again, at the event and I’m certain that everyone else did as well.  I’m already counting-down the days until the 21st Annual!!!!

 

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Ridgemark Golf (Hollister, CA)

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Santa Teresa Golf (San Jose, CA)

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Course Detail

Hole #1

Santa Teresa Golf Club starts with the #1 handicap hole, a tough par 4 dog leg left.  It is always good to hit balls before your round to make sure you are ready for the challenging drive off the 1st Tee.  Your target off the 1st Tee is the white 150 yard pole.  Long hitters can take the ball to the side of or over the left side fairway bunker.  Pay attention to the pin placement on this hole as the green is 42 yards deep.  Favor the middle and back of green to avoid the two front bunkers, get your two putt and go to the next tee.

 

Hole #2

The second hole is a relatively easy par 5 dog leg right.  The tee shot should be between the two fairway bunkers.  A conservative second shot short of the left side fairway bunker will still leave a short distance to a 40 yard deep green.  The green is guarded by out of bounds left and a big bunker front right which makes going for this green in two a true risk and reward decision.  Distance control on your approach is paramount to leave yourself with a good chance at birdie.  The green is slopped back to front.  It is wise to leave approach shots to back pin placements below the hole.

 

Hole #3

This is a short par 4 with a slight dog leg right.  Do not get greedy off this tee.  A 200 yard tee shot will leave you with 150 yards to the green.  Play to the middle of this green when the bunker is right, otherwise, being aggressive with your approach is the play.  Pay attention to the tops of the trees on your second shot.  You may not feel the wind from the fairway, but when the ball gets above the trees, it can be hit by a wall of wind.  Take an extra club when you see the trees moving.

 

Hole #4

A good tee shot will serve you well on this slight dog leg right par 4.  The green is very approachable from any spot in the fairway.  This green is 45 yards deep, so a back pin can call for 1 or 2 additional clubs.  This is a relatively flat green, so take a good run at your birdie.

 

Hole #5

This is the shortest par 3 on the course.  Similar to hole number 3, the wind can be blowing here without feeling it on the tee, so look at the tree tops.  Right side of this green is not very deep, short is better than long when the pin is on that side.  Once on the green, you will need to pay attention to the subtle breaks.  Short, but par is your friend.

 

Hole #6

Tighten your shoes for this dog leg left par 4.  A good drive to the right of the fairway bunker is critical to having a chance to hit this green in regulation.  The second shot is slightly down hill, and usually down wind, so it can play shorter than the distance.  A high approach shot is needed to have the ball stay close to where it lands.  Now that you are on the green the real fun begins.  Take a good look at where the drainage is around this green as this will help you read your putt.  Take your par and sprint to the next tee.

 

Hole #7

This is a demanding par 3.  The tee box tricks you into aiming left of the green, so alignment is critical.  This hole is slightly uphill and you will want to avoid the big green side bunker front right, so make sure you take enough club.  The green will read exactly as you see it, so have confidence in your line and strike an aggressive putt.  Stay below front pin placements.

 

Hole #8

It is all right in front of you when you are standing on this elevated par 4 tee.  No need to do too much with the tee ball, keep it in the fairway and you will get good roll.  Try to stay left of the hole on your approach when there is a right pin placement.  When the pin is left or middle, you have a green light to fire right at it.  Somewhere in the foothills of California, there is a retired golf course green designer who is chuckling.  Do not over read this one.

 

Hole #9

The Restaurant is in view, get through this one and you can reward yourself with food and drink.  Depending on the wind, this hole can play painfully long or surprisingly short.  Regardless, let it rip off the tee.  This is a wide fairway with not much trouble on either side.  Take into account all the elements when choosing your club for your approach shot.  Relatively flat green, so go after your birdie putt.  Go have some refreshment.

 

Hole #10

Stay left of the big oak tree with your tee shot.  On the approach shot, stay below the hole, no matter where the pin is on this green.  This will leave an uphill putt, give it enough to get there.  Par is your friend.

 

Hole #11

Use your head while you are playing this fun dog leg right par 5.  You can hit a number of different clubs off the tee.  The object is to hit it at least 175 yards get to the corner so you have a look up the fairway to the green.  The farther you hit your tee shot down the fairway, the shorter the distance left on your second shot.  If you can not reach the green with this demanding uphill second shot, club yourself so you have a comfortable full shot for your third.  You will have an uphill lie, so balance yourself with some practice swings and be confident for the shot to a two tiered green.  Being on the same tier as the pin will be critical to executing your two putt.

 

Hole #12

Do not make too much of this downhill dog leg right par 4.  A drive out to the 150 yard pole is all you need to have a good look at this green guarded by 3 bunkers and 2 majestic Valley Oaks.  The second shot can play shorter than the distance, so club appropriately.  The green slopes back to front.

 

Hole #13

This is a long straight par 4 with a blind tee shot.  The line you choose off the tee is critical:  A good line is over the left edge of the mown fairway on the hill.  The predominant wind is in your face, so take enough club for the second shot.  Keep the ball below the hole on your approach, especially when the pin is in front.

 

Hole #14

This is the first of two demanding par 3s on the back nine.  The wind is normally in your face, and the two front bunkers can make the hole look shorter than it really is, so make sure to use enough club to get there.  Shots to the left half of the green will have uphill putts to the hole.  What you see is what you get.  Par is your friend.

 

Hole #15

Favor the left side with your tee ball as the fairway slants left to right.  The elevated green makes the approach shot difficult to judge.  Trust your distance and swing aggressively.  Once on the green you will have a relatively straight putt.  The only tricky area is when the pin is up front.

 

Hole #16

Stay focused because you have three very good holes left to finish.  The par 3 16th is all about the tee ball.  Two bunkers guard the front of the green so take enough club and favor the left side.  The slope of the hill allows for shots to miss the green left and still bounce down onto the green.  The green is two tiered, so being on the proper tier is a must for a good chance at birdie.

 

Hole #17

17 is a long straight par 5.  Aim your tee ball left of the fairway bunker and let it rip.  The second shot is best played with the longest club you can hit straight.  Favor the left side of the fairway as this will create the best angle to approach the green.  Hit to the middle of the green and you should have a good look at birdie in any direction.

 

Hole #18

This is a very picturesque long finishing par 4.  Let the shaft out on the drive to get as far down the fairway as possible.  Pay close attention to the pin placement as a back pin will require using more club.  There are 3 tiers on this green and being on the proper tier is critical to making your birdie putt.  This green plays flatter than it looks, take dead aim and make a confident stroke.

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Wishing Greg Norman the best from ForePlayersGolf.com (FPG)

Greg,

You are a class-act and a genuine person.  Everyone at FPG wishes you the best in your recovery and looking forward to seeing you on the course so very soon!

-FPG

Photo courtesy of Greg Norman

Photo courtesy of Greg Norman

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Aviara Golf Club

Below is a summary of my experience at Aviara Golf Club.  It was great!

Golf – and a lot of it!

aviara 14th hole

The first golf round we enjoyed was Aviara Golf Club which was a short drive from our hotel.  Aviara is quite famous in the golf circuit for hosting the recent Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Kia Classic in March 2014.  This is an extreme high-quality golf course which takes enormous skills to play.  The course was full of beautiful scenery with wonderful waterfalls on many holes.  The putting greens were insanely impossible because they were too fast to stop the ball and every putt had difficult twists and turns to navigate.  Aviara was fun but I’m glad we only played it the one day or else I would have lost all my golf balls and not had any for the rest of the week! :-)

aviara waterfall

The next two days we played golf at La Costa.  They have two courses.  One is the Champions Course and the other is the Legends Course.  The first of the two days playing the La Costa courses was on the Champions Course.  I think I played fairly decent and ended up shooting a 105 score which is about my average however this course was much more challenging than what I typically play.  So, not too bad all-things considered.

lacosta red flowers omni lacosta orange flowers with butch

Day two of playing the La Costa courses was on the Legends Course and this was a ‘best ball’, ‘scramble’-type format.  Instead of everyone playing their own golf ball for each whole, the group of four all takes a shot and then everyone plays from whatever the best shot the group likes.  This is a really fun format of golf to play.  It makes the round go quicker and everyone gets a chance to contribute.  Personally, I sincerely enjoyed my group because we all did truly contribute equally so it wasn’t one person doing all the work.  Also, and I can say without any doubt what-so-ever, we talked the most trash of any other group so if there were a prize for that we would have certainly won!

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Wente Vineyards

Below is a recap summary of my experience at Wente Vineyards.  Enjoy…

This past Saturday, January 25th, was the ABBYY USA Winter Holiday party held at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.  Founded 130 years ago, Wente Vineyards is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery.  The Vineyard itself is absolutely gorgeous with other excellent attractions such as a Bar & Grill, full service restaurant, wine tasting tours and, my personal favorite, a stunning 18-hole Golf Course!

vineyard

The party itself was scheduled to start that evening at 6pm with a pre-dinner wine tasting  tour starting at 5pm so a couple ABBYY golf addicts and myself were quick to put two-and-two together and a morning golf tournament was born.  There were a grand total of fourteen players that joined the tournament and we played best-ball format.  My group consisted of two long hitters and myself.

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Hole #10 was particularly noteworthy.  Our strategy was for me to tee-off on each hole because I could generally put the ball ‘in play’ although I wasn’t terribly long.  Then the next two guys could be more aggressive and try to put us in a better position.  It worked out well and especially on the 281-yard tenth hole.  I tee’d off and put the ball ‘in play’ about 180 yards, leaving only roughly 100 yards to the hole so this gave us three additional chances to improve.  The next guy in our group, Steve, had a very nice shot that traveled roughly 210 or so yards which only left us about 70 yards, so this was a slight improvement.  Therefore we had two shots to be most aggressive.  Our next guy, Ruben, took the third shot and drove it out of bounds but we had one more chance.  Ruben also took our fourth shot.

hole 10 ruben

We all agreed that he would ‘grip-it and rip-it’ and he did just that as we had little to lose.  His shot ended up only about 10 feet from the hole making his tee shot roughly 270 yards and directly on target!!!  It was nearly a hole-in-one on a par 4 hole.  It was an amazing shot by Ruben and one to remember for a lifetime!

ruben and steve 10 hole

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